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  1. #1
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    Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Kodokan Judo: Thoughts on Linkage

    I have been giving this a lot of thought in the years since making a first clumsy attempt at looking at this subject in this forum: (http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=87066)

    BKR and Dldr both were very helpful in steering me in the right direction, whether they would endorse where it took me or not.

    I'm going to lay out the current state of my thinking and research on this (it's a lot), and my hope is that you guys will do what you do best and rip it to shreds where it's weak, and support it where it's strong. I'm going to lay the initial sketch out sans references to keep the length down, but I have plenty in that regard, and you should feel free to demand to see them where you feel they are needed. In any case, I'll compile and post all the references as we go on.

    So, I’m looking to support a version of events that runs like this: Mataemon Tanabe, in association with Yatarou Handa, refined his personal approach to ne waza for the purpose of challenging and defeating the Kodokan, and taught it to a group of students (who used it to defeat the Kodokan.) This approach is carried by the first wave of ex-patriot challenge-wrestlers who arrived in the UK, introducing British wrestlers to the idea of wrestling for submission rather than pinfall, and then feeds directly into the development of
    Bartitsu and the Budokwai. After experiencing the defeat of his fighters at the hands of the Tenabe’s group, Kano takes steps to absorb Tenabe's syllabus into Kodokan Judo, buttressing his system's relatively limited mat work, but is never comfortable with the acquired material’s place in his system, and eventually takes steps to minimize its impact on the way Judo is practiced (at least in Tokyo close to the Kodokan, if not in the university system and other regions). Among those who learn their Judo at a time when Tenabe’s ne waza was assimilated is Mitsuyo Maeda, who becomes part of the community of the dozen or so Japanese challenger wrestlers, some Kodokan some not - all familiar with Tenabe’s material- who train, travel and fight together under Catch as Catch Can "Jiu-Jitsu" (jacket) rules as well as the rough-and-tumble/vale tudo format. While Maeda may not have had actual contact with any member of the Gracie family in Brazil, it is clear that Carlos Gracie, Sr trained for several years in Maeda’s style of Professional Jiu-jitsu and sought to emulate his success in the ring. In this sense, under this model Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is strictly neither a form of Kodokan Judo, nor a form of koryu Jiu-Jitsu, but rather a body of techniques from multiple sources favored by Japanese challenge wrestlers, and used in the ring to win rough-and-tumble and "jiu-jitsu wrestling" contests, with a substantial influence coming from the ne waza style of a specific group associated with Tenabe and Handa (and not any koryu art, Fusen or otherwise).


    Carlos Gracie has a few years exposure to this style but athleticizes it in a way that makes it more difficult to teach to others; Helio removes the athletic element, essentially rediscovering the source style Carlos had been taught, and believes (perhaps honestly) that he had invented that source style, despite its being essentially identical to other Maeda lineages (like that of Fadda Academy). The application of this style to street fighting is most likely the primary contribution of the Gracie family.

    Looking over the available evidence, I think Taro Miyake’s statements to the press in 1915 about the relative strength in tachiwaza and newaza between the Kodokan and “Handa” styles is a good indicator that something existed in the Osaka region that was markedly different than Kano’s system (in emphasis, if not in method).

    Of course none of this has too much bearing on what is known today as "BJJ" which is a sport invented later by people people in the Gracie system like Rolls Gracie and João Alberto Barreto. What is known today as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a body of technique invented an inch at a time by everyone who ever stepped on the mat, some more than others. Still, it seems to bear the influence of the Tenabe/Handa group’s anti-Kodokan ne waza system, and other related offshoots like the body of technique favored by players in the KOSEN rule set have this system as a common ancestor. This, and not a direct influence as has been postulated by some, accounts for the marked similarity of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the methods common in the KOSEN format.

    Ever since arguments first began appearing that Gracie Jiu-jitsu was not a style of Jiu-Jitsu at all (see Mark Tripp's long history of Judo reprinted here:http://mixedmartialartshistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/the-great-underground-ryu-ha-ha/), I have been trying to find a more satisfying history than the one offered by the Gracie family, or by those arguing that what Maeda taught in Brazil was "simply Kodokan Judo". The above is, nutshelled, my best current understanding; I'm sure there is much more to learn.

    Just as an aside, Miyake’s description of the Osaka style is quite similar to the language Uyenishi used in 1907 (The text-book of ju-jitsu as practised in Japan) to describe the traditional Okinawan art of Tori Te: "Another analogous system, known as tori in some parts of Japan and as shime in others, was an extension of Ju-jutsu in the department of ground work, and it is more than possible thet many of the locks and holds of ju-jutsu were originated by exponents of tori. The last named system cannot, however, be compared with the ‘soft art’ as a method of self-defense, as but slight importance was devoted to ‘throws’, the modus operandi being mainly confined to falling to the ground yourself and then pulling your opponent down, there to struggle for the victorious lock." (emphasis mine)

    One naturally begins to speculate about the influence of the already existing Tori Te on the groundwork based strategies coming into favor in the Osaka region. Worth looking into more...

    In any case, one of the themes I’m looking to explore is how the tendency for people to rally around words and labels for fighting systems can skew both our view of history, as well as the tribal behavior of martial artists in choosing “sides” to represent in contests for bragging rights. "Jiu-Jitsu" was used in the generic to refer to the broad category of Japanese systems (including Kano’s) that embraced a certain principle of yielding, or it could be used to refer the classical ryu-ha Kano sought to supplant with his Judo. In the West, the term referred to a general category of Japanese self-defense “tricks”, but also to a specific rule set describing jacketed submission grappling in a ring. When the Gracies described Maeda as "Jiu-jitsu champion of the world" it is to this format that they were referring, as there was clearly no world champion of "Jujutsu” as the Japanese used the word. For example, in Estadão newspaper, September 28th 1914:

    "The press announces today one more variety show, included in the program a challenge from Italian fighter E. Baldi to the Japanese Jiu-Jitsu champion Count Koma"
    (cont.)
    Last edited by Matt Phillips; 9/29/2014 1:13pm at .
    Now darkness comes; you don't know if the whales are coming. - Royce Gracie


    KosherKickboxer has t3h r34l chi sao

    In De Janerio, in blackest night,
    Luta Livre flees the fight,
    Behold Maeda's sacred tights;
    Beware my power... Blue Lantern's light!

  2. #2
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    (...)

    Here, the term is used purely in the sense of professional jacket wrestling (which did have various world champions, Maeda included).

    Of course the term “Judo” itself is alternately used to refer to (1) A general principle of efficiency in the service of mutual growth and welfare, (2) Kano-ryu Jiu-Jitsu, (3) Non-lethal branches of Jiu-Jitsu such as were present in Jikishin and Nihonden Kito Judo, and finally (4) the Olympic sport of “Judo”.

    When people in Brazil (and elsewhere) referred to Maeda as a “Jiu-Jitsu champion”, they were doing so based on his many victories and titles in this (ring jiu-jitsu) format, not publishing the result of research into Maeda's success in some imaginary cross-styles Japanese Jiu-Jitsu version of Blootsport in Japan. Maeda was a champion of Professional Jiu-Jitsu, which was an event in the broader business of Professional Wrestling. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is the approach of a specific dojo (Academia Gracie) to Professional Jiu-Jitsu and Rough and Tumble (Vale Tudo) contests. Students of Academia Gracie (Carlson and Rolls) founded a splinter dojo in which a new sport: Sport Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) was established and disseminated. Sport Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was founded on the principles of international amateur athletic sports like freestyle wrestling, and differed markedly from Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in its complete lack of striking techniques, which were central to the Gracie style.

    The conflation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (and Gracie Jiu-Jistu with koryu Jiu-Jitsu) is a source of substantial confusion, as is the conflation of sport (Olympic Judo) with pre-war Kodokan Judo, etc. In this context, talk on the Brazilian side of Judo being an “enemy of Jiu-Jistu”, or from modern Judoka stating uncritically that “There is only one Judo.” is a serious impediment to a reasonable historical model of the past, giving rise to the presumption that, for example, the opponents representing koryu ryuha which the Kodokan faced in taryujiai in its early years could not possibly have been practicing in a modern manner, employing randori, the kyu/dan system, and evolving technique in response to the challenges of the modern environment they existed in. The idea that this presumption is false is a major theme in this project.

    All of this perpetuates a contemporary myth that the Kodokan defeated and absorbed a series of static koryu holdovers who could not have fought in dogi and innovated tactics, techniques and strategies of their own, as well as the mythology held by the Gracie family and their admirers that “Kano created Judo to conceal the secrets of samurai Jiu-Jitsu from the world”.

    It is in this context that the Judo/Jiu-Jitsu “rivalry” becomes a muddled mess driven as much by semantics as reality.

    Before I wander too far afield with the critique of terminology, let me return to the core points that will need to be demonstrated before any of this can be argued persuasively:

    (1) That Mataemon Tanebe developed a personal approach to ne waza in his youth essentially independent of his teachers and of classical Fusen Ryu.

    (2) That he taught this approach in some form of association with Yatarou Handa in Osaka.

    (3) That he and his students defeated the Kodokan numerous times with unusual ground grappling techniques and strategy which are familiar to modern grapplers.

    (4) That Jigoro Kano absorbed the core of Tanebe’s syllabus into the Kodokan during Maeda's time there.

    (5) That Kano was dissatisfied with the ne waza centric direction randori and shiai in his art began to take thereafter, and took measures to restrict it in so much as he could; that some members of his group fostered the growth of the new material inside the the KOSEN university system and elsewhere.

    (6) That every significant and successful Japanese challenge wrestler competing under Professional Jiu-Jitsu rules in the West, from Taro Miyake to Yukio Tani to Suzuki and Maeda was exposed to this material; that they traveled, trained and fought together in various combinations in the pre-war era.

    This is a sufficient basis to understand what Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is and is not (ie: "Ring Jiu-Jitsu", and not koryu JuJutsu or Kano's original Judo, or even derived from the newaza popular with competitors in the KOSEN format). After that, it remains to make explicit that "BJJ" is not Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, but Sport Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and it becomes clear why KOSEN Judo, Sport Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Fadda Jiu-Jitsu are as so similar: they are striking-free grappling formats that have a recent common ancestor in the Osaka Tenabe/Handa style ne waza.

    These points, suitably demonstrated and taken together, are sufficient to form the basis of a new (and I think correct) understanding of the relevant history.

    It worth underscoring that the Japanese fighters participating "Ring Jiu-Jitsu", "Rough and Tumble", and other types of challenge matches had a great deal of contact with one another, training together, exchanging technique, and traveling and competing against one another. For example, as Shinichi Oimatsu wrote:

    “Just before the Japanese-Russian war of 1904-5 (Yukio Tani) travelled to America and then to Europe where in the company ofMitsuyo Maeda, Shinshiro Satake, Akitaro Ono and Taro Miyake he toured Europe taking on boxers and wrestlers for money where they were mostly successful."

    So we have a group of Kodokan and Tenabe/Handa style fighters, all exposed to the same grappling system, traveling together and taking on all comers in both striking and grappling-only formats. I have often wondered where the unusual tactics and striking techniques of fighters like Royce and Rickson Gracie originate from; it is possible they derive the tactics developed and shared among this group. They certainly have no clear antecedent in Kodokan atemi-waza.

    In their collisions with the wrestlers of the West, it appears that the very idea of grappling for submission, absolutely central to later CACC wrestling, did not exist at all in that style before the first Osaka style submission grapplers began tapping them out in challenge matches on the stages of London. It is impossible to know for sure where the later arsenal of submissions CACC is famous for today originated, but it is very likely that they were inspired and informed by the method used to publicly defeat them time and time again in their home country.

    **

    I do want to emphasize that I do not believe Mataemon Tenabe invented his approach to winning taryujia out of thin air. It's really important to distinguish here between the techniques of the style and the tactics. Clearly techniques like juji gatame and hadaka jime were not invented by Tanabe; he did invent some specific techniques, but what's really essential is the *strategy* he employed. As he wrote:

    "When I trained with my father’s other students I would never give in to a strangle or a lock. When I was fifteen I got caught in an arm-lock and my elbow was dislocated with a loud crack. My tactic was to wait till my opponent got tired and then make a move to free myself. It was the same with strangles. This ability to endure locks and strangles created various strategies for me. I soon came to be called Newaza-Tanabe. When I was seventeen I participated in a mixed sumo and jujitsu competition which consisted of ten bouts spread over a week. My sumo opponents all weighed about 30kan (248lbs) and I beat them all except for one man called Kandagawa who was so fat I could not get hold him anywhere… my jujitsu was not so much the result of my fine teachers (I did learn a lot of wrist releases from my father) but because I always chose to fight strong ones and never give in regardless of injuries or unconsciousness. In this way my jujitsu became polished and this made me work out various ways to capitalize on my strengths. For example I came up with what I called the Unagi no Osaekata (the Eel restraint). As is well known if you press an eel with your hand it will slide away and escape but if you put your hand on it gently it can be trapped. Later I came up with the snake and frog technique. Like the snake that slowly swallows a frog one bit at a time my groundwork overwhelmed my opponents in much the same manner.

    Classical Japanese Jiu-Jitsu (Mataemon's father was, as we know, the 3rd Soke of Fusenryu) provided the technical foundation (and the philosophical principle of yielding) for this approach to single combat, but here we have a single young man employing creativity and tenacity to avoid being overwhelmed and hurt in mixed competition. In my view, the essential features of this strategy: to innovate; play from the ground; conserve energy; bring your opponent to exhaustion; fight to the end, and never concede the match are not only shrewd, they are identical to the philosophy of the Gracie family system. Examining the case that there is more at work in creating this similarity than “parallel evolution” is a major theme of what I am writing. The key issue there is whether Helio Gracie's strategy was part of a general training culture tracing back to Tenabe, or was it simply the best approach for a small ne waza centric fighter struggling against larger men? The most likely scenario in my mind is that Helio received enough of Tanabe's approach through Maeda that the optimum solution to his (Helio’s) also grappling primarily larger men was, in fact, similar to the solution Tanabe found. But the two solutions are essentially not just similar, but identical. This scenario only really makes sense if the starting point: technical foundation of their grappling, is extremely similar.

    That said, the specific Guard-aware style used to defeat the Kodokan was potential several years in development in Osaka, and likely was refined by everyone training seriously at the with Tenabe and/or Yatarou Handa in much the same way the skills of a modern BJJ squad refine and transcend the methods and techniques of the instructor over time. The credible threat posed by the Kodokan's advanced throwing game and strong hold-down side controlling techniques potentially motivated an advanced response. So the hypothesis is that Tanabe's personal ne waza would have been the framework, but not the final method used against the Kodokan.

    On a side note, I think one can see the beginnings of the “unskillful entry”-to-submission strategy in the ashi garami sequence added to the end of Katame No Kata by Tenabe. Of course that’s speculation… but worth thinking about.


    This is quite a lot already, and I want to avoid an unfocused discussion on my end into the many minute areas of this that interest me. It is my hope that I have made the broad outline of what I wish to write about clear here, and am very interested to hear where you feel there may be weaknesses or errors of thought on my behalf. Of course, stating the hypothesis is one thing; arguing persuasively for it is another entirely.

    That's what this thread will be for.
    Now darkness comes; you don't know if the whales are coming. - Royce Gracie


    KosherKickboxer has t3h r34l chi sao

    In De Janerio, in blackest night,
    Luta Livre flees the fight,
    Behold Maeda's sacred tights;
    Beware my power... Blue Lantern's light!

  3. #3
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    Mods: if this should live in MABS rather than JMA, please feel free to move it.
    Now darkness comes; you don't know if the whales are coming. - Royce Gracie


    KosherKickboxer has t3h r34l chi sao

    In De Janerio, in blackest night,
    Luta Livre flees the fight,
    Behold Maeda's sacred tights;
    Beware my power... Blue Lantern's light!

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    BKR's Avatar
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    Hi Matt,

    I read over what you sent me via email,and made notes on it. It seems you have a good handle on the issues involved.

    I'll summarize my notes here.

    1.) Document your sources (I know you have them). That is something that much of the "history" of BJJ/GJJ/Kodokan Judo lacks. The mythology of all three don't exactly match factual events, or, documentation is sorely lacking, or has not been put into one place.
    a.) For example, documentation of the infamous "police matches" between the KDK and multiple ryu-ha... maybe some of your other contacts have come up with that documentation, but the last discussion I saw of it was negative. The "Fusen Ryu" matches (basically Tanabe grappling with KDK) are the only one's I've seen any sort of documentation regarding.

    Lunch now, I have a huge day this afternoon, so more to come.
    Falling for Judo since 1980

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    Cheers, Ben. Yes, this is basically the long email I sent you for comment. I am going to start methodically laying out references, but I thought I would get some specific requests first to get the most needed stuff out there.

    Regarding the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Academy matches, I know the general discussion (at least at the old JudoForum) focused on the lack of newspaper reports as a negative indicator that those matches ever occurred. It think this is in general a good argument if there is a reasonable expectation of press coverage for such events. However, E.J. Harrison, himself a member of the Meiji-period Japanese press, makes it clear that admission to such events was "by invitation" and continues to note that "JuJutsu gossip did not then figure in the sporting columns of the native press like boxing and wrestling in America and England, though ample space was allotted to Sumo matches during the season." -The Fighting Spirit of Japan, p. 34

    I think it is correct to demand as much evidence as possible for the existence of these matches, but the specific negative argument that the lack of newspaper reports is evidence they never happened is, I think, essentially discredited by Harrison's remarks here.

    The matches between Tenabe and various high ranking members of the Kodokan are fairly well documented, as you note, but every reference I have found for the major Kodokan defeat at the hands of a large team of Tenabe's pupils traces to pages 12-16 of Osaekomi by Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki, which I will be ordering tomorrow unless your copy magically appears ;)

    Looking forward to the remainder of your comments. Rest assured there are a lot of references assembled now; I'll start rolling them out in a day or so.
    Last edited by Matt Phillips; 9/29/2014 2:26pm at .
    Now darkness comes; you don't know if the whales are coming. - Royce Gracie


    KosherKickboxer has t3h r34l chi sao

    In De Janerio, in blackest night,
    Luta Livre flees the fight,
    Behold Maeda's sacred tights;
    Beware my power... Blue Lantern's light!

  6. #6
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    One reference I do want to toss out there from square one is this, because it ends up being important:

    "The young Gracie's apprenticeship under Mayeda, and his local senior student Jacyntho Ferro, lasted no more than three years. Carlos’s exposure to Mayeda’s teachings was influenced by a circumstantial combination of factors that determined the nature of his apprenticeship. It is important to note Mayeda’s lack of interest in training students to give continuity to the Kodokan judo school. He ignored, for example, the belt ranking system conceived by Kano Jigoro, which constituted one of the pedagogical foundations of the Kodokan judo school. He taught judo techniques to his students with a method that gave little emphasis to philosophical concepts or a pedagogical framework. Therefore, students like Carlos Gracie learned an eclectic program that mixed judo with wrestling. For Carlos, particularly, this would have made more sense, since the Gracies were in the business of professional wrestling. Moreover, Mayeda and Jacyntho Ferro were deeply involved in prizefighting at this time."

    -MODERNIZATION, NATIONALISM AND THE ELITE: the Genesis of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, 1905-1920, José Cairus, Doutorando em História pela York University – Toronto – Canadá. http://revistas.udesc.br/index.php/t...022011100/1910
    Now darkness comes; you don't know if the whales are coming. - Royce Gracie


    KosherKickboxer has t3h r34l chi sao

    In De Janerio, in blackest night,
    Luta Livre flees the fight,
    Behold Maeda's sacred tights;
    Beware my power... Blue Lantern's light!

  7. #7
    BKR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Phillips View Post
    Cheers, Ben. Yes, this is basically the long email I sent you for comment. I am going to start methodically laying out references, but I thought I would get some specific requests first to get the most needed stuff out there.

    Regarding the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Academy matches, I know the general discussion (at least at the old JudoForum) focused on the lack of newspaper reports as a negative indicator that those matches ever occurred. It think this is in general a good argument if there is a reasonable expectation of press coverage for such events. However, E.J. Harrison, himself a member of the Meiji-period Japanese press, makes it clear that admission to such events was "by invitation" and continues to note that "JuJutsu gossip did not then figure in the sporting columns of the native press like boxing and wrestling in America and England, though ample space was allotted to Sumo matches during the season." -The Fighting Spirit of Japan, p. 34

    I think it is correct to demand as much evidence as possible for the existence of these matches, but the specific negative argument that the lack of newspaper reports is evidence they never happened is, I think, essentially discredited by Harrison's remarks here.

    The matches between Tenabe and various high ranking members of the Kodokan are fairly well documented, as you note, but every reference I have found for the major Kodokan defeat at the hands of a large team of Tenabe's pupils traces to pages 12-16 of Osaekomi by Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki, which I will be ordering tomorrow unless your copy magically appears ;)

    Looking forward to the remainder of your comments. Rest assured there are a lot of references assembled now; I'll start rolling them out in a day or so.
    Note before work rodeo begins...I will be checking tonight with one of my students to see if he brought the book back...if in fact he ever had it.

    Ben
    Falling for Judo since 1980

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  8. #8
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    Ming Loyalist's Avatar
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    nice work. i'll go ahead and assume that you have read this http://www.amazon.com/Way-Judo-Portr...162/ref=sr_1_1 which i am currently in the middle of. i don't think that the level of detail is going to be high enough to help with your project, but it's up your alley.
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  9. #9
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    Yep. Just finished it. It's a good biography, but almost completely lacking in references, which is a shame considering Stevens' academic background.
    Now darkness comes; you don't know if the whales are coming. - Royce Gracie


    KosherKickboxer has t3h r34l chi sao

    In De Janerio, in blackest night,
    Luta Livre flees the fight,
    Behold Maeda's sacred tights;
    Beware my power... Blue Lantern's light!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ming Loyalist View Post
    nice work. i'll go ahead and assume that you have read this http://www.amazon.com/Way-Judo-Portr...162/ref=sr_1_1 which i am currently in the middle of. i don't think that the level of detail is going to be high enough to help with your project, but it's up your alley.
    One thing I got from TWoJ was an appreciation of how young, and relatively untrained Kano was when he started the Kodokan. I have always been sort of suspicious of Carlos Gracie for doing exactly that (setting up shop as a young man without a lot of training); I was shocked to see Kano doing essentially the exact thing I had been critical of.

    This is Carlos Gracie's timeline:

    Age 15 - Enters Conde Koma Judô Clube in Belém
    Age 20 - Relocates to Rio, begins first small dojo
    Age 28 - Formally founds Academia Gracie

    This is Kano's timeline

    Age 17 - Begins study of Tenjin Shinyo-ryu under Fakuda
    Age 19 - Continues study of Tenjin Shinyo-ryu under Iso
    Age 21 - Begins study of Dai Nihon Den Kito Judo under Iikubo - Begins small dojo
    Age 22 - Formally founds Kodokan Judo
    Age 23 - Receives Menkyo in Dai Nihon Den Kito Judo from Iikubo

    So we have two parallel accounts...

    (1) After several years of teaching in his own home and other small venues, Carlos Gracie founds Academia Gracie, likely without teaching licensure, after receiving 4 or 5 years of training at the dojo of Mitsuyo Maeda. He is credited with taking what he was taught and creating a revolutionary system whose efficiency is still in evidence today.

    (2) After several years of teaching in his own home and other small venues, Jigoro Kano founds Kodokan Judo without teaching licensure, after receiving 5 years of combined training at the dojos of Fakuda, Iso and Iikubo. He is credited with taking what he was taught and creating a revolutionary system whose efficiency is still in evidence today.

    This does not make Carlos' story accurate, but it does highlight that one can't dispense with stories like Carlos' because they sound exceptional, while accepting others of the same generation as having done the same thing.
    Last edited by Matt Phillips; 9/29/2014 4:28pm at .
    Now darkness comes; you don't know if the whales are coming. - Royce Gracie


    KosherKickboxer has t3h r34l chi sao

    In De Janerio, in blackest night,
    Luta Livre flees the fight,
    Behold Maeda's sacred tights;
    Beware my power... Blue Lantern's light!

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