1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Judo, Nippon Kempo

    Yokoyama's Judo Kyohan (book review)

    Since I'm on holyday and I've not much to do, I'm re-reading a book that I bought some years ago: "Judo" by Sakujiro Yokoyama & Eisuke Oshima.

    The book is, I think, out of print in english, but it was published in Italy in 2008 (translated from the english edition), so I tought that a review of the book could be of interest.

    Enbglish edition:

    Italian edition:

    About the book and the authors

    This book was originally written in 1909 and is arguably the first complete book on judo, certainly the first complete book that appeared in english, so it has an obvious historical interest.

    Sakujiro Yokoyama was one of the original four strong guys of the Kodokan, those who fought the various bouts against other ju-jitsu schools:

    Eisuke Oshima was an high school principal, who also praticed judo and co-authored the book.

    The original translator (from japanese to english) admits that he doesn't know judo, so he had some problems about the translation.

    The book was presented to Jigoro Kano before publication, and Kano gave his seal of approval (another reason this book is historically interesting).

    Contents of the book

    The book opens with an introduction about judo and ju-jitsu, then there are some chapters about general principles such as phisical training, the correct mindset for the judo pratictioner, the concept of breaking the opponent's position, stance and footwork, basic grips (kumi kata), and basic breakfalls.

    Then there is a long chapter that describes the nage no kata in detail, as a sort of instructional manual.

    Then there is another long chapter describing each technique of the go-kyo, again in detail (one or two pages for technique in the italian edition).

    Then there is a (shorter) chapter about groundfighting, that presents some techniques (but says absolutely nothing about positions, the "guard" etc.). The techniques are more or less those that compose the katame no kata, although the book doesn't present them as such.

    Finally there is an ultra-short chapter about atemi (strikes to vital points), that gives a description of the most commont (according to the author) atemi (seven in total). the whole chapter is 3 pages long in the italian edition.

    The book has a lot of pictures, that are sometimes historically interesting in themselves (e.g. pictures of Kano performing uki goshi and Mataemon Tanabe demonstrating some ne-waza).

    Weird stuff

    The book as a whole is a detailed judo manual, but won't tell aything new to someone who already has some knowledge of judo. However there are a few things that I found curious that I'll report in no particolar order:

    1) the book is very big on phisical training, and says explicitly that the stronger you are, the better (Yokoyama was known as a phisically very strong guy).
    The book says that there is a legend that judo and ju-jitsu are not for the phisically strong, but this is probably a misunderstanding because people who are very strong will often use sloppy technique as their strenght cover for the errors, but if you follow the techniques correctly strenght is not a disadvantage (duh). It's interesting that someone had to explain this already in 1909.

    2) I'm used to the idea that judo techniques can be broken down in the 3 stages of: kuzushi, tsukuri and kake. The book instead says that there are only two stages, tsukuri and kake. It says that breaking the position is tsukuri from the point of view of the defender, whereas getting in position is tsukuri from the point of view of the attacker, but the two are really the same movement seen from the same point of view (throgout the book the terms of attacker and defender are used instead than tori and uke).

    3) In the pictures, very often people wear judogis with very short sleeves (that scarcely cover the elbows), that would make many present day gripping methods impossible. In facts grips to the sleeve are allways between the elbow and the shoulder in the pictures.

    4) In the description of the nage no kata, okuri ashi barai is performed when uke is moving backwards, not sideways as is customary today.

    5) o soto gari is very different from modern day o soto gari: while in modern day tori swings the legs vertically up and then down, in the book tori is instructed to swing the leg horizontally and then to reap with an horizontal circular motion similar to that of o uchi gari (there is also a picture that clearly shows tori swinging the leg to his left).

    6) seoi otoshi is also very different from modern day seoi otoshi: tori grabs uke's belt with the left, then turns and kneels while grabbing uke's right shoulder with his right arm and throws. It's described as a very uncommon technique.

    7) there is a weird standing armlock that I never saw called "ude-hisigi": tori grabs uke's arm before uke can grip, and straighten it palm up. Meanwhile tori wraps his other arm around uke's extended arm from above, and then grabs his own lapel so that he blocks uke's elbow from below. Then tori extends the elbow by pushing down uke's arm.

    8) the version of hadaka jime that is explained (and shown in the picture) is not the one currently performed in the katame no kata (that is an air choke done with the wrist against uke's trachea) but the RNC that is most commonly used in BJJ (a blood choke with tori's elbow pointing toward uke's navel and the other arm that controls uke's back of the head).

    9) There are various pictures ne-waza techniques performed by Mataemon Tanabe, who is famous for beating various judo guys through ground fighting and for being specialized in leglocks, but the two pictures of ashi-garami are not performed by Tanabe. He poses as a tori for: one version of kata gatame, yoko shio gatame, juji gatame (called jumonji gatame in the book), and hadaka jime.

    10) In many techniques where I'm used to the idea that I have to bend my legs and get lower, they don't even pretend to bend their legs (e.g. seoi nage is performed with completely straight legs, with somewhat wide feet).

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Thanks for the review.........interesting.


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