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An examination of the place of the martial arts in Japanese culture includes discussions of the history, philosophy, and techniques of judo, karate, wrestling, and fencing.
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The Fighting Spirit of Japan: The Esoteric Study of the Martial Arts and Way of Life in Japan
THE LATE DR. JIGORO KANO Founder of the Kodokan
THE FIGHTING SPIRIT
The Esoteric Study of the Martial Arts
and Way of Life in Japan
E. J. Harrison
BY THE SAME AUTHOR:
Peace or War East of Baikal
Lithuania Past and Present
Lithuania’s Fight for Freedom
Lithuania: A Review
The Red Camarilla
The Art of Jujutsu
The Manual of Judo
Judo on the Ground
TRANSLATOR AND EDITOR OF:
M. Kawaishi’s My Method of Judo
Physical Culture in General
History and Rationale of Judo
Judo in Action
A Champion’s Reminiscences
Karate and Aikido
Post-War Expansion of Judo
Fencing, Wrestling and Sword Dancing
The Esoteric Aspects of Bujutsu
The Esoteric Aspects of Bujutsu—concluded
Practice after Precept
More about Kiai
The Zen Cult in Japan
The Japanese Equivalent of the Yogi
The Cult of Cold Steel
The Art of Ninsō or Physiognomy
The Sock and Buskin
The Japanese Eternal Feminine
“The Nightless City”
The late Dr. Jigoro Kano, Founder of The Kodokan
Japanese Archer Mounted. Feudal Period
The late Shuichi Nagaoka, 10th Dan
Kyuzo Mifune when 5th Dan
The Butokukai, Kyoto
Three Famous Fencing Masters
The late Sakujiro Yokoyama when Director of The Kodokan
Kunimiya and Umegatani about to close. Umpire in the background
Portrait of the Author showing Pectoral and Abdominal Muscles due to Judo Practice
The late Nobuyuki Kunishige
Swords formerly belonging to Yoritomo (1147-1199). Founder of the Shogunate
Seki’s Residence in Shiba, Tokyo
The Author Writing the Figure “One” in Japanese for Seki’s Examination
The “Nō” Dance styled “Mori Hisa”
A Girl “Nō” Dancer
Hosho Shin impersonating “Benkei”
Scene from “Sakura-Shigure”
Japanese Girl Playing the Gekkin
The Japanese Bow
Japanese Girl in Outdoor Costume
For practical help and encouragement in the compilation of these pages my thanks are due first to my friend Mr. Y. Umewaza, whom I have mentioned more particularly elsewhere, then to the famous judo instructors Dr. Jigoro Kano, Mr. Yokoyama and Mr. Kunishige, who have contributed valuable data. My great friend Mr. D. T. Weed, also a fellow student of judo, was of great assistance in furnishing hints and material bearing on phases of that art.
For the inspiration that led to the addition of the chapter on Japanese physiognomy I am deeply indebted to Mr. R. J. H. Mitwer of Tokyo, and to the Japanese expert himself, Mr. Seki, who went out of his way to furnish me with a valuable exposition of a fascinating subject.
In response to a steadily growing demand which has more or less kept pace with the increasing popularity of judo as reflected in the phenomenal post-war expansion of the art throughout the world, my publishers have had the enterprise to issue my book The Fighting Spirit of Japan, written in early pre-war years and perhaps more topical today in the light of past and present happenings in the world. The retention of the original title must not be construed as condonation of Japan’s lamentable record during the last war but simply as an indispensable recognition of the fact that the Martial Arts are closely connected with the esoteric mind of the Japanese.
For despite the crimes of the Japanese militarists in the last war it cannot be denied that the Japanese soldier always has been a first class fighting man and that the well authenticated feats of arms of individual members of the samurai or shizoku class and of old-time exponents of jujutsu have rarely if ever been equalled in other parts of the world. Moreover in our own less spacious and colourful epoch by no means exempt from “moving accidents by flood and field”, the best Westerners are still no match for the best Japanese judoka for reasons connected not only with congenital characteristics but also with subsequent physical and mental training, to which reference is made later on in these pages.
I have discarded a few chapters on subjects not strictly apposite to its overall purpose and therefore redundant to it. On the other hand I have interpolated a certain amount of fresh material designed to bring the story up to date, e.g. the passages descriptive of karate and aikido more especially. I have retained the chapters on the Zen school of Buddhism, the practice of Za-Zen, the cult of cold steel, Nō dancing, the Japanese theatre and the art of Ninsō, or physiognomy because they seem to me to illuminate distinctive, so to say, “spiritual” components of the Japanese national mentality.
I also ask the reader to bear in mind that the book was written before the turbulent years which have passed, and at the same time to appreciate that the explanation of Japan’s behaviour may perhaps be found in her ancient arts.
The Fighting Spirit of Japan
The following pages, whatever their merits, represent the fruits of nearly twenty years’ residence in Japan, where for the greater part of the time I was engaged in newspaper work for English papers published at Yokohama and Tokyo and later as resident correspondent for English and American home papers.
I made my way to Yokohama from San Francisco in the steerage of the P.M. ss. China during the early summer of 1897, having been engaged at the latter port to join the staff of the Japan Daily Herald as sub-editor. At the risk of somewhat dimming the dignity that should hedge that office, but in the interests of truth, I am bound to say that the aforesaid staff consisted at that time of one other foreigner besides myself, in the solid person of the late Mr. J. H. Brooke, then over seventy years of age but in his day and generation a power to be reckoned with by the Japanese Government as a stalwart opponent of Treaty Revision and a staunch defender of what he conceived to be the interests of all resident foreigners. Subsequently, after the death of Mr. Brooke, I became connected with the Japan Times, the Japan Advertiser, and during the Russo-Japanese war, with the London Daily Mail as its base correspondent in Tokyo. In the course of my residence in Japan I undertook various professional trips beyond the boundaries of the country returning to England via Siberia immediately after the war and again travelling more recently in Korea, South and North Manchuria, other parts of North China and East Siberia to study the situation. This book, however, is not intended to describe in detail my personal experiences as a journalist in Japan; that task would require more space than I have at my disposal and leave little or no room for other purposes more germane to the plan I have mapped out. The talented and witty author of Letters of a Self-made Merchant to his Son speaks somewhere of an old reprobate who took normal sustenance now and then just to be sociable, but lived chiefly on tobacco. Somewhat analogously of myself I might say that although I was obliged to work as a journalist in order to earn my daily bread, yet during the first few years of my stay in the country I lived more particularly for the study of the language and the practice of the celebrated art of judo, more commonly known abroad in those days as jujutsu. As a boy in Lancashire I had always been fond of wrestling. Then for a year or more, while working as city editor of a local paper at Nanaimo, British Columbia, I studied catch-as-catch-can systematically under one Jack Stewart, a favourite pupil of Dan McLeod, otherwise known as the “Californian Wonder”, although he was actually a native of Nova Scotia, and gained his first scientific experience of mat work at Nanaimo, which small coal-mining town could perhaps produce among its collier population a proportionately larger number of skilful wrestlers than any other spot on the continent. With such strenuous antecedents, therefore, what more natural than that immediately after my arrival in Japan I should cast around for some similar method of getting rid of my surplus energy? I gained my first introduction to jujutsu about that juncture in the course of a nocturnal adventure which brought me into contact with the Yokohama police, when I was rather chagrined to discover that my catch-as-catch-can repertoire of tricks was of scant avail against even a third-rate exponent of what is now properly known as judo. Not relishing this feeling of inferiority in comparison with a man considerably smaller than myself, although I am no Goliath, I speedily set about repairing these deficiencies. With the help of the Japan Herald’s Japanese translator I found out a local dojo or school of jujutsu referred to elsewhere in these pages. Its proprietor was a small Japanese named Hagiwara Ryoshinsai, a disciple of the Tenjin Shinyo-ryu and a wonderful little man in his way. Although in stand-up wrestling, known technically as Tachiwaza, he would have been no match for the black-belt brigade of the famous Kodokan of Tokyo, yet in what followers of the art have designated “ground work” he possessed remarkable skill and a neck of such indiarubber-like elasticity and strength as to defy my utmost efforts to strangle him even when he deliberately exposed himself to my attack and chokelock. In this small school of not more than fifteen mats I gained a good deal of rough-and-tumble experience, my opponents being drafted chiefly from the bourgeois element with an occasional coolie thrown in. At the outset I sustained numerous nasty falls, a cracked collar-bone at one stage of the proceedings putting me out of action for several months and almost incapacitating me for professional work, to the no small disgust of my venerable employer Mr. Brooke, who had never in his life been under the spell of athletics and therefore regarded my distraction as more than a mild form of lunacy.
By dint of perseverance coupled with “beef” I began to gain proficiency, and was eventually given the grade of shodan at this small dojo. With very rare exceptions I was the only foreigner who ever attended. One disadvantage was that practice took place only at night after dinner, and another was that the interior was always visible from the outside, nothing more substantial than a low hoarding separating the wrestling mats from the roadway. Naturally the sight and sound of incessant struggle invariably attracted a large crowd of spectators, and when I chanced to be holding the floor the rush and scramble for seats in the stalls were fiercer than ever. My own attitude towards this unsought-for publicity was direct and simple. During the initial stages of my novitiate, while I continued to be an “easy mark” for every juvenile “disciple” with blood in his eye and a mad desire to feel what it was like to hurl a foreign devil through the heated air, quite frankly on hearing the noisy laugh and ill-bred chaff of the hoi polloi onlookers I asked myself what the deuce I chanced to be doing on board that galley. Later, however, when I began to “put it over” the majority I thoroughly enjoyed this notoriety, and tried to look blandly unconscious every time the downfall of a victim elicited a groan of patriotic disgust from the disgruntled spectators.
I should add that my jujutsu activities were by no means confined to the Tenjin Shinyo-ryu dojo. Reports of my very modest prowess in the “soft art” having reached the ears of the Yokohama police I was invited to practise with them at the central Kagacho police station which exercised jurisdiction over the foreign settlement. This interval happened to coincide with my connexion with a foreign paper which left me more or less free to devote my mornings after breakfast to keiko (practice) on the mats of the police dojo. There too I usually got the better of the rank and file without much difficulty but did not fare quite so well when trying conclusions with visiting police yudansha (black belt holders) from Tokyo some of whom had no doubt graduated from the Kodokan. Moreover the chief instructor of the Kagacho police station dojo, although not a disciple of the Kodokan but the product of another ryugi or school of jujutsu the name of which I cannot recall, was none the less a decidedly formidable customer and especially adept in Newaza, otherwise “ground work”. I am not at all likely to forget this stalwart seeing that it is to him that I owe my first introduction to the Kansetsuwaza known as the Ashigarami, or Leg Entanglement, and that too on no less important an occasion than a specially organized demonstration of jujutsu at the Kagacho police station before the late Prince Henry of Prussia who was then visiting the port with the German Far Eastern squadron of which he was the admiral. I had been paired with the Japanese instructor and greatly to my youthful chagrin it was not long before I was forced to submit to this particular lock of which I had until then been ignorant.
With the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese war in 1904 I moved to the capital and there joined the Kodokan whose 250 mats were in striking contrast to the humble fifteen of the Yokohama wrestling haunt. Here too I soon found that I was a mere tyro in the art and had to unlearn a good many bad habits engendered by the fault of relying too much upon brute strength instead of upon skill.
In connexion with the study and practice of judo my attention was drawn to the part which a certain kind of occultism plays in the armoury of really efficient masters. The relegation of the seat of courage to the lower abdomen (shitahara or more elegantly saika tanden in Japanese), and the contention that the concentration of strength in that portion of the body is, as it were, the alpha and omega of fighting capacity, at once impressed me profoundly as plausible and original theories worthy of investigation. By actual experiment I found that these claims were more than idle and empty theorizing and that the habit of deep abdominal breathing, if pursued as directed by the Japanese teachers of martial arts, and side by side with the practical study of the latter, would generally lead to a marked development of defensive and offensive power.
That more gush and drivel have been written about Japan than about any other country in the world is a fact too notorious to require special proof and I should be loath to add my “sum of more to that which has too much”. Nevertheless, even when due allowance has been made for exaggeration I think it will be generally admitted that the Japanese race as a whole possesses the fighting knack. Of course the country has its full quota of weaklings, and the average Japanese man in the street is by no means an impressive object. Still, if I were asked to sum up the physical characteristics of the Japanese in as few words as possible, I should undoubtedly say that these people are usually stronger than they look, whereas with us the opposite is very often the case—i.e. we frequently look stronger than we are. I have dealt with this aspect of the question in subsequent chapters, but it may be said here that some of the most powerful Japanese of my acquaintance make very indifferent tailors’ dummies. I have in mind as I write the judo instructor at Keio University, Mr. Iizuka, who, when clad in Western garments and seen from behind might very easily be taken for a schoolboy but who, when stripped, displays the thews and sinews of a miniature Hercules. Again, admitting that the average Japanese is hardly a match for the average Englishman or American in a fight with Nature’s weapons, Europe and America have had ample proof that on these terms the Japanese specialist is nearly always certain to be the victor. Investigation will show that there are purely technical reasons for this outcome, but one object of a portion of this book is to demonstrate that the offensive and defensive ability of the Japanese specialist is not based solely upon technical reasons. I will even go so far as to declare my opinion that, given equal technical skill on either side, until we have learned thoroughly the lesson of abdominal power the Japanese will nearly always defeat his Western opponent in a fight to a finish with or without weapons, firearms of course excluded. In the following pages I have tried to explain in as simple language as possible the secret of this marked superiority. I am prepared to incur in some quarters the reproach of mendacity on the score of what I have written; but if my modest efforts gain an occasional convert I shall not complain, for a little leaven will sometimes leaven the lump, while if those whose opinion really counts will take the trouble to trace my statements back to their original sources they will speedily be satisfied of my bona fides.
It should be pointed out that the book is in no sense a technical exposition of these Japanese arts but rather an imperfect first attempt to arrive at their rationale, both esoteric and exoteric; nor is it intended to be that and nothing more. On the contrary, I have ventured to deal with several other distinctively Japanese subjects which, during my residence in Japan occupied part of the leisure that could be spared from purely professional duties. I do not say that these subjects have never before been handled by a foreign author, but I do say that I have handled them here either quite independently or with recourse to Japanese originals. While the chapters devoted to the esoteric and exoteric aspects of judo form a more or less connected narrative, other chapters may be read as distinct and separate studies, and the rest are offered simply as lighter samples of actual personal experiences of Japanese town and country life.
The Japanese floor mat called tatami is usually about 6 ft. long, 3 ft. wide, and 2 in. thick, consisting of toko (made of rice straw bound together), tightly covered with a straw mat called the omote, with the edges neatly bordered with cloth. Mats used in judo exercise are about the same size but much more strongly made. A detailed description will be found in the chapter on the subject.
The alleged physical deterioration of the Japanese people has for years exercised the minds of public-spirited Japanese. During the feudal era the samurai class were of necessity devoted to the strenuous life, while the common people, save under stress of circumstances were frankly sedentary in their habits, if we except worthies like the renowned Chobei of Bandzuin, himself of samurai origin, and his fellow wardsmen, the famous Otokodate of the old Yedo. The young samurai was subject to the severest discipline and underwent careful training in all manly exercises. These even included initiation at an early age into the grim ritual imperatively observed by a daimyo or samurai condemned to commit seppuku (more vulgarly harakiri) or disembowelment. For a detailed account of how this truly blood-curdling method of suicide used to be carried out in those spacious days of derring-do I cannot do better than refer the reader to that delightful classic, Lord Redesdale’s Tales of Old Japan. Even today, although seppuku has no legal sanction, cases are not unknown where members of the shizoku, or former military class, and the present-day gentry have voluntarily chosen the method of “happy despatch”, as disembowelment is sometimes rather euphemistically termed, as a means of departing this life. In my day the most dramatic and impressive example of seppuku was furnished by the celebrated General Nogi, the victor of Port Arthur, in the Russo-Japanese war, who on the very stroke of midnight on the day of the death of his Imperial master, the Emperor Mutsuhito, killed himself in this manner while at the same time his wife cut her throat before the family altar or kamidana of the deeply revered national Shinto cult of ancestor worship.
In the present more enlightened era the samurai have lost their former calling and fill other walks in life besides those that are essentially military, naval or official. They may even be found in menial positions, sometimes serving as house “boys” or even pulling jinrikisha in the streets of the capital! I once knew the scion of a Hatamoto family (retainers of the Shogun) who earned his livelihood as a clerk in a foreign firm and devoted his leisure to wine, women and song.
A good many years ago the Yorozu Choho, a popular Tokyo newspaper, published the following remarks on physical culture in Japan:
“The patriots of this country will learn with regret that the Japanese people as a whole is growing physically weaker and weaker as years roll on. It is true that physical education has always been encouraged to a certain extent among our younger generation and as a result many of our young men take kindly to Western sports such as baseball and boating. It is also true that animal diet, which was almost unknown in feudal Japan, has been adopted by a large section of our people since this country began intercourse with Europe and America. In the face of these facts it would seem that the bodily health of the Japanese might have improved. Yet the fact is that instead of improving it is slowly but surely declining. And there can be no doubt about this because no less authorities than Lieutenant-Colonel Yokoi and Lieutenant-Colonel Hirano, who have long been engaged in conscript examination, assert that the results of these examinations show a most lamentable tendency towards deterioration in the health of the Japanese. In recent addresses to a small gathering of Tokyo journalists these two officers gave some interesting facts in the above context. From them we learn that the percentage of recruits who are physically strong enough to come under the first and second classes is steadily diminishing year after year. We also learn that, compared with Europeans, the average Japanese male and female are smaller in stature by 3.3 and 3.7 sun respectively, and lighter in weight by 2 and 2.6 kan respectively. (The Japanese sun is a little more than an English inch and the kan a fraction under 8 lb.) The Japanese soldier is, on an average, 5 shaku 2.4 sun in height, while the English soldier is 5 shaku 5.5 sun, the Russian 5 shaku 6.2 sun, the German about the same, and the French 5 shaku 6 sun; so that the stature of the soldiers of these four Powers is, on an average, 5 shaku 6.13 sun and is greater than that of our soldiers by 3.73 sun. (The Japanese shaku may be roughly calculated as almost equivalent to the English foot.) These figures clearly show that our men are inferior in physical development to the European troops. This is not reassuring, but what must trouble the minds of Japanese patriots most seriously is a statement made by our authorities that of all classes of society the students of our public and private schools above the grade of middle-school are physically the worst. The students of the Imperial University are, on an average, 5 shaku 2.8 sun in height and about 112 lb. in weight. Walking in Hongo or its vicinity one may often meet a slightly built, pale-faced, listless, spectacled young man clad in a brass-buttoned uniform, carrying a bundle of notebooks and hurrying along with unsteady steps. He is a good representative of the university student of which class the future backbone of the nation is to be composed. Will this nation when it comes to be guided by these sickly men continue with any degree of success the great race for self-preservation against the robust and unflinching peoples of Europe and America?”
Such laments as the foregoing are less frequent today than before the Russo-Japanese war which afforded very striking evidence that superior weight and stature do not necessarily imply greater fighting capacity or staying power. For the rest, my own personal experience and observation are far from bearing out the conclusions of the military men above quoted. I have myself frequently had occasion to observe that many Japanese, to the inexperienced eye small and apparently of no particular strength, were in reality “built from the ground up”, as the saying is, and so agile as to more than compensate for the extra “beef” of the bulkier European. It is unfortunately true that men of this kind are not in a majority. But what about our own country? Is a perfectly sound physique the rule instead of the exception in our bigger cities? After having had dinned into my ears for years before I came to the country the smallness of everything Japanese, I was somewhat astonished on visiting for the first time Yokosuka, the seat of the Government dockyard situated at the entrance to Tokyo Bay, to see hundreds of soldiers and sailors well over 5 ft. 7 in. in height and powerfully built withal. In the days before the First World War, when Russian bluejackets could not infrequently be seen at Yokohama, dapper “boys” in restaurants of an inferior type have often been known to expel without difficulty Muscovite opponents apparently huge enough to eat them. In short the Japanese with additional height and avoirdupois would not necessarily be a gainer; he would probably have to sacrifice no insignificant part of his present agility and alertness. It should, however, be recorded that irrespective of the gigantic professional wrestlers known as sumotori about whom I shall have something to say later on in these pages, there are today among the thousands of both practising and retired yudansha of the Kodokan many men who in any country would be regarded as “outsizes” with weights in many cases of as much as seventeen or eighteen stone and heights of six feet or over.
It is well known that the Japanese have imported several Western forms of sport and athletic exercises, but with the exception perhaps of baseball it cannot fairly be said that they excel in any. Baseball, however, is a game which appeals strongly to their constitutional preferences and it is one for which their quickness of hand and eye and their bodily agility admirably qualify them. There is scarcely a school in the Empire without its “nine”, and during my residence in Japan the leading teams of the higher schools and universities (notably Keio and Waseda) were as a rule more than a match for the foreign players of the old treaty ports, and could give even American collegiate players a run for their money. Young Japan also takes kindly to lawn-tennis and one may frequently see the game being played vigorously on open plots of ground in the capital and elsewhere, sometimes with very primitive equipment. A foreign instructor at the Keiogijiku College, Tokyo, many years ago inaugurated Rugby football among the students and matches were in my time regularly organized between the local foreign fifteens and the Japanese, though in these the latter were far less successful than on the diamond. Cricket too has so far failed to attract the Japanese. Cycling, however, is immensely popular, and though no Japanese champion has yet approached the records of the West, the country has nevertheless produced riders who have beaten foreigners on local tracks. I was myself a keen cyclist as well as an ardent judoka in those early days and as a member of a Yokohama cycling club enjoyed many a collective country run occasionally as guests of a distinctly aristocratic Japanese club of the metropolis. Rowing in foreign-style has been taken up enthusiastically, the universities, schools and even many banks and companies having their crews. The periodical regattas on the Sumida River, Tokyo, are red-letter events in the social life of the capital and attract enormous crowds, more especially the spring regatta which is held during the cherry-blossom season. But in my day Japanese crews had not yet adopted the sliding seat and were therefore outclassed by the foreign crews of Yokohama and Kobe.
The Japanese are fond of swimming and among the younger generation of students and the coast population may be found some splendid long-distance swimmers. Schools of natation teach the art in a systematic manner, and although the best racing times in Japan are not quite equal to the best Western figures, a Japanese expert can perform some truly wonderful feats—such, for example, as diving into deep water and maintaining a position with the water no higher than the loins, when he will fire a musket or a bow and arrow, write on a slate, paint a picture on a fan with a brush or move freely in every direction as though walking on solid ground. The expert, while rarely emulating the graceful high swallow dive of the European or American, can plunge head downwards from a great height and strike the surface of the water with his chest without sinking or wetting the face and head. In some mysterious way he contrives to obviate the painful consequences which the impact would inevitably entail upon the foreigner who should essay this feat in the absence of the necessary esoteric knowledge. It is said that the old-time samurai frequently made use of this trick when crossing a river or stream with their armour and weapons on their heads.
The above statements may be accepted as true, but it is to be regretted that the vernacular newspapers in Japan sometimes publish the most startling stories of the marvellous feats performed by indigenous Captain Webbs. For instance, they once described how several bold students had swum from Tokyo to Yokohama, a distance of nearly twenty miles, in less than ten hours. This would mean that they kept up an average speed of thirty minutes per mile or half a mile in fifteen minutes! The best racing speed in Tokyo by the best Japanese swimmer in my day was over nine minutes for the quarter mile; and it took a good foreign swimmer at Yokohama more than eighteen minutes to cover the half-mile in a race. What adds to the improbability of the story is that these ten hours included stoppages for a smoke, “chow” and a call in at a certain swimming-ground at Kanagawa! The feat may indeed be called natation extraordinary. On the other hand, as illustrative of the antiquity of swimming in Japan, it may interest foreign readers to be told that the famous crawl stroke of the Occident, which is there of comparatively recent origin, has been known and practised in Japan for hundreds of years, in addition to not a few other methods of progression in the water which would doubtless come as a revelation to Europe and America.
It is the practice for students of the universities and schools to repair to the seaside during the summer months and there train systematically, regular courses of instruction being given to those who wish for them. Fancy swimming is a popular feature of the periodical competitions which are held and, as intimated above, some of the feats which Japanese experts can accomplish are of a surprising character. Very strict discipline is maintained both on these occasions and at the permanent swimming-schools which exist in various parts of the country. The pupils are carefully classified as in judo and fencing and all other forms of physical prowess. Caps of different colours are worn as distinguishing badges, and pupils below a certain grade are not allowed to swim beyond a specified boundary for fear of accidents. Several international competitions which have been held between Japanese and foreign representatives at Yokohama and Tokyo have for the most part resulted in victory for the Japanese, though by a narrow margin; but in almost every instance the foreigners have carried off the long-distance event less because their powers of endurance are superior to those of the Japanese than because on these occasions the Japanese long-distance champions were unable to compete. Nor must the point be overlooked that whereas the Japanese representatives have been virtually the pick of the nation, the foreigners have had to select their men from among a very small community, the younger members of which, engaged as most of them are in some business occupation, have nothing like the same amount of leisure for training as their Japanese rivals. Considering the circumstances, their achievements against the Japanese are something to be proud of, though it is to be regretted that Japanese papers, in reporting such contests, should usually write as though the élite of Japan had beaten the élite of Europe and America.
Archery is a very common pastime in Japan, nearly every town and village having one or more ranges at which, for a very small pecuniary consideration, all and sundry may try their skill. During my first years in Yokohama I spent many an enjoyable evening at a favourite daikyuba, or archery range, in the popular resort known among foreigners as Theatre Street and among the Japanese as Isezakicho. The keeper of the range was a member of the shizoku class and a man of splendid physique. He had a fine collection of bows, some of considerable age, the actual weapons of the ante-Meiji clansmen. Some of these bows were so strong that I could scarcely bend them at all, not to speak of using them with any hope of making a bull’s-eye, albeit the proprietor could handle them with comparative ease.
Without attempting to enter into a technical description of how the bow is used in Japan, I am safe in saying that there is a right way and a wrong way of holding it, fitting the arrow, drawing and releasing it. And in this context I can still remember the real distress experienced by the burly proprietor on those occasions, not infrequent, when some of my foreign companions and I fitted the arrow on the wrong side of the bow and held the bow in the incorrect position. One of these companions, a fellow-journalist on a local foreign paper, now, alas, no more, was an incorrigible offender in this respect. What added to the enormity of his offences was that in spite of these—so to speak—arch heresies, he always got nearer to the bull’s-eye than the Japanese habitués who never drew a bow without having conscientiously indulged in a number of preliminary flourishes such as baring their good right arms by throwing back their ample sleeves over their shoulders, raising the bow with a spasmodic gesture, and so forth. It was really heartrending to note the persistency with which they missed after all this elaborate ceremonial; but I think I am right in saying that they themselves would far rather have missed, and the proprietor would far rather have had them miss in proper form than score by such irregular practices as those indulged in by my friend who, with a cigar between his teeth, the bow held horizontally instead of perpendicularly, and the arrow on the wrong side, would wing his shafts into the very centre of the target with a monotonous frequency which afforded him unalloyed satisfaction and the unhappy and orthodox proprietor ineffable disgust. Archery ranges are generally provided at higher-grade schools and competitive meetings are frequently held. The standard bow is made of inlaid layers of bamboo and is 8 ft. long, while the shaft measures 3 ft., and is tipped with hawk’s or eagle’s feathers.
Horsemanship is not a form of exercise with which the Japanese betray any promise of witching a wondering world at an early date. As I am a very amateur rider myself I cannot pretend to write as an expert, but even a novice can tell when he is looking at a centaur or at a meal-bag perilously balanced on the top of the saddle. Most Japanese equestrians belong to the latter category. Kipling has said things about the Japanese cavalry with which most foreigners are in agreement; but it must in justice be added that here, as in all other branches of the military service, desperate efforts were in my day being made to effect improvement, although the Japanese by heredity seem to be unfitted to excel as a horsemaster. And in any case it must be added that the wholesale military mechanization which has taken place in virtually all armies of the world since the publication of the original edition of this book has largely eliminated the practical need of cavalry in the conduct of actual warfare, although for ceremonial purposes it still survives. Constitutionally your average Japanese would appear to have little love for animals and, as more than one correspondent at the front had occasion to remark during the war with Russia, the trooper as a rule regards his mount more as an enemy to be bullied than as a friend and companion to be treated with affectionate consideration. The Japanese authorities of those days were themselves fully aware of these shortcomings, and in the Horse Administration Bureau established in 1906 under the direct control of the Cabinet and with a Privy Councillor and an ex-Minister of State as its chief, an organ was created whose chief duty it was to better the breed of horses. Whereas prior to the war with Russia horse-racing had been virtually confined to the meets organized by the Nippon Race Club, an institution founded by foreigners but with Japanese members, thanks to the efforts of the above mentioned bureau, which often took the form of substantial subsidies and prizes, numerous purely Japanese clubs sprang up all over the country, and in the season hardly a day passed without its race meeting. The Japanese law forbids gambling, but the pari mutuel had all along been tacitly permitted at the meetings of the Nippon Race Club, and for some time after the Russo-Japanese war similar latitude was extended to the Japanese organizations. Then suddenly the judicial authorities woke up and resolved that both the letter and the spirit of the law must be enforced, and in 1908 the pari mutuel was prohibited. The consequences were disastrous. Most of the newly created clubs whose shares had been boomed up to fabulous figures were reduced to bankruptcy and many went out of business. The popularity of horse-racing had hitherto been almost wholly due to the gambling element, for the Japanese are notorious speculators, and once this incentive and attraction were withdrawn the attendance at the race meetings fell to a vanishing quantity. In this case the interests of the military and civil authorities proved to be antagonistic. The former would fain have had the latter wink at a glaring infringement of the law for the sake of improving the breed of horses through private initiative which was stimulated into action by the prospect of munificent returns, for the most part from the pari mutuel. When this inducement was withdrawn the gilt was off the gingerbread and although race meetings continued they prove to be comparatively spiritless affairs. Nevertheless the Horse Administration Bureau continued to offer prizes and subsidies. Its policy was to keep for the service 1,500 stallions of foreign breed and to distribute them among the principal stud farms where they were to be paired with mares of native breed. The improvement programme was to extend over twenty-eight years and was estimated to require an outlay of Yen 30,000,000 or at the then rate of exchange £3,000,000. The Japanese native stock is traced back to the Mongolian breed with an admixture of Persian blood which seems to have been introduced as early as three centuries ago. The leading stud farms are to be found in the northern districts of the main island and in the Hokkaido where comparatively extensive plains exist. The finest native breed is the Nambu from the Aomori and Iwate prefectures. Other well-known stocks are Hokkaido, Sendai, Miharu and Kagoshima. Thanks to the stimulus afforded by the Horse Investigation Commission, the Government had begun to import foreign horses in fairly large quantities. Since 1906 it had bought extensively, the breeds comprising Arabs, Anglo-Arabs, Australians, hackneys, trotters, Clydesdales, thoroughbreds, etc. In 1906 the Horse Administration Bureau purchased forty-eight horses, in 1907 forty, and in 1908 some forty mares and forty-four stallions; and it is to be presumed that this practice will be steadily pursued in the future.
It is to the credit of the Japanese cavalry arm that notwithstanding the many natural disadvantages under which the Japanese trooper has had to labour, a good deal has been accomplished since the Russo-Japanese war. It cannot be denied that the average Japanese cavalryman has an execrable seat, but for all that he is no weakling and does not easily tire, as has been proved by several decidedly stiff endurance tests. As an instance of what can be done in this direction I may mention the performance of the Eleventh Regiment then stationed in Manchuria. The test took the form of a long-distance ride from Dairen to Kungchuling, a distance of 500 miles, which was covered in five days, four hours and forty-five minutes, exclusive of the time taken for rest en route. According to Japanese authorities, the only previous cavalry feat at all comparable with this was the ride of Austrian troopers between Vienna and Berlin; but in the latter case not only was the distance less but the climatic conditions rendered the test infinitely milder than that to which the Japanese horsemen were subjected. Fifteen men were chosen and divided into three detachments of five men each, commanded by lieutenants. The detachments set out on three consecutive days, from Fushima Park, Dairen, carrying with them an ample supply of ammunition for fear of attack by mounted bandits. As it happened this precaution was justified, for one of the detachments was ambushed by desperadoes near the Shaho River, but after a brisk exchange of fire succeeded in putting the enemy to flight. The same detachment on the second day strayed into swampy ground near Kaiping and spent four hours in covering two miles. On the third day the second detachment overtook the first, and together they indulged in a rest of seven hours, for they had slept on an average only one hour a day during the first three days and were on the point of breakdown. On the fourth day the two detachments crossed the Hun River and rode into Mukden amid loud cries of “Banzai!” from their compatriots. The best time has been given above. The poorest was six days, one hour, and thirty-five minutes.
Under the modern regime physical culture begins early. From his boyhood every able-bodied Japanese is subjected to a training which smacks of militarism, though the framers of the physical curriculum believe in teaching the young idea to do more than shoot. The system is essentially eclectic. Dr. J. M. Davis, in his work entitled The Christian Movement in Japan, has furnished an admirable account of what Japan has been doing in her schools, and from this source I extract a few of the more interesting data. Pupils begin military drill without arms from their fourth year. In the secondary schools, where the drill is compulsory through the entire course of five years, individual and section drill is added in the second year. And before the Second World War during the remaining three years the students were given these drills with arms and in the high schools military training with arms was continued. But from all accounts this system was forbidden by General MacArthur and under the impact of the popular reaction against militarism which attended Japan’s defeat has not yet been resumed. As regards gymnastics, Roberts’s dumb-bell drill, Ling’s ten groups of progressive movements, Barnjurn’s barbell drill, certain series of fancy steps and marches of the Springfield Y.M.C.A. are taught. An excellent custom too is that of long-distance walking excursions in which an entire school or class is expected to take part. These trips last a week or ten days. The boys are divided into companies each of which is led by a teacher, and these companies are divided into squads of ten or twelve boys with their chiefs who are required to report three times a day to the company captain on the condition of their groups. Higher-school boys think nothing of doing their twenty-five or thirty miles a day in this manner. Every boy is expected to carry his own extra clothing and whatever else may be deemed necessary in the way of provision for the trip.
The fairer sex is not being neglected in the matter of physical culture. No longer are young maidens taught that it is the proper thing for them to walk with a sort of chronic stoop supposed to evince a becoming sense of deference and that it is indelicate to permit the feet to stray beyond the lower edge of the kimono. Indeed the very costume of the Japanese school girl has been modified to fit her for her new physical responsibilities. The usual kimono which opens down the front and is confined at the waist with a cumbersome sash called the obi is certainly but ill-adapted to strenuous exercise. To protect the wearer’s modesty at such moments the educational authorities have devised a light skirt, usually maroon-coloured, which covers the lower part of the kimono and is confined at the waist, the clumsy obi being dispensed with. Very frequently too the young ladies wear European-style shoes instead of the native sandals or clogs. In the girls’ schools great attention is now paid to confer grace and ease of movement. Fancy marching and dancing steps, calisthenics, the Swedish stall-bars, the vaulting-horse, and basket-ball have all been naturalized and are helping to revolutionize the physique of the future mothers of the Japanese race. A field-day at one of the leading girls’ colleges when to the accompaniment of music the pupils give an exhibition of their skill is one of the prettiest spectacles imaginable.
The most important centre of physical culture in my day but since then prohibited under the allied military occupation was undoubtedly the Martial Arts Association (Budokukai), organized in 1895 in Kyoto. It was a flourishing concern with a membership of nearly 2,000,000, its patron being Prince Fushimi and its president Baron Oura. It had branches throughout the country at which judo, fencing, archery and boating were practised and taught. It possessed magnificent headquarters in Kyoto, a former temple having been reconstructed to suit its requirements. I can even now recall in this context that on the occasion of my first visit I thought that my jinrikisha-man must have made a mistake and had brought me to a place of spiritual instead of physical exercise.
JAPANESE ARCHER MOUNTED Feudal period
THE LATE SHUICHI NAGAOKA 10th Dan. Professor of judo at the Butokukai, Kyoto
Turning from hybrid and imported forms of exercise I shall now try to describe those which have a truer national flavour and which are therefore of superior interest. Many earlier fallacies concerning the Japanese are being gradually dispelled by the limelight of publicity, but even today there are some who doubtless associate the idea of Japanese wrestling almost exclusively with those mountains of fat and muscle who, under the style of sumotori, form a class apart and hold periodical contests in various parts of the Empire. But this brand of wrestling would not in itself entitle Japan to peculiar distinction. It possesses forty-eight different throws, many of which are the common property of wrestlers throughout the world but whose repertoire includes a proportion of methods designed not only to throw the opponent but also to push him outside the ring in which event the successful pusher is adjudged the victor. Without in any way posing as a competent sumo “fan” I am nevertheless inclined to think that some of these really drastic techniques would repay serious study by our Western mat-men. But in these pages it is to another and more elaborate form of the art of offence and self-defence that I now desire to draw the reader’s attention. I speak of judo, earlier confused with jujutsu, incorrectly jiujitsu, which may be said to have become naturalized in the West for many years. Perhaps a pioneer of the Japanese art or a sort of version of it in Europe was the late Barton Wright who studied for some time in Japan, afterwards proceeding to London where he opened an academy and taught what he knew under the name of Bartitsu. He claimed that he had grafted on to the parent stem various shoots of his own invention or culled from other schools in different parts of the world. Without doubt Mr. Barton Wright was a colourful personality in his day and generation and could give a very good and effective account of himself on the mat against all and sundry lacking knowledge of either jujutsu or judo. This splendid veteran passed away only a few years ago on the threshold of his tenth decade. Since those early days however the bibliography of both jujutsu and judo, keeping pace with their rapid world expansion, has grown by leaps and bounds. In the home country of judo, Japan, since the opening of the Kodokan more than seventy years ago at least seventy-six works have been published in Japanese. The founder, Dr. Jigoro Kano himself wrote only one propaganda brochure. Several of these works have been translated into English, notably a pioneer manual by the late Sakujiro Yokoyama and an excellent work by Professor Arima of the Kodokan. I myself have produced an “interpretation” of the Katamewaza section of a book by Tsunetani Oda 9th Dan, and a free translation of a more comprehensive volume by Hikoichi Aida 8th Dan. Of the older jujutsu not more than three books are on record because the then jujutsu masters were wont jealously to guard the secrets of their art. Nowadays the number of textbooks on judo outside Japan in many languages, but more especially in English and French, can be reckoned by the score, and at the present tempo of production we may soon be justified in saying of judo authorship, as the late Basil Hall Chamberlain once said of books about Japan generally, that it is a distinction not to have written a book about judo! Personally, while very far from claiming anything like an expert status in the art, I did during my heyday on the mat devote a good deal of time to the study of its history and rationale and thus deem myself to some extent qualified to express an opinion.
It must frequently have puzzled and bewildered a big and brawny bluejacket to find himself easily mastered by a little Japanese policeman half his size. Let me hasten to add that it is not every Japanese policeman who is skilled in judo, though at home the conviction has apparently gained a firm foothold that the most anaemic and attenuated native of Dai Nippon has but to touch the most herculean Westerner with his index finger in order to bring his victim to the ground a shuddering heap of helpless, shattered humanity. On the contrary, the average efficiency of the Japanese police in this regard is not very great, and as a general rule, man for man, the Japanese policeman had in my day fared but second best at the hands of American and British Jack Tars in those not infrequent “scraps” between the “liberty men” and the junsa (policeman) which in those days helped to create diversion in the unsavoury purlieus of the Yokohama “bloodtown” and the equally salubrious quarters of Nagasaki and Kobe. Elsewhere in these pages I shall have occasion to describe a class of Japanese judoka (exponent of judo) whose skill and strength combined, I make bold to say, could not be equalled, much less excelled, in any other part of the world.
The word jujutsu, to use the older nomenclature, is written with two ideographs, the first ju, meaning “to obey, submit to, weak, soft, pliable”; and the second jutsu, meaning “art” or “science”. The use of the first character is intended to imply that jujutsu relies for its triumphs not upon brute strength but upon skill and finesse, the ability to win by appearing to yield. Thus in jujutsu the opponent undermost may have the other at his mercy, though to the novice he may appear to be defeated. Jujutsu is the art which every samurai under the feudal regime was compelled to learn, and it was often a point of honour among the higher-minded ones, if attacked by a vulgar opponent, whether with or without a weapon, to try first to overcome him by means of jujutsu before drawing their own swords. Authentic stalwarts such as the redoubtable Chobei of Bandzuin, the Father of the Otokodate of Yedo, and the equally formidable Funakoshi Juyemon whose astounding exploits against tremendous odds are so dramatically described by Lord Redesdale in his Tales of Old Japan, were clearly adepts in jujutsu. The word otokodate means a man of chivalrous spirit or one who takes up the cause of the weak against the oppressor. A synonym is kyokaku.
Nowadays, however, jujutsu is no longer a monopoly of the military class, and the various dojo or schools in the larger cities render it possible for any respectable person to practise it. The fees charged in my day were astonishingly small, the principal school in Japan, then as now, the above-mentioned Kodokan founded by the late Dr. Jigoro Kano, collecting but fifty sen a month, or say a shilling at the then current rate of exchange, from every pupil, while those who held the grade of shodan or first grade and upwards paid nothing since they attended in the capacity of teachers, as they do today. It is another characteristic of this cult that its members may not make a public display of their art for money. Thus for the most part all competitions were in those days virtually private functions, admission being by invitation, and 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 reports of the sumo
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