Sakujiro Yokoyama and Kyuzo Mifune on Judo and Self-Defense

Find Yokoyama and Mifune in the crowd!

   This is another anecdote that was recorded by western judo pioneer E. J. Harrison in his book The Fighting Spirit of Japan, published in 1913. It is particularly amusing if you have some background on the participants. The speaker is Sakujiro Yokoyama. At the time of this occurrence he held the rank of 7th Dan in judo. This was the highest rank ever awarded by the founder of judo, Jigoro Kano, as of that date. At the time Yokoyama was also the Director of the Kodokan, the main judo school in Japan, and considered by some to be "the greatest practical exponent of modern judo yet produced".

    His friend Kyuzo Mifune (pictured right) eventually went on to achieve the 10th Dan, the highest judo rank possible. He is considered by many to be the greatest judo technician who ever lived, so the "rascals" in this story were really in well over their heads!

    See if you can find Yokoyama and Mifune in the photo above of the Kodokan’s main training hall circa 1900.

    "I remember during the early part of January, 1909, I went to a certain restaurant, accompanied by Mr. Kyuzo Mifune, a fifth Dan teacher of the Kodo-kwan. We noticed in one corner of the room a group of thirteen young fellows drinking sake, while in an adjoining apartment there were an elderly couple and some other visitors taking food. The members of the first-named group were seen to be putting their heads together at frequent intervals and to be busily whispering, at the same time casting glances in our direction. I did not take any special notice of what was going on, nor did I suspect that they had any designs upon us. Mr. Mifune and I went on chatting over our drinks. Presently one of the rascals approached us, calmly picked up my overcoat and hat, and tried to make off with them under our very noses. Of course I remonstrated, when the thief, evidently bent on picking a quarrel, insisted that the coat and hat were his property. A warm altercation arose, in the midst of which he assumed a threatening attitude, and was speedily joined by half a dozen of his comrades from the other side of the room. There being no alternative, Mr. Mifune took a hand in the game. He avoided unnecessary roughness, but in less than a minute he had them all down with a succession of swift blows. Then the rest of the gang set upon me, but I knocked them down one after the other, and the affair was over in less than three minutes. As our victims regained consciousness they lost no time in making themselves scarce, but we detained one of them, and forced him to confess. He admitted that their object had been to extort money from us by intimidation. They had been misled by our good clothes and had imagined that we would be easy prey. We let the fellow go instead of handing him. over to the police, as we considered he had received punishment enough at our hands. After the rascals had gone the old couple who had been interested spectators of the occurrence told us that they had just witnessed for the first time in their lives a practical display of jujutsu and were amazed at the wonderful feats which experts were able to perform against such odds."

 Kyuzo Mifune, as 5th Dan

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