InYo: Journal of Alternative Perspectives Apr 2005

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Judo Art Held Key to Jap Strategy:
Experts Say Way to Win War Is to Know Jiu Jitsu

Contributed by Ansho Mas Uchima

From Los Angeles Daily News, May 25, 1942, pages 3 and 8.

<>George E. Tate is a mild mannered, middleaged policeman, who by day has the unexciting assignment of issuing bicycle licenses at Central station [located at 251 E. 6th Street, in Los Angeles].

On Monday and Thursday evenings at 1206-1/2 South Fedora st., however, policeman Tate teaches (without compensation) the ancient, formal Japanese art of judo, which experts believe, is the key to American understanding of our enemy across the Pacific. [EN1]

In a recent book "Victory in the Pacific," by Alexander Kirafly, the author says "the jiu jitsu mind" (jiu jitsu being the fundamental art from which judo was developed) is America's real enemy.

This jiu jitsu, or judo, mind, is not especially resourceful or daring, the author concludes, but is adept at feeling out the weakness of an enemy's position and acting suddenly for a fall, or kill.

This disposition or readiness to take advantage of an enemy's weak points is nothing new in the science of warfare, but those trained in the art of judo instinctively follow this course of action.

Tate explains it as follows.

"Suppose," he says, my opponent's strength is estimated at 10 units, whereas my strength is only seven units. If he pushes me with all his strength I shall be pushed back or thrown down if I only opposed strength with strength.

"But if I were to give way by withdrawing my body just as much as he pushed, taking care at the same time to keep my balance, my enemy probably will lose his and in a new position, awkwardness might reduce his strength to say three units, instead of 10.

"Meanwhile I have kept my balance and can exert my full strength of seven units, so being able to defeat him by using only one-half my strength, three and a half units against his remaining three." [EN2]

This illustration so aptly defines the Japanese position in the present conflict that further comment seems almost unnecessary.

[Editor's note: A lengthy discussion of Kirafly's theories about the Pacific War -- he thought the United Nations, as he called them, should attack Japan from Alaska by way of the Kuriles -- is omitted.]

As confident of ultimate American supremacy is judo teacher Tate, who, however, approaches the subject from a more personal point of view.

Tate has been interested in judo since 1935, when a class for policemen was sponsored in the public schools.

When a Japanese teacher had to give up the class, he appointed Tate to carry on as instructor of the course.

Later, Tate studied under Prof. Saburo Hayama of Meiji university, one of the best judo instructors in Japan, and learned forms of judo no other American knows. [EN3]

Although the 54-year-old policeman is modest about his attainments, his friends say that he probably is the leading exponent of the art in Southern California today. [EN4]

One of his most adept pupils is Miss Margaret Brown, secretarial employee of a small Inglewood industrial plant.

Miss Brown, who weighs 110 pounds, thinks nothing of hurling her 190 pound instructor over her shoulder to the mat, when they take part in the formal exercises of judo.

Among the dozen policemen now attending Tate's twice weekly classes at the former Japanese judo center at 12th and Fedora sts., is James Tripp of the Wilshire vice squad. Other students are Bob Portus, Martel Newberry and Bob Crane.

As for the actual forms of the exercise, it must be seen to be appreciated.

Practitioners wear padded jackets with strong lapels for gripping and a belt whose color designates the student's degree of mastery.

The two partners approach each other with jackets carefully smoothed and one grips the other by the lapels, swings him off balance and throws him to the floor.

In the kata, or exhibition of form, the players go through pre-arranged exercises, each knowing in advance what fall he is by turn to take.

In the randori, or free exercise, there is actual competition and the players sometimes push and tug for two full minutes before one catches the other off balance and throws him or applies a choke hold which forces the opponent to submit.

Tate is quite enthusiastic over the moral values of judo training.

"It teaches you to attain your maximum personal efficiency," he says, "and observe moderation in all things. Pupils learn not to become excited nor angry but to exert no more force than necessary in assuming graceful attitudes and performing graceful movements.

"They learn to wear clothing neatly arranged, out of consideration for fellow players, who might suffer injury if garments are awkwardly disposed."

First steps in judo are the falling exercises, in which proficiency must be assured before actual wrestling begins. The players smack the canvas mat with hands, feet, arms or legs when they fall, and the harder these blows the less impact is felt by the body.

In Japan it is compulsory to practice falling for three months before taking up randori or even kata, but the custom is different in Professor Tate's class, and right here is where he puts his finger on a point of agreement with expert Kirafly, who also thinks the Japs will lose the war.

Says Tate:

"Like most other athletic pursuits, judo is quickest understood and most adeptly practiced by Americans.

"American students advance quicker in judo than the Japanese," he says, "because they are bigger and stronger, and habitually outthink the Japanese in combat.

"Americans usually win the black belt degree (highest judo honors) in 18 to 24 months, while it takes a Japanese five to seven years to win the same degree."

So there you are, Mr. Moto.



EN1. The address was that of the prewar Uyemachi ("Uptown") Dojo. The head instructor at Uyemachi Dojo from 1937 to 1941 was Kaname "Ken" Kuniyuki, then ranked 3-dan. Uyemachi Dojo is no longer in existence.

EN2. Tate's example is almost verbatim from Jigoro Kano's "The Contribution of Jiudo (sic) to Education," Journal of Health and Physical Education, 3 (1932), 37-40, 58. Kano used this paper as the basis for many lectures. See, for example, Kano's lecture in London in August 1933, cited at

EN3. Hayama, a Kodokan 6-dan, visited Southern California in 1938.

EN4. This is hyperbole. Says Ansho Mas Uchima, "Checking with Seinan Dojo several years ago trying to get info for my judo history book, I came across a photo that had the wooden name tags on the wall. Enlarging the nametags, I was surprised to find Jack Sergel's name at the 2nd dan section, and George Tate's name in the 1st dan section. Furthermore, Larry Kobayashi and myself were also grouped with Tate in the 1st dan section." Adds Ontario, Oregon's Hank Ogawa, "For students, he [Ken Kuniyuki] had the LAPD and a bunch of professional wrestlers. I weighed 155 to 160 pounds, but I was able to handle any of them. I was a third degree and I think Mr. Kuniyuki was fourth at that time. It was a fun time."

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