I was reading through ‘Wado-Ryu Karate’ by Hironori Otsuka again yesterday evening. This section is always one that I find particularly interesting:
“One can have mental and technical strength, but have little physical strength and lose. Sometimes none of these even matter. In my youth, in the 7th year of the Taisho era, there was a contest between a foreigner, who was a wrestler, and a Japanese judo expert. There were not too many individuals who belonged to the Kodokan at this time. The wrestler was quite skilled and handily defeated numerous others, but this judo expert was able to place the wrester in an arm-lock and lay him on his back. The audience was cheering for the judo expert, but something happened. The wrester just got up, raised his left arm and shook the judo expert off. It was no contest. And I have heard many other similar stories.
If there is too much difference between the physical strengths of the opponents, it would be similar to me twisting an infants arm. Especially nowadays when non-Japanese individuals train in the martial arts, it is important for individuals to train hard in technique, physical strength, and especially mental strength. Also, one must consider the difference in weight of participants when a Japanese and non-Japanese engage in a contest.” – Hironori Otsuka, Wado-Ryu Karate, Pages 31 & 32.
I feel there are a few interesting elements to this. Firstly, there is the acknowledgement that a big difference in physical strength can cause problems. Secondly, the discussion on how the greater size and strength of “non-Japanese” martial artists can be an issue when they fight with Japanese practitioners is also interesting. I’ve not looked into this, but it is my assumption that the stereotypical size difference is maybe not as produced as once it was?
I do find this interesting and I was wondering if anyone else aware of other examples, from around that time, where the strength of “non-Japanese” people is discussed in relationship to Japanese arts?
All the best,