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Martial Arts Stories


Jigoro Kano, Founder of Judo
The following two martial artists are connected to the founder of judo, Jigoro Kano. For more stories, visit this link.

Tanzan Hara Sensei

(1819-1892) One of Kano’s philosophy teachers was a legendary monk who is depicted in the following tale:

Tanzan and a fellow novice monk were on a pilgrimage to a training monastery. A storm came upon them, causing some of the roads to flood. A young girl was trapped on one side of a crossroad. Tanzan asked if she needed help.

Tanzan and a fellow novice monk were on a pilgrimage to a training monastery. The plum rain, or tsuyu, that washes through Japan during the earlier parts of the summer had transformed some roads into torrential floods. At one of the crossroads, the pair came across a young girl. She was trapped.

She asked Tanzan for help, so he carried her across the stream.

The two men continued their journey. The other monk was very quiet. “What bothers you, Ekido?” Tanzan asked his companion.

“You shouldn’t have carried that girl! You know that we are forbidden from touching women!”

Tanzan shook his head. “Are you still carrying that girl?” he asked. “I set her down long ago.”


Kyuzo Mifune Sensei

(1883-1965) Mifune, one of Kano’s best students, published the Canon of Judo. His teachings are still used today, included his tenants on Judo practice. For 62 years up until his death, he never missed a day of training.

In one humorous tale, he visited a karate dojo to view a demonstration. The instructor destroyed a stack of tiles in a single blow. “Can a Judo man do this?” the instructor challenged.

“Yes!” he replied. “Very easily.”

He took a hammer from his bag and began smashing the tiles.

“You are going to use a hammer to break the tiles?” the karate instructor asked.

“Of course,” Mifune said. “In Judo, we say, ‘maximum efficiency with minimum effort’. What you have taken years to learn, we can do in seconds.”