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Sunday, January 31, 2016

JUDO IN THE MILITARY

My first experience with judo was in the combatives training I went thru in the Military. Later when I was 26 years old I pursued further training in judo which continues to this day. I am fortunate enough to have an excellent Japanese instructor who grew up doing judo since the age of six and who trained at the Kodokan, the headquarters of Judo.

Judo from its very beginning has been a self-defense and combat discipline. The original Judo from Jigoro Kano was and still is a full featured combat discipline which formed the basis for many Military and Police tactics around the world.

Judo served well as an official system of Japanese Imperial armed forces and Japanese police. In 1886 the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Academy hosted a tournament between the Kodokan (The Kodokan Institute, is the headquarters of the worldwide judo community in Japan.) and the prominent Jujutsu style, to determine which "style" the Academy would adopt into their training regimen. Out of the tournament's 15 matches the Kodokan won 12 and had 1 draw. The reason why the Kodokan was so successful at this historic meeting lies in one word: Randori. Randori or free sparring trained Kanos judokas in as close to real life and death combat as possible.

Judo was probably the first Japanese martial art introduced to the west, most notably through the U.S. military in the modern era. As American GIs were introduced to the Japanese culture from the early 1900’s onward it was inevitable that the martial art of Judo found its way into the American culture.

CPT. Allen Corstorphin Smith of the United States Army trained at the Kodokan in Japan. CPT.
Smith was awarded a  judo black belt from the Kodokan in Japan in 1916 and was the hand to hand combat instructor at the Infantry school at ft, Benning Georgia.

JUDO AND WWII COMBATIVES

World War II combatives are close quarters combat techniques, including hand-to-hand (H2H),
advanced firearm point shooting methods, and weapons techniques (knife/bayonet/improvised weapons) that were taught to allied special forces in World War II. The most successful programs were offshoots from the British Commando training taught by William E Fairbairn. Farbairn, a second degree black belt in Judo, had trained the police force in Shanghai, China before the war. 

Fairbairn was likely the single greatest authority on hand-to- hand close combat and personal defense skills with and without hand-held weapons of the 20th century.  He was the most prestigious, sought-after, and influential close combat trainer throughout the Allied Forces of WWII. The Commandos, the secret agents of England’s wartime Special Operations Executive and of America’s Office of Strategic Services, and special agents of the FBI all learned Fairbairn’s special system.

Mikonosuke Kawaishi an 8th degree black belt in Kodokan judo developed and taught a terrific and extremely deadly form of  close combat/self- defense. Mr. Kawaishi's methods are probably the most ruthless form of Judo ever to be put before the public, and were designed for the keen Judoka, and the Police Forces and Military Establishments all over the world.

Finally there is “Pat” Dermot O’Neill the fabled hand-to-hand combat instructorr for the Canadian/American First Special Service Force (the “Devil’s Brigade”). O’Neill had been a detective with the Shanghai Municipal Police Department, and had learned Defendu directly under Fairbairn. O’Neill was the highest ranking Caucasian judo black belt in the world in the 1940’s.

Fairbairn, Oneill and Kawaishi were all Judo trained men. All three of these men were incomparable masters of practical, all-in fighting and close quarter combat.  EACH ONE taught a repertoire of vicious, direct skills to disable the enemy as quickly as possible at all costs.

Various aspects of Judo were taught to all U.S. military police as an effective way to deal with arresting and controlling drunken, brawling GIs without seriously harming them.  The great Judo legend Masahiko Kimura shared a story in his biography about being approached shortly after WWII in the summer of 1946 by a Capt. Shepherd of the U.S. Military Police to train Military Police personnel in Judo.
  
The United States Air Force has at times in its history been at the forefront of Combatives Training. Soon after the establishment of the Air Force as a separate service in September 1947, GEN Curtis Lemay was appointed as the Commanding General of the Strategic Air Command (SAC). GEN Lemay, who had masterminded the US air attacks on the Japanese mainland during World War II, knew that more US bomber groups in Europe had suffered more combat casualties than the US Marine Corps had in the pacific. Many of the lost Airmen ended up as German Prisoners of War. He was determined that all of his flying personnel would have a working knowledge of hand-to-hand combat to aid in escape and evasion.

In 1951 GEN Lemay appointed Emilio "Mel" Bruno, his Judo teacher and a former national American Athletic Union (AAU) Wrestling champion and fifth degree black belt in Judo, to direct a command wide Judo and combative measures program. He devised a program combining techniques from Aikido, Judo and Karate.

 In 1952 the Air Training Command took over the program. The Commanding General was General Thomas Power. Because of the deficiency in qualified instructors, Power sent two classes of twenty four Airmen to train at the Kodokan for several weeks.

Based upon the success of this trial and after an official delegation from the Kodokan toured SAC bases in the United States, Bruno set up an eight week training course at the Kodokan. Students trained eight hours a day, five days a week and upon return to the United States were assigned throughout SAC. The course was a Japanese designed mix of judo, aikido, karate and taihojutsu.

From 1959 to 1966 the Air Force Combative Measures (Judo) Instructors Course was taught at Stead Air Force Base in Reno Nevada. The 155 hour course consisted of: 36 hours fundamentals of judo, 12 hours aikido, 12 hours karate, 12 hours Air Police Techniques, 12 hours Aircrew self-defense, 18 hours judo tournament procedures, 5 hours code of conduct and 48 hours training methods. There were also a 20 hour Combative methods course and a 12 hour Combative survival course for Aircrew members.

Being recognized as so effective in combat, Judo became the basis for most of the hand-to-hand combat skills taught to soldiers in basic training throughout all branches of the U.S. military.

 "Strikes are an inefficient method of ending a fight. However, they are a significant part of most fights, and a solider must have an understanding of fighting at striking range. It is important to note that while at striking range, you are open to being struck. For this reason, it is often better to avoid striking range." - Combatives, US Army Field Manual FM3-25-150, Department of the Army, 18 January 2002, Washington D.C.

 "Marines should avoid being on the ground during a close combat situation because the battlefield may be covered with debris and there is an increased risk of injury. However, many close combat situations involve fighting on the ground. The priority in a ground fight is for Marines to get back on their feet as quickly as possible." - US Marine Corps Close Combat, MCRP 3-02, Department of the Navy, 12 February 1999, Washington D.C.

Judo is a sport but it is much more "combatives" oriented.  The judoka trains at a close quarter combat range developing avenues to quickly put an end to a hand to hand or close quarter combat situation. There is a reason that old school law enforcement and the United States military taught Judo...IT WORKED.

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