View Full Version : Yama arashi

Robert Reinberger
23rd August 2000, 18:44
Dear Obata sensei,

thank you very much for giving us this opportunity and answering our questions.

There have been several discussions here at e-budo regarding Yama arashi. I was taught a certain version of this throw here in Austria, and know of different (but similar) versions described in some older Judo books.

In your book Samurai Aikijutsu (pg. 56-59) you also presented a variation of this technique, and wrote:

However, our research reveals that it must have been performed as shown in this section.

May I ask for some informations about that research? To whom did you refer when you wrote 'our research'? What kind of informations led to your version? And were you taught any versions of this throw in any of the styles you practiced, or is your version of Yama arashi based entirely on the mentioned research?

Sorry, but English is not my native language. I hope I was able to make me understandable though.

Domo arigato gozaimasu,

Robert Reinberger

Obata T
24th August 2000, 00:49

Yama Arashi is actually a technique in a book that was written and created by Tomita Tsuneo.

It is said that Yama Arashi was created by Tomita Tsuneo, but no one really knows. Since it was written, people think that it is a real technique. However, if it was real, it [would stand to reason that it would have] been passed down.

There were many movies titled "Sugata Sanshiro". In the various versions, they used the Yama Arashi technique [though they only show it in partial view in the more popular version still available commonly.NS].

Sugata Sanshiro's role in the movie was supposed to have been Saigo Shiro. When Saigo Shiro was young, he is said to have learned Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu.

From what I have learned over the years, I have come to think that Yama Arashi isn't a Jujutsu technique. I think of it as an Aikijujutsu technique, and it is said that proper ukemi can't be performed [when executed correctly].

Therefore, I basically researched and guessed [from what little evidence could be found] the Yama Arashi technique based from knowledge of Aikijujutsu, and used it in the "Samurai Aikijutsu" book.

The english used in the book says "it must have been done this way", but this may have been a strong choice of words.

Unfortunately nobody can know for a fact - there is not enough believable evidence to say.

International Shinkendo Federation,

Robert Reinberger
24th August 2000, 07:48
Dear Obata Sensei,

thank you very much for your time and the clarifications. May I formulate an additional inquiry?

You [and Mr. Scott] wrote:

There were many movies titled "Sugata Sanshiro". In the various versions, they used the Yama Arashi technique [though they only show it in partial view in the more popular version still available commonly.NS].

I'm aware that you aren't a Judoka. But, after trying to find informations and evidence about Yama arashi, do you have any ideas or suppositions how this 'more popular version still available commonly' did evolve? Is it that type you have had in mind when you wrote about the creation from a 'Tomita Tsuneo', and was that after Saigo Shiro's usage of what was called Yama arashi?

For example, Mr. Lindsey posted a picture here at E-budo depicting this kind of Yama arashi from a book written in 1915, if I recall it correctly (it has gone with the crash, I hope Mr. Lindsey doesn't mind my reposting of the picture, that I've saved fortunately).


My point is, that around 1915 I think some of the spectators from the days when Saigo Shiro used the throw (one of the occasions was in 1886, against Totsuka-ha Yoshin Ryu) were still alive, as were some of the participants. Yamashita Yoshikazu passed away in 1936, Tomita Tsunejiro lived until 1938 and Saigo Shiro himself died in 1923 (although he had separated from the Kodokan and Judo earlier, of course), as far as I know, and finally Kano Shihan passed away in 1938.

That means, that a lot of eyewitnesses as well as the performer himself (who probably did not care, anymore) were still alive, when the mentioned version of Yama arashi already appeared in books. That is what confuses me, having also learnt, that nobody knows for sure how this throw was performed (or looked like, at least).

I apologize for taking so much of your time with this additional questions.

Thank you again,
yours faithfully,

Robert Reinberger

[Edited by Robert Reinberger on 08-24-2000 at 07:12 AM]

Nathan Scott
24th August 2000, 17:37
Hello Mr. Reinberger,

Just for clarification, when I referred to the "popular version still available commonly", this was in reference to the movie "Sugata Sanshiro" that I believe was directed by Kurosawa Akira - not the throw itself. This video is still sold in stores, and quite popular (at least outside of Japan).

In this version they do now show the throw fully, as I mentioned previously, though there seems to be an implication of a leg sweep. I think it is safe to say that if the producers had the slightest idea what "Yama Arashi" looked like, they would have shown it!

Interestingly, the photo you show pretty much matches the throw I had envisioned in my mind after watching this movie! I don't know when this version of Sugata Sanshiro was filmed, but if that photo you posted was taken from the book I think it was taken from, then you might take the information with a grain of salt (from my limited understanding of Judo). There seemed to be some pretty "un-Judo/Jiujitsu" looking techniques in there!

Besides, the throw shown in this photo does not look anymore devastating to me that De ashi barai, Tai otoshi, Harai goshi, etc. IMHO.

I suppose it is possible that the movie's technique was modeled after this "popular" version. But it's really all speculation.

In any event, I talked to Obata Sensei about this subject briefly again last night in the dojo, and he reiterated that Tomita Tsuneo was a writer, and more than likely made up a fictional "secret Judo technique", that nobody could ukemi from! You have to admit that the name (mountain storm) is pretty dramatic, and the inclusion of such an idea in a novel definitely makes alot of sense from a "romantic" standpoint. The tale of Sugata Sanshiro is quite famous in Japan, and has been retold many times. I would not place too much value on such tales.

However, that's not to say such a technique could not have existed. As you have pointed out, we are only talking about the early part of the twentieth century that all this was concluding. This possibility combined with the consistant pubic interest in discovering such a technique motivated Obata Sensei to attempt to reconstruct what he thought most closely fit the descriptions and possible body mechanics.

I hope you (and Obata Sensei) will forgive me for answering - I would not normally impose my view in place of Obata Sensei, but this subject has gotten rather technical and my answer is based upon conversations with Obata Sensei.

I'm afraid that this type of detailed question is difficult to translate correctly in any kind of reasonable amount of time!

Shitsurei shimasu,

[Edited by Nathan Scott on 08-24-2000 at 12:52 PM]

Brian Griffin
24th August 2000, 19:14
Originally posted by Nathan Scott
... if that photo you posted was taken from the book I think was, then the content (from my limited experience) you might take it with a grain of salt. There are some pretty "Un-Judo" or "Jiujitsu" looking moves in there!

The photo comes from the book "Judo Kyohan" originally published around 1909.
The English translation came out in 1915 and is titled simply "Judo."

The author, Yokoyama, held at that time the highest Kodokan rank yet awarded
(he and Yamashita were 7th dan then; they were the only ones)
and was one of Kodokan's _shi tenno_ with a fierce reputation as a fighter
(see E.J. Harrison's "The Fighting Spirit of Japan.")

Yokoyama fought in the famous 1886 Tokyo Police match where Saigo used his yama-arashi.
Yokoyama knew and trained with Saigo and would certainly be familiar with Saigo's tokui-waza.
Yama-arashi was part of the standard Kodokan syllabus from 1895 until the revision of the Gokyo in 1920.
Yokoyama helped devise that original syllabus.

Yokoyama's book was reviewed, edited, and approved by Kano himself. It can be considered authoritative.

... Obata Sensei ... reiterarted that Tomita Tsuneo was a writer, and more than likely made up a fictional "secret Judo technique", that nobody could ukemi from!

Tomita Tsuneo was certainly a writer, but he was also a judoka and was the son of Tomita Tsunejiro, another of the _shi tenno_.
His father (whose name is the very first listed in the Kodokan student register--Saigo is #8)
was also a participant in that 1886 match (which formed the basis for his son's story).
Tomita & Saigo received their _shodan_ at the same time; the very first _shodan_ ranks ever awarded.

Also of interest--the man shown as tori in the photo is Samura Kaichiro, later 10th dan.
He was also a participant in the 1886 tournament.

If you're looking for people who _knew_ the original yama-arashi
i.e. saw it/felt it/did it on the same mat with Saigo Shiro,
then Yokoyama, Samura, & Tomita (and Kano!) are the guys.

Nathan Scott
24th August 2000, 19:32
Mr. Griffin,

Sorry - the picture looked really familiar (the style and look reminds me of a book I have around the same time - I forget the exact name).

The Judo Kyohan is well known and respected to the best of my knowledge. I should have checked before jumping to conclusions!

I'll forward your questions to Sensei and see if he has any additional comments he's like to add.

Thanks for the corrections,

Brian Griffin
24th August 2000, 20:52
I should also mention that Tomita Tsuneo, the author of Sanshiro Sugata, was five years old when this book was first published.

Robert Reinberger
24th August 2000, 23:07
Mr. Griffin,

thank you very much for presenting all those further, very interesting details.

With best regards,

Robert Reinberger

25th August 2000, 07:48
Excuse me for adding to the fray, but this picture is as close to many other descriptions of the time. It has always been speculated, or possibly known, that the throw was either similar to hanegoshi or haraigoshi, with a one-sided grip. Since this picture is as old as it is, this pose is as good as one gets considering the photographic techniques of the day.

Yama arashi is still included in the Kodokan syllabus in the grouping of tewaza. Whether you consider it to be hip induced or a shoulder induced throw, matters little. I would like to think there is still a little magic left so I prefer to think of it as legendary, as opposed to a myth. That an aiki jujutsu technique may have been used is possible, assuming one believes aiki exists.

Though the throw is included in the syllabus, it is not described by the Kodokan, which, if anything, has a very nice museum, and Mr. Murata, the curator of the museum, has described the throw as more or less like the example provided here by Mr. Reinberger. I do not see what more Mr. Obata would know other than what is in the public's perception, as he was not there, either.

Mark F. Feigenbaum
Kodokan Judo

Brian Griffin
25th August 2000, 21:56
The picture posted above is Fig. 72 in that text. The associated description follows:

from "Judo" by Yokoyama & Oshima, Nishodo 1915, p. 147-148
Yama-arashi.--You both hold each other in _migi-shizentai_. Take his right lapel in a "natural hold" with your right, while you grip the middle part of his right sleeve with your left. Pull him again and again toward his right front corner, and he will lean in that direction on tiptoe, resting his weight on his right foot. At that moment, put the right back corner of your body close to his right front corner, as shown in Fig. 72. Apply the back of your right leg against the outside of his and give a backward sweep to your leg, while you pull him down with your right hand, first lifting him a little with it, and then describing an arc with that hand and the left one.

On page 70, Yama-arashi is classified among the ashi-waza.