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Thread: The Handa School of Jiujitsu in Osaka

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    Default The Handa School of Jiujitsu in Osaka

    Hi all,

    the Bartitsu Society has uncovered another piece of the puzzle regarding the early judo/jiujitsu pioneers who exported the art from Japan right at the beginning of the 20th century.

    According to a 1904 "Health and Strength" magazine interview with pioneering London jiujitsu instructor (and challenge wrestler) Sadakazu Uyenishi, both himself and his colleague Yukio Tani were trained by a sensei named Yataro Handa at a dojo in Osaka. The article also contains a portrait-style photograph of Yataro Handa.

    The only solid info. I've been able to find online re. the Handa school is this JudoForum post by Joe Svinth:

    From the Racine (Wisconsin) Journal-News, Saturday, March 6, 1915,
    which is viewable online at NewspaperArchive.com. Taro Miyake, then in
    New York City, was explaining his methods to a US reporter. The words
    are given as a direct quote, but I am willing to bet that there was
    some ghostwriting going on here.

    START QUOTE

    "All, or practically all, of the Japanese jiu-jitsu experts who have
    exhibited in this country [e.g., the USA], have been exponents of the
    Kodokan style, which has its headquarters in Tokio. Kodokan jiu-jitsu
    became popular here because it is the style brought into play when two
    men are standing and it is spectacular. Therefore, it was the most
    suitable method to furnish Americans and Europeans with an
    illustration of how to repel attacks in ordinary assaults.

    "The other school of jiu-jitsu is called Handa, and its great teachers
    are at Osaka, where I learned. Handa is more particularly the kind of
    jiu-jitsu used when two men are on the mat, as in catch-as-catch-can.
    The jiu-jitsu tricks of the tiny Japanese policemen, which have been
    written about so much by travelers, embody the elementary principles
    of the Kodokan method, and some of the policemen are quite good at
    them. As I have said, there is little stand-up work in catch-as-catch
    can and Handa experts are the ones to offer a comparison between the
    Japanese and American methods.

    "Of course, every Kodokan expert knows more or less about Handa, and
    every Handa man knows a lot about Kodokan, but nevertheless they are
    each highly specialized, individual professions. Both have the same
    fundamental principles applied in all jiu-jitsu, which consists in
    going against the grain, so to speak. That is, if you grip a man's arm
    and can get it out straight, you apply the pressure at the elbow
    against the direction of the natural crook of that joint, and so on,
    but each school has its own box of tricks.

    "Jiu-jitsu is by no means a competition endurance, but is one of skill
    and tricks. The experts will spar for an opening until one gets a
    grip. When that grip is obtained the other fellow knows he is done for
    and promptly surrenders. It would be absolutely foolish for him to
    continue, as he would simply have his bones broken without breaking
    the grip. The victim slaps himself on the thigh with his free hand,
    which is a signal that he has enough for that round.

    "There are counter-moves for every hold that one man tries to get on
    the other, but when the counter fails and the hold is obtained, it is
    all over. For that reason, what Americans might call quitting, is not
    quitting in the sense that they meany, and more than in other games
    when a goal is made, the losing side quits temporarily and the two
    teams start over again in the middle of the field. The successful
    grip, which makes an opponent in a match yield, is merely a point
    against him.

    "Great strength is not essential to success in jiu-jitsu, and the
    professional experts do not train like American athletes. Jiu-jitsu
    consists of a thorough knowledge of anatomy, and an application of
    that knowledge to the holds and grips. A weak man can make a giant
    howl for mercy, if he gets him right. For that reason the strenuous
    work in the gymnasium and on the road, done by boxers and
    catch-as-catch-can wrestlers, is not necessary in jiu-jitsu.

    END QUOTE

    Miyake went on to note that he was then 32 years of age, and that he
    had lived for the past 11 years in Europe. He said he stood 5'7" tall,
    and weighed about 165 lbs. He added, "I began to practice as a child,
    and entered competition when 16 years old. At 19 I had won the
    championship in the Osaka style, and received the belt from the
    jiu-jitsu institution."

    (Miyake) was born in Okayama City in 1882, and apparently started
    training in Fusen-ryu under either (or both) Manauemon or Torajiro
    Tanabe. In 1899, he got a job teaching at Nara, and in 1901, after
    winning that championship, he got a job teaching the Kobe police. He
    lost that job after getting in a fight out in town, and so in October
    1904 he went to London to become a music hall wrestler. Details of his
    time in England are sketchy. From July to August 1908, he was in
    Spain, working matches with Uyenishi and Maeda. (And I do mean
    working, in the professional wrestling sense -- the Japanese were
    heard whispering instructions to one another, same as in European
    professional wrestling.) In September 1908, he was in Scotland for the
    Northern Games. In September 1910, he challenged the Great Gama, but
    nothing came of that. During 1912, he was in the USA. In 1913, he was
    in Paris. With the start of WWI, he left Paris for London, and then
    New York. He arrived in New York on September 22, 1914. He then stayed
    in the USA for most of the next 20 years. He wrestled Ad Santel to a
    draw in April 1916. He was in Hilo in late 1916, training at Okazaki's
    dojo (e.g., Danzan Ryu). In October 1917, He was back in Seattle,
    where he lost a match to Ad Santel. After that, he was all over the
    USA, and occasionally even into Vancouver BC, before the Canadians and
    the US shut the border to Issei. (On October 29, 1919, Kamino and
    Akiyama, future pioneers of BC judo, were on the undercard of a match
    between Miyake and Canadian heavyweight champion Jack Taylor in
    Vancouver.) During the 1920s, he worked for the Ed "Strangler" Lewis
    outfit, and as such, he got to lose to Lewis, Clarence Ecklund, Toots
    Mondt, Wayne "Big" Munn, and so on. In 1928, he went to Osaka to try
    to promote American style professional wrestling in Japan, but that
    didn't work out, so he spent most of his time watching sumo instead.
    On his way back to the USA, he stopped in Hawaii, where he recruited
    Oki Shikina, a Danzan Ryu practitioner and Hawaiian sumo champion, for
    professional wrestling. Miyake wrestled in Madison Square Garden as
    late as 1932, and during May and June 1932, he was in Halifax, Nova
    Scotia. In April 1934, he was in Brazil, and on June 24, 1934, he lost
    a match to Helio Gracie. The promoter was Carlos Gracie.
    My initial feeling reading the above is that the American journalist may have misquoted or misunderstood Miyake regarding the "Handa school", and that Miyake meant that he had studied at a dojo in Osaka under a sensei named Handa, but did not give the name of the actual style. Other sources suggest that it may have been Fusen-ryu jiujitsu.

    Given that all three of the original Japanese jiujitsu instructors working in London at the turn of the twentieth century appear to be connected to the Handa school, we're naturally very eager to find out some more about it. Any leads?

    My best,

    Tony

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    A correspondent in Japan has tentatively identified the style taught at Mr. Handa's school as being Daitoryu (an offshoot of Sekiguchi ryu jujitsu and kenjitsu, unrelated to the Daito ryu aikibujutsu of Takeda Sokaku.)

    Apparently the school opened in Meiji 31 (1897). Yataro Handa is referred to as having been the sempai of Tanabe Mataemon, 4th soke of the Fusen ryu.

    Am I right in assuming that there is likely to have been some technical connection between the Daitoryu of the Handa dojo and Fusen-ryu?

    Tony

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    I don't see how. Fusen-ryu is a branch of Takenouchi-ryu. Sekiguchi-ryu was not even in the same family so to speak.

    As for Handa, never heard of the school. I wondering could it be that Handa is really Honda? I just thinking that it might be a pronounciation/romanization thing like how jiu jitsu and jujutsu are the same word.
    George Kohler

    Genbukan Kusakage dojo
    Dojo-cho

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    Hi George,

    I'd wondered the same thing, but according to my Japanese contact, the name does appear as "Handa Yotaro".

    Tony

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    It's possible that the Handa dojo disappeared with Handa himself; as an offshoot of the Sekiguchi ryu rather than as a part of it, it's possible that more detailed records simply haven't survived.

    Tony

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    Tony,

    I am not hampered by any knowledge of Japanese
    On the other hand this caught my eye:

    "Handa is more particularly the kind of
    jiu-jitsu used when two men are on the mat, as in catch-as-catch-can."

    This does not sound like Daito-ryu to me, it sounds more like randori - newaza or not.

    Fusen-ryu as far as I know comes from Takeuchi-ryu, Nanba Ippo-ryu and two or so other arts it's founder learned, I do not recall any Daito-ryu mentioned. Fusen-ryu is hard, almost karate-hard so to speak, with some techniques a lot of force is used.

    For what it is worth.

    Happy landings,

    Johan Smits

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    Hi Johan,

    to me, the catch-as-catch-can reference suggests newaza; most Euro-American wrestling styles during the 1800s and early 1900s were fought from standing to a clean throw, with catch and the relatively new "Greco-Roman" styles being notable in that they were decided by pin-falls on the mat. The concept of "submission wrestling" per se was entirely novel to Europeans and Americans at this time, which is one of the reasons why jiujitsu caused such a stir.

    As far as I know, Fusen-ryu was known to specialise in newaza and it's evident that Tani, Uyenishi and Miyake were all very adept at ground-fighting, so if we could find something positively connecting Fusen-ryu to the Handa dojo in Osaka, that would tie everything together quite neatly.

    Tony

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Wolf
    Hi Johan,

    As far as I know, Fusen-ryu was known to specialise in newaza and it's evident that Tani, Uyenishi and Miyake were all very adept at ground-fighting, so if we could find something positively connecting Fusen-ryu to the Handa dojo in Osaka, that would tie everything together quite neatly.

    Tony
    The Fusen-ryu specializing in ne-waza has been proven to be a great misconception, since the ryuha is still extant and their techniques have very little in the way of ne-waza. One of the members of this forum has actually studied Fusen-ryu. No ne-waza, just rather generic, good solid jujutsu in the kata.

    A short Fusen-ryu jujutsu embu in Osaka.

    Sorry to pee on your chips there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Delaney
    The Fusen-ryu specializing in ne-waza has been proven to be a great misconception, since the ryuha is still extant and their techniques have very little in the way of ne-waza. One of the members of this forum has actually studied Fusen-ryu. No ne-waza, just rather generic, good solid jujutsu in the kata.

    A short Fusen-ryu jujutsu embu in Osaka.
    Hmmm ... so where did Tani, Uyenishi and Miyake learn their ne-waza? Perhaps it was a specialty of the mysterious Mr. Handa's even more mysterious Daitoryu ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Delaney
    Sorry to pee on your chips there.
    Now that's a colourful turn of phrase!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Wolf
    Hmmm ... so where did Tani, Uyenishi and Miyake learn their ne-waza? Perhaps it was a specialty of the mysterious Mr. Handa's even more mysterious Daitoryu ...
    That's the thing, even Daito-ryu don't have ne-waza per se, apart from a technique or two in the goshinyo no te, where juji-gatame is used.

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    Steve,

    are we both talking about the Daito ryu that was an offshoot of Sekiguchi ryu jujitsu, unrelated to the Daito ryu aikibujutsu of Takeda Sokaku?

    I'm only just able to keep my head above water in discussions about Japanese martial arts history ...

    By the way, I'm following up on your lead re. ne-waza and currently reviewing the long Fusen-ryu thread in the archives. One thought strikes; both Yukio Tani and Sadakazu Uyenishi were young men when they first arrived in London (1900 and early 1901, respectively). Tani was 19 and Uyenishi was about 20.

    Given that the Handa school apparently only opened in 1897, I'm wondering if a good deal of their groundwork might actually have come from their experience with the kosen rules/training format, which (I'm gathering) was commonly practiced in schools at the time and emphasized ne-waza over throws out of concerns for safety.

    Combined with whatever it was they learned at the Handa dojo, even schoolboy-level ne-waza might have been enough to befuddle European wrestlers at the time, who were not accustomed to jacketed submission wrestling and who were required to play by their (Tani's and Uyenishi's) rules in the music-hall challenge matches.

    Any thoughts on this?

    Tony

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    ...to which I'll add, even if kosen judo per se was not being practiced in universities and high schools at the time - I haven't been able to track that factoid down just yet - is it possible/likely/known that there was a similar tradition, i.e. of schools offering realtively safe, ne-waza based jujitsu of some description, just before turn of the 20th century?

    Tony

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    In Internet forum discussions on "KOSEN judo", it often seems to be assumed that Jigoro Kano literally invented this inter-scholastic competition format in 1914.

    However, what I'm gleaning via Google research is that numerous technical colleges and high schools throughout Japan had been offering judo/jiujitsu since about 1890, and had been holding their own competitions for a considerable period prior to the "official" KOSEN competitions that were initiated by Kano. It may be that what he actually did was sanction a pre-existing "tradition" of inter-scholastic competition, bringing it formally under the Kodokan umbrella.

    This may be significant. As I understand it, the KOSEN training and competitive formats emphasised ne-waza randori and shiai, apparently because it was felt that tachi-waza was too dangerous for young people and/or that ne-waza was a better "equaliser" and thus advantageous in team competitions.

    Presumably, the various technical colleges and high schools would have brought their own stylistic influences into KOSEN competitions, in that instructors representing a variety of ryu-ha could have been teaching at different schools. This might also mean that the KOSEN tournaments themselves could have been inter-ryu melting pots in terms of waza.

    This might go part-way towards explaining why, for example, the Fusen-ryu is credited with influencing Kodokan judo ne-waza despite the fact that (apparently) modern Fusen-ryu does not feature a great deal of ne-waza; it may simply have been Fusen-ryu representatives who had excelled in KOSEN competitions who impressed the Kodokan.

    It might also explain why some of the young jiujitsu challenge pioneers like Tani, Uyenishi, Miyake and (a bit later) Maeda did so well in inter-style competition against Western wrestlers; KOSEN was submissionary jacketed wrestling, a complete novelty in Europe and the USA, and the men who challenged them were required to play by their rules. Although Tani and Uyenishi were only 19 and 20 years old, respectively, when they first arrived in London, if they had been competing in KOSEN matches from young ages - Tani appears to have started training when he was ten - then each would have had a decade of competitive ne-waza behind them.

    Likewise, KOSEN rules would have neatly paralleled the commercial requirements of challenge contests, i.e. that the challengers be comprehensively defeated but not badly injured.

    Finally, KOSEN could also be one of the reasons why the books written by Tani, Miyake and Uyenishi back in 1905/06 seem strangely close to the Kodokan judo of that period, even though we can't seem to connect these young men directly to the Kodokan itself; parallel evolution, with KOSEN format competition as the "missing link" ...

    Thoughts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Wolf
    In Internet forum discussions on "KOSEN judo", it often seems to be assumed that Jigoro Kano literally invented this inter-scholastic competition format in 1914.

    However, what I'm gleaning via Google research is that numerous technical colleges and high schools throughout Japan had been offering judo/jiujitsu since about 1890, and had been holding their own competitions for a considerable period prior to the "official" KOSEN competitions that were initiated by Kano. It may be that what he actually did was sanction a pre-existing "tradition" of inter-scholastic competition, bringing it formally under the Kodokan umbrella.
    Find some solid literary sources for these assumptions. Don't just peruse the internet. Cite sources and name authors, then and only then can you get something going.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Delaney
    Find some solid literary sources for these assumptions. Don't just peruse the internet. Cite sources and name authors, then and only then can you get something going.
    Early days, and I have very limited literature on judo/jiujitsu history available to me here in New Zealand. Also, I don't read Japanese. I'll continue to research with what I have, but if anyone with better resources can come to the aid of the party, that would be much appreciated.

    Tony

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