Judoist Haku Michigami
himself around France for half a century
the Bushido spirit overseas through training
candid comment towards judo after World War II
|Teaching judo overseas for 49 years.
Centering himself around Bordeaux, France, his training took
place in 36 countries. Becoming 90 years of age in October,
Haku Michigami(89) with a 9 Dan in judo is also credited for
spreading the bushido spirit around the world.
June 1953, I received contact from Master Kurihara Tamio,
his teacher back at the Kyoto Budo Senmon Gakko.(School for
training judo masters, known as Busen in short) The gist of
it was that "Chairman Bonemori of the French Judo Federation
is in Japan. He's looking for an instructor, so I recommend
you to him."
a similar offer came from USA, back then there was a proverb
which said to take three steps back so you won't stand on
your master's shadow.
signed the contract which called me to France for a year,
no pay, and a two-way airplane ticket.
flew to France in July. Although Japan lost the war, we did
not lose in mentality. Even if our bodies are small, we can
win against a bigger opponent. To spread these yamatodamashi(Japanese
spirit) and bushido(samurai chivalry) spirit, I traveled overseas.
judo is not about talking. People will not understand without
real movements. Although I learned some English at Shanghai
when I was an assistant professor at the Dobunshoin University,
most of my lessons were based on gestures.
I asked for the French translation of "like that",
they told me "comme ca". Since I always said "comme
ca" when I showed a movement, the students started to
call me Master Comme Ca.
Despite the one year contract, my time in France got longer
from strong request.
flying to Paris, I was 173cm tall and weighed 78kg. However,
because of the new climate and food, I lost 12kg. And when
the long year passed, chairman Bonemori asked me to stay a
little longer. Although I was puzzled, I decided to stay since
I knew that a little more time was necessary to teach judo.
1955, some Dutch judoists visited two times and asked me to
go to Holland, so I held training sessions few times a year.
In that group was Anton Geesink, the future gold medalist.
Soon I settled myself overseas and started teaching other
countries in Europe, Africa, and South America.
I taught with a judo uniform until three years ago, I injured
my knee and now I just watch and check if everything is going
well. However, I will not hesitate to warn a bad movement.
While judo was globalizing, major competitions were held
with weight classes and points were divided up such as "koka".
These changes need some attention.
and "chui" is not acceptable. Why can one win when
he/she hasn't performed a single move? When I was in busen,
it was given for one to aim for an ippon. There even were
matches where two ippons were needed to win.
WWII, Europeans dominated rule making. It is sad to say that
Japanese judo has lost leadership. While Europe heads toward
dominating international judo, traditional judo is getting
pushed out. Although this might be weird since I myself teach
overseas, this is the impression that I get in modern days.