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July 25, 2002
Judoist Haku Michigami
Geesink who was like a beer bottle
Geesink's serious nature and the harsh trainings
Mixed feelings towards the victory at the Tokyo Olympics


Watching Geesink's match at the Tokyo Olympics (in the middle)
In 1955, he becomes the head technical advisor of the Dutch Judo Federation. One of his students there was Anton Geesink, the future champion who will shock Japanese judo.
Even though I started teaching in Holland, I only went there every two months, since my main mission was in France. So I thought of a plan to raise a model judoist in Holland to take my place when I am not there.
A young man caught my attention. He was 198cm tall and weighted 82kg. He was thin, had a very long face and neck, and looked like a beer bottle. That was Geesink when he was 20 years old. His serious character struck me, and I decided to make him the model athlete.
Although the Dutch are known for their hard working nature, Geesink was special among them. If I tell my students to run, he'd run three times the distance of others. Soon, his thin neck and body started to get bigger.
Let me tell this incident. His house was 30km away from Amsterdam. On his way to the gym, his car broke down. There is a rule in Holland that a man can not go on the tatami if he is late. So he left his car, ran back home, and biked his way to the gym.
However, he still was late and the Dutch coach told him to not come up. When I was notified about his situation, I told him to come up. He was always like that. Since he always tried hard, he was also fast at improving technique.
Those related to judo in Holland were against my idea of giving special attention to select individuals. Back then, social hierarchy still existed to an extent. Geesink's father and Geesink himself was a member of the working class. However, I told them that I will stop coming if they won't listen to me. That worked out, and Geesink's special training continued.

In 1961, Geesink won the Third World Championships held in Paris. At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, he won the open weight division, all with ippons. Japan had lost its superiority in its speciality sports.

To tell you the truth, I had some mixed feelings. The reason I started teaching judo overseas was not to make foreign athletes win in competitions.
I flew overseas for people to understand the ancient spirit of bushido. I did not train them to bring Japanese judo into turmoil.
Geesink was weak mentally at times. At the Tokyo Olympics, I stayed at a temple in Kamakura with about 100 French judoists, and planned to watch Geesink's match on TV.
However, Geesink said that he was anxious, worried, and wanted me to be at the scene. So I rushed myself there and saw his matches.
What pleased me was his attitude after he beat Kaminaga at the finals. He stopped the Dutch people from coming up onto the tatami, saluted Kaminaga, the Japanese imperial family, and the Dutch queen, and left the floor.
There, I saw the spirit of bushido, which I valued the most. I believe that many who saw that scene thought that Geesink was a great judoist.