Judo Documentary: Judoka, 1965

Posted by Staff on Mar 15, 2020

I was almost a champion of the world in something that was worth being a champion in.
When you're that close, you don't give up easy.

After the Olympics, I went to a great teacher and he said, “If you train for three hours a day and become champion, you should immediately begin to train six hours a day.

My mother wanted me to be a piano player, my father wanted me to be a professional man.
Everybody wanted the best for me and so did I, I still do.

When I came to Japan, I was 19, it was for six months.
Now, I'm 24 and I'm still here.
When I landed, I had $85 and some pretty funny ideas about this country but I found work as an extra in movies, for teaching English.
My sisters helped and the folks would drop the outside dollars in a letter.
Even my room's improved.
The first one had no light at all and the next was like living in a wind tunnel.
Now, I've got a real palace.
I can even stand up in it.
judo was a tough part, suddenly, I was in the big leagues fighting the best police and university judokas.
I was injured all the first year but by the end of it, I was doing some of the throwing.

[00:03:57] Sometimes, I get homesick.
I miss fresh air and the family in that but when I'm home for a championship, I find I miss raw fish and kimonos and quite a few things here makes me wonder how a Japanese boy would feel playing hockey in Canada.

When I finally made up my mind to leave home, it was hard to explain even to myself that I wasn't running away from anything, but that I was running towards something.

With all the publicity and being a little on the large side, you tend to stick on it.
You can get self-conscious like when they come up behind you and compare foot sizes, and they talk about you but that doesn't bother me.
I like the Japanese.
I guess I should.
In a way, I grew up with them.

In the East, it’s said when the pupil is ready, the teacher will come.
Kimura is the greatest fighter Japan ever produced.
I think he was national champion about a dozen times.
In 10 years, he was never off his feet.
They say no one before Kimura, no one after.
I'm the only Westerner he's ever taught.
He says I can be champion.
In fact, he says I must be champion.

I don't think Kimura recognizes physical limitations.
He just trains us beyond any that happened to come up.
For me, he says he stays up nights thinking of ways to make me stronger, better.
With him, I can win now but I've got a lot more to lose.

[Speaking Japanese language]
Each member of our University team does 600 push-ups a day.
Once in a while, we do a thousand.
This is unreasonable, we know that but he pushes us beyond the physical limit to another place way outside our way inside.
I don't know where exactly but I've been there.

If I don't train hard, I feel guilty because even if I do win, I know there's someone someplace in Japan or Europe who can beat me because he’s training harder.
Usually as the numbers increase, so does the heights of my behind which is considered something of a Japanese landmark.

I was mystic in the beginning I suppose.
Maybe I expected some secret weapon from the east but there's no mystery about it as many believe or would like to believe.
Good judo is a matter of hardwork and concentration.
The best judo, well maybe I don't know yet.

[00:08:40] This has got to be the goofiest job in the world; wooden guns, rubber knives, and you wait around about nine hours for five minutes work.
I don't believe in movies anymore.
So far my film career, I've been an SS trooper, a submarine commander and the fastest gun in the East.
But I'm getting tired of being the villain, I want to be a hero for a while.

All right, where are we going?
To [inaudible 00:09:25].
We’ve got a Japanese correspondent.


[Speaking Japanese language]
I fought my Olympic bouts in the Budokan arena.
I like to go back there whenever I can especially to fight big Japanese.
The little ones have style but you need power more.
[Inaudible 00:10:17] both.
He's a wrestling champion and about the best police judoka in Tokyo.
He keeps me honest.

In competition of bouts over with the first fall.
But to get in shape for a world championship for gazing for the big Russians, you have to pull the stops and practice, make a few mistakes and fight like hell.

I was brought up to turn the other cheek so to speak.
It's funny but I think I went into judo at one time trying to be tough.
I wanted to be strong but I found as you get more and more skillful, the desire to be big and tough sort of works the other way.

I know I have this skill now.
I don't have to talk about it.
I'd still rather shy away from a physical demonstration of what I can do, of what I know I can do.

[00:12:33] I can still remember most of the Olympic family.
It lasted the full 15 minutes.
In Okumu, the Japanese champion was very powerful for his size.
He's probably the fastest big man in judo.
But after a few minutes with him, I gained confidence.
I felt stronger than I ever had against him.
I lost the decision but it wasn't one-sided by any means.
In fact, the moment I grabbed hold of him, I knew he was a little worried too.

I feel stronger now than I ever have.
I only wish I'd been taught by Kimura before the Olympics.
A year ago, Morita could take me.
Now, that's not quite the case.
He's not getting any worse so I must be getting better.

[00:14:00] About once a month, Kimura lets the university team relax a bit; some song, a little sekky [00:14:04], nothing very complicated.
Most of them are country boys, straightforward, loyal and just about anyone would be a champion in his weight class in North America.

[Singing and clapping]
They may not be wizkids but they made me feel more at home than I did in two years at McGill.

Some of their songs don’t pretty rhyme but lots of fun.
But when they're serious, they sing about strong men in the country like maybe we used to.

I often wonder if I made a mistake coming to Japan.
I wonder when I gave up security, the car I'm be a 10 million other guys who got but I have missed good things too.
Maybe I was wrong.
I don't know; I've got a good girl, I live in a country I like, I live in two countries I like.
Sometimes, I don't eat too well, and sometimes I live pretty high.
My friends are good people.
My teacher’s the best there ever was.
I guess a man anywhere can't ask for more than that.

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