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Lecture on Kotaro Yoshida (2)

by Richard Kim

Published Online

Lecture by Richard Kim on Kotaro Yoshida - Part 2

[Edited from a lecture given on March 6,1971]

Lecture by Richard Kim

When Yoshida was eighteen, he developed a sophisticated theory of values. Simply, Yoshida’s theory is as follows: Of the three great sufferings of mankind, namely desire, disease and death, desire comes first. Yoshida answered the question: Do you live to eat or eat to live? The man who works nine to five, five days a week, at a job he hates to do, to earn money to buy material things he desires and food to eat, lives to eat. The free man one who works if he wishes, at a job he likes and doesn’t have many desires for material things, eats in order to stay alive.

Yoshida decided that the “ultimate” that everybody seeks is happiness. According to him, happiness has three prongs: gain, beauty, and love. Gain consists of material things, while beauty is the sensual pleasure derived from your gain, i.e. enjoyment of gourmet food or of a beautiful woman. Gain and beauty lie in the material world. Love is in the spiritual world and is your sharing of your gain and beauty with someone else. Few people can love. You must love to be able to protect yourself.

You must relax when you fight or else your muscles and tendons lock up the skeletal system with their tenseness. This will impede your strength. To relax you must relax your stomach and then your joints. This gives you true strength so that when attacked, you can explode from your stomach.

When you breathe out, imagine that the breath settles down to your stomach and that any excess goes down to your big toe. Then when you hit, at the moment of impact, you explode, relaxing immediately. In the kata you explode into the movements and relax between them.

All the above is what he developed at the age of eighteen years.

At the age of eighteen Yoshida was training in the mountains when he was approached by two men dressed in common clothes. One of them stood off to his left side while the one in front said: “Hey boy! We notice by your dress that you are a samurai. Give us some money.” The man then applied nami-jujishime to Yoshida. (At this time in Japan’s history samurai were forbidden to carry their two swords because the emperor feared they were likely to use them, which he didn’t want. However most samurai ignored the order and carried at least a knife in their waistband. Yoshida, who was dressed in fine samurai clothes, had on a silk waistband in which he carried a small knife.) As soon as the hold was applied to Yoshida’s neck, he used the Daito-ryu escape of pushing the elbow to the ear and shoved the man to the side. Then as he was shoving the man, he drew his knife and slashed his stomach. Slashing the first man and turning in one movement, he attacked and killed the second man to his side.

At first Yoshida experienced a terrible feeling for it was the first time he had killed, but soon there was an exaltation for he had killed in seconds two men who were going to rob him. His exaltation was short lived however, for when he dragged their bodies to the bushes at the side of the road, he was shocked to discover that the wooden swords they were carrying had extra long hilts like his. He thought that he was the first to discover that style.

Yoshida decided to stop for the night as it was getting late. He was near a farm house so he approached the gate and handed the attendant his letter of introduction. The letter, besides stating who he was and asking for hospitality, said that he had developed a completely different sword style. Although the farmer, his son, and his daughter had never heard of him, they decided to let him in because it was a dangerous area (mountain bandits).

When they saw him, they were shocked to find him so young. They wanted to know if his style worked and asked him if he had ever killed anyone. Yoshida replied that he had (the two he killed that morning). They then told him of the danger of being robbed by the mountain bandits in the area. It was then that Yoshida told them the story of what had happened earlier that day. They turned pale when they heard the description and the style of sword found on their bodies. It was a notorious gang and the farmer knew that they would seek revenge so he rounded up all the outlying small farmers and stationed them in his compound.

The gang decided to attack that night rather than wait. There were fourteen of them including their leader. They approached the front gate of the compound very late at night and nine of them scaled the wall and crept up to the main house where they found the lights out and the door open and apparently unguarded. They decided that one man at a time would sneak in at three minute intervals. The first man entered and three minutes went by without a sound uttered except for a small hiss like a man breathing heavily. So the second man entered. Same thing. No sound except for the hiss. Finally all had entered except the sub leader in charge. After a while he got very suspicious because there were no sounds of fighting nor any light or signal. He went up to the door and smelled. He could smell blood in the air but no fear so he ran out and told the leader that something was funny. The leader didn’t think it too strange. He said they must have killed someone and were probably enjoying themselves with the women. He told the sub leader to go inside and check on them.

He went back to the door but got a very strange feeling so he didn’t enter but instead felt the floor inside the door with his sword. There was a large hole just inside the door. He ran out to report it. (Yoshida had removed several floorboards just inside the door forming a deep pit. He stood to the side and cut the heads off the gang members as they entered and fell into the pit). As the sub leader reached the wall, he was met by Yoshida standing in front of it with his sword in his sash and his left hand on the sheath. The sub leader cut for his left arm and Yoshida blocked with the extra long hilt knocking the sub leader’s sword to the side and in one continuous motion drawing his sword with his palm (right) underneath and cutting the sub leader’s stomach.

Yoshida put on the sub leader’s clothes and went outside where he surprised the leader and his men killing three of the remaining five including the leader. The other two escaped (to fight another day) and spread the story of his skill.

The farmer invited Yoshida to stay a while, probably hoping to marry off his daughter to such a skilful man, but Yoshida had things to do.

The most important thing is complete relaxation before any exertion. There are two steps: (1) relaxation and softness, then bursting out from softness (explosion): (2) subconscious - if you tighten up your subconscious won’t come out.

You must face your opponent as if you were in the gym practising. In the gym you know you won’t get hurt so you are relaxed. Then the moment you go into action, your subconscious will come out.

Yoshida eventually killed Sagakama Shuzen but not Nitta Dengoro because he was Nitta and was blown up while trying to sabotage a train.

Doihara Kenji was one of the greatest spies of all times. Unfortunately he was captured and executed by the Chinese.

How Mr. Kim met his Chinese teacher in Shanghai

On Avenue Road directly across the street from the marine barracks (Japanese) was the estate of Edward Hotung. All foreigners were interned except those on the Hotung estate because they were wealthy and paid not to be. The front gates of both the barracks and the estate faced each other so that the guard at the marine gate was able to watch the estate also. However after a while money turned his head away and they were free to come and go.

One day while visiting the barracks with his brother-in-law who was the Japanese secret police. Mr. Kim observed Edward Hotung walking out the gate. Mr. Hotung had two wooden legs. When asked, his brother-in-law told Mr. Kim about them. Mr. Kim later became friends with Hotung’s son Eric who told him about a Chinese man who was able to do incredible feats. Mr. Kim was sceptical when he first heard about the man, but his brother-in-law confirmed it. Mr. Kim promised Eric a pass if he would introduce him to the man which he later did.

Mr. Kim saw the following feats himself: The man push a boulder from a distance without physically touching it. He stood in a position similar to that of one in the soft form with his palms facing out straight ahead in front of his chest. When he moved his palms forward the boulder moved an equal distance. Another feat was killing mosquitoes. The man took off his upper garments and sat in a lotus position with his fist touching each other in front of his plexus. After meditating a while, he placed his palms together in the same position and “called” the mosquitoes to him. They swarmed all over him and bit him. After biting him they dropped down dead. The man ate a lot of arsenic compounds and was able to release into his bloodstream sufficient quantities to kill the mosquitoes without killing himself.

Stories: The stag. Once there was a stag who got very sick. So sick that he couldn’t forage for food. He found a very green pasture that had running water so that he wouldn’t have to move. When his friends heard about his infirmity, they all decided to visit him. As each one visited, they ate a little of his grass ‘till soon he didn’t have any more and he starved to death. Moral: Only a friend can trap you.