A slightly different version of this article appeared in Aikido Journal, 25:2 (1998).
What if we made our judo known abroad? Wouldn’t it be a great thing which would allow us to get people to know Japan better? …What do hardships matter? For any pioneer, it is not a matter of harvesting, but of sowing.
— Yoshiaki (Yoshitsugu) Yamashita, circa 1887
In 1902, a wealthy Seattle businessman named Sam Hill was routinely working ten hours a day, six days a week. This prolonged absence caused his nine-year old son to turn “sickly,” as being spoiled and selfish was then known. Rather than spend more time with the boy, Hill decided that judo, which he had seen demonstrated during a recent business trip to Japan, would be just the thing to imbue young James Nathan Hill “with the ideals of the Samurai class, for that class of men is a noble, high-minded class. They look beyond the modern commercial spirit.”
Hill therefore asked I. Shibata, a Japanese friend living in New Haven, Connecticut, to find him a good judo teacher. In February 1903, Shibata told Hill of a Professor Yoshiaki (Yoshitsugu) Yamashita of Tokyo. [EN1]
Yoshiaki Yamashita, early 1930s. Photo
courtesy of the Joseph R. Svinth collection
Yamashita was born in Kanazawa City, in Ishikawa Prefecture, on February 16, 1865. The son of a minor samurai, he received some martial art training as a youth. In August 1884 he became the nineteenth member of Jigoro Kano’s Kodokan Dojo, where he began studying the jujutsu style that later became known as judo.
Despite all the stories about how it took years to get rank in the old days, Yamashita earned his 1-dan ranking after just three months at Kano’s school. Subsequent promotions continued apace, and he received his 4-dan after just two years. He was further promoted to 6-dan in 1898, and, upon his death in October 1935, he became the first person to receive posthumous promotion to 10-dan. Highly educated and urbane – he spoke good English and wrote beautiful Japanese – Yamashita quickly became a top-notch instructor. His postings included the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy and Tokyo Imperial University.
Yamashita’s skill was not solely theoretical, either. He was a member of the Kodokan teams that wrestled the Tokyo police jujutsu club in 1883 and 1884, and in 1946, the British judo pioneer E.J. Harrison, who studied judo at the Kodokan around 1905, told the following stories of Professor Yamashita’s practical fighting skills in the Budokwai Quarterly Bulletin:
It chanced that some years before I joined the Kodokwan Yamashita and a friend were assaulted by seventeen coolies in a Tokyo meat-shop – a sort of popular restaurant. Although some of the coolies were armed with knives the gang were dispersed in a twinkling, three of them with broken arms and all with bruised and battered faces. [EN2] As fast as one of the two experts artistically ‘downed’ his man the other would pick the victim up like an empty sack and dump him unceremoniously in the street. The only evidence of the conflict on the side of the two experts took the form of skinned knuckles where the latter had come in contact with the coolies’ teeth. On another occasion Yamashita fell foul of a coolie in the upper room of a restaurant and promptly threw him downstairs. The coolie returned to the fray with fourteen comrades, but Yamashita calmly sat at the head of the stairs and as fast as the coolies came up in single file, owing to the narrowness of the passage, he simple choked them in detail and hurled them back down again. In the excitement of the moment he was rather rougher than was strictly necessary, and so broke one man’s neck. The rest fled in terror, carrying off their dead and wounded. Yamashita was arrested, but as he was easily able to prove that he had been one man against fifteen he was, of course, acquitted. Nevertheless, the Kodokwan temporarily suspended him for his conduct, which was deemed unduly violent.
Hill knew none of this, however. All he knew was that his friend in Connecticut said that Yamashita was a good judo teacher, that judo was supposed to build character in boys, and that his son James Nathan was badly in need of stronger character. So Hill wrote Yamashita on July 21, 1903, saying:
My dear sir: — Referring to the correspondence between Mr. I. Shibata and myself regarding your coming to America, I beg to state that I am now ready to carry out my proposition to you as made in February last. My son will be next year in the city of Washington, D.C., from the first of October on. I have arranged so that if you will call at the office of the Nippon Yusen Kaisha [Japan Mail Lines] [EN3] in Tokyo they will furnish you transportation for yourself and your wife from Yokohama and Seattle, and I will pay for same. The steamship ‘Shinano Maru’ leaves Yokohama on the 22nd of September. If possible, I should like you to sail at that time. I shall, of course, furnish you with a railroad ticket from Seattle to Washington, D.C. for yourself and wife as well. I am greatly interested in this matter and believe that you will do well, and I am very anxious that my boy should learn the art. Trusting that you will be able to come to America and that I may hear from you at earliest moment to that effect.
To which Yamashita responded on August 26, 1903:
Your letter dated 21st July is duly at hand and I greatly appreciate your kindness in furnishing transportation for myself and my wife.
In reply to your favor I am very glad to inform you that we are ready to start for America on the 22nd of September on board ‘Shinano Maru’ as you so kindly arranged for us.
I had been much bothered about how to show you the true art of our ‘jujutsu’ before accepting your proposition because I was afraid that there is no Japanese resident there who is able to show you the art as my opponent, but fortunately I have got a young Japanese gentleman, one of my pupils who is very clever and whose father is a judge of the Tokyo Supreme Court, who voluntarily applied to go to America with us at his own expense which I have gladly consented to.
Asking you to give our kindest regards to Mrs. Samuel Hill and your son.
Letters reprinted courtesy of Maryhill Museum of Art. Images copyright Maryhill Museum of Art.
So, on September 23, 1903 the 38-year old Yamashita, his 25-year old wife Fude, and his 19-year old assistant Saburo Kawaguchi boarded the SS Shinano Maru in Yokohama. Since Hill was paying his fare, Yamashita traveled first-class. On the other hand, Kawaguchi traveled second-class, doubtless because his father was paying his way. Still, neither man traveled steerage. So when they arrived in Seattle fifteen days later Yamashita proudly told immigrations officials that he was a professor hired to teach “jujitsu” to Mr. Hill’s children. Kawaguchi just as proudly proclaimed himself Professor Yamashita’s assistant.
On Saturday, October 17, 1903 Yamashita and Kawaguchi gave a judo exhibition at the Seattle Theatre. This was a private show, not a public one; the theater was between shows, and Hill hired it for the evening. Guests included Sam Hill’s mother-in-law Mary Hill (wife of railroader J.J. Hill, the man of whom it was said, “In the West there are many mountains, but only one Hill,”), Senator Russell Alger (a Republican from Michigan, and a former Secretary of War), and several Seattle sports writers. So far as I know, this was the first time Kodokan judo was shown to a non-Japanese audience in North America. (Since journalist H. Irving Hancock had begun studying jujutsu in New York City as early as 1896, this statement refers solely to Kodokan judo.)
During his show, Yamashita told the audience that judo was a word meaning “victory by pliancy or yielding.” What this meant, he was quoted in the Post-Intelligencer as saying, was that:
When the opponent in a hand-to-hand conflict exerts the greatest muscular power he is easiest to overcome, for the expert in judo, by a subtle trick of yielding, converts the antagonist’s momentum into his own destruction. The unfortunate leans too far, loses his balance, and swift as lightning the adept exerts one of his peculiar holds on the neck or arm…
Furthermore, judo was an exercise in Social Darwinism:
Only the fittest survive, and the life of each master is a long struggle for supremacy. The devotees of the science and the art say that the same stern principles exhibited in the physical practice are carried into the moral precepts… Only a few reach that stage, the majority stopping at physical development and the lessons of honesty and sobriety.
Speeches done, Yamashita and Kawaguchi demonstrated various throws and holds for the crowd. People seeing such demonstrations for the first time invariably thought that they were prearranged gymnastics rather than real wrestling. Sportswriter Ed Hughes of the Seattle Times, for example, wrote in January 1912 that:
Sam Hill years ago brought over some jiu-jitsu experts from Japan and showed them at the Seattle Theatre… The Japanese Mr. Hill brought over here used to give clever exhibitions, but it was exhibition stuff purely. It was not the real thing.
Doubtless thinking the same thing, Hill quietly arranged for Yamashita to meet someone who was not part of his personal troupe. After all, he wanted a jujutsu teacher, not an acrobat. Toward this end, Hill arranged a bout with some professional wrestlers in Seattle. When the wrestlers failed to appear, he substituted a guest named C.E. Radclyffe, a 210-pound Englishman who was a properly trained amateur boxer. According to the British wrestling writer Percy Longhurst, writing in Superman Magazine in May 1936, “Here is what the boxer has to say about the encounter:”
‘I confess I have never been up against such a slippery customer as the little Jap. To land him fairly on the head or body was impossible. He avoided punishment by falling backwards or forwards, and once even passed between my legs, almost throwing me as he did so, and recovering his feet behind me in time to avoid a vicious back-hand swing. I tried everything, from straight punches to ‘windmill’ swings, but he was too good for me. Once he had come to close quarters a certain fall for me was the result. After taking three or four heavy tosses, I had had enough of it, having due regard to the fact that I had an hour or so before just got through a long and good dinner.’
His worries about the Professor’s abilities gone, Hill then took his Japanese to the District of Columbia to meet James Nathan Hill. What James Nathan thought of the Professor and his judo is unknown, but as James Nathan was notoriously lazy, what he had to say about it is probably better imagined than repeated.
This photo from the Isamu Takeshita collection
was probably taken in Washington, DC circa 1905;
the woman on the right is likely Fude Yamashita.
Photograph reproduced courtesy of Stanley Pranin
and Aikido Journal
For Yamashita, the trip east was hardly wasted. For one thing, he got to see a lot of railroads along the way, which after all may have been one reason for the trip in the first place. (Yamashita’s sponsors included several leading Japanese industrialists.) For another, he had no trouble finding a job teaching judo to the children of the Washington elite. While his regular students were mostly rich men’s daughters — Irving Hancock’s Physical Training for Women by Japanese Methods (1904) was then quite fashionable — he didn’t mind, as according to an article in the New York World, Yamashita’s only requirement in his judo classes was “an absolute good temper.” His wife was equally fortunate, and her students included the daughters of the Democratic vice-presidential candidate and a former governor of Mississippi. [EN4]
This photo from the Isamu Takeshita collection was probably taken in Washington, DC circa 1905; the woman on the right is likely Fude Yamashita. Photograph reproduced courtesy of Stanley Pranin and Aikido Journal.
While in the District of Columbia, Professor Yamashita gave some lessons at the Japanese Legation. The Japanese naval attach�, Lieutenant Commander Isamu Takeshita, was from a samurai family and knew a good thing when he saw it – in 1926, he persuaded aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba to move to Tokyo, and in 1935 he introduced aiki budo, as aikido was then known, into the United States. [EN5] So it is hardly surprising that in March 1904, he also arranged for Professor Yamashita to meet with President Theodore Roosevelt in the White House.
As Roosevelt put it in a letter to his sons, he believed in “rough, manly sports” so long as they did not “degenerate into the sole end of one’s existence… character counts for a great deal more than either intellect or body in winning success in life.” And he thought he knew all about jujutsu. After all, in 1902, his wrestling instructor, a Philadelphia policeman named James J. O’Brien, had shown him some tricks he had learned in Japan. (O’Brien had been a constable at Nagasaki’s Umegasaki Station from 1895 to 1899, so the instruction was legitimate.)
According to an article published in Literary Digest in August 1927, O’Brien began his demonstration by showing Roosevelt some technical illustrations. Suddenly Roosevelt stopped at a photo of a woman sticking her stiffened fingers into a man’s eyes.
A little worried lest this maneuver should make an unfavorable impression, the Captain [O’Brien] stammered: ‘Mr. President, a dangerous situation requires a desperate defense. That was invented to give a woman protection against a thug who suddenly attacked her.’ Colonel Roosevelt’s response, according to a writer in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, was reassuring. ‘I think, Captain,’ he is reported to have said, ‘that this is the best thing in your repertory.’
No matter. What Yamashita showed was a complete system rather than a few simple tricks. And, despite what everyone thought, his acts were not prearranged: they were that good. Therefore, in the words of the New York World, Yamashita and his partner “caused Mr. Roosevelt to quit winking and gasp. They showed him what jiu-jitsu really is and they were engaged on the spot.”
President Roosevelt practicing judo; illustration by Robert Edgren.
Although The World reported that there were seven degrees in jiu-jitsu, and Roosevelt intended to have at least five of them, Roosevelt’s primary goal in all this was not rank, but weight reduction. Since becoming President, his weight had soared to over 220 pounds, and he hoped to be down to 200 by the elections. So, during March and April 1904, Roosevelt practiced judo three afternoons a week, using a ground floor office in the White House as his workout space. Then, for the rest of the summer, he practiced occasionally. He stopped training during the elections, and there is no record showing that he resumed his studies afterward.
The President’s training partners included his sons, his private secretary, the Japanese naval attach�, Secretary of War William Howard Taft, and Secretary of the Interior Gifford Pinchot. When these people were unavailable, then Roosevelt tried his tricks on husky young visitors. The latter included Robert Johnstone Mooney, who with his brother visited the White House on the afternoon of Thursday, August 18, 1904. According to an article published in The Outlook in October 1923, Mooney’s brother was a noted amateur boxer. So, after doing a little sparring with the two young men, Roosevelt:
sprang to his feet and excitedly asked: ‘By the way, do you boys understand jiu-jitsu?’ We replied in the negative, and he continued, pounding the air with his arms, ‘You must promise me to learn that without delay. You are so good in other athletics that you must add jiu-jitsu to your other accomplishments. Every American athlete ought to understand the Japanese system thoroughly. You know’ – and he smiled reminiscently – ‘I practically introduced it to the Americans. I had a young Japanese – now at Harvard [A. Kitagaki] – here for six months, and I tried jiu-jitsu with him day after day. But he always defeated me. It was not easy to learn. However, one day I got him – I got him – good and plenty! I threw him clear over my head on his belly, and I had it. I had it.’Then, to prove his point, Roosevelt demonstrated his techniques on the Mooneys using considerably more enthusiasm than control. Professor Yamashita remarked the same problem, of course. According to an American journalist named Joseph Clarke, Yamashita later said that while Roosevelt was his best pupil, he was also “very heavy and very impetuous, and it had cost the poor professor many bruisings, much worry and infinite pains during Theodore’s rushes to avoid laming the President of the United States.”
The president probably agreed with these statements. For example, on March 5, 1904 he wrote his son Kermit:
My throat is a little sore, because once when one of them had a stranglehold I also got hold of his windpipe and thought I could perhaps choke him off before he could choke me. However, he got ahead.A month later, he wrote his son Theodore Jr.:
I am very glad I have been doing this Japanese wrestling, but when I am through with it this time I am not at all sure I shall ever try it again… I find the wrestling a trifle too vehement for mere rest. My right ankle and left wrist and one thumb and both great toes are swollen sufficiently to more or less impair their usefulness, and I am well mottled with bruises elsewhere. Still I have made good progress, and since you have left they have taught me three new throws that are perfect corkers.Yamashita left Washington around May 1904. Apparently someone – probably Hill or Roosevelt — had suggested that he teach judo to Harvard football players, thereby reducing their risk of death or serious injury. But this never occurred, as at the insistence of President Roosevelt, Yamashita instead took a position teaching judo at the US Naval Academy.
Yamashita started at the Naval Academy in January 1905. Training took place Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons. He earned $1,666 for the semester, but had to pay his own assistants. The class had about 25 students.
Theodore Roosevelt strolling with Lieutenant Commander
Isamu Takeshita (left) during the negotiations that
led to the Treaty of Portsmouth that led
to the end of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905.
Photograph from the Isamu Takeshita collection,
courtesy of Stanley Pranin and Aikido Journal.
While teaching these classes Yamashita constantly stressed that what he taught was a gentlemanly art rather than something done by ruffians or professional wrestlers. Opinions regarding the quality of his instruction varied widely. According to the Army and Navy Journal for February 18, 1905 some believed “it was the best possible means of physical training, while others regard it of little value, indeed, of positive harm as inculcating unfair and unsportsmanlike ideas of physical contests.” /p>
Such debates occurred throughout North America during 1905. Much of the debate was engendered by the Russo-Japanese War, in which Japanese propagandists routinely attributed their successes to military judo training. And Irving Hancock and Robert Edgren, a pair of journalists who were touting the wrestling skills of a jujutsu man named Katsukuma Higashi, engendered more. [EN6] While the latter grossly exaggerated Higashi’s actual ability – he lost in three straight falls to an American wrestler named George Bothner in April 1905, and in minutes to a British judoka named Yukio Tani in November 1905 – the hype generated much controversy. Wanting to know the answer for himself, on Thursday, February 23, 1905 the President arranged a private match between Professor Yamashita and a middleweight catch-as-catch-can wrestler named Joseph Grant. In a letter to his son Kermit, Roosevelt described the outcome:
Grant did not know what to do except to put Yamashita on his back, and Yamashita was perfectly content to be on his back. Inside of a minute Yamashita had choked Grant, and inside of two minutes more he had got an elbow hold on him… [Still,] Grant in the actual wrestling and throwing was about as good as the Japanese, and he was so much stronger that he evidently hurt and wore out the little Japanese.
Meanwhile the US Army also expressed interested in learning if judo had as much merit in military training as the Japanese propagandists claimed. Toward answering this question, Brigadier General Albert L. Mills and Captain Frank W. Coe of the Military Academy and Captain Peyton C. March of the Army’s Bayonet and Sword Committee visited Annapolis on Saturday, March 4, 1905. [EN7] After meeting with Commander William F. Halsey, Sr. and Surgeon Edward S. Bogert, Jr. of the Naval Academy, the officers observed a demonstration given by Yamashita and his midshipmen. Afterward their official report said that:
jiu-jitsu is not of great value as a means of physical development, but that the possession of a knowledge of this system would inspire the individual with a degree of self-confidence; hence it is recommended that jiu-jitsu be incorporated in the [physical training] course with boxing and wrestling.As it turned out, the Military Academy hired a retired world champion wrestler named Tom Jenkins instead, and never once regretted the decision.
Tom Jenkins, US Military Academy wrestling instructor, 1906-1942. Photo courtesy of the United States Military Academy Archives. For details of Jenkins’ professional wrestling career, see Mark Hewitt, “Tough as Barbed Wire,” http://www.teal.org/wht/history/mh1.htm
Three weeks later Yamashita, Kitagaki, and Midshipmen McConnell, Piersol, Ghormley, and Heim gave their first public judo demonstration. [EN8] While the crowd watched politely, it greatly preferred the boxing and wrestling shows that followed. A second show given in May 1905 met an equally cool response. Said the Army and Navy Journal afterward:
While some of the holds were undoubtedly serviceable if procured, the contestants worked together in such a way as to give no indication that the Americans had learned anything that would be of real use to them in a tight place. Exhibitions were given of how to stop an opponent who hit, kicked, or rushed, but it was noticeable that the man on the defense… [had an] understanding of the particular attack he had to meet and received his opponent as prearranged.
Although disappointed by this response, Yamashita left Annapolis in June fully expecting to be rehired in the fall, and the only judo he did publicly during the summer of 1905 was for a Russo-Japanese War benefit held at the Lafayette Theatre in Washington, DC on June 30. His partner in this demonstration was Saburo Koshiba of Tokyo. Then, come October, the Naval Academy told Yamashita that it had no money for a judo program and that his services were no longer required.
Understandably upset, Yamashita complained to friends at the Japanese Legation that he had turned down several jobs during the summer, thinking that the Navy would be rehiring him in the fall. And, as this left him with insufficient funds for another year in America, he began making plans to return to Japan.
About the same time that Yamashita was packing his bags, President Roosevelt happened to ask the Japanese ambassador how his former judo teacher was doing. Upon hearing the answer, the President asked the Secretary of the Navy if there was some reason that Yamashita should not be rehired for at least one more year. As Secretary Charles J. Bonaparte could not think of a reason he cared to tell the President, he immediately sent a letter to the new Superintendent of the Naval Academy, Rear Admiral James H. Sands, asking him to “please take the necessary steps to comply with the wishes of the President.” As one would expect, Admiral Sands in turn wasted no time telling his staff to find a way of funding the President’s judo program.
Within two weeks the Naval Academy staff had designed a curriculum and moved $1,700 into the appropriate budget. Admiral Sands then asked Yamashita to please come by his office in Annapolis “to arrange for the course of instruction in Judo.” On December 4, 1905, Admiral Sands signed a contract with Yamashita in which the latter was to give fifty one-hour lessons at $33.33 per lesson. The class was taught during the first half of 1906. On May 6, 1906 Admiral Sands wrote the Navy Department to say that the course had been completed, but suggested that it not be repeated in 1907, as it was the opinion of both himself and his staff that “a knowledge of Jiu-jitsu is not of great value to those who are being prepared for a life on shipboard.” President Roosevelt once again begged to differ, and so money was allocated for the purpose of bringing Yamashita back for a third year. But following the end of the 1906 academic year Yamashita left the United States for Japan, and on July 24 he attended an important judo conference held in Kyoto. His absence was hardly remarked by the US Navy, which did nothing more with judo until 1943. [EN9]
Meanwhile, back in Seattle, Sam Hill was annoyed. He had brought Yamashita to America to teach judo to his son, and then the Professor had deserted James Nathan for that damned cowboy in the White House. So, for the rest of his life, Hill would complain to anyone who would listen that Roosevelt had “taken away from Harvard my judo man without my permission or even asking.”
And with that proclamation, Kodokan judo quit being of much interest to Seattle’s elite, and instead became something done almost entirely by the sons of Japanese immigrants.
Financial support from the Japanese American National Museum and King County Landmarks and Heritage Commission contributed to the completion of this article.
The assistance of Richard Bowen, Alice S. Creighton (US Naval Academy, Nimitz Library, Special Collections), Wallace Dailey (Harvard College Library, Theodore Roosevelt Collection), Shinji Kozu, William J. Long, Judith Sibley (US Military Academy Archives, Special Collections), Robert W. Smith, and David Waterhouse is also gratefully acknowledged.
EN1. The ideogram used to write Yamashita’s first name could be transliterated as Yoshitsugu, Yoshiaki, or Yoshikazu. In Kodokan documents it is usually transliterated Yoshiaki, but his passport in 1903 read Yoshitsugu.
EN2. The assault was probably politically motivated. In Revue Judo Kodokan, II (September 1952), 125, Kainan Shimomura wrote, “Yokoyama and Yamashita, the pioneers of Judo, were appointed Professors to the State Police Force, following on a Gala of Budo (martial arts) during which different Schools of Jujutsu opposed one another, but the numerous Societies of the ancient Jujutsu, which continued to exist, despised the ‘Judo of Kodokan’ at the bottom of their hearts. Encounters between Professors of the State were the exception. However public opinion got so worked up that in January 1891 an inter-group combat took place…”
EN3. On August 31, 1896, the steamer SS Miike Maru became the first NYK ship to enter Puget Sound. The ship carried 186 tons of cargo and one steerage passenger to Seattle and on its return to Japan carried six first-class and 33 steerage passengers. Thus the arrival of the NYK initially reduced Seattle’s Japanese population by 9%! For further details, see http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/centennial/january/partners.html.
EN4. For details, see “Jiu-Jitsu for Women: Sandow’s Magazine,” http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltframe.htm.
EN5. See Stanley Pranin’s article at http://omlc.ogi.edu/aikido/talk/osensei/bio/mori4.html and Joseph Svinth, “Aikido Comes to America, September 1935,” at Volume I of Journal of Combative Sport at http://ejmas.com/jcs/jcsframe.htm.
EN6. See, for example, “The Fearful Art of Jiu-Jitsu” by Robert Edgren at http://ejmas.com/jcs/jcsframe.htm.
EN7. In March 1918, Peyton C. March became Chief of Staff, US Army, a position he held until retirement in January 1921. Frank W. Coe became the Chief of Coast Artillery in May 1918, a position he held until retirement in March 1926. For a biographical sketch and portrait of General March, see http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/cg&csa/March-PC.htm.
EN8. Between 1881 and 1906, sixteen Japanese attended the US Naval Academy. A. Kitagaki, however, failed to gain admission because in 1906 Congress passed laws that prohibited the Academy from accepting foreign students. Robert L. Ghormley of Moscow, Idaho played three years of varsity football at the Academy. He was supreme commander of Allied naval forces during the Guadalcanal campaign of 1943 and retired as a vice admiral in 1946. Philadelphia’s William Burton Piersol was injured while playing football at the Academy and resigned immediately following graduation. He then got a job designing propellers for various marine firms and served as a commander during World War II. Riley Franklin McConnell of Gate City, Virginia was the heaviest man in his class at the Academy. His sports included football, track, and what the school yearbook, the Lucky Bag, called “jui jitsu.” He retired as a commander in 1924. Finally, Schuyler Franklin Heim of Plymouth, Indiana was the Academy lightweight wrestling champion. Lucky Bag 1907 said that Heim looked “like a Jap, and can beat all comers at the art of Judo, which he asserts is more refined than Jiu Jitsi [sic], because it is sure death.” He retired as a commodore in 1946, and is commemorated by the Terminal Island Bridge in Long Island, California that carries his name.
EN9. The Department of the Navy’s subsequent interest in judo dates to February 1943, and a contest in which a 143-pound judoka choked a 200-pound professional wrestler unconscious in 1 minute, 20 seconds. For a description of that contest, see Joseph R. Svinth, “Judo Battles Wrestling: Masato Tamura and Karl Pojello,” Furyu, The Budo Journal, 3:2 (Summer/Autumn 1999), 30-36, 72.