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Pro-wrestling vs Ninpo
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One of the more interesting stories …

Hatsumi-sensei was once showing us through an old scrap book of his recalled a story from some articles by the tabloid “Tokyo Sports”. Takamatsu-sensei was involved in a column there for a short while titled something like “Ninpo and Sports”. There was quite a few of them in the scrap book.

In one column Takamatsu-sensei had made some comments on pro-wrestling, which was taking off in a big way in Japan, and it’s most famous wrestler Rikidozan. Hatsumi-sensei said that pro-wrestling was fake and everyone knew it. Rikidozan was asked to comment on the article to which he apparently said that Takamatsu-sensei was just a jiji (insulting term for an old man) and was living in the past.

It seems that Takamatsu-sensei was pretty offended by this and had said that he could beat Rikidozan with one (or both? I can’t remember) arm tied behind his back and offered a challenge between Rikidozan and either himself or his number one student Hatsumi-sensei. The tabloid of course jumped on this and showed a montage of Hatsumi-sensei in Ichimonji no kamae facing Rikidozan in a wrestling pose – the fight was on. It would be promoted as pro-wrestling vs Ninpo.

Hatsumi-sensei said he was crazy back then and he would have gone through with it. He had no fear of anything then. Unfortunately Rikidozan was involved in a bar room brawl that week and was stabbed to death – so the fight never eventuated.

It would have been interesting? I came across this clip of Rikidozan fighting the famous Masahiko Kimura on youtube. Apparently it started off as a fixed fight and then quickly degenerated into the real thing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoF9bqmseeg

Posted on: 2007/6/25 8:01
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Re: Pro-wrestling vs Ninpo
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With this sort of thing it's a wonder that there seems to be such a negative attitude toward similar adventures in the Bujinkan now.

I'm not completely sure that competition is officially against Bujinkan guidelines but the crowd sentiment certainly seems to suggest that it is.

Perhaps it falls under the "should not cause trouble for the Bujinkan" clause?

Posted on: 2007/6/25 15:49
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Re: Pro-wrestling vs Ninpo
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Quote:

Shinoobie wrote:
With this sort of thing it's a wonder that there seems to be such a negative attitude toward similar adventures in the Bujinkan now.

I'm not completely sure that competition is officially against Bujinkan guidelines but the crowd sentiment certainly seems to suggest that it is.

Perhaps it falls under the "should not cause trouble for the Bujinkan" clause?


I think it’s just if you are going into this sort of thing you would need permission of Soke first. If you are “representing” the Bujinkan by going into such a competition it would be common sense to make sure he is happy with that.

I know he was happy with a couple of people doing this in the early days of these sorts of mixed martial arts comps but pulled his support soon after telling everyone at a training session “I’m not training you for the ring”. I agree because what we do is a very different game from the sporting arena.

I was just interested in the idea that if this match had taken place how different the Bujinkan would be today? Maybe it wouldn’t have been any different but I think the effect in Japan would have been great as at the time pro-wrestling was the highest rating TV show.

Posted on: 2007/6/25 16:19
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Re: Pro-wrestling vs Ninpo
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Quote:

Duncan Mitchell wrote:
I was just interested in the idea that if this match had taken place how different the Bujinkan would be today? Maybe it wouldn’t have been any different but I think the effect in Japan would have been great as at the time pro-wrestling was the highest rating TV show.


Are you assuming that Hatsumi Sensei would win?

-Daniel

Posted on: 2007/6/25 17:15
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Re: Pro-wrestling vs Ninpo
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Interestingly, I started a new job today and was on induction. Sitting next to me during induction was a rather large guy. During afternoon break we got talking and turns out he's a pro-wrestler in training (half way through his fourth year) and is doing the work as a way to supplement the costs of training. We got talking about what we both do (I kept it rather vague) but we both excited about our respective interest in different forms of combat. We left the conversation interested to talk more and he said he's show me some of the stuff he does. Sounds interesting from a learning perspective and a safe way to explore techniques and counters.

Posted on: 2007/6/25 19:13
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Re: Pro-wrestling vs Ninpo
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Quote:

TenChiJin Guy wrote:
Quote:

Duncan Mitchell wrote:
I was just interested in the idea that if this match had taken place how different the Bujinkan would be today? Maybe it wouldn’t have been any different but I think the effect in Japan would have been great as at the time pro-wrestling was the highest rating TV show.


Are you assuming that Hatsumi Sensei would win?

-Daniel


I said "if this match had taken place how different the Bujinkan would be today?”. Since I don’t think Rikidozan had actually yet agreed to the match and the fact that he died soon after etc means that any observation beyond the event having changed history completely (win, lose or draw) for Bujinkan history is pointless. In fact my observation in itself is really pretty pointless too.

It impossible to guess at outcomes no matter how confident both Takamatsu-sensei and Hatsumi-sensei were.

But remember, Rikidozan died at 39 due to causes that were neither accident, illness nor even a purely random act of violence. The difference between the ring and the world of real fighting are to different things. I think this was demonstrated clearly here – it wasn’t a budo master that killed him, just a chimpira with a knife he pissed on first before stabbing the big man.

(P.S. I realise you are running your own little political agenda on these forums Daniel but I would appreciate if you wouldn't try to put words in my mouth)

Posted on: 2007/6/26 8:31
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Re: Pro-wrestling vs Ninpo
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Duncan Mitchell wrote:

(P.S. I realize you are running your own little political agenda on these forums Daniel but I would appreciate if you wouldn't try to put words in my mouth)


Honestly - this wasn't a political agenda.

I was sincerely interested - you seemed to be making a point about how it might have changed the org had it happened. I assumed that you meant by making it more popular (and respected) in mainstream Japan after a win over a much larger - stronger - publicly known figure.

The inverse is also true - that losing would have been also an interesting turn for the future BJK.

No one knows which way it would have gone...

I was curious when you wrote the first post which scenario you were referring to.

And I didn't put words in your mouth. I simply asked one honest question...

-Daniel

Posted on: 2007/6/26 16:26
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Re: Pro-wrestling vs Ninpo
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Quote:

TenChiJin Guy wrote:

Are you assuming that Hatsumi Sensei would win?

-Daniel


I am assuming that many of us on kutaki are assuming that Soke would win.

If Takamatsu take the fight himself, he'd go into it with the mindset of finishing Rikidozan off. Remember, he killed others before. There's nothing to say that he wouldn't do it again.

Killing a person isn't physically difficult, it's making the quality decision to do so that's tough. As Marc Macyoung has said in an article about grappling, it's about who's willing to do it first. We know Takamatsu Sensei has crossed that line before a number of times.

How about Soke? Well, besides his training with Takamatsu Sensei, he also had his training in God-knows how many other martial sports and arts as well. He was almost certainly in top physical condition then.

Finally, add in the info gathering aspect. Rikidozan would have videos of his previous fights. I assume that Soke and Takamatsu would go through them to find his weaknesses and come up with a game plan to exploit them for an overwhelming victory. But if I remember correctly Soke didn't participate in such professional sports events, so there will not be such evidence for Riki to aquire and make use of.

So for me there are reasonable grounds for believing Soke would win. Now whether I'd be proud of such a victory is a different matter entirely...

Junjie

Posted on: 2007/6/26 18:43
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Re: Pro-wrestling vs Ninpo
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Daniel,

If I misread the intention of your post then I appologise.

In addition...

I was pointed to a translation of the (offending?) article published in Tokyo Sports in 1963. Translation by Rumiko Hayes.

Quote:

Toshitsugu Takamatsu Sensei says, "When I was 14 or 15 years old, sometime during the thirties of the Meiji era (first decade of the 1900s), I used to play the ball game cricket with members of the British Navy in a Kobe city park. I was a very fast runner, and in those days I had the nickname "Kisha" (meaning a fast locomotive). Once I got on base, I never failed to steal another base. I was very good at sliding. Once I was on base, our team knew that we would score a point."

Toshitsugu Takamatsu began training in the martial arts in his childhood, and he seemed to have the natural capacity to become a ninja. "I am 74 years old, but whenever I meet someone, I tell them I am 18. That way I start to believe I am 18. Even now, whenever I have a match with a judo player, I am sure to throw him once I get my hands on the collar of his gi. As for a boxer, you take a fighting pose with one arm extended out, to make it difficult for him to find an opening for his punches. A ninja uses a ninja's strategy for fighting."

The reporter asked Takamatsu Sensei, "What would you do against a professional wrestler?"

He replied without a pause, "Even in Kashiwabara City (the small town in the mountains south of Kyoto and west of Iga where Takamatsu-sensei lived) there were wrestling matches with such famous wrestlers as Rikidozan (Western style pro wrestler famous in post WWII Japan) and others. Certainly professional wrestlers are in great shape, so if they really fought in a serious way, it would be difficult for a match to last very long. The reason they can fight for so long is that they are careful to avoid damage to vital spots. That is why they can have match after match from one day to the next. If they bite, they use their lower teeth to the forehead in order to draw lots of blood in a very visible way. When they stomp to the stomach, they coordinate it with an out breath. In professional wrestling, there are rules, and these rules are observed very carefully."

This is Takamatsu Sensei's interpretation. I asked if a modern ninja like him could win in a fight with Rikidozan or other famous wrestlers?

"If I had to fight Rikidozan, there is only one way for me to win. Of course, if he can hit me first with his karate, I would lose. So then what is my winning method? I would use both palms to his ears with a sharp strike. This is the ninja's happa-ken ("eight-leaves fist" sharp palm smack) strike. When I use this strike, it breaks both eardrums. Even a powerful man like Rikidozan would wind up with a concussion. If this happa-ken is used as a part of modern fighting arts, it will produce power as great as or even more fearsome than Rikidozan's karate."


Posted on: 2007/6/26 22:58
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Re: Pro-wrestling vs Ninpo
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Interesting story, one which I've read before elsewhere...

To me, I think the whole thing spoke very clearly of the difference between sports and budo. The guy made a slanderous remark, which is actually common practice in competitive sports (especially in pseudo-combative sports). The expectation was more likely to create controversy, which sells interviews, sponsorships and such. Intimidation is at the core psychological component of sports.

But, even with all the talent this guy had, he died painfully in a bar against a knife wielding thug. How unglamorous, unintended, yet forever silencing this popular wrestler. I think that if Hatsumi and Rikidozan had actually fought, it could have been anybody's game. It would have had rules, which would probably already put Rikidozan in the advantage. But, maybe Rikidozan's own ego would have made him vulnerable, too. It seems to die in a bar fight could have been an example of that.

I know guys who challenge each other and make personal comments to push the other person's buttons. Sometimes, these things lead to challenges and fights. But, I seriously doubt any of them actually want to cause real harm or death to the other person. The same may have been true here. I've yet to see anything written where Takamatsu or Hatsumi Soke spoke about how they felt about the murder of this challenger. It seems the humanness of it is either ignored or glossed over.

Budo is about humanity. Sports are about competition. The two are starkly different from each other. Losing a match is very different from losing a life. The danger with mixing budo with sports is that (IMO) it becomes easy to think that budo IS sports, that life IS about competition, that a KO, tapout or the winning point is all that is needed to win.

Yet, when the two worlds collide, it's the reality of the life and death of budo that ultimately 'wins'.

Anyway, sorry for the ramble, but I think it is far too easy to dismiss the deeper significance of this story. At least I see it that way...

Posted on: 2007/6/27 7:20
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