13 Aug 2008

How the Japanese Martial Arts Came to America

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President Theodore Roosevelt demonstrating some wrist holds

Samuel Hill
, a prominent attorney, railroad executive, and businessman of Seattle, Washington, concerned for his son’s health, decided that judu (which he had seen performed while visiting Japan on business) would represent an ideal form of fitness training. Despite his own Harvard background, he made inquiries in New Haven seeking an instructor, and was advised to retain Yamashita Yoshiaki, who was duly hired and imported from Japan.

A demonstration was arranged of Yamashita’s judo for President Roosevelt in March 1904. TR was a devotee of boxing and a strong believer in fitness, and before long Yamashita was giving the President of the United States lessons three times a week.

This fascinating October 2000 article, from Journal of Combative Sport, was recently posted on a martial arts list I read.

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How the Japanese martial arts came to America…

Written in 2008…Samuel Hill, a prominent attorney, railroad executive, and businessman of Seattle, Washington, concerned for his son’s health, decided that judu (which he had seen performed while visiting Japan on business) would represent an ideal…



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