by Tom Ross
may head of one of the world's elite superpowers,
but to his fellow judo club members Russian President
Vladimir Putin is best known for his wicked sweeping
leg throw (Haraigoshi).
Although it is little known in the west, Putin is
an avid student of judo -- the Japanese art in which
students compete to throw their opponents or defeat
them on the ground with grappling techniques, such
as immobilizations, chokes and submission arm locks.
began studying judo at age 14 and has been studying
ever since. During his competitive career, among his
many victories Putin placed third place in the Russian
Junior Nationals and was Leningrad Seniors Champion.
He is now President of the same club where he began,
St. Petersburg's Yawara Judo Club.
This last September 5th, following an official state
visit to Tokyo, Japan, Putin was a guest at the famous
Kodokan headquarters of judo. In attendance were many
officials including Japanese Prime Minister Mori.
Yukimitsu Kano, the grandson of Kodokan Judo's founder
Jigoro Kano said, "President Putin started Judo
when he was very young, and has continued practice
until now. He had a wish to visit the Kodokan institute.
We are very happy to have him and welcome him as a
demonstrations of the art, Putin showed his own skills
of throwing and grappling. Assisted by a Kodokan instructor,
Mukai, Putin demonstrated a variety of leg sweeps,
shoulder, and backward sacrificing throws plus two
techniques favored by smaller men facing larger opponents
-- an inner leg throw that dumps the opponent backward
and the basic hip throw that introduces most students
to the art. He also performed dround immobilization
techniques. Afterwards Putin's assistant, Mukai said,
said that President Putin's technique was very good.
was then presented with flowers by a young lady. And
to the delight of the audience Putin permitted her
to throw him. He was officially awarded a coveted
sixth degree black belt.
Not since US President Teddy Roosevelt has a world
leader been associated with judo or other martial
arts. Roosevelt had been involved in both boxing and
wrestling. After witnessing a demonstration of judo
by Yoshiaka Yamashita against a wrestler at the White
House, Roosevelt began studying the art under this
teacher, eventually becoming the first American to
achieve the rank of brown belt. While Roosevelt may
be the first modern day head of state to actively
practice in the martial arts, Putin is certainly the
first to achieve an advanced rank in martial arts.
Photos courtesy President Vladimir
Putin website and reproduced with permission: www.vladimirputin.4u.ru
About the Author:
Tom Ross is a retired NYC Correction Officer who
specialized in the Handling of Security Risk group
prisoners. A Yudansha in Shorinjiryu Kenzenkai Karatedo
(an Offshoot of the Shorinjiryu Kenkokan founded by
Masayoshi Hisataka), he also spent six years studying
Jujutsu (classical, modern and Brazilian). Possessing
an avid interest in the history of martial arts and
traditions he currently serves as the Research Coordinator
for FightingArts.com as well as moderating its Martial
Arts Talk forum. He additionally serves as the moderator
of the Sabaki List (which is dedicated to various
martial artists and full contact stylists) and is
a member of the International Hoplology Society.
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