Warrior Legend Series
At the young age of 9 years old, Masahiko Kimura began studying the art which he would later master - the art of Judo. He finished his career as a remarkable 7th degree black belt in Judo.
The Legend is Born
On September 10, 1917 the legend, Masahiko KIMURA, was born in Kumamoto, Japan.
A Prodigy? You Decide...
After years of practicing Judo, Kimura became a 5th degree black belt (godan) in Judo, at a record-breaking 18 years of age. As godan, he went on to win eight straight Judo matches. But, what lead to Kimura's massive success at such an early age? Could it be attributed to being a prodigy or was it something else?
A Thousand Push-ups a Day...And 9 hours later
I personally do no think he was a prodigy, and I'll tell you why. The history of Kimura proves he achieved massive success at an early age due to having a fantastic teacher, but also his insane physical training routines. Apparently, Kimura would train for nine hours a day practicing his Judo throws against trees, sparring other Tokyo Police officers, and finishing his training sessions with 1,000 push ups a day! Just think about that for a second. His opponents were literally asking him to not use certain techniques during the matches due to the devastating impact they provided.
Dabbling in Other Arts
While Judo was Kimura's go-to, he also realized what many MMA fighters today do, and that is dabbling in other arts is critical to improve upon weaknesses. Kimura desired an improvement in his hand strength, so he began training in Shotokon Karate, which of course was founded by Gichin Funakoshi, but later finished in Goju-Ryu Karate, founded by Mr. Miyagi.
The Secret Weapon
Kimura went on to never lose a competitive bout again due in part to his "Secret Weapon" known as the Makiwara - taught to him by his favorite training partner, Mas OYAMA - founder of Kyokushin Karate
Legend Vs Legend
In 1949, Helio Gracie of Gracie Jiu Jitsu challenged Kimura to a match in Brazil. Imagine the excitement in Sao Paulo, Brazil - 2 future legends facing off - winner takes all.
Now, picture this: It's in Brazil, under "Gracie Rules" (no pinning and no judo throwing), with an audience of 20,000 watching on with the majority throwing raw food and screaming insults towards Kimura. Furthermore, the Japanese embassy threatened Kimura that if he failed to achieve victory he would be banned from Japan forever. Now, imagine yourself in the shoes of Kimura and the pressure of winning - It's unimaginable. Most would crack, but not Kimura!
His Legendary Shoulder Lock: AKA the KIMURA **show image or video**
The match lasted only 2 rounds, as Kimura finished the Brazilian with what would become a legendary shoulder lock still used today - the KIMURA! This amazingly effective technique (AKA GYAKU-UDE-GARAMI) is designed to dislocate the shoulder joint or break the arm. And, Kimura did just that to Helio Gracie, not once but twice!
Those of you who follow Gracie Jiu-Jitsu know how tough this group is. They simply never quit! Even when Kimura broke his arm once, Helio still refused to give up, so Kimura broke it again, and threatened a 3rd time, but the referre stepped in. In Helio's defense, he had just finished a match with a teammate of Kimura, tiring him some.
From Police Officer to Wrestler
One fact I never knew about Masahiko Kimura is that he transitioned careers from Police Officer to a professional wrestler. He seemingly began his wrestling career in order to pay for his wife's tuberculosis medical bills - the Police Officer gig simply wasn't cutting it. His wrestling career ended with a suspicious match between he and his training partner, Rikidozan, which was staged like every professional wrestling match is, but Rikidozan flipped the script and KO'd Kimura. This lead to a mystery theory that Kimura killed Rikidozan out of spite, but apparently that theory was laid to rest.
A Sealed Legacy
Kimura was the youngest ever to reach 5th Degree Black Belt. He was a dedicated Police Officer. He achieved massive success in Judo and Professional Wrestling. He established a Pro Wrestling Association in Japan. And he won 10 All Japan Judo Championships. Masahiko Kimura died of cancer on April 18, 1993 at the age of 75. We thank him for his life dedicated to progression martial arts as we know it today!
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Editor-in-Chief & Publisher of Warriors Magazine