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Jiu-Jitsu Books 


Roberto Pedreira













 Yamashita Yasuhiro Tōkon no Judo: 

Hisshō no Waza to Kokoro


1991 東京: ベースボールマガジン社

Rev. by Roberto Pedreira

May 11, 2020

 Currently the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, Yamashita Yashiro 山下泰弘 was 1984 Los Angeles open class champion and one of Japan's most successful judo competitors ever. If you are a BJJ fighter who wants to improve his or her stand-up game, or anyone who wants to do anything to a high level of accomplishment, Yamashita-sensei's 1991 book Yamashita Yasuhiro Tōkon no Judo: Hisshō no Waza to Kokoro [山下泰弘闘魂尾柔道:必勝] has something to offer (it's out-of-print but used copies are available on amazon,

Like most successful high-level competitors Yamashita's game was built on basics, and his menu of go-to techniques was parsimonious. His idea was that it is easier and more time efficient to practice a relatively small number of interrelated, connected (those that form natural combinations, that is), and relatively widely applicable techniques, that match your mentality, body type, and fighting style, than spending time and energy learning techniques you don't need and probably won't have many opportunities to use. He also believed that it is useful to adapt techniques to imminent opponents, assuming you know who they are (which you will know if you are going to confront them in All-Japan, World, or Olympic competition.)

Yamashita was versatile, within the rules of Post-WW 2 judo, He used both throws, or standing techniques [tachi-waza, 立技] and ground techniques [ne-waza, 寝技, aka katame-waza, 固め技] effectively. His go-to moves, and the moves he addresses in his book were:

Throws (Standing) 立技

Ōsoto-Gari 大外刈り

Yamashita says ōsoto-gari was his favorite technique: ”In a hard fight I never hesitated to go for ōsoto-gari and I never felt I would regret it, come what may." "大外刈りは、私の最も好きな技で、一か八かの勝負のときには、ためらうことなくこの技を使った.もし大外刈りが通用せず敗れるのであれば、我に悔しなしい、という気持であった

Each technique is described in multiple variations. Ōsoto-Gari has seven variations. He breaks down the other techniques in more or less equal detail. They are:

Ōuchi-Gari 大内刈り

Uchi-Mata 内股

Kosoto-Gari 小外刈り

Tai-Otoshi 体落

Sukui-Nage 掬投

Tani-Otoshi 谷落

Uki-Waza 浮技

Ground 固技

Kesa-gatame 袈裟固

Yoko-shihō-gatame 横四方固

Okuri-eri-jime 送り襟締

He chains moves together, from set-ups and entries, overcoming opponents' reactions, proceeding (necessarily) from standing to ground, with multiple variations of each and advice from the coaching point of view of how to apply them most efficaciously.

Kodokan Judo is said to be a school for life. At least, that's how its founder Professor Kanō Jigorō (嘉納治五郎) wanted it to be viewed. Yamashita agrees (see interview here). He offers three valuable lessons he learned from one of his teachers, Satō Nobuyuki 佐藤宣践 (pp. 22-24.) What Satō Nobuyuki 佐藤宣践 told Yamashita was: 

1. Be modest. If you aren't, you will be slapped down. And be prepared. [もし天狗になったら、俺は鼻をへし折ってやる. 覚悟しておけ。試合に臨む上で大変参考になった.]

2. Don't get injured and don't get sick [Yamashita adds some specifics, such as "be self-controlled".]

3. In a fight, take the first chance as though there will not be a second chance, don't be over-cautious or overly-defensive. If there is a second chance it will be because you created it by whole-heartedly going for the first chance. [勝負に臨んだら, チヤンスは一度しかないと思え,そういう気持ちで試合に臨め、勝負にこの次はない. 目の前のチヤンスを一つ一つ確実にものにして初めて次の大きなチヤンスが生まれる.]

The book includes appendices with information on training and coaching, and a complete record of Yamashita's competition career. It includes extensive illustrations of all the techniques along with detailed explanations (in Japanese).

Having a rival can be an aid to improving. The rival pushes you to be better or more efficient or more versatile, and your performance against him (or her) tells you how well you've done it. Yamashita's greatest rival was Saitō Hitoshi 斉藤斉. They faced off seven times between November 1981 and April 1985.  Yamashita won all seven contests but the results were always close, with Yamashita winning by chūi [注意] yūkō-kosoto-gari [有効・小外刈り], kinsa [僅差], and shidō [指導] (pp. 206-207.)

Saitō  Hitoshi was Yamashita's constant arch-nemesis between November 1981 and April 1985 and was the 95 kg gold medallist in the 1984 (Los Angeles) and 1988 (Seoul) Olympics. Yamashita was the open class champion in 1984.

As successful as he was, Yamashita found occasions when his favorite techniques were inadequate to the task ahead. One was against Saitō Hitoshi. What he did wrong and what he should have done instead was pointed out by Masahiko Kimura 木村政彦 shortly after the match (see interview here). Yamashita attempted ōoto-gari but Saitō had prepared well by doing "unconventional training." Yamashita ended up belly-down with Saitō on his back and barely survived. See here at the 35 minute mark for the contest and here for Saitō's "unconventional training." Despite that near-disaster, Yamashita pulled out the win by chūi [注意]. 

More about Yamashita Yasuhiro and Judo on GTR:

1981 Conversation (対談) between Yamashita Yasuhiro and Kimura Masahiko

Yamashita Yasuhiro and Judo in 2020 Olympics

Kanō Jigorō's villa in Abiko City

Judo Destroys BJJ

The Day BJJ Lost ( Masahiko Kimura vs. Helio Gracie)

Judo vs. Gracies Pt. 1

Judo vs. Gracies Pt. 2 vs. Gracies Pt. 2 vs. Gracies Pt. 2

Negative Judo

Myths about Mitsuyo Maeda

George Mehdi

Remembering George Mehdi

Gracie Judo Challenge 1 January 13, 1987

Gracie Judo Challenge 2 July 27, 1988

Keith Swartz Judo rev.

Oswaldo Alves Judo Interview

Judo Training for BJJ in Fujisawa, Japan

Sanin 5-dan in France


(c) 2020, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.






GTR Archives 2000-2022