Skip to main content

Intelligence Gathering & Jujutsu - Part 7 - The First Overseas Judo Dojo



In 1896, Ryohei Uchida (a skilled martial artist from Fukuoka who had been training at the Kodokan in Tokyo whilst studying Russian) established the first overseas Judo dojo, in Vladivostok.

In the photo, Ryohei is on the extreme left, Jigoro Kano is seated in the middle.  Ryohei was a key member of Mitsuru Toyama's Genyosha (Dark Ocean Society) and founded the Kokuryukai (Black Dragon Society) in 1901.

He founded the dojo on the grounds of the Higashi Hongan-ji Mission, across the road from the naval academy.  The dojo in Vladivostok was run by six hand-picked men to specifically cater to young Russian military officers.  Japan would be at war with Russia by 1904.

With their substantial funding, the Genyōsha and Kokuryūkai were able to establish an extensive infrastructure to aid in their intelligence activities. Along with a training establishment in Sapporo for the training of agents, the Genyōsha would also found a Chinese headquarters (HQ) at Hankou, with a branch in Vladivostok operating under the pretence of a martial arts school. Uchida Ryōhei had established the Genyōsha’s martial arts school in Vladivostok, while Sugiyama acted as director of the Rakuzendō. The school in Sapporo would provide courses in language, including particular dialects, deception and security before an agent's leaving for the Asian mainland. The Kokuryūkai would establish their own “Nationalists’ Training Academy” in Tokyo and the Osaka Foreign Language School. Both provided a curriculum covering all elements related to espionage. 
The Rakuzendō, or House of Pleasurable Delights, was connected to the Hankou headquarters and served several purposes. As a mirror image of Stieber’s Green House, the Rakuzendō enticed and then ensnared important personages, but also served as a clearing-house for agents whose reports would be delivered to prostitutes behind closed doors and then forwarded on. The Rakuzendō would also serve as a school of seduction and debauchery, to help agents better entice and acquire the services of those who would be in a position to provide information. The jiu-jitsu school in Vladivostok acted as a base for agents within eastern and central Siberia. Agents could from here be spread along the Trans-Siberian railway. The school was also able to attract Russians of interest with promises of time in the Rakuzendō gratis.

The choice of the temple was no coincidence:

The Genyōsha maintained many agents in Korea at this time, and the society was not lacking in sympathisers, including in the business and religious establishment (the latter predominantly from within the Buddhist Temple, Honganji, which maintained a branch in Busan, Korea).

...While there, the two visited a Major Hanada, already stationed in the city (Vladivostok) under the guise of a Buddhist priest. Hanada, it should be noted, was somewhat derelict in his intelligence duties, not reporting often, and was ordered to return to Japan by Tamura, whereupon he resigned his commission, staying on in Vladivostok as a religious man. Nevertheless, when the war began, the holy man formed an intelligence/guerrilla formation on the orders of Kodama, operating behind enemy lines.

So, as early as 1894 dojo were being used by the most hardcore right-wing groups as intelligence stations.


Items shown in italics are quoted from BLINDED BY THE RISING SUN - JAPANESE MILITARY INTELLIGENCE FROM THE FIRST SINO-JAPANESE WAR TO THE END OF WORLD WAR II by Simon Hall which can be found here, and is highly recommended.

Popular posts from this blog

Spear (Yari) in Owari Kan Ryu 尾張貫流 (Kudayari & others)

Owari Kan ryū is known for its use of the kuda-yari (tube spear). The e (shaft) is run through a kuda (metal pipe) that’s in the front hand of the practitioner.  Interestingly the school’s students start training by doing shiai (competition) and only after considerable training they learn the school's kata (forms). Most classical schools that practice shiai do so after learning kata. Thrusting using the kuda. Cross-stepping.                           Thrusting attack with kuda. Wide stance.   Shiai. Shiai using a spear with a cross piece. The original demonstration from which these stills were taken is here:

The Structure of the Tenshinshoden Katori Shinto Ryu Syllabus

It should be noted that the current head, Otake Risuke, has commented that not all of the parts of Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto Ryu survive.  I recall his comments in various documentaries that Archery was once a component, and only some of the spear survives. Through various sources, mostly Otake's book, I have put together this brief outline of their syllabus, however I have little idea of the exact stage each is taught except that I believe the students start with Omote no Tachi.  I will use this as the basis for further posts and may add to it over time. I believe their are important implications when Otake says that one of the main reasons for training all the weapons is to train the swordsman against them. Note in this section in brackets are my own comments and should therefore not be relied upon, those from the written work of Otake are clearly marked. Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto Ryu -Kenjutsu (Otake lists Tachi, Ryuto and Kodachi under Kenjustsu) --Tachi (Use of the singl

Kendo Shinai Weights & Measures

As a note the recommended length and weight for shinai are: - Women 38 inches 440 grams. - Men 39 inches 510 grams. The Wikipedia shinai page lists the following tables: Regulations In  kendo  competitions that follow the FIK rules, there are regulated weights and lengths for the use of  shinai .  Table A. FIK Specifications for competition use of one Shinai (Itto). Specification Gender Junior High School (12–15 yrs) Senior High School (15–18 yrs) University students and Adults (18yrs+) Maximum length Male & female 114cm 117cm 120cm Minimum weight Male 440g 480g 510g Female 400g 420g 440g Minimum diameter of sakigawa Male 25mm 26mm 26mm Female 24mm 25mm 25mm Minimum length of sakigawa Male and Female 50mm 50mm 50mm Shinai  are weighed complete with leather fittings, but without  tsuba  or  tsuba-dome . The full length is measured. Maximum diameter of the  tsuba  is 9cm. Table B. FIK Specifications for competition use of two Shinai (Nito). Specification Gender Daito (long shinai) Sh