A Chronological History of the Martial Arts and Combative Sports 1900-1939 (rev 01/05)

The National Library of Canada provides an authorized mirror of this e-publication. The base document, however, is the one at Most recent update: December 2004. Copyright © 2000-2004 Joseph R. Svinth All rights reserved.




Kronos; A Chronology of the Martial Arts and Combative Sports, represents my idiosyncratic interpretation of the history of the martial arts, combative sports, and associated philosophical topics. If you have suggestions for improvement, please let me know. If you think you can do better, please do so.

The periods covered are:

0000 to 0499:

0500 to 1349:

1350 to 1699:

1700 to 1859:

1860 to 1899:

1900 to 1939:

1940 to present:

The bibliographies are at:




Online references, a summary of recent changes, and general housekeeping information are found at:

If you prefer reading traditional print format, then please see the abbreviated chronology in Thomas A. Green, Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, 2001). Meanwhile, if you prefer reading articles arranged topically rather than chronologically, then please see the essays in Green's encyclopedia and the chapters in Thomas A. Green and Joseph R. Svinth, editors, Martial Arts in the Modern World (Greenwood, 2003).

Finally, if you want to see how Kronos has evolved over time, then please see the first edition, which appears online at




About 1900:

Physicists discover that subatomic structures consist of tiny particles. As individuals, these tiny particles moved randomly, while as groups they moved predictably. This contradicted both common sense and Newtonian physics. The resulting search for a resolution led to the development of quantum mechanics during the late 1920s. For the martial arts, the importance of quantum mechanics is twofold. First, it is a philosophy of pragmatism. That is, quantum theory argues that it does not matter if one understands something, only that the explanation fits the facts rather than the preconceptions. This attitude was applied to military training following World War II, and to some North American and European versions of the Asian martial arts during the 1970s. (Not all, of course, and in response schools dedicated to perpetuating koryu, or "old styles," evolved that treated innovation as virtual heresy.) Second, quantum theory revolutionized the social sciences by replacing then-prevalent theories of inexorable progress and linear evolution with new theories that said that people learned through sudden shifts in perspective (something Thomas Kuhn called "paradigm shifts") and that inventions and evolutions were not always linear or logical. The irony of the latter development is that it brought Western science into significant agreement with thousand-year old Chinese and Indian philosophies that its proponents had previously ridiculed.

Indian rajahs start moving their residences from sixteenth century castles located in the middle of dusty towns to English country houses located in well-watered parks outside of town. "That’s when the rulers ceased to be kings," says one of their descendants, Maharajah Mayurdhwaj Singh of Dhrangadhara. "They still had the trappings of kingship, all the ceremonies, the coronation rituals and royal anointings from ancient times, but those were shadows that remained rather than the substance of kingship."


George Hackenschmidt wins the Russian national wrestling championships, and then follows up with convincing wins in Dresden, Budapest, and Paris. After these triumphs, Hackenschmidt set up camp in a London music hall. Hackenschmidt offered £10 to any British wrestler he failed to throw in 10 minutes, £25 to any British wrestler he failed to throw in 15 minutes and £100 to any British wrestler who succeeded in throwing him in 15 minutes. The stipulation "British wrestlers" was intentional, as it kept dangerous foreign wrestlers such as Ghulam Pahelwan of Amritsar from walking on stage and ruining what was quickly becoming a lucrative business. Ghulam went to Paris in 1900. There he humiliated a Turkish champion named Cour-Derelli. While Ghulam died of cholera soon afterward, the threat was real to men who earned their keep by remaining "champions." As Hackenschmidt said in an article in Health & Strength dated March 20, 1909, "Wrestling is my business," and while "I am certainly very fond of the sporting element which enters into it, [I] should be absurdly careless if I allowed my tastes in that direction to interfere too seriously with my career in life." Boxer Jack Johnson agreed, and explained that the reason he never gave Sam Langford a shot at the heavyweight crown was that there wasn’t enough money in it.


The Argonaut Rowing Club of Toronto sponsors Canada’s first amateur wrestling match. There were seven weight divisions. While all holds except hammerlocks, strangles, and full nelsons were legal, striking, kicking, gouging, butting, strangling, or threatening life or limb were illegal. Rings were roped squares measuring between 12 and 24 feet square. Bouts lasted six minutes or until a fall. Ties resulted in six additional minutes riding time. If the match was still tied, the winner was the one who had been the most aggressive throughout the match. The brevity of these amateur rounds shocked audiences, too, as they were used to professional matches lasting an hour or more.

After standing in a rifle target-pit, novelist Jack London writes, "Bullets may sing at one hundred yards and they may sing at three hundred yards, but I, here and now, make affirmation that they do not sing at two hundred yards, soldiers and war correspondents to the contrary." Instead, they pass overhead silently, leaving behind nothing but the tiniest of holes in their targets.

An elderly Ryukyuan aristocrat named Itosu Anko campaigns for the introduction of a simplified form of Shorin-ryu karate into the Okinawan public schools. His reasoning was based in part on the Muscular Christian notion that combative sports were a good way of teaching working-class youth to be fair-minded, confident, and patriotic citizens. Nevertheless, karate was only introduced into the curriculum after the Japanese decided to go to war with Russia in 1904. The Meiji-era Japanese borrowed their educational pedagogy from Europe, where sports, calisthenics, and military drill were widely used to prepare the male adolescent population for military service. (In 1904, Japanese elementary education lasted just four years, and students were teenagers rather than pre-adolescents.)

British journalist W. T. A Beare compares various forms of self-defense. A good Englishman, he concluded that although "foreign" arts had techniques of merit, jujutsu worked best when applied during a surprise attack, La Canne was too "ornamental" to be much good, and that any good boxer should be able to defeat a savateur.

A British court rules that boxing ring deaths were unlawful deaths if the prosecution could prove that the competitors were trying to knock each other out, or if the bout was improperly administered. On the other hand, ring deaths were judged accidental if the defense could show that the officials were properly appointed and that the competitors had only been trying to show how often they could hit one another. The decision changes the direction of both professional and amateur boxing in England.

San Francisco sports enthusiasts introduce tag-team wrestling as a way of improving the sport’s entertainment value. Another California innovation was 18-foot padded mats laid atop risers. While both are now almost traditional in American rassling, neither innovation became especially popular outside San Francisco until the 1930s.

Richard Fiedler, a German chemical engineer working in Berlin, develops a practical man-portable flame-thrower. First introduced to combat near Verdun in February 1915, the weapons’ use required specially trained troops, and because its effective range was just thirty yards, it was never popular with its users. Little work was done on flame weapons between the wars, but during the Winter War of 1939-1940, the Finnish Liquor Control Board bottled thousands of gasoline-and-alcohol bombs for the Finnish army. These bombs, known as Molotov cocktails in honor of the Soviet foreign minister, were also issued to specialist troops. Through their use, several thousand Soviet vehicles were destroyed, but the bombers’ casualties were on the order of 75%. Therefore, these were also unsatisfactory devices. Recognizing this, in 1940 the US Army began looking for a longer ranged flame-thrower fuel. The result was napalm, a form of jellied gasoline that increased flame-thrower range to about 130 yards. Louis and Mary Fieser led the Harvard University team that developed the fuel, and the research leading up to the development is described in Fieser’s 1964 book, The Scientific Method.

The British invent concentration camps as a method for detaining forcibly relocated Afrikaners (Boers) and their servants. Thousands of Afrikaners and their servants die from poor sanitation within these camps.

European art historians acknowledge that the cave paintings of the Pyrenees are genuine Paleolithic art rather than crude modern forgeries. This in turn encourages the modern sociological concept of the regional flowering of culture.

About 1902:

Malays establish triad-like secret societies just south of the Thai border on the island of Penang. Their faction fights offer a possible explanation for the similarities between berisilat and ch’uan fa. If this relationship is true, then the actual timing is more likely dated to late 1940s, as that was when ethnic communities started using martial arts as a form of paramilitary training.


A London dentist named Jack Marles invents the first mouth guards for boxers. The devices were originally designed for use during training, and the English welterweight Ted "Kid" Lewis, who reigned from 1915 to 1919, was the first professional to regularly wear one in the prize ring.

Alan Calvert establishes the Milo Bar-Bell Company, the first company to manufacture plate-loading iron barbells for amateur use, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Toward advertising his products, in 1916 he started a muscle magazine called Strength. Although the editors of Strength said that lifting should be directed toward setting records rather than bodybuilding, their claims of great lifts were probably invented, and the advertisements were almost entirely directed at insecure, scrawny youths.

Hopten Hadley starts a British muscle magazine called Health & Strength. In 1932, a Briton named George Jowett reversed the name for a similar magazine published in Pennsylvania for the York Barbell Company. In these essentially homoerotic publications, women were usually treated patronizingly, if at all.

An editorial in Baltimore’s Afro-American Ledger complains that professional boxer Joe Gans "gets more space in the white papers than all the respectable colored people in the state." This was not to take anything away from Gans, but to wonder why illiterate prizefighters should be more influential role models than "respectable colored people" such as Booker T. Washington or W. E. B. Dubois.


In an article published in Strand Magazine, H. G. Wells describes armor-plated behemoths that would carry machine guns about the battlefield of the future. Although Wells’ vision of "land ironclads" was "pure phantasy" when written, in 1915 the story caused Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, to establish a Landships Committee charged with designing an armored tractor known, for reasons of security, as a "tank."

Athletic society women establish the Chicago Women’s Athletic Club. This was the first women’s athletic club in the United States. Its facilities included a gymnasium, swimming pool, bowling alley, fencing rooms, Turkish baths, and bedrooms for out-of-town members. A similar club appeared in New York in 1904. In both cases, membership was restricted to a few hundred very wealthy members.

International rules require male fencers to wear white cotton jackets and trousers and ordinary shoes rather than light-colored leather jackets, breeches, and boots. Female fencers wore similar attire until 1938, when the breeches were replaced with pleated skirts. The change is probably indicative of fencing becoming more popular with women’s gym instructors in colleges, as aristocratic fencers such as the English champion Toupie Lowther dressed as they pleased, not as fashion designers said they should. In any event, the decorum was mostly visual, as New York City did not prohibit employment agencies from referring young women to brothels until 1906.

The first intercollegiate dual wrestling meet in the United States is held in New York City. In it, the Columbia University team wrestled the Yale team to a 2-2 tie. At the time, 46 colleges and universities and perhaps a thousand high schools included wrestling as an intramural sport. The Ivy League schools had the best United States collegiate wrestling teams until the mid-1920s, at which time schools from Oklahoma and Iowa began dominating the sport.

The Belgian gunmaker Fabrique Nationale introduces the world’s first self-loading shotguns. These were John Moses Browning’s Auto-5 guns, and they were based on a design that Winchester Repeating Firearms had refused to build. Browning also sold the rights to the design to Remington and Savage in the United States, starting a serious patent battle between the various gunmakers.

The fear of hooliganism causes the British Parliament to pass the Pistol Act, which severely restricted handgun ownership in Britain. As the legislation did not stop firearm-related violence, the British banned all private handgun ownership in 1996. Nonetheless, reports of violent crime continued to increase in the British Isles.

The British Army publishes a study showing that a soft lead bullet having a striking velocity of 58 foot-pounds was sufficient for causing severe injury to people. On the other hand, one needed a striking velocity of 137 foot-pounds to cause severe injury to horses. As cavalry horses were still a threat, rifles were chambered accordingly. To put such numbers in perspective, a well-thrown cricket ball delivers over 200 foot-pounds of energy, while a modern elephant rifle chambered in .585 Nyati recoils at about 220 foot-pounds. Therefore, describing threshold energy statistics is meaningless without also providing the sectional density of the projectile. This in turn explains why a ham-sized fist is only occasionally powerful enough to kill someone, but a rifle bullet, with its far greater velocity and infinitely smaller sectional density, is always powerful enough.


The US government prohibits American Indians from learning or doing traditional dances. The reason was white settlers’ continuing and unreasoning fears of Ghost Dancers. Although this ban was lifted in 1934, it remains a sore point with many American Indians into the present.

The word kokugi, or "national sport," is coined in Japan to describe sumo. At the same time, Japanese school gymnastics (heishiki taiso) are renamed "military drills" (heishiki kyoren), as this put the emphasis on discipline and obedience.

In Bellingham, Washington, Frank Gotch beats Tom Jenkins to win the American heavyweight wrestling title. Several months later, he repeats the feat in Cleveland. The following year Jenkins beats Gotch twice in New York. In 1906, Gotch beats Jenkins in a match in Kansas City, Missouri, then repeats these successes in Des Moines in 1909 and Denver in 1911. In 1908, Gotch met the Anglo-Estonian wrestler George Hackenschmidt in Chicago to decide the "World Championship." (This was a white man’s world, and no Turks, Indians, or Japanese were invited.) After 2 hours, 3 minutes, Gotch won. This was partly the result of Gotch playing rougher (he had a very annoying toe hold), partly by Gotch thinking faster in the ring, and mainly because the two men were playing by the rules of catch-as-catch-can instead of Greco-Roman. Gotch repeated his victory over Hackenschmidt in Chicago in 1911. Because of his victories over Jenkins, Hackenschmidt, and other well-known Anglo-American wrestlers, most subsequent American sport writers have picked Gotch as the best wrestler of all time.

United States President Theodore Roosevelt starts studying judo (then known as jiu-jitsu) two afternoons a week. He trained in the basement, but often demonstrated tricks in a second-floor office in the White House. His training partners included his private secretary, William Loeb, Jr., and the Japanese naval attaché, Takeshita Isamu. Roosevelt’s instructor was a Japanese named Yamashita Yoshiaki. Sam Hill, a son-in-law of railroader James J. Hill, had brought Yamashita to Seattle in September 1903. After a short stay in Seattle, Hill took Yamashita to Washington, DC, where Hill’s estranged wife lived, so that Yamashita could teach judo to Hill’s son. Young James Nathan Hill was not interested in judo, but the Japanese naval attaché, was. Through the attaché’s influence, Yamashita received an invitation to demonstrate judo at the White House in March 1904, and almost immediately afterwards, he began teaching judo to Roosevelt.

During the St. Louis Olympics, Greco-Roman wrestling becomes a permanent Olympic sport. Innovations introduced to wrestling during these games included weight divisions, victories by riding time, third place winners, and time limits on rounds. While meant to improve audience appreciation (wrestling and weight lifting are historically among the least popular spectator sports), the result was a system in which victory was determined by judges instead of athletes. The United States also introduced catch-as-catch-can wrestling (the ancestor of modern free-style) as one of its optional sports. This caught on, but because the French had trouble winning bouts by American rules, they had free-style’s rules changed to mirror the rules of Greco-Roman wrestling in 1921. (The name "free-style" is a literal translation of the French term "la lutte libre.") Major differences between catch and free-style included the way that falls and takedowns were scored. Despite the rule fixing, Scandinavians, Britons, and Americans continued to dominate Olympic free-style until the 1952, when Eastern Europeans, Iranians, Japanese, and Turks trained specifically in Olympic free-style became ascendant.

Professional wrestlers Jack Alin ("the Terrible Swede") and Nick Spenjos ("the Terrible Greek") complain to Seattle officials that wrestling promoters Duncan McMillan and Jack O’Neill had formed a trust designed to fix the results of wrestling matches. According to a cynical Seattle Post-Intelligencer sportswriter, they said "such mean things about the wrestling game in Seattle that one would imagine they were talking about a professional foot race." Retorted McMillan, "Nick Spenjos was a dishwasher at the Royal Café in Whatcom [modern Bellingham] and he is now trying to make people believe he is a wrestler. If Alin and Spenjos are looking for a match let them come up to the Grand Opera House Thursday night… Alin ran away from Emil Klank in Aberdeen [Washington] last October." Nevertheless, the fixing charge was likely true, as in March 1910 John C. Maybray and about eighty others, to include Frank Gotch’s former manager Joe Carroll, pleaded guilty to charges of using the US mail to fix wrestling matches. Toward correcting such problems, around 1920 the National Boxing Association began recognizing "official" wrestling championships, and subsequently organized a National Wrestling Association. Of course, every professional wrestler is champion of somewhere. Therefore, it wasn’t until St. Louis promoter Sam Muchnick organized a National Wrestling Alliance in 1948 that there came to be any semblance of organization within the professional wrestling community. The outcome of the matches continued to be arranged, however, to meet local promotional needs. (In Japan, for instance, Japanese Americans were heroes while in Australia and North America they were heels.) When the United States government challenged such practices during the late 1950s, the promoters replied that professional wrestling was not a sport, but a theatrical act, and therefore not subject to rules regarding fixes. This in turn led to the development of "sports entertainment" during the 1980s.

The United States Army conducts its first tests designed to measure the effects of modern pistol and rifle bullets on flesh. It does this by having soldiers shoot bullets of various sizes into live steers and dead humans, and then documenting the results. Unfortunately, the experimenters’ methodology was flawed. For one thing, steers are bigger than people, and, for another, dead flesh reacts differently to trauma than live flesh. Therefore, it was not until 1992 that precise data concerning the impact of pistol cartridges on living flesh became widely available. However, even that later data did not contradict the Army test’s conclusion, which was that shot placement was more important than caliber when determining stopping power.

Hsü Fu-lin and his coworkers Hsü Yi-ping and Hsü Ch’eng-lieh open the Chinese Physical Training School (Chung Kuo T’i Ts’ao Hsüeh Hsiao) in Shanghai. Hsü had trained in Japan, and his methods were Japanese versions of Swedish gymnastics. Although closed in 1927, the Physical Training School’s 1,500 graduates included many future leaders of Chinese physical education programs. Furthermore, between 1926 and 1931 novelist Hsiang K’ai-jan wrote some fictionalized popular accounts of this organization’s leaders beating Russians, British, and Japanese in weightlifting, boxing, and judo contests.

About 1905:

Hans Köck introduces "Yu-Yitsu" to Vienna. Köck’s teachers included Britain’s Uyenishi Sadakazu, and his students included a man named Henry Bauer, who in turn taught Austrian policemen. Following World War I, Franz Sager, alias "Willy Curly," established Austria’s first freestanding "Jiu-Jitsu" school in Vienna, but Austria did not have any Kodokan yudansha until 1933, at which time judo founder Kano Jigoro graded Ottokar Klimek to 2-dan.


"It is a good thing for a girl to learn to box," says an article in the beauty column of February 27 issue of the New York Evening World. Why? Because "poise, grace and buoyancy of movement result from this exercise." Techniques that schoolgirls were told to practice with their maids included hooks to the face and solar plexus punches. According to the New York World, young ladies attending the Madison Academy in New York City also boxed and wrestled. The wrestlers included Pauline Fausek and Evelyn Reilly, who talked glibly of half-nelsons and hammerlocks, while Annie Lynch, the boxer, was said to "hit a harder blow than the average young man. Every blow comes straight from the shoulder, not with awkwardness and lack of speed one would expect, but with the weight of the body behind it." Working-class women also boxed and wrestled, though more for the money than the sport, and in New Orleans, two female boxers died from injuries received while fighting a South American woman called Bellona.

The Tammany Hall politician George Washington Plunkitt explains how New York machine politicians used popular interest in amateur sport to gather votes. "There’s the feller that likes rowin’ on the river, the young feller that makes a name as a waltzer on his block, the young feller that’s handy with his dukes -- I rope them all in by givin’ them opportunities to show themselves off." Across the Atlantic, British politicians were also interested in boxing. Or at least, they hired pugilists to help them during elections. Said the proprietor of an agency specializing in providing boxers, "Our prices are very low, ranging from 5 shillings up to £1, but, of course, there are some branches of the business which come more expensive." The more expensive options included beating up blackmailers, escorting bookmakers, and protecting court witnesses from intimidation.

G. P. Putnam’s Sons of New York publishes Nitobe Inazo’s Bushido: The Soul of Japan. As Nitobe was a Quaker schoolmaster, and as his ghostwriter was a Canadian named Anna Hartshorne, it is not surprising that his book presented bushido ("Military-Knight-Ways") as a Japanese version of chivalry. It may surprise survivors of the Bataan Death March and the Rape of Nanking to learn that "Tenderness, Pity, and Love were traits which adorned the most sanguinary exploits of a samurai." Nitobe believed that judo, fencing, and archery built character. On the other hand, he downplayed mathematical skill, saying that "chivalry is uneconomical: it boasts of penury." At least public penury: the leaders of the ten largest zaibatsu ("financial cliques") that controlled Japanese land, labor, and industry were mostly former samurai. (With the notable exception of the Mitsui family, the traditional mercantile class resisted modernization.) To give an idea of the wealth of these penurious former samurai, the wedding trousseau of 18-year Hitaro Shizue, who married a baron’s son in 1914, was valued at over $10,000.

An Okinawan karate teacher named Hanashiro Chomo creates the modern ideograms for karate, the ones that read "empty hands" instead of "T’ang dynasty boxing." However, he was describing unarmed fighting rather than any Zen Buddhist concepts.

The Irish-American welterweight Packey McFarland starts an eleven-year string of unbroken victories. This is the longest winning sequence in boxing history. (He won 93 fights, drew 5, and lost 0 between 1905 and 1916.) Nevertheless, McFarland never had a big money fight, perhaps because he refused to intentionally lose to less-talented fighters in order to secure a shot at the big one.

Reginald "Snowy" Baker wins Australia’s amateur middleweight boxing championship. An avid sportsman, Baker was instrumental in arranging the Jack Johnson-Tommy Burns fight in Sydney in 1908, and became a Hollywood movie star during the 1920s.

Northern Nigerian fletchers are reported dipping their iron-tipped war arrows into scorpion venom and vegetable poisons, then anointing them with a mixture of monkey guts, snake heads, menstrual blood, and pus. As such practices were not encouraged by the Qur’an, Islamic archers usually bought their poisoned arrows from non-Muslim specialists.


The Japanese Ministry of Education encourages Japanese public school jujutsu instructors to adopt the safer techniques and tournament rules of Kodokan judo. Many commercial and private instructors refused to make these changes, as they saw no benefit in it. (The most famous holdout was Takeda Sokaku, who created Daito-ryu aiki jutsu around 1896, and whose student Ueshiba Morehei later established aikido.) However, even public school instructors sometimes resented Kano Jigoro’s leadership. (Nationalistic Japanese often believed that Kano was too international in outlook.) So, to receive government subsidies without having to kowtow to Kano, politically conservative judo teachers organized an association that received its promotions directly from the Butokukai in Kyoto. Butokukai technical standards were approximately the same as those of the Kodokan, and the two groups merged with the closure of the Butokukai in 1946 and the establishment of the Japanese Judo Federation in 1949.

The Chinese government orders high school students to exercise several hours per week. Training consisted mostly of military drill and saluting. German drill was used in North China, while Japanese drill was used in South China.


The United States extends citizenship to American Indians. What this meant was that they got to pay taxes and provide young men for military service, as in most Western states, Indians didn’t get the right to vote until the 1950s.

Erich Rahn of Berlin opens Germany’s first jujutsu school; the style taught was probably Tsutsumi Hozan-ryu. Rahn taught police detectives in 1910 and German soldiers in 1913. Early students apparently included the German Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, who wrote in 1919 that jujitsu had been of much use to him over the years. Jujutsu grew in popularity after the World War, and by 1930, there were three jujutsu federations and over 100 clubs in Germany and Austria. Nevertheless, after British teams practicing Kodokan judo soundly thrashed the Germans in 1929, most of Germany’s 5,600 male and 137 female judoka claimed to be practicing Kodokan judo rather than Rahn’s "European jiu-jitsu." During the 1930s, judo was often taught in Hitler Youth gymnasiums because Adolf Hitler said that it was "not the function of the folkish state to breed a colony of peaceful aesthetes and physical degenerates." However, after World War II, Hitler’s support proved embarrassing. So, although Rahn continued teaching jujutsu in East Berlin until the mid-1960s, the post-World War II German judo community prefers to date its origins to the establishment of the Deutsches Judo Bundes ("German Judo Union") in Hamburg in 1953.

Irving Hancock’s Physical Training for Women by Japanese Methods is translated into French. Two years later, Hancock’s even more profusely illustrated Complete Tricks of Jujitsu (Kano Method) is also translated into French; this book is mistitled, however, because the method shown is more likely a variant of Tsutsumi Hozan-ryu jujutsu. Pioneering French judo instructors included George Dubois, Guy de Montgrilhard, and Ernest Régnier. According to the European champion George Hackenschmidt, something jujutsu did better than any French wrestling system was teach wrestlers to attack with their legs. It also taught students better balance, and had some useful arm-bars and shoulder rolling techniques.

The first Icelandic Giíma Championships are held in Reykjavik, and the prize was called the Grettir Belt. (Grettir the Strong was the hero of a fourteenth century saga.) Early champions included Jóhannes Jósefsson, who competed in Greco-Roman wrestling in the 1908 Olympics and then worked as a music hall wrestler, and Sigurjón Pétursson, who competed in Greco-Roman wrestling at the1912 Olympics.

George "Tex" Rickard of Clay County, Missouri promotes his first championship fight. This was a Queensberry rules match between the Danish-American lightweight Oscar "Battling" Nelson and the African American Joe Gans. (Gans won by foul in the forty-second round of a scheduled 45-round fight. The foul involved a looping uppercut to the groin, so it was flagrant, even by turn-of-the-century standards.) Never a fight fan but always a good businessman, Rickard started his gambling career managing saloons in Nome, Alaska.

Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, a Philadelphia socialite who fancied himself a boxer, begins taking a first-rate professional boxer named "Philadelphia" Jack O’Brien on visits to Sunday School classes at Philadelphia’s Holy Trinity Church. Biddle was the head of a movement called Athletic Christianity, and he loved telling audiences how Christ had been an athlete who "had gone into the jungle [sic] for forty days to train for a match with the Devil." Biddle also hosted boxing teas at his home. His guests included many of the best white pugilists in the country. (Although Biddle was not averse to sparring with black men, he was a man of his times, and would not invite one to eat at his table. So, when Biddle sparred with Jack Johnson in Merchantville, New Jersey in 1909, he did so incognito, using the pseudonym "Tim O’Biddle." According to his daughter’s account, Biddle came out fast, causing Johnson to tell him, "‘Now, you boy, there; don’t get yourself stirred up.’ But Father was always stirred up, and Johnson finally had to fetch him a smart whack on the side of the head to settle him.") At Biddle’s teas, guests sparred a few fast rounds with the host, then ate dinner with the family. ("May the good God ‘elp us to eat all wot’s on the tyble," is how Cordelia Drexel Biddle recalled Bob Fitzsimmons’s prayer.) Most guests were well-behaved, and only the California heavyweight Al Kaufmann ever sparred him seriously. (Kaufman knocked Biddle out with his first punch.) Biddle’s boxing teas started "Philadelphia" Jack O’Brien to thinking about how to teach middle-aged businessmen to box without pain, a program he established in New York City during the 1920s. (You couldn’t learn boxing without pain, O’Brien later told A.J. Liebling, but you could teach it without pain.) Biddle, meanwhile, joined the Marine Corps in 1917 as a 41-year old captain. He toured British and French training camps in 1918, and then convinced Headquarters Marine Corps to make boxing part of Marine Corps recruit training. The style taught was essentially English-style amateur boxing. Although said to closely resemble rifle-bayonet fighting methods, the boxing was useful mostly for increasing recruits’ physical self-confidence. After the war, Biddle stayed in the Marine Corps Reserve. In 1919 he exhibited rifle-bayonet fencing before the Willard-Dempsey prizefight, thereby delaying the main event because after the Marines scuffed up the canvas, it was no longer usable for fighting. Biddle also supported the legalization of boxing in New York, and during a 1922 court case charging Tex Rickard with sexually assaulting teenaged prostitutes, Biddle said, "Rickard is the finest and noblest sportsman I ever knew." During the late 1930s, Biddle taught close combat to FBI agents, a job he probably owed, at least in part, to a relative who was Franklin Roosevelt’s Attorney General. In 1937, Biddle’s book Do or Die, Military Manual of Advanced Science in Individual Combat, was published by the Marine Corps Association. While the boxing tips from Bob Fitzsimmons were good, as were the self-defense techniques cribbed from W .E. Fairbairn, the rest of the book overlooked the fact that industrial warfare in the age of conscript armies was more a matter of logistics than hand-to-hand combat. Recalled to active duty during World War II as a close combat instructor for the Marine Corps, Biddle died in 1948 at the age of 73.

During a ten-day shooting exhibition held in San Antonio, Texas, Adolph Topperwein of the Winchester exhibition team misses just nine of more than 72,000 hand thrown blocks 2-1/2 inches in diameter. (His longest run without a miss was 14,540.) His wife, Elizabeth Servaty Topperwein, was good shooter, too, once hitting 1,952 of 2,000 targets.

The American-born inventor Hiram P. Maxim patents the first practical sound suppresser for firearms. Production began in 1909 but ceased in 1925. Although the stated reason for the end of production was the fear that criminals would get hold of the devices, in fact there was no commercial market -- both shooters and governments preferred thunderous booms to silent killing. Nevertheless, the patents eventually earned Maxim a fortune in the automobile muffler business. Unlike the huge cans showed in Hollywood films, Maxim’s silencing arrangement placed a small crosspiece in the barrel a short distance from the muzzle. A small piston was fixed inside the crosspiece. The passing gases actuated the piston, and as this released the gases slowly rather than all at once, the standard explosion was reduced to a slow hiss.


A reporter for the Seattle Times visits the Seattle Dojo, the oldest extant Kodokan judo school in the United States. (The dojo itself was probably established in late 1903 or early 1904, and visited by the Japanese consul – the club’s honorary leader – in early 1907.) The instructor was Kono Iitaro. Four months later, another judoka named Ito Tokugoro replaced Kono as head instructor, and as Ito became a famous professional wrestler while Kono faded into obscurity, the founding of the Seattle Dojo is often attributed to Ito.

Japanese national champion Hitachiyama becomes the first sumotori to visit the United States. Weighing over 300 pounds, and having a chest nearly as big as his 6’ height, the giant Japanese wrestler never lost to a European or American opponent. Nevertheless, as John Gilbey says, wherever did he find someone willing to play?

Workers finish a new palace for His Highness Sir Krishnaraja Wadyar Bahadur IV, the Maharaja of Mysore. (The old had palace burned down ten years earlier.) The Maharajah opened this palace to the public for several days each year. The occasion was the Duessehra festival s scheduled for the first ten days of the Hindu month of Ashwin (October). The festival celebrates Lord Rama’s victory over the demon king Ravana, and it is a time of fireworks, traditional dances, and combative sports such as fencing, cavalry exercises, and wrestling. Some of the festival wrestling was for show, and some was honest competition. In the honest competition, there was some unconscious accommodation in that young men from the same city would rarely challenge local champions. Such consideration did not apply to wrestlers from other cities, however, and cross-community matches could inspire considerable sporting enthusiasm. This included occasional sectarian violence.

Captain Sir Ernest Swinton publishes The Defence of Duffer’s Drift, a short, readable description of every command error that a brilliant staff officer could dream up. Although the story took place during the Boer War, its lessons were universal and Duffer’s Drift soon became a staple of European and American war college studies. Said Swinton in his preface, "Lacking a muse, my Mauser must be my thunderbolt."

The Austro-Hungarian Army issues its cavalrymen double-action M07 Roth-Steyr semi-automatic pistols. The designer was the Bohemian Karel Krnka, and the manufacturer was the Georg Roth Ammunition Company of Vienna. Although the Roth-Steyr was the first double-action self-loading pistol to be adopted by a major power, its under-powered 8mm (.32 caliber) cartridge and non-detachable 10-round magazine meant that the weapon never enjoyed much commercial success.


After challenger Billy Papke flattens middleweight champion Stanley Ketchel at the bell instead of touching gloves as expected, the Queensberry Rules are revised to require referees to order boxers to "Shake hands and come out fighting."

With the patronage of Colonel Sir Malcolm Fox, inspector of gymnasia, the British Brigade of Guards hires professionals to teach its enlisted men to box according to Queensberry rules. The boxing was supposed to develop aggressiveness in recruits while simultaneously improving their skills in bayonet fighting. Championships were held annually at Aldershot and other divisional training sites. The Canadian Army adopted the British program in 1916 and the United States followed suit in 1918. Around the same time, the Irish Guards also contracted for some jujutsu exhibitions. The Japanese instructor at Aldershot and Shorncliffe Camp was the professional wrestler Uyenishi Sadakazu.

United States Army officers serving with all-black units such as the 9th Cavalry and 25th Infantry are encouraged to resolve their disciplinary problems by ordering miscreants to stop playing their favorite sports. These sports included baseball, billiards, bowling, football, gymnastics, track-and-field, and wrestling. (Basketball was only just becoming popular. However, within two years, the 10th Cavalry team billed itself as the "Championship Team of the United States Army." Basketball training evidently included football and wrestling, too, as the New York Age of January 10, 1911 reported that "whenever an all star player attempted to tackle a cavalryman by jumping on his back he was usually given a quick excursion through the air. Medical aid and sticking plaster were called into use several times.")

The German chemist Fritz Haber develops a method for making ammonia from atmospheric nitrogen. This discovery, which earned Haber a Nobel Prize in 1918, eliminated Germany’s dependency on nitrates imported from Chile and Peru and made protracted European wars possible. The same year, I.G. Farben also patented the antibiotic sulfanilamide. Because the development is kept secret for another 28 years, antibiotics were generally unavailable until World War II.

Robert Baden-Powell establishes the Boy Scouts of England. An unstated goal of this organization was to teach the public school spirit without the elitism, and military skills without so much emphasis on close-order drill. Meanwhile, stated goals included instilling patriotism and good moral character into pre-adolescents. (Ninety percent of British Boy Scouts of the 1910s were aged less than 14.) Another stated goal was preparing working-class youth for future military service. Said Baden-Powell, "We shall establish a standard and bond throughout the cadets of the coming Imperial Army." Baden-Powell established a similar program for girls, called the Girl Guides, in November 1909. The goal here, however, was "to make girls better mothers and guides for the next generation."

Japanese military doctors discover that karate students were physically fitter than most other Okinawans. Such "discoveries" were common during this period, as they were ploys by the military to encourage governments to institute physical training in public schools. The Swiss, for instance, had determined that only 55% of military age men could meet military entrance standards without a regular exercise program. Of course, the exercise was only part of the equation; the other part was that people who could afford to provide their sons with exercise programs could also afford to feed them regular, nutritious meals. However, the nutritional aspect went unremarked at the time, probably because the discovery of vitamins remained years in the future.


A jingwu tiyuhui, or "martial excellence" society, is established in Shanghai to provide Chinese policemen with training in traditional martial arts. The reason, Shanghai police historian Fred Wakeman Jr. wrote in 1955, was that "instruction in Chinese boxing, the ‘national art’ (guoshu), which was seen as a way both of strengthening police ability to defend public order as well as converting ‘foreign ridicule’ (waiwu) of Chinese physical weakness into admiration for their martial prowess. Although physical education had been associated with national salvation since the introduction of Prussian Türnen, this interest in guoshu may have had a lot to do with the fact that so many Chinese military and police officers had studied in Japan, where national martial arts forms (and especially judo) were seen to be linked with the nativist vigor of the Meiji Restoration and where ‘the greatest experts in these arts were to be found among police officials.’"

The Japanese build their first indoor sumo stadium. With a seating capacity of 15,000, it was the largest indoor stadium in Asia. It was also the first Japanese stadium to offer paying admission to women. Proper Japanese ladies avoided the fights, and mothers told their daughters that the stadium’s cramped seating was designed to allow rakes to bump knees with their dates. But by the 1930s Japanese women were attending boxing and wrestling matches in large numbers, and by 1931 a 19-year old woman named Ishida Masako was even aspiring to become a professional boxer.

Japanese physical educators begin calling shinai fencing kendo, meaning "the Way of the Sword." Pioneers included Takano Sasaburo of the Ona-ha Itto-ryu, who taught at the Tokyo Teacher’s College where Kano Jigoro was president, and Torakichi Ozawa of the Hokushin Itto-ryu. Although the Ministry of Education preferred the name shinai kyogi ("bamboo stick competition), the name gekken remained in use in Japan until 1928, when the newspaper magnate Noma Seija created the Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei ("All Japan Kendo Federation"), and the Americas into the 1930s. For example, a gekken tournament was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, in October 1931. In this latter tournament, the participants were mostly Nisei youth. Their teachers were men named Sasaki, Teshirogi, Narita, and Miura. Gekken tournaments were also held in Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and Steveston, British Columbia during the 1930s. About 30 of the 200 Seattle-area kendoka were female.

Kaneshige Naomatsu and Teshima Shigemi establish a judo club at Kaneshige’s home in Honolulu. In 1913, Kano Jigoro visited Hawaii and named this school the Shunyo Kan. About the same time, Kitayama Yajiro and Mino Nakajiro established the Shobu Kan Judo Club in the basement of the Ono Bakery on Beretania Street. Hawaiian judo was technically good, and the Kodokan accepted the Hawaii Judo Yudanshakai (Black Belt Association) in September 1932. The Honolulu clubs also offered judo classes for women, and early female instructors included Shizuko Murasaki, Matsue Honda, and Yasue Kuniwake. Most Hawaiian judoka were of Japanese ancestry, and as a result the Hawaiian Black Belt Association’s constitution, by-laws, and proceedings were all written in Japanese until 1963.

The Great Gama defeats Khalifa Ghulam Mohiuddin to win the undisputed title of Rustam-e-Hind, wrestling champion of India. The match lasted all of eight minutes.

In his book called Complete Science of Wrestling, George Hackenschmidt writes that an amateur wrestler’s training should include lifting weights three times a week, gymnastics or calisthenics another two to three times a week, and fast walking or jogging for ten miles daily. Hackenschmidt also recommended that wrestlers study jujutsu, as it included the leg sweeps, trips, and chokes that Greco-Roman wrestling lacked.

Gordon Tringham writes in the August 21 issue of Health & Strength that professional wrestling was "simply a part of a series of music-hall turns -- ‘a show’ -- to be treated as such. Mind you, a man must be above the average as regards skill and strength; then with a smart manager and a working agreement with others in the business there is money in the game." Why was this so? As Tringham wrote on September 4, "The public pay to see an exciting bout; and if they get what they pay for everyone is pleased."

About 1910:

Twenty percent of a sample of United States Army soldiers stationed in the Panama Canal Zone admit to smoking more than five marijuana cigarettes a day. The use of marijuana was not stigmatized in the United States until the 1930s, when American petrochemical manufacturers became interested in eliminating hemp as a competitor for their new synthetic fibers. Soldiers stationed along the Mexican border, meanwhile, preferred Cactus Wine, which combined homemade tequila with peyote tea. Alcohol consumption was high, too. Surviving bar bills show that a consumption rate of 30 shots of whiskey a day was common among those who could afford it. Not all drinking was in bars, either. For example, Dr. B. J. Kendall’s blackberry balsam, "a remedy for diarrhea, dysentery, cholera morbus, biliousness, and costive liver," was 122 proof whiskey reinforced with opium.

Jack Dempsey describes his early training. This included punching a cloth bag stuffed with sand and sawdust, wrestling on a battered mattress in an abandoned chicken coop, skipping rope, sprinting against horses, and trying to hit broom handles being swung through the air by his brother. He also strengthened his jaw by chewing pine gum straight from the trees and toughened his skin using beef brine. Yet for all that, Dempsey’s greatest innovation was the crouching stance and shifty movement that he used to cause his opponents to miss their punches to his head, a technique that Dempsey called "bobbing and weaving."


The English classicist E. Norman Gardiner publishes Athletics of the Ancient World. Gardiner believed that receiving money for playing or teaching games and sports was a form of corruption. Therefore, he portrayed ancient Greek athletes as Victorian gentlemen who played games as youths before settling down as adults to jobs in business or war. This view endeared the book to Avery Brundage, an American multimillionaire who later used Gardiner’s findings concerning ancient athletics to have Jim Thorpe stripped of his Olympic medals, thus moving himself from sixth to fifth in the pentathlon. In 1974 the Dutch classicist H.W. Pleket challenged Gardiner’s conclusions. Using a much more rigorous examination of the primary sources, Pleket showed that the ancient Greeks had always provided their Olympic athletes with cash and prizes, both during training and after winning. In 1984, David C. Young of the University of Santa Barbara in California showed that most ancient athletes had been goatherds, cooks, and butchers rather than sons of the rich and famous. (While wealthy aristocrats had funded the ancient games, providing patronage is different from standing in the blocks or driving the horses.) Probably unintentionally, the publication of The Olympic Myth of Greek Amateur Athletics coincided with the first commercially sponsored modern Olympics.

Lionel Giles publishes the first internationally important translation of Sun Tzu’s Art of War since 1782. While acclaimed by Sinologists, there was little military interest in translations of the text until after World War II. (The Japanese read Chinese versions of the text, and Russian soldiers did not study it until the 1950s, despite having a Russian-language translation available since 1860. There were of course other translations. Examples include a 1905 translation by the British soldier E. F. Calthrop and a 1910 translation by the German soldier Bruno Navarra. Again, however, these were read mostly by Sinologists.)

An uncompromising African American heavyweight named Jack Johnson retains his world championship title by smashing an out-of-shape Californian named Jim Jeffries through the ropes in the fourteenth. While Johnson’s victory was a milestone in American race relations, reporter Jack London complained that "faster, better fights may be seen every day of the year in any of the small clubs in the land."

A physical culturalist from Calcutta named Lall Chand writes in Health & Strength that only the illiterate, as a rule, take up wrestling as a profession. Richer Indians, said Chand, preferred intellectual development to muscular development. "I belong to the best Ksahatriga (the warrior caste) of the Punjab," he said, "and I know too well how little my caste fellows know of it. The higher caste Hindoos, for instance, refuse to use Indian clubs because they are advocated and used by Indian athletes. These superior people, when they exercise at all, take up Sandow’s dumb-bells and solid dumb-bells because these were introduced by civilized people." North American athletes, on the other hand, were quite enamored of Indian clubs, and even got club swinging introduced into the Olympics in 1904.

In London, Dr. Benjamin Franklin Roller of Illinois (the title was real – he graduated with a degree in medicine from the University of Pennsylvania in 1902 and he worked as director of physical education at the University of Washington during 1905-1906) wrestles Gama the Great. Gama was in Britain because the Bengali millionaire Sharat Kumar Mishra had paid for the trip to show the world that Europeans could be beaten using distinctly Indian methods. Gama’s training partners on this tour included Ahmed Bux, Imam Bux, and Gulam Mohiuddin. Technically, Gama was the best of the group at standing wrestling, while Imam Bux was better at ground wrestling. (While in London, Imam Bux beat the Swiss champion John Lemm in 12 minutes, and a British wrestler named Pat Connolly in 10.) Roller was 34 pounds heavier and 6 inches taller than Gama, and was favored to win the £200 prize. Gama slapped his thighs in anticipation, then threw Roller repeatedly and pinned him twice for the win. The English sporting press was suitably impressed. (Though it shouldn’t have been: Roller was ten years older than Gama, and had only been wrestling professionally since 1908.) Gama then challenged George Hackenschmidt to a match, but Hackenschmidt suddenly decided it was time to go to Switzerland for his health. Therefore Gama’s next match was with the Greco-Roman champion Stanislaus Zbyszko. Gama slammed Zbyszko to the mat, and Zbyszko then spent the next 2 hours and 40 minutes flopping around the mat. Gama, for his part, proved to be less adept at ground wrestling than his partner Imam Bux, and failed to pin his man. ("Two minutes’ wrestling in 2½ hours" was how Sporting Life described the match.) Undismayed, Gama’s promoter R.B. Benjamin deposited £1,000 with the editor of Sporting Life, and said that this was his guarantee that Gama could throw the top 30 Japanese wrestlers, including Miyake Taro, within an hour. The Japanese suddenly discovered more pressing engagements in Paris. Benjamin then said that Gama could throw any 20 British wrestlers within an hour. Again, no takers. So, sadly, Gama sailed back home to India, where he and his partners all got jobs as court wrestlers. Gama and Imam Bux, for instance, got jobs with Bhupendra Singh, Maharajah of Patialia, while Gulam Mohiuddin went to work for the Maharajah of Datia. Pay was about 250 rupees per month, plus some property and a very great deal of personal satisfaction. One of Gama’s best subsequent matches was with Rahim Sultaniwala at Allahabad. Like the match with Zbyszko, this match also lasted 2-1/2 hours. While Gama won that match, too, the contest was more pleasing to the crowd. As for the wrestlers, Rahim was quoted afterwards as saying, "Gama put his turban on with trembling hands, but I was so tired that I couldn’t even do that."

The YMCA sponsors China’s first National Athletic Meet in Nanking. Teams paid their own travel, and the YMCA paid for the prizes and rented the necessary space. Forty thousand spectators attended the five-day event, which featured competitions in track-and-field, soccer, tennis, and basketball. Additional national meets were held in 1914, 1924, 1930, 1933, 1935, and 1948. While women’s events were added in 1930, men’s boxing and wrestling did not become official sports in China until 1948.

About 1911:

Yabiku Moden establishes the Ryukyu Ancient Research Association. This was the first school to publicly teach kobudo, or ancient weapons arts, on Okinawa. Yabiku’s student Taira Shinken was a leader in the establishment of the more famous (and still-extant) Society for the Promotion and Preservation of Ryukyu Martial Arts in 1940.

Sumo rules are changed to allow pushing and shoving as well as grips on the belt. The reforms were apparently due to more semi-trained performers entering the professional ranks.


During their conquest of Libya, the Italians use an airplane to drop hand grenades on an Ottoman horse remuda. Three years later, Japanese aviators flying off the decks of converted merchant ships shoot their pistols at a lone German aviator circling above Tsingtao. From such humble beginnings modern aerial warfare was born. Or at least daylight aerial warfare: practical night-fighting only a date to the installation of radar sets on twin-seat Beaufort fighters in 1940. Practical night bombing, meanwhile, dates to 1942, when the British started using radio signals to guide Lancasters and Stirlings to the Ruhr. (While bombing was certainly possible without such assistance, it was grossly inefficient. One 1946 study conducted by Group Captain F. C. Richardson discovered that just 5% of the bombs dropped by unassisted night bombers fall within five miles of their intended targets.)

Under pressure from the Diet, Japan’s Ministry of Education decides to require schoolboys to learn jujutsu and shinai kyogi ("flexible stick competition"), as judo and kendo were known until 1926. The idea, said the Ministry in its reports, was to ensure that "students above middle school should be trained to be a soldier with patriotic conformity, martial spirit, obedience, and toughness of mind and body." An official curriculum was published in 1917. During the 1920s, Japanese high school girls also began to be required to study naginata-do using special lightweight wooden halberds. Sparring was introduced into the public school naginata-do in 1943. While teachers dutifully said that the girls liked the sparring, one suspects that many of them would have preferred playing "enemy sports" such as basketball and volleyball. Major public school martial art systems included the Kodokan judo of Kano Jigoro, the Itto-ryu kendo of Takano Sasaburo and Ozawa Torakichi, and the Tendo-ryu and Jikishin Kage-ryu naginata-do of Mitamura Kengyo and Satake Yoshinori.

A breakdown prepared by the Kodokan’s director, Yokoyama Sakujiro, showed that the Kodokan had 2 seventh dan (degree black belt) 3 sixth dan, 6 fifth dan, 30 fourth dan, 120 third dan, 300 second dan, and 750 first dan. According to Kotani Sumiyuki, who started training in Kodokan judo in 1917 at the age of 14, students practiced two or three times a week for approximately one hour each time. At that rate, it took Kotani five years to achieve first dan. He then went to university in Tokyo. While there, he devoted much time to training, and so gained an additional dan every twelve to eighteen months for the next several years. Kotani achieved fifth dan in 1927, sixth dan in 1932, seventh dan in 1937, eighth dan in 1945, and ninth dan in 1962. He attributed this exceptional progress to hard work and no serious injuries.

The Japanese establish an International Olympic Committee under the leadership of Kano Jigoro. While only two Japanese athletes went to the Olympics in 1912, 15 went in 1920, 18 in 1924, 43 in 1928, 130 in 1932, and 154 in 1936. Although the Japanese won medals in many sports, including wrestling, equitation, and tennis, as a team they did best in swimming and running.

The University of Alberta in Edmonton establishes Western Canada’s first university wrestling and boxing club. The development grew from two separate ideas. The first was "the Assault-at-Arms." This encouraged young public school men to participate in martial exercises such as bayonet drills, tugs-of-war, boxing, and fencing. The other was the "Athletic Smoker." This encouraged those same young men to raise money for their fraternities by boxing or wrestling before paying audiences. These games attracted considerable interest each November, but as soon as gloves were donned and sparring begun, reported the student yearbook in 1920, "the numbers began fading away, to more gentle amusements, and nicer indoor sports." Early wrestling and boxing heroes at the university included L.S. Macdonald and Johnnie Glenn.

The Great Gama and his training partners travel to Paris, where Imam Bux defeats Maurice Deriaz in 66 seconds and Armand Cherpillod in 4 minutes, 30 seconds. After that, no one wanted to wrestle the Indians. So, to get paying gigs, the Indians started learning Greco-Roman, which allowed no leg holds or tripping. The Indian wrestlers excelled there, too. Ghulam Mohiuddin, for instance, defeated the Greco-Roman wrestler Maurice Gambier in 14 minutes. Ghulam then took a trip to the United States, where Frank Gotch carefully avoided him. (Gotch risked losing his reputation and his comfortable income by meeting the Indian, and there simply wasn’t enough American interest in the contest to justify the risk.)

The recently established Boy Scouts of America demilitarize, standardize, and bureaucratize Boy Scouting. This process included publishing a standardized textbook and creating 57 separate merit badges, three new ranks, and a requirement for Scouts to purchase only officially sanctioned uniforms and paraphernalia. While this was good for the national office, it did nothing for individual Scouts or Scoutmasters. Therefore, annual turnover rates often approached 50%, a pattern that repeated itself fifty years later as similarly configured karate federations spread throughout Europe and the Americas. So, how did the Boy Scouts of America resolve their problems? By putting more emphasis on teaching morality and ethics, and less on charging money. And how did the various karate federations solve theirs? By discouraging students from exploring other styles, insisting on long-term contracts, lowering standards, and guaranteeing promotions. Still, both approaches ignore why the youths joined the Scouts or took karate classes in the first place. "Boys," says historian David Macleod, "had little interests in the movement’s abstract pieties; most joined because their friends did."

Howard Garis, a New Jersey newspaperman writing under the pseudonym Victor Appleton, publishes a novel titled Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle. Swift's rifle could shoot through walls, and stun or destroy whatever it touched. The idea was not original with Garis, Jules Verne having posited a similar underwater weapon in Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, first published in 1875. The idea left fiction, however, in 1969, when a California-based physicist, Jack Cover, began developing an electronic weapon called the TASER, after Thomas A. Swift's Electronic Rifle. A baton-shaped weapon using pistol powder to launch two electric probes was introduced in 1974, but it did not work especially well, especially on motivated individuals or people under the influence of cocaine. New investors became interested in the product in the mid-1990s, smaller, more powerful compressed air variants were developed, and by 2004, many police forces and military organizations were including TASER X26s as part of their less-lethal weaponry.


Ten officers from the Satsuma-controlled Japanese First Fleet go to Okinawa to take a one-week course in karate. This development probably owed something to the stories told by the Okinawans serving in the Imperial Navy. (Okinawans often preferred naval service to military service, perhaps because naval service offered better technical training, or, more likely, because Japanese naval officers were usually less brutal and jingoistic than Japanese army officers.)

The Chinese soldier Feng Yü-hsiang becomes a battalion commander. After discovering that many of his soldiers were little more than armed civilians, Feng orders them to run obstacle courses, lift weights, do forced marches with packs, and practice the Chinese martial arts. A Christian who reportedly baptized his troops with fire hoses, Feng taught ethics by having them sing songs such as "We Must Not Drink or Smoke" and "We Must Not Gamble or Visit Whores." To ensure that their spirit was properly martial, Feng gave them the following motto: "When we fight, we first use bullets; when the bullets are gone, we use bayonets; when the bayonets are dull, we use the rifle barrel; when this is broken, we use our fists; when our fists are broken, we bite."

Hsu Yu-sheng, the vice-director of the Peking Physical Education Research Association, introduces studio-style martial art instruction to north China. While Hsu taught t’ai chi ch’uan, and had studied with Yang Chien-hou, Sung Shu-ming, and other famous boxers of his day, he was an intellectual. Therefore he taught t’ai chi as national gymnastics rather than as training in pugilism or self-defense. Hsu also self-published a book in Shanghai in 1921 called A Diagrammatic Explanation of the T’ai Chi Ch’uan Postures.

The Shanghai Chinese YMCA organizes a course in ch’uan fa. The reason was that the youths that came for self-defense lessons usually discovered that they liked the foreign games of volleyball, basketball, and baseball even better, and thus were more amenable to Protestant proselytizing. That said, the Far Eastern Championship Games, an Olympic-style competition held in Shanghai in 1915, 1921, and 1927, were far more important for introducing the Chinese masses to Western sports.

Following long talks with Robert Baden-Powell and his young wife, railway heiress Juliette Gordon Low establishes a Girl Guides troop in Savannah, Georgia. A year later, Low moves to Washington, DC and renames her organization the Girl Scouts of America. Meanwhile, because he believed that it was fundamentally evil for girls to practice military drill and anachronistic woodcraft, a former YMCA administrator named Luther Gulick creates the rival Camp Fire, Inc. Despite its woodsy name, the purpose of Camp Fire, Inc. was to teach homemaking skills to girls.

Upton Sinclair publishes The Naturewoman, a play in which the female character Oceana challenges several male characters to bout with singlesticks.

A Hispanic boxer called Joe Rivers and a German-American boxer named Adolph Wolgast knock each other out a Fourth of July lightweight match held at the Vernon Arena in East Los Angeles. To cause this, Wolgast hit Rivers with two uppercuts, at least one of which was below the belt. Rivers dropped to his knees; Wolgast then tripped over Rivers. Meanwhile, he took a left hook to the jaw. Referee Jack Welch then helped Wolgast to his feet while counting Rivers out for the count. This caused nearly as much scandal as another fight Welch officiated, namely the Jess Willard-Jack Johnson fight in Havana in 1915, the one in which Johnson is suspected of taking a dive in the twenty-sixth.

In response to racial unrest blamed on fight films showing Jack Johnson knocking Jim Jeffries through the ropes in Reno, the United States bans the interstate transportation of "any prize fight or encounter of pugilists, under whatever name, or any record or account of betting on the same." This was a rather drastic response; Britain and South Africa, on the other hand, only banned the transportation of the Johnson-Jeffries fight films. While the ban was mostly applied to Johnson’s fights (film of Dempsey’s fights with Tunney, for example, were widely shown, as was Louis vs. Schmeling), these laws remained on the books until 1940, at which time pressure from the newly created television industry forced their revocation.

Charles Harvey, secretary of the New York State boxing commission, travels to Stockholm, where he convinces the International Olympic Committee to allow boxing as an Olympic sport. His argument was that "clean bouts between high class and efficient boxers" would appeal to women spectators.

Following the Stockholm Olympics, protests against the nationalistic bias of Swedish wrestling officials cause the creation of the Fédération Internationale de Lutte Amateur, or FILA, with headquarters in Antwerp, Belgium. A year later, the Germans and Hungarians create a rival body known as the Internationaler Amateur Verband für Schewerathletik. Although World War I effectively killed both organizations, FILA was reconstituted in Switzerland in 1920, and after 1921, it started imposing French rules on both Greco-Roman and free-style wrestling. Although the imposition of French wrestling rules caused no problems in places such as Japan where all European wrestling styles were foreign, they caused severe problems for wrestlers from Britain, Scandinavia, and North America, where wrestlers played according to different rules. This was, of course, the whole idea.


While Lieutenant George S. Patton Jr. was discussing the proper form and use of the cavalry saber in the Journal of the U.S. Cavalry Association, a retired Coast Defense artillery officer named Isaac Newton Lewis goes to Belgium to manufacture a machine gun. So, while the weapon designer was actually Samuel McLean, the best light machine gun of World War I is subsequently known as the Lewis gun.

H.G. Wells publishes Little Wars. This was the first book to discuss hobby war gaming using miniatures. (Originally such miniatures were cast from both tin and lead, but health concerns later resulted in their being manufactured from an alloy of tin and bismuth.) While conducting these little wars, Wells found that firearms dominated the battlefield. He also found that firearms caused people to focus on totally destroying the other side. So, to prevent this, he created artificial rules that curtailed such activities. Meanwhile, he continued writing a novel called The World Set Free that described aerial bombs made from uranium isotopes. In 1934, a German-language translation of The World Set Free caused the Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard to patent the idea of nuclear chain reactions.

Russian Mongols introduce Tibetan warrior-monks, or dop-dop, to close-order drill and other basics of early twentieth-century infantry tactics.

Letter writers complain to the London Times that moving pictures provided children with a direct incentive to crime. They also showed their greedy eyes’ scenes of terrific massacres, horrible catastrophes, motorcar smashes, public hangings, and the like. Yet, if the pictures were so awful, how had the letter writers come to see them in the first place?

Briton Ernest J. Harrison, the third European to earn shodan ranking in Kodokan judo, publishes The Fighting Spirit of Japan. This was the first English-language book to describe judo and other modern Japanese martial arts from an insider’s perspective.


New York socialite Mary Phelps Jacobs patents the brassiere. Its original purpose was to flatten the breasts rather than support or protect them.

Maeda Mitsuyo, a judo 5-dan who had wrestled professionally in the United States, Britain, Spain, Cuba, Panama, and Mexico, settles in Brazil. Around 1919, while working for a Brazilian circus, Maeda taught a mix of Kodokan judo and catch-as-catch-can wrestling to a 17-year old Brazilian named Carlos Gracie. In 1924, Gracie opened a commercial martial arts academy, first in Belém and then in Rio de Janeiro, and his students included his younger brother Hélio, who from 1932 to the mid-1950s was a well-known Brazilian professional wrestler. Hélio’s sons Royce, Rorian, and Rickson continued in their father’s profession, and during the 1990s they made Gracie Jiu-Jitsu famous throughout the world. Carlos Gracie’s nephews, meanwhile, introduced a related style called Machado Jiu-Jitsu into the United States in 1990.

A Japanese police official named Nishikubo Hiromichi publishes a series of articles in which he argues that the Japanese martial arts should be called budo ("martial ways") rather than bujutsu ("martial techniques"). The reason, he said, was that martial arts were no longer practical combatives. Instead, they were meant to teach loyalty to the Emperor. In 1919, Nishibuko became head of a major martial art college (Bujutsu Senmon Gakko) and immediately after taking charge, he ordered its name changed to Budo Senmon Gakko. Shortly afterwards, Dai Nippon Butokukai publications also began talking about budo, kendo, judo, and kyudo rather than bujutsu, gekken, jujutsu, and kyujutsu. The Ministry of Education followed suit in 1926, and in 1931, the word budo began to be used to describe compulsory ideological instruction in the Japanese public schools.

Ryukyuan cane cutters introduce Okinawan sumo into the Hawaiian Islands. Okinawan sumo was somewhat different from the Japanese game. For example, officials restarted bouts whenever one of the players was thrown to his stomach or knees. In addition, in the Okinawan version, only falls to the back counted for points. By the 1930s, there were annual tournaments on all the major islands. The biggest tournament took place on Oahu, at Kapiolani Park. This tournament started at 10:30 a.m., lasted until 5:00 p.m., and drew several hundred spectators. There were three weight divisions, 150 pounds and over, 130-149 pounds, and 129 pounds and under. This being the Depression, most of the wrestlers were in the last two categories. The dress code required a pair of shorts and a red or white belt, 15-18 feet long and 20 inches wide, folded to four inches in width and tied in the front.

In Vladivostok, Vasili Sergevich Oshchepkov organizes Russia’s first judo club; men who trained there included Britain’s E.J. Harrison. Born on Sakhalin Island in 1892, in 1906 Oshchepkov was sent to a Russian Orthodox mission in Japan. Admitted to the Kodokan in 1911, he earned his dan ranking in about six months and his 2-dan grade in about two years. In 1914, he moved to Vladivostok, where he taught judo and did translations. In 1921, he went to work for the Red Army, and in 1929, he introduced judo to Moscow. In 1932, he organized Russia’s first judo tournament and the following year he published judo’s first Russian language rules. In 1936, the Leningrad Sport Committee prohibited a competition between the Moscow and Leningrad teams. Outraged, Oshchepkov wrote protests to various government offices. This led to his being arrested on the charge of being a Japanese spy, and in October 1937, he died from what the NKVD termed a "fit of angina." His students took the hint and in November 1938 Anatoli Arcadievich Kharlampiev announced the invention of "Soviet freestyle wrestling," which coincidentally looked a lot like Russian-rules judo. Following World War II, Stalin decided that the USSR would compete in the Olympics. Since the Olympics already had freestyle wrestling, in 1946 Soviet freestyle wrestling was officially renamed sambo, which was an acronym for "self-defense without weapons" (SAMozashcita Bez Oruzhiya). The acronym was the creation of Vladimir Spiridonov, who had studied catch-as-catch-can, Greco-Roman, and Mongol wrestling, but as he had been an officer in the Tsarist army, of course the Soviets downplayed his contributions, too. Due to Soviet influences, between 1921 and the present, sambo has diverged significantly from judo. Technical differences include sambo players wearing tight jackets, shorts, and shoes; using mats instead of tatami (this in turn causes sambo coaches to stress groundwork and submission holds rather than high throws); and a philosophy that emphasized sport and self-defense rather than character development.

After being discovered to be a woman, a veteran of the American Civil War known as Albert Cashier (but born Jennie Hodgers) tells her former first sergeant, "Lots of boys enlisted under the wrong name. So did I. The country needed men, and I wanted excitement."

An Indian Army cavalry officer named Roly Grimshaw describes the moral code of the Edwardian professional soldier: "My religion is my duty, and vice versa, that is all."

Inupiat living across the Arctic are reported resolving their disputes over women and property using song duels. The format of these duels was highly conventionalized. The idea was to attack the opponent’s virility, courage, and reputation using extemporaneous verse. (The defense, meanwhile, was to receive these sharp little attacks without showing any anger or passion, and to follow with even more scurrilous verses in response.) Of course, losers were rarely happy with the outcome, and head-butting, head-slapping, and wrestling matches often followed unsatisfactorily resolved song duels. Inupiat wrestling included standing matches similar to Greco-Roman wrestling and kneeling wrestling. The latter was called "musk-ox fighting." In it, the two participants knelt, placed their heads on each other’s shoulders, and then tried to force the other to stand up or to crash into a wall. (For the Inupiat men, wrestling was an indoor recreation used to establish meat-sharing, wife-lending, and other partnerships during the long Arctic winters.) The Inupiat wrestlers often wore amulets made of polar bear paws on one arm and brown bear paws on the other, and hired shaman to invoke magical powers.


To protect their soldiers’ heads from shrapnel, rocks, and bits of their neighbors’ bodies the British and French armies start replacing their cork helmets with steel helmets. Since most casualties were caused by shell fragments or debris rather than bullets or bayonets, the change reduced serious injuries about 5%, and fatalities about 10%. Otherwise, body armor was little used during the Great War. (Layered silk was not strong enough, while steel plate was both uncomfortable to wear and likely to attract the attention of snipers. On the German side, snipers were specialist troops, whereas on the Allied side, they were mostly amateurs. One of the latter was Maharajah Gopal Narain Saran Singh, who enjoyed shooting steel-plated Germans using a Westley-Richards .476 double-barreled tiger gun.)

At the prompting of the I.G. Farben company, which produced 40 tons of waste chlorine per year, the German Army experiments with opening canisters of chlorine on the Western Front. On the Eastern Front, the chemical used was tear gas, or CA. While both CA and chlorine could cause serious lung and eye injuries, they weren’t especially lethal. Furthermore, they were both visible and heavier than air. Therefore, they could be literally pushed out of a trench. Consequently, both were quickly relegated to use as training agents (chlorine in Britain, France, and the United States, tear gas in Germany and Austria). Undeterred, British chemists introduce phosgene (a by-product of carbon tetrachloride production) and mustard in 1917. The new chemical weapons caused dreadful injuries and vast numbers of psychological casualties. Unfortunately, the physical and psychological casualties were almost as high among one’s own troops as the enemy’s. So, after 1918, chemical weapons were mostly dropped from airplanes on enemies who had limited chemical defense capabilities. Examples include the Italian use of mustard in Ethiopia in 1936 and the US use of CS in Vietnam in 1969. The German introduction of chlorine is nonetheless important to the history of military technology, as it provides a convenient place for marking the birth of the military-industrial complex, the name Dwight Eisenhower’s speechwriters gave to the phenomenon of soldiers, scientists, and industrialists working together instead of separately.

Mort Henderson becomes North America’s first famous masked wrestler. Henderson’s gag was that he would not remove his mask and reveal his identity until someone defeated him. Ed "Strangler" Lewis quickly unmasked Henderson during an international tournament staged at the Manhattan Opera House, and returned Henderson to his regular employment as a railway detective in Altoona, Pennsylvania. (The Masked Marvel whom Joe Stecher later beats using his famed scissors hold was fellow Nebraskan Pete Sauer.)

By accepting $100,000 to appear in three "flickers," as films were then known, the former US wrestling champion Frank Gotch becomes the world’s highest paid athlete.


To protect their positions from German aerial spotters, British and French artillerists begin covering their firing pits with burlap-festooned fishnets. This marks the beginning of modern military camouflage.

The Canadian Army hires physical educator William Jacomb to create a boxing program for its soldiers. This was not because the Canadians believed that "a straight left, well delivered and backed up by aggressive American determination, is a Boche eliminant in nine cases out of ten," as one American physical educator put it in 1918. Instead, it was because they believed that boxing would instill physical confidence into recruits, most of whom hadn’t been in a fight since grammar school. An equally naive claim made concerning military boxing was that it was a moral activity. As YMCA director C. H. Jackson put it in 1909, boxing made boys "Christlike and manly." This was evidently by tiring them out sufficiently to keep them from masturbating, as both the YMCA and the Boy Scouts linked masturbation with weak character.

Riding alongside Black Jack Pershing into Mexico, Peggy Hull of the El Paso Morning Times becomes the first female war correspondent. She later reported on both world wars, plus the war in China in 1932. Other notable female war correspondents included Evelyn Irons of the Evening Standard, who with three Free French soldiers captured a Bavarian village in 1945; the New York Herald Tribune’s Marguerite Higgins, who refused to marry until she found a man who was as exciting as war; and New Zealander Kate Webb, who wrote, "The first time I went out (on a patrol in Vietnam), there was a bit of a fire fight and I was so scared that I wet my pants. I hoped the GIs would think that it was sweat and that no one would notice. Then I saw that some of the GIs had wet pants, too, and it didn’t matter any more." Dicky Chappelle, who stepped on a mine outside Chu Lai in 1965, was the first female correspondent killed in action.

The Ivy League holds its first intercollegiate wrestling meet. The distinctively American wrestling style that awards points for control and advantage as well as falls grew out of this competition. The reason was that the promoters wanted to keep the spectators amused by avoiding lengthy matches and inconclusive draws.


Captain J.F.C. Fuller of the British Army tells his superiors that the tank is the horse of the future. This was hardly the majority view, for as late as 1928, General Sir Douglas Haig claimed that cavalry were better for almost anything than any stinky, unreliable tank.

In Jiu-Jitsu: A Manual of the Science, Leopold McLaglan describes various throws and holds adopted for military use. Yet, McLaglan did not understand the reality of patrolling no-man’s land. Therefore, he omitted descriptions of strangleholds, defenses against knife attacks, and the use of the steel helmet for attack and defense until the publication of his 1942 book called, appropriately enough, Unarmed Attack and Defence. By that time, Commandos had been learning such techniques for at least two years, so in this McLaglan was again following the crowd (and the money).

Ottoman soldiers sodomize British prisoner-of-war Thomas Edward Lawrence, a man subsequently immortalized by journalist Lowell Thomas as Lawrence of Arabia. (Thomas’s travelogue, "With Allenby in Palestine and Lawrence in Arabia ran in theaters from 1919-1928, while Lawrence’s self-published Seven Pillars of Wisdom only appeared in 1926.) The Turkish and Afghan practice of degrading male prisoners by gang-raping them was one reason why Rudyard Kipling recommended that Tommies wounded and dying on Afghanistan’s plains roll to their guns and blow out their brains, and go to their God like soldiers.

A Chinese student named Mao Tse-tung writes that exercise must be regular, that it must contain elements of the barbaric, and that it must be as simple as possible. Further, said Mao, exercise should strengthen practitioners’ bodies, minds, and spirits, and give them the discipline they needed for successful adventures. He also said that moderate exercise stimulated internal energy, and was something that modern people must do. (Confucian values opposed exercise.) The exercise program that Mao advocated required no special equipment, and took just 30 minutes a day. Included were arm circles, leg raises, torso twists, head rotations, slaps to increase circulation, jumping drills, and deep-breathing exercises.

In hopes of acquiring some German-owned property in Shantung Province, the Chinese send 100,000 students to help the Allies in Europe. While the students were supposed to be on a work-study program, what they did was dig trenches. Toward the same end, the Japanese send a few destroyers to Malta, where their crews amused themselves by looking for non-existent U-boats, and aviators to France. However, as the Chinese government supported the Germans until at least 1916, whereas the Japanese supported the British from the beginning, after the war the French and English awarded the German property to the Japanese. This outraged many Chinese, and the upshot was street riots in 1919 and the creation of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921.

Funakoshi Gichin, a 53-year old Okinawan schoolteacher, demonstrates naihanchi kata during the First National Athletic Exhibition in Kyoto. While this introduces karate into Japan, no one there expressed much interested until 1921, when Kano Jigoro added atemi-waza, or "vital-point techniques," to the curriculum of Kodokan judo. Although Kano probably got these strikes from jujutsu, they were similar to ones taught by Funakoshi, and included finger-strikes to the glabella, elbows to the solar plexus, and front kicks to the testicles. Additional targets described in subsequent Kodokan publications included the soft spot on top of the head, mastoid process, temples, philtrum, chin, solar plexus, spleen, liver, and knees.

Two-time AAU wrestling champion Earl Caddock defeats Joe Stecher to win the United States’ last supposedly honest professional wrestling championship. That said, Caddock’s victory reeks of accommodation, as Caddock only won on default after Stecher refused to come out of his dressing room for the third and final fall. Accommodation became standard in North American wrestling after 1915, when Joseph "Toots" Mondt and Billy Sandow, two competent wrestlers employed by the 101 Ranch Wild West Show, realized that both crowd and wrestlers preferred good showmanship to honest wrestling. Therefore, they began rearranging results. By 1929, the fixes had become so blatant that promoter Paul Bowser was paying Ed "Strangler" Lewis $115,000 to lose to a former Dartmouth football star named Gus Sonnenberg. This was necessary because, in real terms, the crowd-pleasing Sonnenberg couldn’t wrestle. Explained impresario Jacob "Jack" Pfefer, who promoted show wrestling as a highly profitable form of physical theater: "I tell them who should win."


Allied small arms ammunition production reaches a peak of 150 million rounds per week. This prodigious rate was required because riflemen expended hundreds of rounds per enemy killed, while anti-aircraft gunners expended hundreds of thousands of rounds per aircraft destroyed.

Toward reducing the power of traditional religious leaders, the Soviet government replaces the Russian Orthodox and Muslim calendars with Gregorian calendars. Then, in 1929, the Gregorian calendar is itself replaced by a secular calendar that omitted Saturday and Sunday and named the days for colors. Thus, one had "orange" and "purple" instead of "Tuesday" and "Thursday." However, even devout Communists disliked weeks without weekends. So on June 27, 1940, the Soviets returned to a modified Gregorian calendar.

Believing that physical exercises would create healthier workers and fitter soldiers, Bolshevik leaders encourage their workers and soldiers to exercise. In 1921, the Communists started providing formal training for coaches, and in 1923, they organized Dinamo (an acronym for "Voluntary Sport Society"). The original emphasis was on activities that required no special equipment or fields. Then, following a war scare in 1927 (the Soviets feared another Anglo-American invasion), the Communist Party started encouraging people to participate in "military sports" such as track, swimming, and automobile racing. But, as few Russians had access to motorcars or swimming pools, weight lifting and wrestling also were encouraged.

Koizumi Gunji establishes the Budokwai at 15 Lower Grosvenor Place in London. This was not Britain’s first judo club. That was probably Barton-Wright’s school. It was not even the first Kodokan judo school. That was the Cambridge University Jujutsu Club, which was organized about 1906. However, it was the first British judo club open to the general public that continued to operate into the 21st century. Koizumi’s chief instructor was Tani Yukio, the music hall wrestler whom Barton-Wright had brought to England in 1899. Tani spent four or five hours a day on the mats, and taught his students to constantly attack. "In one of my early contests at Cambridge I scored quickly with a foot throw," said Trevor Leggett, an early student, in an article published in Judo in 1955. "Then we went to the ground, where I got astride I clung on for the rest of the time, pretending to go for neck locks. With my one point I won my contest. Mr. Tani wouldn’t speak to me after the contest or on the way back to London with the team. But just as we were all separately to go home, he said, ‘Coward.’ It took me some time to get over that, but it was a good lesson." When the Budokwai affiliated with the Kodokan in 1920, Tani was awarded 2-dan rank. One has to agree with Graham Noble that Tani was probably "a real strong second-dan."

During a wrestling tournament at Kohlapur, India, the Great Gama gives his title of Rustam-i-Hind to his brother Imam Bux. This was not as magnanimous as it sounds, as Gama considered himself the champion of the world and his brother merely the champion of India. During the same tournament, a 19-year old wrestler called Goonga Pahelwan (literally, "Dumb Wrestler;" his given name was Ferozuddin, but disease had ruined his voice) defeats the Great Gama’s nephew Gama Kaloo. This caused considerable surprise, as low-caste upstarts did not usually embarrass wrestlers from a famous lineage by beating them during national tournaments. (Royal wrestling was not done solely for victory, but also to maintain the social status quo. The rajah was the patron of the art, and the merit of the victory accrued more to the patron than to the individual athlete. Therefore Goonga’s victory, while thrilling to the spectators, implied changes to traditional Indian society.)


Huo Yuan-chia of Tientsin establishes the Chin Wu Athletic Association in Shanghai. Although organized along the same lines as a YMCA, the nationalism of its founders was Chinese rather than North American or European. Therefore, its instruction included training in the Chinese martial arts rather than Swedish gymnastics or Canadian basketball.

Nishikubo Hiromichi becomes president of the martial art academy affiliated with the Dai Nippon Butokukai, and orders its name changed from Bujutsu Senmon Gakko to Budo Senmon Gakko. Subsequently, all Dai Nippon Butokukai publications refer to judo, kendo, and budo rather than jujutsu, gekken, and bujutsu.

Lakota veterans of World War I ask their tribal elders if their war experiences entitled them to wear eagle feathers in their hair. The consensus was that unless the returning soldiers had actually engaged in hand-to-hand combat, they could not wear eagle feathers. Said the survivors of the Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee, shooting cannons and ducking bullets was not the same as fighting men hand-to-hand.

Allied proclamations prohibit German civilians from owning firearms chambered in a military caliber. The result is the creation of various new cartridges such 8x60 Mauser that could be fitted into "sporterized" weapons (e.g., military weapons given just a touch of gunsmithing).

Katherine White-Cooper becomes the first woman to join the London judo club called the Budokwai. "The memory of early days at the club brings back many happy occasions," said White-Cooper thirty years later. "Perhaps especially choice were those evenings set aside for the only lady member, who thereby enjoyed exclusive practice with the Founder [Koizumi Gunji], with periods of rest when there could be delightful and unhurried talks, sitting quietly on the mats. What fine practice! What good talks!"

Observers report the Ifugao people of the Philippines using wrestling matches to resolve disputes over rice field boundaries. On an appointed day, the interested parties met at the disputed boundary and then had their champions wrestle at 15-25 foot intervals along that boundary. The wrestlers’ goal was to push the opponent down deep inside his own territory, as wherever he fell indicated the new boundary. While serious injuries were rare during these wrestling matches, as weapons were prohibited and the mud into which the men were thrown was at least two feet deep. Faction fights sometimes followed the wrestling matches, especially if one side or the other thought that it had lost too much land during the contest.

The chief entertainment at a Boy Scout encampment in Alabama is described as including "boxing and wrestling and other rough forms of sport, with the contestants in a semi-nude condition, and their faces streaked with dirt and perspiration." Similar encampments in Washington State during the 1930s included training with quarterstaffs – a bit like Robin Hood and Little John, one man remembered, but without any thrusting allowed. Such games were introduced because the Boy Scouts actively discouraged scoutmasters from teaching swimming and woodcraft, the swimming because unsupervised it resulted in too many drownings, and the woodcraft because so few Scouts or Scoutmasters knew any. Only 19% of US Boy Scouts of the 1920s camped overnight. When they did, it was usually in large council camps where the fires were started with kerosene and matches rather than small troop camps where two sticks were rubbed together. Indeed, sometimes during smaller encampments, "fires" lit by red incandescent bulbs frequently replaced the kerosene blazes. The boys, however, continued singing "Stout-hearted Men."

In order to give a cut over his eye time to heal, boxer Jack Dempsey starts wearing padded headgear. Because Dempsey won the fight he was training for in three, the practice quickly became standard during professional training and amateur fighting. Today it is required for amateur boxing, despite eidence suggesting that the padding increases rather than reduces fighters’ risk of permanent neurological injuries. Other controversial innovations introduced at the same Fourth of July fight between Jack Dempsey and Jess Willard included reserved seating for the ladies and a weapon collection point. The famous actress Ethel Barrymore ramrodded the former innovation, while an overweight Bat Masterson and a balding Wyatt Earp oversaw the latter. Earp, by the way, had been refereeing boxing matches since 1868. Western towns often held boxing or wrestling matches as Sunday morning entertainments, and gunslinging gamblers such as Earp and Masterson were hired to keep the proceedings orderly and the gambling honest. (The "quiet Sunday" movement only dates to the mid-1880s, and was part of a nativist movement aimed at keeping Central and Eastern European immigrants from having singing clubs and beer gardens.) Bayonet fighting was also featured at the Dempsey-Willard bout. The promoter was Major Anthony J.Drexel Biddle, a wealthy Philadelphia socialite who convinced the Marine Corps to lend him several reservists doing annual training for the occasion. Insufficiently rehearsed, the Marines’ demonstration drew jeers from the fight crowd.

After Billy Grupp, proprietor of Grupp’s Gymnasium on 116th Street and Eighth Avenue, accuses the Jews of starting World War I, the Jewish boxer Benny Leonard (real name: Benjamin Leiner) moves his camp to Marshall Stillman’s gym in Harlem, which was run by a Jew named Lou Ingber. As the world lightweight champion, Leonard drew a paying audience, and this caused Ingber to open a new Stillman’s Gym at 919 Eighth Avenue, between Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Streets, in 1921. The new gym was open seven days a week, including Christmas and Yom Kippur. It was filled with flat-nosed, tough talking boxers in sweatshirts and cigar-chomping gamblers in suits. Its features included its smell (which writer Sam Toperoff said included every foul male odor ever made) and the pistol-packing Ingber, who changed his name to Stillman and treated every fighter, champion or bum, the same -- badly. There was room around the two main rings for about 200 spectators. Fans, reporters, and trainers piled in for a 25¢ fee to watch both up-and-coming fighters and former champions train. That said, training and technique inside the gym often did not matter as much as one’s mob connections or ethnicity. (Mobsters often fixed fights during the 1920s, and blacks and Hispanics were often excluded from big paydays.) Stillman’s Gym closed in 1959, a victim of televised boxing and the middle-class exodus to the suburbs. Selling the gym, Stillman told reporter Al Braverman several years later, was the worst thing he ever did, as it left him with nobody to talk to, nobody to abuse.

About 1920:

Romantic fantasies in which Chinese heroes overcome foreign invaders through military prowess become popular in China. Although early stories simply updated plots first introduced in medieval stories such as The Water Margin, Chinese parents complained that such stories taught children that deceit, treachery, and cruelty achieved quicker results than honorable behavior. Thus, later stories were often original moral fables. One genre was sword-and-sorcery fantasy, the kind that featured flying swordsmen. Notable authors included Huan-chu-lou-chu, a pseudonym meaning, "Master of the Pavilion of the Returned Pearl," whose works include The Chivalrous Swordsmen of the Szechwan Mountains. The other major sub-genre was called military-chivalry (wu-hsia), and featured Bond-like heroes who defeated their foreign foes using superhuman skill in martial arts instead of magic. A notable author within this genre was Hsiang K’ai-jan, who wrote under the pen-name P’ing-chiang Pu-hsiao-shang ("The Unworthy Man of P’ing Chiang.") A trained boxer employed by the Nationalist government in Hunan Province, Hsiang reportedly became a Buddhist monk following World War II.

Rodney Gilbert of the North China News observes the soldiers of the Second Division of the Chinese Frontier Army during their training. The Chinese drill field was rolled smooth and hard. After calisthenics the men lifted stone dumb-bells, then engaged in partner-drills using swords and quarterstaffs, followed by jacket wrestling. All grips, trips, and leg-holds allowed, and landings were often hard. Hence the smooth field. After this, trained athletes fenced and lifted enormous weights. Finally, a few heroes broke bricks and roofing tiles with their hands, arms, and heads. General Ma Liang called such activities "The Chinese New Military Art." He added that they were useful for turning loutish recruits into alert, sensitive, highly disciplined soldiers ready to undergo any amount of training, fatigue, and hardship. One cannot help but wonder if the exercises were most useful for impressing visitors. In 1925, for example, journalist Frank O’Neill described a similar exhibition staged by the soldiers of the Manchurian warlord Chang Tso-lin. "Some of Chang’s soldiers were marvellous swordsmen, and were expert in defending themselves with naked hands against sword attack. At a command, one man, a giant in mould, stepped out, stripped down to a breech cloth, and a swordsman also stepped forth. The pair manoeuvered for a while, and the man with the rapier thrust The naked man pulled his head, as a boxer pulls his head, and in a trice disarmed his opponent. Men with lances next were sent against this naked wraithman, but although they thrust and cut, not once did they harm him. At the word of Chang Tso Ling, the naked warrior manoeuvered quickly, and taking a death hold on the lance man, might have cracked his neck, but for an order from the chief."

Three competent professional wrestlers associated with the 101 Ranch Show -- Joseph "Toots" Mondt, Billy Sandow, and Ed "Strangler" Lewis -- invent "Slam Bang Western Style Wrestling." This combined the showiest moves of boxing and Greco-Roman wrestling with the "old-time lumber camp fighting" done in Wild West shows. In other words, it was a carefully choreographed act designed to return more of the gate profits to the wrestlers and promoters. Jargon associated with their methods includes "shooting," meaning a match that the best wrestler won without previously arranging the ending; "working," meaning a match whose outcome was predetermined; "program," meaning a whole series of matches whose ultimate result was predetermined; "hook," meaning a match where someone who was supposed to lose decided to try to win, and "heat," meaning the wrestling and acting done to get the "marks" (e.g., the fans) all worked up.

Henry Steinborn introduces North American weightlifters to a German exercise known as the squat. Essentially, a deep knee bend with resistance, Steinborn liked this exercise tremendously, and in 1926, once performed 33 successive squats while carrying a barbell weighing 315 pounds. Steinborn’s ethnicity is not surprising. In 1927, Dietrich Wortmann of the German-American Athletic Club of New York was appointed US weightlifting’s first AAU chairman, and in 1929, Robert Knodle recalled many competitors speaking German better than English.

North American physical educators seek to prohibit college women from playing varsity sports. Why? Because they wanted women to play games emphasizing what Smith College’s Dorothy Ainsworth called "womanliness, fair play and self-control," and playing men’s games by men’s rules before paying audiences did not do any of those things. Favorite games for working- and middle-class women included track-and-field, baseball, and basketball, while upper-class women preferred tennis, golf, and swimming. Dance contests were also popular.

A strongwoman calling herself Tarabai travels about India, arguing that women could do anything men could do. "Her feats of strength testify to the indomitable courage and manliness [sic] of a powerful nation now adopting themselves to the exigencies of the time," said a circus poster of 1917 that advertised her act, or one very much like it. To prove her point, Tarabai allowed iron-wheeled carts to be driven over her thighs, lifted 500-pound weights with her braided hair, and pushed a fully loaded cart with her forehead. I do not know if this was the feminist Tarabai Shinde, whose tract, A Comparison between Women and Men, was first published in Marathi in 1882, or simply another woman using her name because it was well known. However, I suspect it was the latter.


A movie called The Mark of Zorro turns Douglas Fairbanks Sr. into Hollywood’s most famous swashbuckler. Sniffed Fairbanks’ egotistical stunt double, Aldo Nadi, "anyone with two legs and one arm -- and no brains -- can put up a more or less decent stage duel in a couple of weeks of not too difficult work." Among motion picture stars, only José Ferrer and Cornel Wilde got passing marks from Nadi -- and even they sensibly avoided open competition.

Chinese elementary schools begin teaching the vernacular (pai-hua) instead of classical (wen-yen) language.

With the support of Tammany Hall, veterans’ groups, and $500,000 worth of donations to various church groups (paid mostly by Anthony J. Drexel Biddle of Philadelphia), the New York State legislature passes the Walker Law. This law legalized prizefighting so long as it was supervised by the New York State Athletic Commission, and authorized matches in National Guard armories so long as all boxers belonged to the National Guard. The legalization was supposed to reduce the influence of organized crime. (Tammany boss Charles F. Murphy claimed that he was more opposed to vice than were his predecessors.) It was also supposed to ensure that the National Guard had a supply of boxing instructors in case of a future war. Yet, ironically, many boxers proved ineligible for military service due to injuries and the sponsor of the bill, State Senator Jimmy Walker, sailed for Europe in 1932 rather than face charges of influence peddling and graft.

A Toronto educator proposes that Canadian schoolteachers should be qualified to teach boxing. The proposal is ignored, mainly because it would have effectively prevented women from holding teaching positions.

In Georgia, a US Army officer named Allan Corstorphin Smith publishes The Secrets of Jujitsu: A Complete Course in Self Defense. The book, published as a series of pamphlets, was essentially Kodokan judo modified for a military recruit environment. Concepts introduced in this book included Stahara as an acronym for the Japanese shita hara, meaning abdomen. Stahara has since been replaced in most books by the more descriptive "centering," but it nevertheless remained in use in US military manuals until at least the 1950s.


In Jersey City, New Jersey, Jack Dempsey defeats the French boxer Georges Carpentier in four. Gene Tunney, who would later beat Dempsey (first in 1926 and again in 1927) fought on the undercard, scoring a seventh round knockout. (H.L. Mencken said he missed seeing Tunney’s bout, as at the time he was happily watching an attractive young woman in a low-cut pink dress.) The Dempsey-Carpentier fight owed its fame to three things. First, it was the first title fight to be broadcast live via radio. (Earlier prizefights broadcast by radio included Jack Dempsey versus Billy Miske on September 6, 1920, Joe Lynch versus Peter Herman on December 22, 1920, and Johnny Ray versus Johnny Dundee on April 11, 1921.) More importantly, Dempsey-Carpentier was the first fight to get 80,000 spectators and a million-dollar gate. (To give an idea of the purchasing power of a million dollars in those days, note that the estate of industrialist Andrew Carnegie was then valued at about $12 million.) Most importantly, promoter Tex Rickard worked the press like a master, to the point of giving cases of bootleg whiskey to any American journalist who would say good things about the fight. Structurally, Tunney’s advice on fighting was simple: In the ring, throw the first punch, ideally to the jaw, solar plexus, or cheek, preferably below the eye and near the nostril. Outside the ring, however, Tunney urged people to avoid fighting whenever that could be done honorably. For his part, Dempsey agreed, saying, "Learn early and learn good -- swing at nobody, unless you’re in a ring and getting paid." Once inside the ring, Dempsey suggested that you start the fight by pointing your left great toe toward the target and then taking a long, falling step toward the target while simultaneously shooting a half-opened left fist. Then, "as the relaxed left hand speeds toward the target, suddenly close the hand with a convulsive, grabbing snap." Make that work, said Dempsey, and the other fellow should "drop like a pole-axed steer."

Thai boxing bouts begin to feature raised platforms surrounded by ropes. The reason was that the platform and ropes kept the spectators from entering the ring. In 1929, however, the owner of the Suan Sanuk stadium introduced a Thai boxing ring with three ropes and padded corners, mostly because he also hoped to stage international boxing bouts.

Motobu Choki, an impoverished Okinawan aristocrat working as a security guard in Osaka, Japan, uses a te foreknuckle punch to knock out a much younger, much larger European boxer. The feat appeals to nationalist pride, and makes Motobu and karate famous in Japan.

Ueshiba Morihei opens a small dojo in Tokyo, where he taught aiki budo, or "The Unified Spirit Style Martial Way." Aiki budo differed from judo in several ways. First, it placed more emphasis on spirit than sport. (Ueshiba was a member of a heterodox religious group called Omotokyo.) Second, the players did not start out touching, but stayed apart. (The moment the aiki budo players touched, the outcome was supposedly almost determined.) Most importantly, aiki budo’s movement was spiraling. By way of contrast, karate and judo were viewed as being essentially linear. The difference was that aiki budo developed from fencing and spear fighting whereas karate and judo developed from boxing and wrestling. With patronage from several leading admirals, Ueshiba’s fame grew, and during the winter of 1931-1932, Ueshiba moved to a larger eighty tatami hall in Tokyo. Admiral Takeshita Isamu made the art’s first foreign demonstrations in the United States in October 1935. In 1942, Ueshiba moved his school to a seventeen-acre farm in Ibaragi prefecture. At the Ibaragi farm, Ueshiba renamed his style aikido, a name meaning the "Way of the Mind and Spirit in Harmony." According to Ueshiba, this was because the martial arts were meant "to nourish life and foster peace, love and respect, not to blast the world to pieces with weapons." Curiously, the idea only occurred to Ueshiba after the Japanese Army decided that people could master Shotokan karate’s groin-kicks faster than aiki jujutsu’s difficult grips, and therefore dismissed him from his teaching position at the Nakano school for spies. Japanese military intelligence had established the Nakano School for spies in 1938; its official name was "Training Unit for Rear Duties Agents." While the Japanese government wanted foreign studies, the school’s romantic young officers believed themselves to be modern-day ninjas. "Success in clandestine activity comes from integrity" was the unit motto. Accordingly, Nakano students studied martial arts and disguises as well as infiltration, propaganda, and sabotage, and some of the nonsense written about ninjutsu originated from this location. Why? In the words of historians Meirion and Susie Harries, "Many Japanese spies also tended toward the credulous." In this, the Japanese were hardly alone: Special Operations Executive and the Office of Strategic Services were Nakano’s British and American equivalents.

A party of touring Americans that included boxer Jack Dempsey and sportswriter Damon Runyon watch a pair of female prizefighters fight in a Berlin café. The women, some of whom were aged as young as sixteen years, wore five-ounce gloves, woolen caps, kilted skirts, jumpers, shirtwaists, short woolen socks, and very solid rubber shoes. The ring was pitched in the middle of a dance floor, and the bouts were scheduled for six rounds of three minutes each. While the Germans enjoyed the spectacle (the result was a knockout in the sixth), Dempsey and Runyon did not. ("All I can tell you," said Dempsey, "is I guess I’d rather box myself than watch other people fight.") Nevertheless, five German female boxers successfully toured US vaudeville houses in 1924. Steffie Bernert of Berlin was the leader of this latter group.

The Féderation Sportive Féminine Internationale (FSFI) is established in Geneva. Essentially a track-and-field organization for middle-class women, it was unique for its day because its leader was a woman, Alice Milliat of France.

The International Amateur Wrestling Federation (FILA) is reestablished in Geneva. Although dominated by the French, a former British featherweight champion named Percy Longhurst was named its first leader. Accordingly, its two official styles were Greco-Roman and catch-as-catch-can, modified by the addition of Greco-Roman rules concerning falls and riding time.

Ames, Iowa hosts the first dual meet between United States high school wrestling teams. The promoter was an Iowa State educator and former Yale wrestler named Charles Mayser; the Cedar Rapids coach was the legendary Farmer Burns.

In a paper called "The Physical Test of a Man," a Harvard professor named Dudley Allen Sargent reports that the average male freshman has a vertical jump of about 18 inches, while the average female freshman has a vertical jump of about 15 inches. While individuals vary widely and athletes of both genders have since doubled those records, the statistical average woman still possesses just 72% of the leg strength and 60% of the lower back strength per inch of height as her male counterpart.


After hearing a debate featuring the Russian mystic Georgei Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, Alfred Orage becomes interested in Sufism and other non-Western philosophies. Arcane blends of these philosophies then become known as "New Age," after the name of the influential literary magazine that Orage edited from 1907-1922.

After finding no military interest in his .45 caliber "Trench Brooms," American inventor John T. Thompson starts marketing Auto Ordnance sub-caliber machine guns to the New York Police Department and the Texas Rangers. Yet police interest was limited, and consequently many of the first 15,000 Tommy guns sold ended up in the hands of the Irish Republican Army, bootleggers, strikebreakers, and Hollywood prop departments. Still, toward combating bootleggers and train robbers armed with such weapons, in 1926 the US Coast Guard and Marine Corps started acquiring their own Tommy guns. The weapons were also sold to the British during World War II, and by the time production officially stopped in 1986, hundreds of thousands had been made. Technically, Tommy guns were reliable but heavy (fully loaded, early versions weighed 15 pounds) and expensive (in 1939, a new one cost $209).

Organized ch’uan fa classes are offered to members of the Chinese Physical Culture Association in Honolulu. Membership in these classes was limited to people of Chinese descent.

Funakoshi Gichin publishes Ryukyu Kempo Karate ("The Chinese Boxing of Okinawa") in Tokyo. This was the first Japanese-language text to describe karate in detail. (Karate Goshinjutsu [1917] and Karate Goshin Hijutsu [1921] by Myuoken Kensai described unarmed, or "empty-handed," combat rather than "Chinese-hand methods." Consequently, they are not karate books, but Great War self-defense texts.) Funakoshi’s early students included Obata Isao, who joined Funakoshi’s karate club at Keio University in 1924. Obata later helped Funakoshi establish other karate clubs in Japan, and was a co-founder of the Japan Karate Association in 1949. During the 1950s, Obata toured the United States as part of a US Air Force training team, and during the 1960s, his student Ohshima Tsutomu was a leader of Southern California karate.

A Norwegian diplomat named Lauritz Grønvold undertakes judo studies at the Kodokan in Tokyo. Upon leaving Japan six years later, Grønvold receives his black belt at a ceremony attended by the Emperor, making him the first (and perhaps only) European to be so honored. Other Norwegian judo pioneers included Haakon Schonning, who started teaching Fairbairn’s defendu system to Norwegian policemen in 1929. In Sweden, pioneers include Viking Cronholm, who introduced jujutsu to Stockholm as early as 1908, and his students Alex Wiemark, Arthur Lidberg, and Ernst Wessman. Jacques Rigolet introduced Kawaishi's methods to Stockholm in 1948, and in 1957, the Dutch judoka Gerhard Gosen also started clubs in Sweden. Danish pioneers include Knud Janson, who established a judo organization in Copenhagen in 1944. Finally, in Finland, Torsten Muren established a judo club in Helsinki in 1958. Early Scandinavian instructors were usually foreign: British at the Norwegian clubs, French at the Danish clubs, German, French, or Dutch at the Swedish clubs, and Japanese at the Finnish clubs.

Nat Fleischer starts Ring magazine in New York City. As Fleischer would have put it, this fistic extravaganza soon becomes the Bible of North American boxing.

The Senegalese boxer Louis Phal, the "Battling Siki," defeats Georges Carpentier, and in the process becomes black Africa’s first boxing champion. Sadly, Siki was shot to death soon after in a bar fight. During the 1950s, Jacob N'tuli of South Africa was the first black African to win an Empire championship. More recently the Biafran Richard Ihetu (who fought as Dick Tiger) and the Ghanaian Azumah Nelson also gained international renown.

In San Francisco, Gobar Goho defeats Al Santel to become the first Asian to win a "World Professional Wrestling Championship." Unfortunately, there were a lot of so-called world champions during the 1920s, as becoming a "world champion" was simply a first step toward arranging a well paid fixed match with Ed "Strangler" Lewis in Madison Square Garden. Why did legitimate wrestlers such as Goho go along with the scam? As 1924 Olympic gold medallist Russell Vis quickly discovered, you either wrestled show or you found another line of work. While injuries were frequent, the pay was quite good. In his 1937 book called The Barnums of Bounce, Marcus Griffin noted that an outstanding independent wrestler such as Fred Grubmeier earned around $15,000 a year, while good-looking young men who knew nothing about wrestling but did whatever the promoters told them might take home $30,000 a year. As for crowd favorites such as Jimmy Londos and Danno O’Mahoney, they were grossing $150,000 a year, which was considerably more heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. Seventy years later, heavyweight boxer Tommy Morrison explained boxing mathematics to journalist Arlene Schulman. "I would fight for an $80,000 or $100,000 purse. My manager would give me 67 percent, and then 40 percent went for taxes. There would be a fight for $100,000, and my end would be about $22,000." Morrison’s was a generous manager: many demanded half the purse rather than a third. What did most managers do to earn these princely paychecks? Mostly call time and wipe sweat.

By eliminating strangle holds, full-nelsons, toe-holds, and twisting arm-locks, the AAU turns catch-as-catch-can wrestling into a less-dangerous sport known as American free-style. The driving force behind the change the Iowa State coach, a former professional wrestler named Hugo Otopalik. American free-style had somewhat different rules than Olympic free-style. In American free-style, the shoulders had to be held on the mat for three seconds for a fall, while in the Olympics, the shoulders hitting the mat constituted a fall. (The French were particularly proud of their neck bridges.) American matches of the era lasted 10 minutes while Olympic matches lasted 15 minutes. The first 6 minutes were standing wrestling. The second 6 minutes was ground wrestling, with the players switching who started on top after 3 minutes. This was followed by a final 3-minute period of standing wrestling. (This final period no longer exists.) The mats used for these matches were canvas stuffed with horse-hair. Training included ten miles a day of roadwork, plus rope skipping, rope-climbing, and lots of push-ups and neck bridges. Outside the American Midwest, there was little formal training save what could be found inside dog-eared copies of Wrestling and Physical Culture by Frank Gotch and Farmer Burns. Also, at the YMCA or police gym level, a mat was a tarpaulin thrown over sawdust and training consisted of as much beer drinking as wrestling. These mats were often filthy, too. Therefore, mat burns often became infected, causing boils or trachoma.


An Albanian woman is sentenced to a year and a half in prison for killing a man suspected of causing the shooting death of her son. The woman’s crime was not the homicide itself (which was justifiable under Albanian common law), but the fact that she was not a male. This paternalistic response is mentioned as a partial explanation of why vengeance-seeking women in blood-feuding societies traditionally had to raise equally vengeful sons or marry homicidal men in order to accomplish their sanguinary goals. Worth noting is that the act of violence typically did not incite onlookers to violence; instead, it rooted them to the ground with shock and fear. Indeed, it often required a man’s neighbors pointedly asking him if his spouse was interested in having sexual relations with a real man to make him undertake a revenge killing. This supports the suspicion that violence is due more to social pressure than to instinct, and that the hot-blooded killers are more common in comic books and movies than real life. Nevertheless, this was not always the case, and on Easter Sunday, 1890, fourteen Albanians died during an hour-long gun battle that followed an argument about a rifle cartridge. Of course, such sectarian violence is hardly unique to the Balkans. On November 8, 1921, for instance, nine men were killed and six others were wounded during a dispute over whether a woman named Liza Sizemore could vote during a school board election in Clayhole, Kentucky.

During the first round of a wild fight, Jack Dempsey knocks down Luis Angel Firpo five times and Firpo sends Dempsey flying into the sportswriters’ typewriters. One outcome of this was the introduction of boxing’s "neutral corner" rule, which required boxers to go to the farthest neutral corner of the ring prior to a referee beginning his ten-count. While misunderstandings of this rule contributed to Dempsey’s defeat during the famous "Long Count" battle with Gene Tunney in 1927, bad managerial decisions played a bigger part.

With government support, amateur boxing clubs appear throughout the Soviet Union, and by the late 1920s, there are boxing gyms in Moscow, Odessa, and other major Soviet cities. By the time the first All-Union boxing championships were held in 1934, the best boxer in the country was said to be light-heavyweight Viktor Mikhailov, who began boxing in 1925 and boasted a record of 68-6.

A. H. Wyman, the welfare director of Carnegie Steel, tells the readers of Playground magazine that factory sponsorship of sports improved worker efficiency. What this meant was that factory owners had found that people who played for factory teams or who used factory athletic facilities were less likely to become union agitators. Factory sports included baseball, basketball, bowling, golf, shooting, swimming, track, and tennis.

The YMCA, the United States military, and the Boy Scouts unite to create the National Amateur Athletic Federation (NAAF). The NAAF’s stated purpose was to put an end to the commercialism of amateur sport, but its true purpose was to end AAU control over North American amateur sport. The NAAF opposed women’s athletics. Why? Partly because physicians warned against women threatening their reproductive abilities through overexertion, partly because religious leaders feared that sport would turn respectable young ladies into muscle-bound hussies, and mainly because middle-class parents wanted to shield their daughters from the business sponsorship, community boosters, and media coverage that commercial athletics required.


Margaret Simkin, a Quaker missionary living in Szechwan Province, describes the initiation ceremonies of Buddhist monks as consisting largely of burning nine small spots on the initiates’ shaven heads. This is mentioned as a reminder that in China and Japan, elaborate tattoos and arm-burning rituals are not associated with monks, but with gangsters.

Japan’s Ministry of Home Affairs announces the establishment of a national athletic festival called the Meiji Jingu Championship Games. Its purpose of mobilizing Japanese youth. Games included judo, kendo, archery, and sumo. In Japan, martial arts and combative sports were viewed as paramilitary instruction. Thus, in 1925, military officers were assigned to elementary and middle schools to ensure a proper attitude by teachers. Over the next decade, fascism became further entrenched in Japan, and in 1937, the Ministry of Education decided that in interests of National Spiritual Mobilization (its term), no sport was to be played solely for amusement. Over the next few years, kyudo came to be described as a waste of time, and professional sumo was stopped because its facilities were being used to manufacture balloon bombs. That said, the Japanese military continued to encourage amateur sumo (and boxing, judo, kendo and cognate participant sports), on the ground that they built fighting spirit.

The Okinawa Tode Research Club opens in Naha, Okinawa. This organization brought together such pro-Japanese karate teachers as Hanashiro Chomo, Kyan Chotoku, Mabuni Kenwa, Miyagi Chojun, Motobu Choki, and Yabu Kentsu, and essentially codified modern karate-do. (In the pre-World War II Japanese political lexicon, the -do suffix meant a martial art whose stated purpose is the building of character, as opposed to one whose stated purpose was winning contests or fights.) Of course, not everyone agreed with the changes, and this resulted in the creation of a rival club devoted to preserving and protecting the Ryukyuan language, culture, and ways. The latter club was known as the Ryukyu Koshirenmei, or "Federation of Masters of the Old Tradition," and unlike the Tode Research Club, it still exists.

Funakoshi Gichin establishes Japan’s first collegiate karate club at Tokyo’s prestigious Keio University. While kata ("forms") were taught from the first, training in fighting only came during the 1930s. Changes in the way these kata were done over time are shown in Egami Shigeru’s 1976 book, The Heart of Karate-dô.

A German professor named Eugen Herrigel begins teaching European philosophy at the Tohoku Higher School in Sendai. Shortly afterwards, Herrigel also began studying kyudo, or Japanese archery, under Awa Kenzo, as a way of learning more about Japanese culture. As Herrigel didn’t speak Japanese well, his interpreter was a Japanese law professor named Komachiya Sozo. Upon returning home to Germany in 1929, Herrigel wrote a famous book called Zen in the Art of Archery. Ironically, neither Awa nor Komachiya had any training in Zen. However, Herrigel was personally interested in mysticism, and so his imagination colored Awa’s explanations. Consequently, the much less pretentious book on ikebana, or flower arranging, written by Herrigel’s wife Gustie is actually the more profound.

At the Paris Olympics, a Japanese judoka and former Penn State wrestler named Naito Katsutoshi wins a bronze medal in Olympic free-style wrestling. Although the Japanese judo community was unimpressed, a young judoka named Hatta Ichiro was thrilled, and in April 1932 the 25-year old Hatta organized the Greater Japan Amateur Wrestling Association. Wrestlers sent to the 1932 Olympics included Hatta and another from this association, three from the Kodokan (including Kotani Sumiyuki, 5-dan, and a Seattle 4-dan named Eitaro Suzuki), and two from the Greater Japan Wrestling Association. But the judoka did not do well at the 1932 Olympics. In Japan, most people attributed this to a lack of spirit on the part of the wrestlers and continued to view freestyle as a weak sister of judo. However, judo and freestyle are two separate games, and realizing this, Hatta and another wrestler named Kazama trained in Germany during 1935 and 1936. Consequently, by 1937 the Japanese wrestlers were good enough to beat a visiting team from California’s San Jose State University, and Australian teams after that. World War II ruined any Japanese hopes of Olympic medals between 1940 and 1948, but in 1952, five of Hatta’s athletes won medals. Hatta’s theories of training were idiosyncratic. For example, none of his wrestlers could drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes if they hoped to be named to an international team. Furthermore, he required wrestlers to sleep standing up with the lights on, and if they lost, he had them shave off all their hair as a reminder of their shame. Finally, he believed that techniques from aikido and kendo were of value. From aikido, he taught the principles of using centrifugal force during standing techniques and from kendo, he borrowed the idea of ma’ai, or proper judging of distance. (The latter led to his wrestlers’ famous staring contests with lions.) Hatta remained estranged from the judo community, however, mostly because he regularly said that the Kodokan had become a greenhouse rather than a testing ground for new techniques.

Ovaltine, a cocoa-flavored nutritional supplement, becomes the Olympics’ first commercial sponsor. The idea took off, and by 1932, football and Olympic stars such as Red Grange and Dorothy Poynton Hill were routinely endorsing cigarettes and swimming suits. Because most athletes came from working class backgrounds, the large sums of money offered by the commercial sponsors for these endorsements put them under considerable pressure to win at any cost. Meanwhile, US Olympic Committee rules regarding professionalism told the same athletes that it was necessary to lie about accepting endorsement contracts, because if they told the truth, then they would be kicked off the team.

To increase newspaper sales, the Chicago Tribune hosts a major amateur boxing tournament. In 1927, the New York Daily News copies the idea, and the Daily News sportswriter Paul Gallico calls the result the "Golden Gloves."


Jack Dempsey refuses to fight Harry Wills, "the Black Menace," for the heavyweight championship of the world. The reason was not that Dempsey doubted that he could win, but that he refused to fight for small gates. (As Dempsey’s promoter Tex Rickard often said, in the United States during the Klan-dominated 1920s, "A black heavyweight champion would not be worth a bucket of warm piss." Therefore, there was no money in promoting the fight.)

To photograph prizefights in Madison Square Garden, photographers shot from the balconies established for circus lights. The cameras used were 4x5 Graflexes with 12" lenses. Pictures were shot using available light. Photographer Sam Andre remembered that "a knockdown was the best bet for a good picture as the action slowed up enough to conform with the slow speed in which the camera had to be operated." Hence the modern fascination with knockouts.

So that French wrestlers would have a better chance at bringing home Olympic gold, the French make Greco-Roman wrestling the official wrestling style of the FILA. They also devised Olympic rules for what they called la lutte libre, or "free-style wrestling." Unsurprisingly, free-style rules mirrored Greco-Roman rules, thus making the sport alien to most American and Commonwealth wrestlers.

After Ed "Strangler" Lewis is thrown from the ring and refuses to reenter, saying that he is injured, University of Nebraska football star Wayne "Big" Munn becomes the first "World Wrestling Champion" to have no real wrestling ability. Munn was selected for this distinction because he was very popular with the ladies. As an indication of relative ability, Munn lost to the aging Stanislaus Zbyszko in 12 minutes during a double-cross done in April 1925. Zbyszko then lost to the equally elderly Gama the Great in less than a minute in January 1928. The winning technique: a flying mare. This victory was not a fluke: in February 1929, Gama defeated a Scandinavian wrestler named Jess Peterson in 1 minute, 45 seconds.

Prize cups are introduced to sumo. Because Crown Prince (and later Emperor) Hirohito presented the prize to the champion in the highest division, the trophies became known as the Emperor’s Cup. However, the wrestlers preferred cash to trophies, and in 1931, the entire west camp refused to dress their hair properly or attend tournaments in Tokyo until their disputes over pay were resolved.

Amateur weightlifter Bob Hoffman organizes a weightlifting contest at the YMCA in York, Pennsylvania. Because he won the heavyweight division by default (the lightweight entrant lifted more poundage), Hoffman, the future head of the US Olympic weightlifting team, subsequently touted this contest as the first North American championship.

Ch’en Wei-ming starts the "Achieving Softness Boxing Association" (Chih-Jou Ch’uan She) in Shanghai. This introduced t’ai chi ch’uan into Southern China. In 1929, Ch’en also introduces hsing-i and pa kua ch’uan into Shanghai by inviting Sun Lu-t’ang to teach there. Ch’en wrote several important books, including Art of T’ai Chi (1925), T’ai Chi Sword (1927), and Questions and Answers on T’ai Chi Boxing (1929). In the 1927 book, Ch’en wrote, "There are many schools of boxing, but only the Wu Tang school is pure nei-chia (‘inner family’)." In the 1929 book, he wrote that there were five things one needed to become a successful boxer. "1. You must believe in it, allowing no doubt to creep in. 2. Once you’ve selected a teacher, respect him and what he teaches. 3. Without perseverance, you can do nothing. 4. Be patient so that if five years doesn’t work, use ten; if in ten years you don’t succeed, use twenty years. If you are not brilliant, you may not quickly succeed, but if you have great patience, you will inevitably get it. 5. You must be humble. Even if you have some achievement don’t be proud. Every martial art is unique. You must be humble in order to study and then you can know yourself and others. Do not let pride underwrite your failure."

A Chinese woman named Lai Choi-san becomes notorious for directing piratical attacks from a base near Hong Kong. To Americans, this is significant because journalist Aleko Lilius’s colorful descriptions of her activities were apparently among the inspirations for the Dragon Lady character in Milton Caniff’s cartoon strip, Terry and the Pirates. Still, while Caniff’s Dragon Lady was a wily seductress drawn to look like an Asian Marlene Dietrich, published photographs showed Lai as a tough-looking woman armed with a bolt-action rifle. This was typical, as before the 1970s, many Europeans and North Americans equated female athleticism or physical toughness with ugliness. For instance, the French press described tennis star Suzanne Lenglen as "ugly but beautiful," while New York sportswriter Paul Gallico repeatedly called golfer Babe Didrickson "thin-lipped in a hatchet face."

In a book called The Great Pacific War, a British journalist named Hector Bywater outlines a possible Japanese campaign of military conquest in the Pacific. Because the Japanese in Bywater’s book started their war with a surprise attack, The Great Pacific War has been suggested as a possible model for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. However, a British aerial attack on an Italian naval base at Taranto in November 1940 was the actual source of inspiration for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

As one of the benefits of Prohibition, Perry County, Kentucky, averages one alcohol-related killing a week. Arrests were few and prison sentences averaged less than four years. On the other hand, Perry County turkey thieves averaged two years hard time, and rarely got parole. Although one can talk about how the alcohol-related killings were "honor-based," the difference in jail sentences had more to do with the killers being white and the turkey thieves being black.


An Okinawan youth named Kinjo Hiroshi begins studying karate. In an interview published in Journal of Asian Martial Arts in 1994 Kinjo recalled that his teachers "Hanashiro and Oshiro both taught that inner-discovery through karate enhanced the value of life and of the world in which one dealt. They maintained that by transcending ego-related distractions, one could easily get beyond the immediate results of physical training and discover the world within." At the time Kinjo probably didn’t fully appreciate the meaning of those words, as in 1926 he was aged about seven years. But, like many people, as he grew older he came to focus on character development rather than competition, bodybuilding, or self-defense as the purpose of his martial art training.

A nineteen-year old Korean man named Lee Won Kuk goes to Japan to study. Later, while a law student at Chuo University, he studied karate under Funakoshi Gichin, and in 1944, he began teaching Shotokan karate in Seoul, where his students included Jhoon Rhee and Choi Hong Hi. Other taekwondo pioneers who trained in Shotokan during the 1930s and early 1940s included Chun Sang Sup and Ro Byung Jick. The equally redoubtable Yoon Byung In meanwhile trained in the Shudokan of Toyama Kanken.

The Kodokan opens its women’s section. In accordance with contemporary medical theories, the women’s judo was, in the words of Rusty Glickman, a New Yorker who trained in the Kodokan’s women’s dojo in 1962, "a much more refined, milder form than the men."

The Nichibei (Japanese-American) Boxing Club is established in Tokyo. By 1936, the Japanese boxers, whose teachers had learned the game in San Francisco, were good enough to place fifth in the Olympic bantamweight and lightweight divisions. Shirai Yoshio won the world professional flyweight title in 1951, and Harada Masahiko owned the flyweight and bantamweight titles during the mid-1960s. The Nichibei club also had a few female members. The best known was Ishida Masako, a 135-pounder who wanted to turn professional in 1931, but was prevented by the police.

The American trick shooter Annie Oakley is quoted as saying that, "outside of heavy, manual labor, anything a man can do a woman can do practically as well. Certainly this is true in the use and manipulation of firearms. As I have taught nearly 15,000 women how to shoot, I modestly feel that I have some right to speak with assurance on this subject." Oakley was hardly a liberal or a feminist, but instead, in the words of her biographer Shirl Kasper, an abused child grown into a prideful woman.

Using a lead styphnate formulation that eliminated potassium chlorate, the German chemist Edmund von Herz patents non-corrosive center-fire primers. Introduced into North America the following year under the Remington trade name Kleenbore, Herz’s non-corrosive primers dramatically increased the storage life of small arms ammunition and reduced damage to the mechanisms of improperly cleaned weapons. As for what this meant to shooters, statistics compiled by the Shanghai Municipal Police show that corrosively-primed semi-automatic pistol cartridges misfired at a rate of about two per 10,000. Meanwhile, corrosively primed revolver cartridges misfired at a rate of about four per 10,000. These failure rates increased for ammunition carried daily for more than four months or stored without climate controls for more than two years. On the other hand, the shelf life for factory-loaded non-corrosively primed ammunition is measured in decades rather than years, and the chief cause of failure (at least in self-loading weapons) is bad magazines.


William Burdick, one of the founders of the American Academy of Physical Education, writes in American Physical Education Review that the bruising and scarring caused by physical contact during athletic games caused female neuroses. While one wonders why domestic violence, unplanned parenthood, and forced strippings during physical education classes were not greater threats to adolescent psyches, evidently no one thought to ask that.

The Italian military introduces static line parachute jumping. This greatly facilitated military parachuting, and so in August 1930, the Soviets began experimenting with parachuting commandos into rear areas during exercises. This proved successful, and so in December 1932, the Soviets started creating parachute brigades. Following the Soviet lead, in 1936 the Germans also began training parachute and glider infantry. In May 1940, the German parachutists and glider infantry were able to quickly capture a series of vital bridges in Belgium and Holland, and this German success prompted the British and Americans to begin organizing comparable units. In Britain, the paratroop pioneers came from No. 2 Commando, while in the United States, they came from the 29th Infantry Division. The towers that the Americans used (and for that matter, still use) to conduct their practice jumps were originally amusement park rides built for the 1939 New York world’s fair.

Chiang Kai-shek hires Shanghai’s notorious Green Gang to break up the labor unions operating in and around the International Settlement. (Chiang and his foreign financiers were horrified by the unreasonableness of the union leaders’ demands, which included asking for twelve-hour workdays and six-day workweeks.) After the gangsters prove to be good strikebreakers, their leader Tu Yüeh-sheng is rewarded with the rank of major general and the title of "public welfare worker." With Japanese support, General Tu then takes control over the Chinese opium business, a position that he did not relinquish even following his precipitous flight to Hong Kong in 1948. Membership in this gang was known as "entering the monastery," and paying dues was known as "making vows." As with many things in twentieth century China, the symbolism came from the novel called The Water Margin.

The New York State Athletic Commission authorizes ringside physicians to stop boxing matches in which a participant appears to be in danger of serious injury, a privilege formerly reserved only for referees. The proximate cause was the ring death of the New York featherweight boxer Benny Kenwood.

After finding blows from four-by-fours and sledgehammers to be as feeble as Jack Dempsey’s body punching, Frank "Cannonball" Richards, lets himself be shot in the stomach with a nine-inch cannonball weighing 104 pounds. The resulting impact, which delivered about 2,100 foot-pounds, was such that Richards tried to avoid repeating the performance more than twice a day. Similar abdominal strength was also reported in Taiwan during the 1960s, where Robert W. Smith observed Wang Shu-chin, a Chinese boxer with an equally ample (and muscular) midriff.

Toward make ch’uan fa an integral part of twentieth century Chinese nationalism, the directors of the Nanking Central Martial Art Institute rename boxing kuo shu, or "national techniques."

Manoel dos Reis Machado, or Mestre Bimba, starts teaching capoeira to private students, and five years later he opens a Centro de Cultura Física e Capoeira Regional ("Center for Physical Culture and Capoeira Regional") in Salvador, Brazil. In 1937, the Brazilian Office of Education and Public Assistance formally approves his program of instruction. Toward gaining this acceptance, Mestre Bimba first worked to acquire players from Bahia’s middle and upper classes. He did this by discouraging street performances and gang fights, introducing graduation ceremonies, and by moving training off the docks and into houses. Mestre Bimba also introduced uniforms. These consisted of bare feet and white T-shirts and trousers. (Previously players had worn whatever they had on, including shoes and dress shirts.) The white clothing was used to prove winners and losers, as the object of the game was (and is) to make the opponent fall, thus soiling the seat of his pants.


A New York City bodybuilder known as Charles Atlas begins to get rich by directing his "Dynamic-Tension" weight-training program toward men and boys tired of bullies kicking sand in their faces. These "dynamic-tension" exercises were similar to some of the body-building exercises used by Chinese monks and Naha karate teachers, and were supposedly inspired by the same thing, namely lions stretching. But this is probably just advertising hype, as Dr. Frederick Tilney of Hollywood, Florida designed the Atlas program in 1922.

As the Bolsheviks objected to the elitism of the Olympics, the Soviets boycotted all pre-war Olympic Games. On the other hand, the Bolsheviks were not against rewarding physical culture. Accordingly, they soon organized their own socialist sport festivals known as Spartakiads. (The name honored a German socialist movement crushed in 1919.) To distinguish Spartakiads from the Olympics, organizers included folk sports such as dancing and regional wrestling. In 1930, for instance, when the Spartakiad was held in Soviet Central Asia, Khakass rules were used, and the men dressed in trousers, buttonless shirts, soft shoes, and belts. There were no weight divisions, and a wrestler who won (which meant taking two out of three falls) had to face successive challengers until there were no more. Despite the promoters’ intentions, the socialist athletes were usually white-collar workers (38.7%) or students (16.4%) rather than workers (28.7%) or soldiers (8.8%). Furthermore, soccer was the only event that attracted sizable crowds. (Hockey did not draw crowds until the late 1940s, nor did basketball until the late 1950s.) So by the mid-1930s, the folk dancing and regional wrestling were quietly moved over to the annual physical culture parades.

Dr. A. J. ("Jack") Ross introduces Kodokan judo to Brisbane, Australia. A physically imposing six-footer, Ross studied judo from the age of fourteen while living with his parents in Japan. Although Ross tried to popularize judo in Australia by holding wrestling matches at fairs, he found little interest in his methods until World War II, when the Australian Army hired him to teach hand-to-hand combat. Sue Hendy, who took the gold in the 1978 world championships, is the perhaps the best-known post-WWII Australian judo practitioner.

An article in a Seattle newspaper called the Japanese-American Courier says that there are few non-Japanese who had ever learned judo to a successful degree. Therefore, judo is an art peculiarly fitted for the Japanese. Continued the anonymous editorialist, "Judo is materially the same as jiu jitsu in practical methods but the difference lies in the theories of instruction and learning. Judo trains not only the physical, as jiu jitsu, but also the mental side of a person. This mental side of the training probably has a great deal to do in wrestlers of other nationalities not being able to become adept in the art." Curiously, the Japanese American editorialist didn’t continue his argument to describe why Japanese and Japanese Americans were rarely as good at boxing as Koreans or Filipinos.

Sumotori are limited to ten minutes for warming up and psyching out their opponents. The reason was that longer periods caused radio listeners to change stations. The current preparation time of four minutes dates to 1950, and the post-World War II resumption of live radio broadcasts.

The NCAA holds its first official NCAA wrestling tournament in Ames, Iowa. The winning team was from Oklahoma Agricultural and Mining (now Oklahoma State), and coached by a former Iowa wrestler named Edward Gallagher. And during the next 57 years, a school from either Oklahoma or Iowa would win all but three NCAA national championships.

With the patronage of some local merchants, an illiterate laborer named Venkappa Sidu Burud embarks on a professional wrestling career. After he wins some notable victories, Sir Tukoji Rao, the Maharajah of Indore, hires Venkappa as one of his wrestlers. Being a Hindu, Venkappa often did not share in the earnings of the other wrestlers, most of whom were Muslim. The practice of paying wrestlers as individuals rather than as members of schools started about the same time as maharajahs started moving from downtown castles to country estates. While famous champions routinely shared money with relatives, they were not likely to share money with newcomers who were not co-religionists. So, having two wives and seven children, Venkappa eventually ended up moving south to Delhi in search of better pay. Venkappa’s training methods were orthodox. That is, he got up at 3 a.m. and did 3,000 deep knee bends. Then he wrestled for an hour and a half. In the afternoon, he also did 1,500 dipping pushups and got a massage. His diet consisted of six pounds of mutton and a gallon of milk a day, reinforced by an additional three hens a day when preparing for matches.

Chibana Chosin of Shuri, Okinawa, starts calling his Itosu-style karate "Kobayashi Shorin-ryu." The name means "Small Pine Tree Style," and uses a Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese characters for Shaolin.

General Douglas MacArthur, President of the United States Olympic Committee, refuses to let allow the US Olympic boxing team to protest poor officiating by withdrawing from competition, saying, "Americans don’t quit."

After suffering amnesia for three days following a blow to the head, heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney decides to retire from the ring. The story prompted the publication of an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association that described "punch drunkenness" as a medical condition common among ex-champions who tried to make a comeback or sluggers who prided themselves on being able to take a good punch. Early symptoms of the condition included vertigo, nausea, and amnesia. If the fighter stopped fighting at this stage, then no additional problems were likely. On the other hand, if he persisted (which he normally did), then he began showing an increasing loss of gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination. If he still persisted, eventually uncontrollable muscular tremors and a near-total loss of cognitive functions would force his retirement. Although boxing officials said punch drunkenness was nothing but a slick medical cliché, research shows that most boxers exhibit some symptoms of the condition within five years of starting to fight.

Nationalist China’s First National Educational Conference resolves that the purpose of education is to develop character, patriotism, and physical vigor. Under the influence of German military advisors, the Nationalist government consciously opted to stress military drill rather than Anglo-American athletic games. Chinese parents, preferring traditional Chinese pedagogy to anything foreign, resisted both drilling and games. Toward satisfying everyone, Dr. Chu Min-yi, chief secretary of the Kuomintang executive council, said that the Chinese should use t’ai chi ch’uan as a method of keeping fit, and then toured the country showing his big, flowery methods to police and students. The brother-in-law of the pro-Japanese Wang Ching-wei, Chu became China’s puppet ambassador to Japan after the Sino-Japanese war started in 1937.

A baseball team with a female member (Margaret Gisolo of Blanford, Indiana) reaches the championship round of the American Legion Junior Baseball Tournament, which causes the American Legion to subsequently prohibit girls from playing on boys’ baseball teams.

In Bisley, England, Marjorie Foster (a sculptress turned poultry farmer) outshoots 99 soldiers, sailors, and airmen to become the only woman to ever win the King’s Prize for military rifle shooting. Her total score was 101 of a possible 105, but said Foster afterwards: "I was just treating this as a pleasant afternoon’s shooting." Female sharpshooters were common in the United States and the Commonwealth during the twentieth century. For example, in 1956, Mrs. Leon Mandel of Chicago broke three world records. In 1963, fashion model Sheila Egan won the United States trap-shooting championship. And in 1970, Captain Margaret Murdock of the US Army won the world small-bore championships. But when Murdock narrowly missed winning an Olympic gold medal in small-bore rifle in 1976, national Olympic Committees from several Third World countries complained, and in 1984 the International Olympic Committee ordered the separation of men’s and women’s shooting events. "It’s kind of sad," said Lanny Bassham, a fellow soldier who outscored Murdock by one point to win the gold in 1976. "I was the champion of the whole world, men and women. Now you can be only the men’s or the women’s champion."


Seishiro "Henry" Okazaki of Kahului, Maui, publishes The Science of Self-defense of Girls & Women. The method shown was Kodenkan, or Danzan Ryu, jujutsu. (In Sino-Japanese, Danzan Ryu literally means "Sandalwood Mountain Old Flow," which in turn translates into "Hawaiian-style", while Kodenkan means "Old Traditions School.") Although Okazaki had 2-dan ranking in Kodokan judo, Kodenkan jujutsu combined techniques from Yoshin-ryu jujutsu, western boxing and wrestling, Okinawan karate, and Hawaiian lua. "In truth," admit members of the American Judo and Jujitsu Federation in the preface to the modern edition, "the techniques as portrayed here are not impressive. Neither do they reflect the comprehensive nature of the entire system. Perhaps their value is that they held the seeds of something better."

The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple, the first English-subtitled movie to show realistic Chinese martial art techniques on-screen, is released in Canton. While its stars had trained in the Canton Theatre, its extras were rickshaw pullers who had been given wooden swords, then told to strike "as though they meant it." The story was loosely based on a fictional tale by Hsiang K’ai Jan that described the assassination of a Muslim Chinese official by a Han Chinese knight-errant.

The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore arranges for a Japanese named Takagaki Shinzo to teach judo at Calcutta’s Bengal University (modern Visvabharati University). Tagore’s hope was that the judo instruction would spread Japanese-style nationalism through British India. However, few Indian college students were particularly interested in physical culture, and when they were, they generally preferred American barbells to Japanese judo. So rather more popular pioneers of muscular Indian nationalism included the tiger-trainer Shyamakanta Banerji, the strongmen Iyer and Krishna Dass Bysak, and the wrestlers Ambu Gobar and Pandit Biddo. The Indian game called kabbadi ("dare-devil") also dates to the 1920s (the first rule book appeared in 1923) and Indian physical educators’ desire for games that were not British. Kabbadi is essentially capture-the-flag. The Raiders score points by touching a mark and shouting "Kabbadi!" The Antis stop this by tackling the Raiders on their way toward the goal. Kabbadi was popular mostly in colleges until after Partition in 1947, when it was introduced into public schools in both Pakistan and India. The All India Body has controlled the Indian game since 1950, and women’s championships were introduced in 1955. Kabbadi is hugely popular with rural youth, and immigrants spread the sport to Britain and Canada during the 1970s. The pedagogic goals of kabbadi include developing courage, fostering enterprise, formulating strategy, and building teamwork. The standard Indian playing surface consists of 4 -6 inches of rock-free red earth, cow manure, and sawdust, while the standard British playing surface is grass. The adult men’s ground measures 12.5m x 10m, the women’s and junior men’s ground measures 11m x 8m, and the junior women’s ground measures 9.5m x 6.5m. The men’s game is played in two halves of 20 minutes each while the women’s and junior’s game is played in two halves of 15 minutes each, with 5 minutes between halves. Outside India and Pakistan, Balbir Singh Kanwal of Britain is among the better-known kabbadi enthusiasts.

A study commissioned by the Carnegie Commission reports that for American coaches, players, alumni, and fans, "the ethical bearing of intercollegiate football contests and their scholastic aspects are of secondary importance to the winning of victories and financial success."

Bob Hoffman starts manufacturing iron barbells at his oil burner factory in York, Pennsylvania. Three years later, he began a self-published magazine called Strength & Health, and in 1938 he divested himself of the oil burners to focus solely on weights and publishing. Still, despite selling 110,000 copies a month by 1940, Strength & Health usually lost several thousand dollars per issue. But this never bothered Hoffman, as the magazine provided free advertising for his line of weights, books, and accessories. (His 1939 book Your Sex Life before Marriage was especially popular). Much of this commercial success was due to his thesis that hardships could be overcome through a combination of what Hoffman’s biographer John D. Fair has called "resourcefulness, strength of character, and stretching truth to its limits."

The British establish the Boxing Board of Control. The idea was to prevent corruption and injury. Area medical officers, however, were only introduced in 1950.

The German right-wing political party known as the National Socialists, or Nazis, uses a boxing tournament between some Algerian soldiers and some German amateur boxers to fan the fires of race hatred in Europe.

Panama Al Brown becomes the first Hispanic fighter to win a world boxing championship. Although he won his title in New York, Brown did most of his fighting in Paris.

The German firm of Walther introduces the 7.65mm "Polizei Pistole." This soon becomes the world’s most popular double-action semi-automatic pistol.

The Canadian-born rifle designer John C. Garand begins work on a .276-caliber semiautomatic rifle. Rechambered to .30-06 caliber in 1932 as a budgetary move (the United States had vast stocks of .30-06 ammunition left over from World War I), Garand’s US Rifle M1 went into production in 1936, thereby becoming the world’s first standard-issue semiautomatic infantry rifle.

About 1930:

West African wrestling officials start allowing circumcised men to compete for national titles. This change was due to the money and reputation that returning champions could earn. Nevertheless, circumcised or not, the West African wrestlers continued to be represented by professional praise-singers known as griots. Griots often traced their sponsor’s family history for seven or more generations, made and used magical amulets, and kept their athletes from falling in with the wrong crowds.

Detribalized Africans living in West African cities begin forming non-traditional secret societies. While most were simply fraternal organizations, a few were designed to invoke malevolent deities capable of breaking the Europeans’ hold over their African colonies. Did their invocations work? I suppose your answer depends on your perspective concerning the true causes of the Great Depression and World War II.

Thai boxers begin wearing metal groin protectors and leather boxing gloves. About the same time, modified Queensberry rules were also adopted, and subsequently Thai professional bouts were scheduled for five rounds of three minutes each. The proximate cause for all these changes was a ring death at Bangkok’s Lak Muang stadium. Nonetheless, much tradition remained. For example, fighters continued doing traditional dances before their matches, originally to show the part of the country they came from, and today simply because that is what one does. They made their prayers to their deities, and they refused to fight unless accompanied by the vibrant, syncopated rhythms of Thai folk music. The musicians, all of whom were male (to avoid sapping the fighters’ strength) included a piper, two drummers, and a cymbal player. The piper controlled the percussionists, and changed his tunes according to the tempo of the fight and the mood of the crowd.


Following a year in which nine championship boxing matches ended in fouls, the New York State Athletic Commission starts requiring professional boxers to wear metal groin protectors. The protective cups it recommended were designed by a newspaper telegraph operator named Taylor, who advertised his product by strapping it on, then inviting reporters to kick him in the crotch. Britain’s Board of Boxing Control originally refused to support this innovation, mainly because its leaders viewed the change as encouraging poor sportsmanship and foul play.

Bishop Bernard Sheil of Chicago pioneers the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), which was a relatively non-denominational program designed to get urban youth involved in sports. Basketball and boxing were particularly emphasized in the clubs serving Chicago’s black neighborhoods, and in 1936, three of the eight boxers on the US Olympic team were from Chicago CYO clubs. While the CYO itself evolved into the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, its muscular Christian boxing programs faded into obscurity following Sheil’s retirement in 1954.

An all-female militia known as the Flower Baskets appears in Hunan Province. While the band’s name literally refers to the basket-like wicker shields its members carried into combat, it also alluded to the divine protection offered by a hermaphrodite Immortal of the Water Margin stories.

The first All-Japan Judo Championships are held in Tokyo. As competition was categorized by age, the so-called All-Japan champions before 1948 were actually first in their age class. After 1948, there was an overall champion, too, and this person is now the sole All-Japan champion.

Mabuni Kenwa introduces Okinawan karate to Osaka, Japan. Originally Mabuni called his style Hanko-ryu, meaning "the Half-Hard Style," in reference to its emphasis on constant muscular tension, but in 1937, he renamed the style Shito-ryu, in honor of his teachers Higashionna Kanryo and Itosu Anko. (Shito is an alternate pronunciation of the characters used to write "Higa" and "Ito.")

Ark Yuey Wong begins teaching southern Five Animals, southern Shaolin, and northern Praying Mantis ch’uan fa to the members of the Los Angeles-based Wong Wen-sun Chinese Benevolent Association. Although Wong had been giving private lessons since his arrival in San Francisco in 1922, this was the first known public ch’uan fa instruction in North America.

Seishiro "Henry" Okazaki establishes Danzan Ryu jujutsu on Oahu. (He had previously taught on Maui and Big Island.) His first class had six students, and to the disgust of many people, these classes were as interracially mixed as Hawaii itself. Classes were held six days a week, with a Sunday class at Okazaki’s home for special students. Due to students such as Sig Kufferath offering classes at the Honolulu YMCA, modern Danzan Ryu stylists have asserted that Okazaki’s methods influenced US Army Field Manual 21-150, Unarmed Defense for the American Soldier, dated June 30, 1942. However, this causality is not proved. Similar commercial texts appeared during World War II; among them were Unarmed Combat by Britain’s James Hipkiss, Combat Without Weapons by Canada’s E. Hartley Leather, and How to Fight Tough by New York’s Jack Dempsey and Frank G. Menke. Although the military text was fairly matter of fact, the commercial texts were often lurid. For example, in Dempsey’s How to Fight Tough, Dempsey (or, more likely, his ghostwriter Menke) wrote, "The Coast Guardsman who… plunges his bayonet in a Jap’s belly [does not do it] for the joy of seeing blood run -- an unbearable Nipponese pastime -- but to stop sooner the flow of blood from the veins of free and innocent men the world over."


After the Japanese seize Mukden, in Manchuria, the Kuomintang orders that Chinese schoolchildren undertake two to three hours of physical training a week. In 1934, the Chinese Ministry of Education published a formal fitness program designed by a YMCA director named Charles McCloy, and with slight modifications, this program remained the Chinese standard into the 1970s. The designer of the t’ai chi forms used in the Kuomintang program was a physician named Cheng Man-ch’ing.

Europe’s first modern international archery tournament is held in Lviv, Poland. Sometimes called the first world championship, the only countries participating were Poland, France, Czechoslovakia, and Sweden.

The Soviet All-Union Physical Culture Council copies the German practice of awarding badges for physical achievement. Originally, the badges simply rewarded good performance, but by 1937, they were also used to provide or restrict access to other, non-athletic, events. Explained theater director N. Okhlopkov, who directed the Stalinist spectaculars of the 1930s, "At these types of holidays, physical culture ceases to be purely academic. The theater comes to its aid – the director, the artist, the composer. They put on a monumental mass spectacle in close creative contact with masters of sport and physical culture." While arranging spectacle was the same thing that the US did in Los Angeles in 1932 and the Germans did in Berlin in 1936, the Soviets never put so much so much emphasis on the erotic spectacle. Instead, they preferred to present the athletes as cogs in a smoothly functioning machine.

Electric scoring apparatus for epee fencing is unveiled in Switzerland. However, the new equipment was not used during world championship competitions until 1955, or officially adopted by the International Federation until 1957. The delay was due partly to early electrical equipment being uncomfortable and unreliable, partly to its radically changing the style and tempo of fencing tournaments, and mainly to international judges refusing to relinquish their control over who won the matches. Still, even with the best equipment there is always a way to cheat, and in 1972 a Soviet pentathlete was thrown out of the Olympics for possessing a device that allowed him to score a point without touching his opponent.

An English professional wrestler named Jack Robinson begins teaching judo and jujutsu by correspondence course in South Africa. During the 1950s, Robinson’s son Joe returned to Britain, where he did show wrestling for Sir Atholl Oakeley. He also taught at a judo school in Brighton. While Joe Robinson claimed to be about equal to a third-degree black belt in Kodokan judo and almost as good in Cumberland wrestling, he was mostly just a show wrestler.

"Hey, Jack," trainer Morris Bimstein calls to referee Jack Dempsey during a pause during a title fight held in Reno, Nevada, "tell [Max] Baer to stop fouling my boy." "Whitey," replied Dempsey, in a classic description of Depression-era boxing, "tell your boy to foul him back." Like Dempsey, Bimstein’s usual haunts were in New York City. Explained A. J. Liebling, "The weekly orbit in which Mr. Bimstein moves begins at the St. Nicholas Palace on West Sixty-sixth Street on Monday night. On Tuesday he is to be found either at the New York Coliseum in the east Bronx or the Broadway Arena in Williamsburgh. Wednesday is the night for fighting at the Hippodrome, and at the Star Casino, a rough, tough club in south Harlem, the fight night is Thursday. Friday is Madison Square Garden’s night. Saturday evenings have long been consecrated to the Ridgewood Grove Sporting Club in north Brooklyn." In his day, Bimstein was probably New York’s most famous cut man. To protect fighters from getting cut, he rubbed their faces with carpenter’s wax and petroleum jelly. To stop bloody noses, he packed nostrils with adrenaline. To stop bad cuts, he used Monsel’s styptic. This was a mixture of iron subsulfate that caused permanent blindness if it got into an eye. During important fights, he pierced swellings with a lancet and sucked out the blood that caused the swelling. Although he had been only a mediocre boxer himself, Bimstein was also a popular trainer. Explained Liebling, "Ex-champions make poor guides for young boxers. They always insist that their pupils learn their own personal techniques. The result is a boxer with an inferiority complex, even though he is able to ape a little of his instructor’s style."

Miyagi Chojun of Naha, Okinawa names his style of karate Goju-ryu. The name derives from a southern Shaolin reference to breathing techniques, and means "the Hard-Soft Style." The idea was apparently to get his White Crane-influenced karate style accepted by the Japanese Ministry of Education, as Miyagi himself never put this name on a mokei kanban, or school sign.

Ueshiba Morihei opens an 80-mat martial art school in Tokyo. This comparatively large size was owed to Ueshiba’s having become a favorite of the admirals who controlled the Japanese Combined Fleet. These admirals, who included Takeshita Isamu and Yamamoto Gonnohyoe, were considerably more powerful than cabinet ministers, and only slightly less powerful than army generals. Training emphasized character development rather than competition or combat. The school had about 200 members, including some 20 women. All members were politically well connected, and had been personally interviewed by Admiral Takeshita. Takeshita told a San Francisco journalist in 1935 that in his school, character was more important than winning or losing. As for his art, which he called Kobukan-budo, "The idea is to use the strength of an opponent and to throw his body almost without touching him. It is very dangerous to teach a young man." During World War II, Ueshiba broke with the admirals and moved his school to the Tokyo suburbs. (Ueshiba apparently disapproved of the war with the United States, and quitting his job was the only way he could express his dissatisfaction.) After the war, Ueshiba reopened his Hombu Dojo in Tokyo. The school was open most days from six in the morning to midnight, and mat fees cost just a few thousand yen a month. While formal instruction was rare, players could usually find someone willing to show them the proper form and techniques if they showed interest and behaved well. Unescorted women, however, sometimes had a hard time finding good partners. Says Beth Austin, a California 1-dan who trained in Japan during the 1970s, Japanese men often acted as if women’s aikido should be beautiful rather than functional. So she sometimes had trouble making them throw or grab her forcefully. Austin also believed that Japanese men went out of their way to make her feel isolated and alone. Both perceptions may have been due to cultural misunderstandings. Psychologist Monica Sone, a Seattle Nisei, once described a meeting with some unfamiliar Nisei women in a hospital. Despite Sone’s efforts at starting a conversation, the other women said hello to her and little more. "The girls had not meant to be unkind even though they had made me feel as if I were a spy at large," said Sone some years later in her book Nisei Daughter. Instead, "Their response was typically Japanese."

The Chester Gould comic strip Dick Tracy makes its debut in Detroit. From its advent in 1935, the lantern-jawed detective was a big fan of .357 Magnum revolvers, and it is probably through his fictional feats that young boys started to believe that Magnums could shoot through engine blocks. By the way, Tracy’s two-way wrist radio dates to 1946. Given the technology of the day, the maximum range of such a device was about a mile. Real policemen of the 1940s rarely had radios, even in their cars, so even this would have been a major communications breakthrough.

Appalachian coal miners start calling their blue Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolvers "John L. Lewis peacemakers," after the union boss who issued them. While the weapons may not have won the West, they certainly went a long way toward discouraging mine owners from hiring goons to beat up strikers. Consequently, they played a significant role in getting American miners the privilege of working a nine-hour day for the princely wage of $.41 an hour.


The Japanese Army starts developing biological weapons at a plant near Harbin in Manchuria. The extensive human experimentation involved was hushed up following World War II to allow the British, Soviets, and Americans access to the Japanese findings.

The Georgia heavyweight William L. "Young" Stribling had the unpleasant practice of putting strapping young black men into gloves and boxing trunks so that he could practice knocking them out using sucker punches. (Stribling’s favorite techniques included the "buckshot punch." This was a jab with the left, the beginnings of a fake with the right, the tiniest moment of hesitation -- and then a full-blown, full-power, right cross to the jaw.) Despite their lack of training, these young black men were not all patsies. And when one of them, a 25-year old laborer named John Linwood Fox, figured out how to counter Stribling’s buckshot punch (he stepped into the jab, and fired his own straight left), Stribling hit the canvas. While the lesson earned "Tiger Jack" Fox the boot from Stribling’s camp, it also started him on a professional boxing career that was only ended by a crippling stroke in 1950.

The British Boxing Board of Control announces that it will not lift its color bar to allow the African Canadian Larry Gaines to fight in Britain. While anyone from the Dominions could box in the Dominions, said the Board of Control, in Britain "contestants must be legally British subjects and born of white parents." Due to protest, the ban was lifted, and Gaines subsequently won the Empire heavyweight championship.

After lynching a man named Rick Read for raping and murdering an 8-year old girl, the people of Oberlin, Kansas remained angry. So at his burial no preacher would deliver a sermon. "But at the last minute a preacher showed up who believed that every man was entitled to a Christian burial," recalled one of the Kansans years later. "He preached the most beautiful sermon I ever heard. He said, ‘If you had a man in your community as crippled in body as this man was in spirit you would all have so much pity on him you’d take him into your homes and care for him.’ All the women started to weep and I cried myself and some men cried, too, and you could feel all the hatred and violence just dissolve up into the air."

An El Paso saddler named Samuel D. Myres produces the first commercial quick-draw holsters. The design followed the ideas of an Oklahoma lawman named Tom Threepersons. Custom quick-draw rigs had been available for several years. See, for instance, William D. Frazier’s 1929 book called American Pistol Shooting and J. Henry Fitzgerald’s 1930 book called Shooting. General George Patton was probably the most famous user of Myres holsters – his ivory-handled .45 Colt Single Action Army went into the right holster, while his .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson went into the left.

Ciriaco Canete opens the Doce Pares club in Cebu City. This was the first club to offer public instruction in traditional stick fighting to urban Filipinos.

In search of fast money, the Indian wrestler Tiger Ali Mohammed Daula travels to North America, where he quickly becomes a ranked contender. Imam Bux followed him to British Columbia in 1935. A. J. Liebling explained how this worked in an article published in The New Yorker on November 13, 1954. "A Foreign Menace, in most cases a real wrestler, would be imported. He would meet all the challengers for the title whom [reigning champion Jim] Londos had defeated in any city larger than New Haven, and beat them. After that, he and Londos would wrestle for the world’s championship in Madison Square Garden. The Foreign Menace would oppress Londos unmercifully for about forty minutes, and then Londos... would whirl the current Menace around his head and dash him to the mat three times, no more and no less… After the bout, the Menace would either return to Europe or remain here to become part of the buildup for the next Menace."

The United States physician George Van Ness Dearborn describes an American vaudeville performer named Edward H. Gibbon. Gibbon invited the audience to drive sterilized pins into his arms and legs. He did this twice a day for nineteen months, and the crowds went wild. Then, when Gibbon started inviting people to drive gold-plated spikes through his hand, the crowds disappeared. While Gibbon could not feel the pain, his audiences could imagine it, and they did not enjoy seeing unadulterated violence that was obviously real.


The Lone Ranger and Tonto start heigh-ho’ing Silver from astride the radio waves of Detroit’s WXYZ-AM.

Archie Bell and Laurie Raiteri appear in Britain’s first televised boxing match. In the United States, the equivalent was a bout between Lou Nova and Max Baer on June 1, 1939. However, due to the outbreak of World War II, the first televised title fight was the Louis-Conn rematch of June 19, 1946.

Sportswriters Damon Runyon, Bill Farnsworth, and Ed Frayne join with boxing promoter Mike Jacobs to create New York City’s Twentieth Century Sporting Club. Their goal was to revitalize professional boxing, and they did a good job of it, too, as their first important fighter was Joe Louis.

After Kano Jigoro visits Moshe Feldenkrais’s Jiu-Jitsu Club Franco-Israelite in Paris, the French start calling their sport "judo" instead of "jiu-jitsu."

The first karate club to allow Caucasian membership is formed in the basement of Honolulu’s First Methodist Church. Its instructors were Mutsu Zuiho and Higaonna Kamesuke.

The Butokukai recognizes Itosu-style karate as a uniquely Japanese martial art. In return, the Okinawans agree to change karate’s ideograms from characters reading "T’ang Dynasty boxing" into characters reading "empty hands." Although many Okinawan karate men refused to acknowledge the proposed change, it was nevertheless made official in 1936.

An article in the Japan Times says that on Okinawa, "middle and higher class families keep a guardsman or sentry at the grave to keep watch and see that the flowers are kept fresh and incense burning throughout the first seven weeks [after the death of a relative]." As the Southern Chinese typically used Buddhist star-walking exercises for the exorcism of ghosts, work as grave guards may explain modern stories about old-time Okinawan karate men practicing their kata in graveyards by moonlight.


Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh wrestlers are described as being less interested in sectarian politics than akhara politics. That is, all they wanted to know was which school or teacher was best, not what religion its head coach was. The reason, explained the Indian sportswriter S. Muzumdar, was that "to these men wrestling is much more than a profession, it is a worship." In Indian art, adds critic Stella Kramrisch, the patron shows his devotion to God by subsidizing the arts. Therefore, the artist is the vehicle of his patron’s devotion. Consequently, for most wrestlers, money only became an issue during the 1920s. The reason was due to a changing Indian economy. Before World War I, patrons gave land and servants to organizations such as akhara rather than directly to individuals. In this way, the gifts could support many people, including retired wrestlers and their non-wrestling kin. However, after the war, patrons began paying cash to winners. Winners frequently did not share the cash evenly, or sometimes at all. This left lesser lights to starve or take part in show matches. Obviously, many chose to try show.

Hayward Plumadore, a 165-pound college student from New York's St. Lawrence University, puts himself through college by working as a masked carnival wrestler. Plumadore wore the mask partly as a gag, and mostly to protect his status as an amateur athlete. (In college, he was a member of both the football and wrestling teams.) Occupational hazards faced by Plumadore included drunken opponents who didn’t know when they were hurt, challengers who introduced rocks or knives into what was supposed to be a wrestling match, and other college wrestlers such as Issur Demsky, the future Kirk Douglas. Indeed, Demsky sometimes did such a fine job of acting hurt that Plumadore was afraid that the crowd would lynch him. Nevertheless, Plumadore claimed to have never lost a match to a legitimate shooter. He also said that he sometimes earned more than $1,000 a day. This was usually when townsmen paid him to be particularly hard on a local bully or especially kind to a popular foreman or labor leader.

The former circus strongman Maurice Van Nieuwenhuizen starts teaching jujutsu in The Hague, Netherlands. Cartoonist Alfred Mazure was among his students, and so Van Nieuwenhuizen became the model for the Dutch cartoon and film hero "Dick Bos." Mazure also provided some of the illustrations for Van Nieuwenhuizen’s three Dutch judo books. In 1947, Van Nieuwenhuizen and a former schoolteacher named Simon Van Harten became pioneers of the Netherlands judo federation. Van Nieuwenhuizen’s postwar students included Olympic champion Anton Geesink.

Ogawa Tyuzo introduces Kodokan judo to Brazil. Ogawa’s techniques supposedly influenced capoeira Regional. This is possible, as Ogawa’s judo students and Mestre Bimba’s capoeira Regional players came from similar middle and upper class backgrounds. However, the influence may have had a more pragmatic basis. In 1928, a judoka fought a capoeirista in a São Paulo fairground. Said the Japanese-American Courier’s account of the match, the much larger Bahian easily knocked the Japanese down. But when he went to finish the fight by kicking the Japanese in the head, "The little oriental by the use of a Jiu Jitsu hold threw the Bahian and after a short struggle he was found sitting on the silent frame of the massive opponent."

During a lecture to the Parnassus Society in Athens, Greece, Kano Jigoro says that judo has two aims. The first is to achieve one’s goals through the most efficient use of mental and physical energy; the second is to maximize the progress and harmony of the group. Physical education, on the other hand, had four aims: health, strength, utility, and spiritual training. Spiritual training included intellectual, moral, and esthetic phases. Anything less was not judo. Unfortunately, said Kano, "Are not many of the promoters of physical education laying too much stress on strength and skill? Into such mistakes people naturally fall because the aim of physical education is not set forth and the inter-relation of those four items is not seriously studied."

Ohtsuka Hironori of the All-Japan Collegiate Karate Association publishes rules for yakusoku kumite, or non-contact free sparring. These combined rules from boxing and judo. To make them work, many techniques had to be modified. For example, stances became lower and freer and the positions of toes during kicks changed. Nevertheless, said Egami Shigeru of the Japan Karate Association, karate fighters remained stiff and Pinocchio-like in their movements. Why? Because "practice with the striking post was thought of as the basis of all karate training... [Unfortunately,] due to the lack of training of the hips, the way of striking was weak." Better results were achieved during the 1950s by emphasizing relaxed, natural movement instead of more hours at the makiwara board.

Goju-ryu karate teacher Miyagi Chojun visits Honolulu, where he gives karate demonstrations to the Okinawan community. Among his students was a Hawaiian jujutsuka and professional wrestling champion named Oki Shikina, who after World War II became a well-known professional wrestling official in Japan.

Twenty-seven-year old Charles Kenn of Honolulu organizes a play featuring ancient Hawaiian games and sports. His goal was to replicate a traditional mahahiki festival, and this included replicating lua and other combative sports that had been virtually extinct since the arrival of missionaries and smallpox during the 1840s. Toward that end, he learned to read Hawaiian and trained with Danzan Ryu stylists. In 1950, Kenn received a personal account of the lua, in Hawaiian, from an 88-year old man that detailed the two schools of the nineteenth century. "To really do justice to the Oriental hand fighting arts," Kenn wrote Robert W. Smith in November 1964, "one must understand all phases of the culture and the place that the h.f. [hand fighting] arts have in that culture; they should not be taken apart from the culture which brought them into existence."

A German military advisory group led by General Hans von Seeckt introduces German general staff training into Nationalist China. This temporarily improved the efficiency of the Nationalist military forces, and, as the Nationalists spent most of their time fighting the Communists, it is a proximate cause of the Communist Long Marches of 1935-1936.

Several months after FBI agents shoot to death an unarmed Dillinger gang member and several equally unarmed civilians, the US government authorizes FBI agents to carry firearms. The issue weapons included revolvers chambered in .32 Long Colt and .38 Special. However, in 1935, Smith & Wesson sent an early production .357 Magnum with a 3-1/2 inch barrel to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and because Hoover liked the piece, subsequently .357s were popular with social climbers in the FBI. In 1948, Colt Firearms sent Hoover a custom Single Action Army revolver. Unlike Patton’s Single Action Army, this one was pearl-handled.

About 1935:

Thai boxing stadiums begin using a percentage of their gate to benefit government charities and the Thai military. This practice remains standard to the present.


With the support of American Can, the Gottfried Krueger brewery of Newark, New Jersey introduces canned beer.

The Royal Air Force introduces radar. While Christian Hülsmeyer of Germany patented the idea of using microwave radiation to detect objects as far back as 1904, Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz of the Imperial German Navy replied, "Not interested. My people have better ideas." Therefore, credit usually goes to Sir Robert Watson-Watt, whose investigation into "death rays" led to the development of both radar and microwave ovens.

The flintknappers of Brandon, England enjoy some unexpectedly brisk business. The reason was that an international ban on selling munitions to Ethiopia and Italy did not include prohibitions against selling the flints that the Ethiopians used in their flintlock muskets. (A prudent musketeer replaced his flint every fifteen shots, meaning that the British General Edward Braddock and his army of 2,000 men took over 144,000 flints on their ill-fated expedition to Fort Duquesne in 1758.) The British flintknappers enjoyed another unexpected boom during the 1960s; his time it was due to the increasing popularity of Civil War reenactments in the United States and Japan.

Seventeen-year old Mildred Bliss of Kansas City, Missouri pesters a rassling promoter named Billy Wolfe to teach her to wrestle. After a few months of this, Wolfe tells one of his rasslers to slam Bliss so hard she’d quit pestering him. Bliss pins the man. Twice. After that, Wolfe hires her as a carnival wrestler gives her the name "Mildred Burke" ("Ignorance is Bliss," said Wolfe), and offers $25 to any man within twenty pounds of her weight who could defeat her within fifteen minutes. "I wrestled almost 200 men," said Burke many years later, "and the only time I was defeated -- it wasn’t because I was pinned, but I got knocked out." Other female wrestlers of the 1930s included Lupe Acosta, Rose Evans, Gladys Gillam, Wilma Gordon, Clara Mortenson, Elvira Snodgrass, and Mae Weston.

Yamaguchi Gogen starts a karate club at Ritsumeikan University. That same year, Miyagi Chojun of the Goju-ryu visited the Ritsumeikan club, and after that Yamaguchi claimed to be the head of Goju karate in Japan. This is not as ludicrous as it sounds. Although Japanese, Yamaguchi had learned karate from an Okinawan named Maruta while still in high school. Other club leaders included a Japanese named Yogi Jitsuei and a Korean named So Nei Cho. (The latter is remembered as an instructor of Oyama Mas of the Kyokushin Kai Kan.) Around the same time, Yamaguchi began developing jiyu kumite, or free fighting methods, that apparently were based on the sparring done in kendo, and continued working on these methods while working as a civil servant in Manchuria. However, after World War II Yamaguchi spent several years in a Soviet prison camp and upon returning to Japan in 1948, his karate was imbued with more spiritualism than before. In May 1950, Yamaguchi organized the All Japan Karate-do Goju-kai, which after a major reorganization in 1972 became one of the larger international karate associations. During his life, Yamaguchi was the subject of English-language stories by Jay Gluck and Peter Urban, and in the latter Urban wrote that Yamaguchi once knocked out and then strangled a tiger. When asked about this in 1972, Yamaguchi simply smiled and replied, "Peter exaggerates."

Seventeen-year old Kimura Mashiko wins his first All-Japan Collegiate Judo Championship. Kimura then went on to win the All-Japan Judo Championships for his age group in 1938, 1939, and 1940. In 1949 Kimura returned to the mats and earned a draw in the finals against Ishikawa Takahiko. Kimura then tried to establish a professional judo circuit in Japan. When this did not work out, he became a rassler in America. His most famous match was with Helio Gracie, an older, lighter Brazilian wrestler whom he overwhelmed in October 1951. Kimura later paired with Rikidozan in well-publicized Japanese tag-team matches but after Rikidozan proved more popular with the fans, Kimura quit professional wrestling and took a job as judo coach at Takushoku University. Kimura’s favorite technique was the right backward sweep known as osoto-gari, or "major outer reaping throw." His method emphasized attack rather than defense, and has been described as combining uncanny speed with supernatural strength. His secret? Hard work. In his prime, he reportedly bench-pressed 176 pounds 500 consecutive times, and did 1,000 push-ups a night.

Performers from Japanese-occupied Manchuria demonstrate ch’uan fa at Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine. "Armed with swords, shields and other ancient weapons," reported the Japan Times, "the performers showed their use by means of acrobatic postures. This old art of fighting is being neglected in Manchuouko, and has never been seen in Japan before." Japanese who studied Chinese martial arts during the period 1935-1945 included Yamaguchi Gogen, Mochizuki Minoru, and So Doshin, and the Korean Yoon Byung In. (Hwang Kee also claimed to have studied Chinese martial arts in Manchuria, but many authorities dispute this claim.)

Kawaishi Mikonosuke introduces Butokukai judo to Paris. At the front of Kawaishi’s school was a blackboard. On this board, Kawaishi wrote the names of his techniques. In front of each name was a number, like so:

Ashi-waza (Leg technique)

1. Osoto-gari

2. De-ashi-barai

3. Hiza-guruma

Kawaishi would then say, "I will teach you the first movement," and the students would follow along. As the numbers were in French, the students thus "learned by the numbers." Kawaishi’s inspiration may have included American self-defense instruction, as by 1935, New York wrestling instructor Will Bingham had been teaching women "to dispose of a masher with neatness and dispatch [using] grip No. 7 followed by hold No. 9" for at least twenty years. An alternative method of instruction was principle-based. That is, one taught triangulation, centering, and the like. Most classes, however, followed the by-the-numbers method of instruction, probably because it was better-suited to standardized grading.


The FBI builds training facilities and firearm ranges at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia. Training programs developed by the FBI during the 1930s included the Police Practical Pistol Course. This was a 50-round course of fire that included reloads and firing from behind barricades, and while it was not truly realistic, it nonetheless represented a significant improvement over the bull’s eye courses of the past.


Penguin introduces pocket-sized paperback books.

With the establishment of a national soccer league in Moscow in May 1936, modern spectator sports emerge in the Soviet Union. The reason was that a French professional club had beaten the Soviet all-star team. To ensure better performance, Soviet players and coaches started receiving cash payments, scouts started roaming the countryside looking for likely prospects, and the press started calling top clubs "demonstration teams" rather than "amateur." The corporate sponsors for these professional clubs included factories, collectives, military units, and government agencies. Organizational honor was at stake in these games, and when Lavrenti Beria took charge of the Soviet secret police in 1939, he ensured that his favorite team won by having rival coaches sent to farm teams in Siberia.

The Nazis discover that an insecticide called Tabun kills retarded people and Gypsies faster than cockroaches. This attracted the interest of the German Army, and led to the development of the lethal nerve agents Sarin in 1943 and Soman in 1944.

A German professional wrestler named Edmond Kraemar tours India, and defeats Goonga Pahelwan and Sardar Khan, and forces draws with Raj Bansi Singh and several other well-known Indian wrestlers. According to Indian sources, the reason he did so well was that Kraemar, unlike most show wrestlers, actually knew how to wrestle. However, as Kraemar was not an important wrestler in Europe and later lost to Imam Bux in thirty seconds, Indian overconfidence provides a likelier explanation.

Pierre de Coubertin asks the crowds at the Berlin Olympics to remember that "the important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part. Just as in life, the aim is not to conquer, but to struggle well." The old man’s loudspeaker-amplified voice is lost amidst the audiences’ excited chant of "Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!"

The Germans introduce closed-circuit television and electronic timing devices to the Olympics. The 1936 Olympics also represented the first appearance of a Chinese national team. One hundred and seven Chinese athletes and officials participated in the Berlin Olympics, and their number included a Muslim named Chang Wen-quang who exhibited taijicao, a variant of t'ai chi ch'uan developed by the French-educated Chu Min-yi during the early 1930s. In 1940, Chu left the Kuomintang to join the Japanese puppet government in Manchuoku, and so after the war, both Nationalists and Communists pretended that particular system never existed.

Japan’s first freestanding karate school opens in Tokyo’s Mejiro district. Because the sign above its door read shoto, or "The Pine Waves," the school was known as the Shotokan Dojo, or "the Place of the Pine Waves."

According to the German writer Arthur Grix, there were 66,994 judo black belts in Japan in 1936. Of these, 39,660 were first-dan, 15,060 were second-dan, 6,600 were third-dan, 3,661 were fourth-dan, 1,615 were fifth-dan, 346 were sixth-dan, 44 were seventh-dan, five were eighth-dan, two were ninth-dan, and one (Kano Jigoro himself) was tenth-dan. The ratio of first-dan to tenth suggests that there had been considerable growth since 1912, and considerable rank inflation since World War II.

Dr. Edward J. Carroll Jr. publishes a study in the American Journal of Medical Science reporting that a condition known as "punch drunkenness" was common among professional boxers. Physical symptoms included cauliflower ears, flat noses, and scarred eyebrows. Mental symptoms included deteriorated mental skills, slurred speech, and a stumbling gait. Concluded Dr. Carroll, "It is probable that no head blow is taken with impunity, and that each knock-out causes definite and irreparable damage." This view was evidently not fully appreciated by George Dillman of Pennsylvania, who traveled the world during the 1980s knocking out seminar-goers with blows to their carotid sinuses.

New York State Athletic Commissioner William Brown visits an amateur boxing show staged in Poughkeepsie, New York. There he finds incompetent officials, uncaring seconds, dirty towels, borrowed mouthpieces, inadequate sanitary facilities, and professional fighters pretending to be amateurs. While Brown’s discovery caused the AAU to close the Poughkeepsie club, it was not unique.

The Tampax Company introduces tampons with applicators. German bandage makers had begun marketing commercial menstrual pads during the 1890s, but these did not become common in North America until Kimberly-Clark introduced its wood-fiber Kotex brand in 1921. Tampons without applicators (and in some cases, strings) appeared during the early 1930s, but manufacturers evidently thought that the only market would be showgirls and athletes. Consequently, there was originally little commercial interest in the plug-like devices. Women were not the only beneficiaries of these developments, however, as soon after their release, boxing trainers began using tampons to protect the hands of boxers suffering from bruised or arthritic knuckles. (Rather than building a cushion using bandages, they instead just laid the tampon across the injured knuckles and began taping.) The latter use is ironic, since thousands of Chinese and Japanese boxers were simultaneously pounding their fists into sand, rocks, and boards in an effort to achieve those same bruised knuckles.


The first California Peace Officer Training Course is held in San Jose. "Jiujitsu" was added to a comparable Virginia State Police training syllabus in 1941.

Additional rules are developed for Olympic free-style wrestling. The goal was to reduce the bias of nationalistic local judges during international meets.

Mud wrestling is invented in Seattle. It wasn’t originally meant to be mud wrestling. What happened was that the promoter, Brooklyn’s Paul Boesch, used too much water on the dirt used for a "Hindu match" between Prince Bhu Pinder (real name: Ranjit Singh) and former champion Gus Sonnenberg. Mud wrestling then moved to San Francisco. There the ring was filled with mud and the bout filmed and shown in newsreels across the world. Women’s mud-wrestling soon followed. The first match was held in January 1938, and the contest, which featured Mildred Burke and Babe Gordon, was photographed by LIFE. Since promoters were always seeking novelty acts, there was also ice cream rassling in Minnesota in 1938, blueberry rassling in Michigan in 1939, and molasses rassling in Florida in 1941. (Fish were tried once in Wisconsin, but then the rassling wasn’t the only thing that stank.)

Despite a breaking his right thumb two days before the fight, welterweight boxing champion Barney Ross (real name: Beryl Rossofsky) wins a fifteen-round decision against future middleweight champion Ceferino Garcia. How did Ross accomplish this? "With a left hand and a brain," explained his trainer Ray Arcel fifty years later. "He made him miss… he wasn’t looking to knock the guy out." Why did Ross do this? The Depression was on, and failure to show meant no payday. The situation was quite different in 1974, when changes in pre-fight medical standards caused world heavyweight champion George Foreman to delay a multi-million dollar title fight for a month because of a cut over his eye received during training.

By defeating a New York Irishman named James J. Braddock, Joe Louis becomes the first African American fighter since Jack Johnson to hold the world heavyweight boxing title.

A United States Navy medical officer named J. A. Millspaugh coins the term "dementia pugilistica" to describe the traumatic brain injuries associated with aging fighters. (Millspaugh disliked the phrase "punch drunk," as he thought it insulted the fighters.) Yet, the word "dementia" bothered people, too. So in 1957 the British neurosurgeon Macdonald Critchley renamed the condition "chronic progressive traumatic encephalopathy of boxers."

To improve fighter safety, the Rules Committee of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) gives amateur boxing different rules from professional boxing. For example, in 1937 the presiding medical officer was charged with stopping fights whenever knockout or injury appeared imminent, regardless of the wishes of the fighters, officials, or coaches. (To discourage knockouts, victory went to whoever was ahead on points at the time the fight was stopped.) A two-inch padded floor was required in 1938, while padded ropes and twelve-ounce gloves were introduced in 1939. A mandatory standing nine-count following knockdowns was introduced in 1945, and the use of padded headgear was mandated in 1948.

Choi Yong-shul, a Korean who had studied a jujutsu system in Japan, develops his own joint-locking combative method that he called Dae Dong Yu Yusool. In Choi’s original usage, the name meant "Great Asia jujutsu" and alluded to Imperial Japanese propaganda. However, following Japan’s defeat in World War II, this name became inappropriate and by 1958, Choi’s students were calling his method hapkido, meaning "Way of Collecting Energy." (The new name was apparently the creation of Kang Moon Jin, who had been impressed by a book by aikido founder Ueshiba Morihei.) During the 1960s, punches and kicks were added to hapkido, and during the Vietnam War, it was taught to United States and South Vietnamese soldiers. However, it gained its greatest fame in 1972, with the release of Billy Jack, which was a Hollywood film featuring Tom McLaughlin as a hapkido-using social worker.

Izumikawa Kanki introduces Senbukan ("Holy Art") Goju-ryu karate to Kawasaki, Japan. His school’s name referred to Izumikawa’s purpose, which was not to teach young men to fight, but instead to instill character in them. Well-known students included Hawaii’s Tomu Arakawa.

Sekiwake Shinkai becomes the first sumo champion to announce his retirement from the sumo ring by having his topknot snipped.

About 1938:

At the request of the Kuomintang government, Cheng Man-ch’ing starts modifying the forms used to teach Yang-style t’ai chi ch’uan. The reason was to facilitate their use in public school and factory exercise programs. Cheng was a physician who had practiced martial arts since the 1920s, and who began studying Yang-style t’ai chi chuan with Yang Cheng-fu in 1932. For patients to have sufficient strength to use his herbal medicines, Cheng believed they should do t’ai chi ch’uan several times a day. (Doing forms cost nothing, took little space and no special equipment, and was safer than swimming.) Unfortunately, the traditional forms took a long time to learn. To correct this, Cheng eliminated many repetitive movements. He finalized the steps of the current short form in 1947.


Harban Singh Pahelwan, who had learned boxing and free-style wrestling in New Zealand, introduces show wrestling into Lahore. When asked if he taught dirty tricks to his wrestlers, Harban Singh just smiled and said that it was sometimes necessary to retaliate.

An absence of paying fans causes Madison Square Garden to quit holding professional wrestling matches. The reason was mostly bad publicity: as a headline in the New York Daily News put it on November 19, 1934: "LONDOS AND MARSHALL MEET AT GARDEN TONIGHT FOR THE 26TH TIME. SCORE -- LONDOS 26, MARSHALL 0." (Everett Marshall reportedly tried a double-cross in Philadelphia in 1933, and according to the story, it took Londos three hours to beat him. But, as Marcus Griffin quoted promoter Jacob "Jack" Pfefer as saying, "If Londos engaged in a shooting match in all that time [1930-1937], he did it without my knowledge.") This lack of paying customers then drove show wrestling into working-class clubs in ethnic neighborhoods. There, the last vestiges of honest wrestling were replaced with a form of muscular theater called "rassling." Key elements of rassling included ethnic stereotyping and exaggerated hype. For instance, Jim Londos (birth name: Chris Londus) became "The Wrestling Plasterer," while George Zaharias (birth name: Theodore Vetoyanis) became "The Crying Greek from Cripple Creek." Following World War II, television helped popularize the new art form throughout North America. Why? Partly because rassling was far more photogenic than honest wrestling, and partly because television viewers liked morality plays in which the villain got his comeuppance moments before the station break.

After two-time Olympic medalist Hélène Mayer defeats a man to win the United States’ national fencing championship, the Amateur Fencers League of America revoked Mayer’s title ("for chivalry’s sake"), then prohibits all further mixed-gender competition. Aldo Nadi, the Italian national champion, later challenged the loser to a match. The offer was declined. Said Nadi, "The party in question was unquestionably first-rate in conceit, but most unfortunately only third-rate, at best, as a fencer... I was very sorry not to have the opportunity to puncture a self-inflated balloon."

Joe Louis’s trainer Jack Blackburn tells reporters, "The science of boxing is to avoid getting hit, but if you do get hit, hit the other fellow before he hits you again." The science also required the following. First, that the boxer enjoy fighting. ("To begin with, you enjoy the fight itself," Rocky Marciano wrote in his autobiography.) Second, that the boxer be ready to receive as much pain as he gave. ("You gotta enjoy the ones you take, just like the ones you give out," Larry Holmes told Ralph Wiley of Sports Illustrated.) Third, that the boxer enjoys training. ("The teacher can only show you how to do it," says Benjamin P. J. Lo. "The rest is all your work. The secret is to practice.") Fourth, good sparring partners and opponents. As Joe Louis’ sparring partner George Nicholson told the New Yorker’s A. J. Liebling in 1939, "You can hire any kind of cheap help to get theirself hit. What you got to pay good money for is somebody that is not going to get hisself hit."

The Associated Press reports that William Cepak, a former featherweight boxer from Chicago, knocked out a man who jumped into his car at a stoplight, and then attempted to steal it. Jack Dempsey told a similar story in 1971, with the chief difference being that Dempsey claimed to have knocked out two men. Both are wonderful stories, if true.


The first Mr. America bodybuilding contest is held in Amsterdam, New York.

New Yorkers begin using the word "mugging" to refer to robberies perpetrated by multiple armed Negro assailants instead of robberies perpetrated by stranglers of indeterminate ethnicity.

The students of Blue Ridge College in New Windsor, Maryland are warned by printed notice that all guns, pistols, and sticks of dynamite must be checked with the dean.

Trainer Ray Arcel’s advice to a boxer who was seriously outclassed by his opponent: "Jab him. That’s all. Don’t look to knock him out because you’re not gonna do it. Just let him do all the work and you be on the defensive." Arcel’s fighter, Billy Soose, followed his trainer’s advice and went the distance with Charley Burley, which was more than most white men who fought the tough African American middleweight could say.

An underage New York amateur boxer named Walker Smith borrows a gym mate’s AAU card in order to gain entry into the New York Golden Gloves tournament. To distinguish himself from his friend, Smith told officials that his name was "Sugar" Ray Robinson. Following a victory in the tournament, Robinson went on to become the world’s middleweight champion. In June 1947, one of his opponents, Jimmy Doyle, died from subdural hematoma. At the subsequent inquiry, the court asked Robinson if he had known that Doyle was in trouble. He replied, "Sir, they pay me to get them in trouble."

United States Marine Corps recruit training is described as including 30 minutes of bare-knuckle boxing practice daily. The practice was based in part on British boxing drills, and involved lining men up in two ranks, and then giving them the command, "Open ranks, March! Front rank, About face! Box!" The first few lessons were devoted to learning blows, guards, and counters under the direction of a sergeant-instructor. Ring-work began around the sixth lesson. Individual rounds lasted either 30 or 60 seconds. Variety was introduced after each round by having one line step left or right to expose a new partner. Injuries were rare, mostly because the recruits went easy on each other. In addition, said Whitey Bimstein, a professional boxer who served as an instructor for the US Navy during World War I, the military method was no good for self-defense, as it encouraged the men to attack rather than slip punches.

Ohtsuka Hironori establishes Wado-ryu karate at Tokyo University. While the name means "the Way of Harmony," its creation actually represented a break between Ohtsuka and Funakoshi Gichin, with whom Ohtsuka had begun studying karate in 1922. While the reasons for their split are unknown, speculations include disagreements about the value of free fighting and the value of techniques that Ohtsuka had learned while training in Shindo Yoshin-ryu jujutsu under Nakayama Tatsusaburo. At any rate, Ohtsuka has been described as a pleasant man who enjoyed controlled free-sparring and long explanations, and who left the hard physical part of the training to his senior students. Technical questions were rarely asked during class itself -- Ohtsuka preferred to say, "With this technique you have this possibility or that advantage" -- but were frequently asked and discussed in the college dorms where most of the active club members lived.

Uechi Kanei starts teaching karate near Nago, Okinawa. Although called karate because it was Okinawan, it would be fairer to call his style, Uechi-ryu, a form of southern Shaolin ch’uan fa with roots similar to those of Goju-ryu karate. In 1949, Uechi moved his school closer to the Marine Corps Air Station at Futenma for commercial reasons, where it remains to the present. Uechi’s most famous foreign student is George Mattson.

<>The Argentine government asks the Japanese government to send two qualified judo instructors to Buenos Aires. "According to the official message from the Japanese envoy," said an article in the North American Times on April 28, 1939, "the Buenos Aires Y.M.C.A. formed the Jiu Jitsu Department some time ago and has been sponsoring regular tournaments since last year." The men sent were Kotani Sumiyuki and Sato Chugo. When subsequently asked which of the South American judoka had impressed him the most, Kotani tactfully replied, "I cannot answer this, it’s a very hard question. But when I was in the USA in 1932, most of the judoka were very competent… So too was Mr. [Trevor] Leggett from England." Both Kotani and Sato returned to the USA in 1953 as part of a US Air Force instruction team.

kronos 2005