Below is an extract from Professor Yamashita Goes to Washington.
Although The World reported that there were seven degrees in jiu-jitsu, and Roosevelt intended to have at least five of them, Roosevelt’s primary goal in all this was not rank, but weight reduction. Since becoming President, his weight had soared to over 220 pounds, and he hoped to be down to 200 by the elections. So, during March and April 1904, Roosevelt practiced judo three afternoons a week, using a ground floor office in the White House as his workout space. Then, for the rest of the summer, he practiced occasionally. He stopped training during the elections, and there is no record showing that he resumed his studies afterward.
The President’s training partners included his sons, his private secretary, the Japanese naval attache, Secretary of War William Howard Taft, and Secretary of the Interior Gifford Pinchot. When these people were unavailable, then Roosevelt tried his tricks on husky young visitors. The latter included Robert Johnstone Mooney, who with his brother visited the White House on the afternoon of Thursday, August 18, 1904. According to an article published in The Outlook in October 1923, Mooney’s brother was a noted amateur boxer. So, after doing a little sparring with the two young men, Roosevelt:
sprang to his feet and excitedly asked: ‘By the way, do you boys understand jiu-jitsu?’ We replied in the negative, and he continued, pounding the air with his arms, ‘You must promise me to learn that without delay. You are so good in other athletics that you must add jiu-jitsu to your other accomplishments. Every American athlete ought to understand the Japanese system thoroughly. You know’ – and he smiled reminiscently – ‘I practically introduced it to the Americans. I had a young Japanese – now at Harvard [A. Kitagaki] – here for six months, and I tried jiu-jitsu with him day after day. But he always defeated me. It was not easy to learn. However, one day I got him – I got him – good and plenty! I threw him clear over my head on his belly, and I had it. I had it.’Then, to prove his point, Roosevelt demonstrated his techniques on the Mooneys using considerably more enthusiasm than control. Professor Yamashita remarked the same problem, of course. According to an American journalist named Joseph Clarke, Yamashita later said that while Roosevelt was his best pupil, he was also “very heavy and very impetuous, and it had cost the poor professor many bruisings, much worry and infinite pains during Theodore’s rushes to avoid laming the President of the United States.”
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