Sunday, September 19, 2010

President Theodore Roosevelt Trained Jiu Jitsu To Lose 20 Pounds

According to an article on, President Theodore Roosevelt trained jiu jitsu to lose 20 pounds prior to an election.  He also aspired to attain the fifth degree of the seven degrees (purple belt?). 

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.”

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Old Age and Martial Arts: Age and treachery will triumph over youth and skill

Kung Fu, TKD, and Karate never really sparked my interest, but this pic is  still funny (from
"Never act incautiously when confronted by a little bald wrinkly smiling man!"
— Rule One, according to Lu-Tze, from Terry Pratchett's Discworld
"Age and treachery will triumph over youth and skill."
— Fencer's Adage
"Boot to the head."
— Old Master, The Frantics' Tae Kwon Leep

Links to Mitsuyo Maeda and BJJ History

Links about the history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  This post is updated as I come across new information.

Review of book, Carlos Gracie: The Creator of a Dynasty, published in Brazil.

Helio Gracie Interviewed by Nishi Yoshinori

BJJ History by Slideyfoot

BJJ History searched in Google Books

Mitsuyo Maeda (Count Koma) Biography from

Mitsuyo Maeda from

Mitsuyo Maeda from

Professor Yamashita Goes to Washington

Old School Ju Jitsu articles, press, etc. from

Edwardian Jujitsu

Health & Vim

Helio Gracie

Jiu Jitsu for Kids Video Amusing

Jiu Jitsu for Kids is Professor Carlos Rollyson (7th Degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) in a cartoon with sparing teddy bears and teaching the ippon seoi nage to an alien. The move is shown in 4 angles and is actually sort of technical, you could say. At first, you are not sure what you are watching: a SNL-like parody skit about BJJ or a genuine kids cartoon.   Its amusing...for a few minutes.  Very creative and well done. 


Are you a fat, out-of-shape, couch potato?  Good.  Stay that way.  Or... Take up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and replace that description with "In pain, writhing, moaning on the couch."

This is a blog/compilation of BJJ information and experiences of a 43 year old attempting to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a great sport.  It is also very difficult for those suffering from the post-tonal swelling of midlife.