In an interview with Torahei Ochiai in the 1920's, Jigoro Kano states that he adopted kata-guruma from wrestling's fireman's carry.1 However, the Kodokan Judo Throwing Techniques book posits a different origin, an adaptation of a koryu jujutsu throw (ostensibly via Kyutaro Kanda).2 3

Do we know which of these is the true origin of the throw as practised in judo?


  1. I recall another anecdote from my days at the Fukuda dojo. Normally, I did not have a particularly hard time when practicing with Aoki and the other trainees. In the case of Fukushima, however, it was a completely different story. I could not overcome the strength nor disturb the balance of Kanekichi Fukushima no matter how hard or how often I tried. Finally, I resolved that I would learn to throw him somehow or other. After giving the matter a great deal of thought, I decided that a sumo technique might be effective against him. Upon hearing that a former sumo man, Kisoemon Uchiyama, worked at my university dormitory, I requested him to teach me sumo techniques. The sumo throws that I learned from him, however, proved to be totally ineffective against Fukushima. It then occurred to me to research books on western style wrestling, so I went to my local public library in Yushima, Bunkyo Ward. Unfortunately from among the wrestling books available, there did not seem to be any throw that I could use on Fukushima, except one that I thought just might be effective against him since Fukushima was taller than I. This throw was a shoulder wheel or kata-guruma. I experimented with it on one of my student friends soon after reading about it and succeeded in throwing him. I also tried it on Aoki with the same result. On my next visit to the dojo, therefore, I challenged Fukushima to a practice, and for the first time in my life I successfully threw him with my newly acquired technique. After many months of trying, I had finally managed to down him. I was overjoyed and felt a great sense of achievement.

  2. There appears to have been a prototype of kata-guruma in koryu jujutsu. Kyutaro Kanda, 9th dan, is widely known as the master of kata-guruma and is thought to have developed the original kata-guruma from kinu-katsugi of the Yoshin-ryu Totsuka school. There is also a similar technique in Yoshin-ryu, called hankai-garami. However it is unclear if it has any relation to kata-guruma. enter image description here There exists a further technique in sumo wrestling known as sori-te (Sumo wa koshite miru no ga tanoshii, published by Baseball Magazine Co., 1992). enter image description here

  3. That the throw was introduced to judo via Kanda seems obviously false given kata-guruma was part of the original gokyo-no-waza, standardised in 1895, two years before Kanda's birth.

  • Being that this is a very universal kind of throw, it could have come to Judo from multiple different sources at multiple different occasions to multiple different judoka. There doesn't need to be a single source. And I think your evidence shows that is the case. I don't think this is a case of revisionist history, if that's what you might suspect, as a way to de-emphasize the non-Japanese origins of the technique. The answer is probably all of the above. Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 17:12


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