Judo Blog: RIP Toshihiko Koga - Mushin
Two decades ago Toshihiko Kogo dominated the international judo with dazzling display of his prowess.
At that time we adopted his signature seionage (shoulder throw) and made it the poster for our dojo!
As shown in the animated gif we had to alter the throw after the IJF changed the rules to disallow grabbing of the legs while standing. Personally, I'm still against these rules and favor the Kosen Judo movement to bring back traditional judo. It was more realistic and had some spectacular throws including pick-ups.
The original photo.
In the early 70's I first met Nori Bunasawa, 9th Dan when he as an exchange student at Slippery Rock State College outside of my hometown Pittsburgh, I vividly recall he had dynamic style that resembled Koga's.
During the heyday of my daughter Callae's rise dominance as a junior national champion in the early 90's, I would take her over to Nori's dojo in Tustin, CA to get some tips from him. It was during one of these visits that Nori taught us the key to Koga's success. It was no secret, just a matter of getting down so low to ground and under his opponent legs breaking their center of gravity. However, Nori noted Koga could lift just about anyone even when taking his knees all the way to the ground!
Callae on the cover of American Judo in 1992 with Jason Morris. Nori with his famous book on Maeda.
But sadly Toshihiko Koga: An Artist Has Gone. A combination of cancer leading to kidney failure is what one of my judo physician friends said ultimately was his cause of death.
1995 World Judo Championships. Koga performing his trademark ippon-seoi-nage.
Black Belt Article on Koga's Passing Photo courtesy © David Finch
But the untimely death of a Koga will only serve to immortalize him as one of the greatest technicians to ever grace the tatami. Koga lived in the moment just like a prestigious and noble samurai warrior. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we're doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what's going on around us. It is rooted in the Zen tradition of Mushin and yields inner peace.
Mushin No Shin
The shortened Mushin is a Japanese Zen Principle of No Mind or Mind without Mind. Meaning to have a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion, and thus open to everything. The concept of Mushin is based upon this Zen Principle. To be able to act without thought about a technique while possessing an instantaneous flow of movements during an attack. The Circle of Life becomes a Spiral. Linear time becomes a circular recursive concept, as all lines of opposition are transformed into circles that reflect upon each other.
Koga - A New Wind
Koga’s Funeral Photos - March 28, 2021
From the service by his students…
Thank you so much Koga Sensei. Koga Sensei will continue to live forever in us. Thank you so much for all the affection.