Kojima Noritaka

Kojima Noritaka, Karate, Vancouver, BC, Kitsilano, Goju-ryu, Kobudo, Uechi-ryu, Shotokan, Lessons, Martial Arts
The Mightiest Karate Man in All of Japan

Here’s a fun advertisement that appeared in a Japanese newspaper in the 1930s advertising the “Mightiest Karate Man in all of Japan”.

Karate-jutsu : Two daily performances 1:30 & 6:00 pm

The man with grotesque superhuman strength in all Japan is coming

Dai Nippon Karate-jutsu, Daito-ryu, Jujutsu – Kojima Noritaka Director of the Fukuoka Kyakushokan (1)

The Best of Martial Arts of 
The Best of Martial Arts! (2)

Combining an unbelievable combination of brain and brawn!

After three years of training Karate in the mountains, he will hold a public demonstration of its ‘Secret Techniques’

  • Splitting a rock with his fist
  • Holding an automobile with a rope attached to his face
  • Disarming a man with a live blade
  • Lifting objects with his head
Kojima Noritaka, Karate, Vancouver, BC, Kitsilano, Goju-ryu, Kobudo, Uechi-ryu, Shotokan, Lessons, Martial Arts
Originally Published in the Yomiuri Newspaper May 21, 1936

Wow! Apparently in his day, Kojima was quite the strongman who entertained crowds with his feats of strength and his martial arts (2). Yet there is very little information about him even in Japanese. The little information I could find about Kojima can be found here. Perhaps other writers / researchers may be able to find more.

That said, I think the advertisement is interesting because it provides a contrast to how Karate was being portrayed in its early years on the Japanese mainland. On the one hand the newly imported Okinawa Karate was seen as a part of the sport and fitness boom of the 1920s and 1930s, where in the universities especially young men took up its practice.  In contrast, this advertisement shows one small example of how ‘Karate’ was being portrayed to the public, as essentially a side-show act. In this light it would have been no different from going to see the circus strongman or carnival contortionists. Perhaps this is part of the reason why Funakoshi lamented the state of Karate and its many charlatans in his autobiography Karate-do: My Way of Life.

In my next blog post I’ll show another way in which Karate’s perception was being shaped for public consumption through an advertisement for Funakoshi Gichin’s “Rentan Goshin Karate-jutsu”.

(1) The advertisement uses a seldom used kanji for the first part of his dojo name that I am unsure of how to read (躩晶館)

(2) What’s unclear in this advertisement is if Kojima was really demonstrating Karate-do or simply trying to cash-in on the ‘Karate’ boom that was happening in the Tokyo area around the same time.