"The Complete Kano Jiu-Jitsu" Is Not Judo



Once in a while I will encounter a reader who has fallen for a 115-year-old scam perpetrated by martial arts authors trying to capitalize on the name of judo founder professor Jigoro Kano.

In today's post, I'd like to take a look at this scam, and make it easier for others to know what they are reading. It doesn't mean readers should avoid the book. I'm more interested in "truth in advertising."

The (so-called) Complete Kano Jiu-Jitsu (Judo)

That scam is the 1905 book The Complete Kano Jiu-Jitsu (Judo) by H. Irving Hancock and Katsukuma Higashi, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons.

Interior of The Complete Kano Jiu-Jitsu (Judo) by H. Irving Hancock and Katsukuma Higashi, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1905.

The foreword to the book says the following:

The Complete Kano Jiu-Jitsu (Judo) by H. Irving Hancock and Katsukuma Higashi, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1905.

It reads in part "This volume, therefore, presents, in its entirety, the Kano system of jiu-jitsu, devised by Professor Jiguro [sic] Kano, with the additions thereto that have been made by those famous jiu-jitsians [sic], Hoshino and Tsutsumi."

The Reality

This book, however, has nothing to do with Judo. How do we know? Author John Stevens, in his Martial History Team award-winning book The Way of Judo, writes the following:

"It is unclear exactly what relationship [German physician Erwin Baelz (1849–1913)] had with Kano and the Kodokan. At least in regard to Kano and the Kodokan, Baelz’s memoirs are unreliable. 

In 1928, Kano visited Berlin. There he was shown a book entitled Kano Jujutsu, with a photo of Kano himself on the cover. Dr. Baelz had written the foreword. Kano had never seen the book before, or even heard of it. 

It was a German translation of The Complete Kano Jiu-Jitsu by H. Irving Hancock and Katsumi Higashi, published in 1904 [sic, it appears to be 1905].

Although Kano had nothing to do with the book—see the inscription with Kano’s disclaimer penned on the overleaf of the English edition (p. 16) — it was considered to be the authoritative judo textbook for the German police. Dr. Baelz’s involvement with the book is unknown."

Here is an image of Kano's disclaimer, courtesy of The Way of Judo:

Kano disclaimer, The Way of Judo, p 16

Prof Kano wrote:

"This books says The Complete Kano Jujitsu but I should say this book teaches nothing of my Judo. This book explains in a way the teaching of one of the schools of jujitsu taught in Feudal Times in Japan which is now obliterated in Japan. Jigoro Kano"

About the Authors

The authors have an interesting history as well. "Katsukuma Higashi" may have been a pseudonym. There is an interesting discussion on Reddit about him that's well worth reading. 

H. Irving Hancock wrote several books on martial arts, but it's unclear what training he had. His foreword to The Complete Kano Jiu-Jitsu (Judo) mentioned "earlier works." The most famous is probably Jiu-Jitsu Combat Tricks, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons in 1904.

Jiu-Jitsu Combat Tricks, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1904.


While The Complete Kano Jiu-Jitsu (Judo) may have some value for historical research, no one should read it and believe they are reading some form of Judo. Some have speculated that it is a defunct form of jujutsu, as Prof Kano wrote in his disclaimer. He should know, given the research and training he conducted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

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