DOB - 16 September 1951
COUNTRY - Japan
WEIGHT - U60kg & U65kg
Vienna, 1975, Silver
All Japan Weight Category
World Sambo Championships
Bakul, 1975, Gold
Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki was a relatively late developer by judo standards. When he first arrived at Tokai university as a teenager he was ranked 16th of the 20 students in his year. It was some time before he began to show real promise, and when he did it was the result of dedication, determination and an imagination for technical innovation. As in most top university dojos, every day began with an early morning run; Kashiwazaki never once let himself be beaten in this run. It was this that first drew him to the attention of Coach Nobuyuki Sato.
Having broken his arm at the age of sixteen, he found himself unable to use his favourite technique- Morote-seoi-nage any more. He had to rethink his judo and began to study ne-waza, eventually becoming so strong that by the end of his fourth year at Tokai he was part of the team in open-weight events, due to his ability to beat bigger men on the ground. It was also during this period when he honed his skill with Tomoe-nage and Obi tori gaeshi- techniques that he would become renowned for.
Kashiwazaki also broadened his horizons by studying various non-Japanese forms of wrestling, travelling to many different countries in the process. In particular he devoted a lot of time to Russian Sambo wrestling- eventually winning a world Sambo title in 1975.
Whilst still a relatively junior member of the Japanese national team, one of the head coaches decided that Kashiwazaki needed some extra pressure going into his next competition. He therefore told him that if he lost once in ne-waza, in an hour long randoori session, he would be dropped from the team. This was a tall ask of a lightweight fighter, considering he would be up against many a larger opponent in the hour. In his first practice he fought a larger opponent, but managed to turn him over into his favourite hold- Tate-shio-gatame. After forty seconds or so of struggling his opponent tapped to signify defeat. However, Kashiwazaki refused to let go. Instead he held him there for the full hour. When the session finished and he finally released his partner, the coach had no option but to allow Kashiwazaki to keep his place on the team.
Graduating from Tokai at the age of 23, he adopted the unusual approach of working full time as a teacher and doing his personal training outside of school hours. In 1975 he won silver at the World championships. His principal dream was to win the Olympic Games, and in the late 1970s he was on course to do so at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. However, politics intervened with the Japanese boycott of the Games and Kashiwazaki was denied to opportunity to realise his dream.
Despite this disappointment, Kashiwazaki maintained his form to win the 1981 World Championships, in Maastricht. In the final, against Constantin Nicolae of Romania, he gave a superb display of his judo, throwing with Tomoe-nage and then holding his opponent for ippon with Yoko shio gatame. This demonstrated perfectly the principle which Kashiwazaki had exemplified all through his career- that there should be no separation between Tachi-waza and Ne-waza. After winning the Kano cup the following year he retired at the age of 31.
He then stayed in England for a year, teaching at the Budokwai and learning English. On his return to Japan, he founded the judo section at the International Budo University at Katsuura. In addition to his competition successes, Kashiwazaki has always maintained a strong academic interest in judo. He has contributed regularly to Kindai judo magazine, and other leading Japanese judo journals. He is also the author of three titles in the ippon books master class series: Tomoe-nage, Shimewaza and Osaekomi, as well as co-author of ‘Attacking judo’ with Hidetoshi Nakanishi. This, with his regular trips to teach judo around the world has made him a well-known figure in many countries, and an inspiration to many, inside and outside of Japan.
In the preface of ‘Fighting Judo’, Nobuyuki Sato wrote:
‘It has been said of Kashiwazaki and his judo that he is “a man who created art from effort.” If I can make a comparison between Kashiwazaki and Yasuhiro Yamashita: the latter is an exemplary product of a system designed to create judo champions. He was nurtured by that system as a prize flower cultivated in a garden. Kashiwazaki, on the other hand, is like a flower which sprang up among weeds, training as he did in Northern Japan, whilst teaching in a high school.”
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