Jiu-Jitsu Defended

The New York Times – April 8, 1905

Higashi Says Tricky Methods Were Used In Match with Bothner.

Higashi, the Japanese jiu-jitsu wrestler, who was thrown three times by George Bothner in the match on Thursday night in Grand Central Palace, yesterday issued a long statement. In it he contends that he was unfairly treated in respect to a non-observance of the rules that had been agreed upon a well as in the decisions made by the referee and Bothner’s judge.

Higashi says:
“In each bout Bothner went as close to the mat as he could and there he hung. He was expected to use catch-as-catch-can methods, but despite the appeals of the spectators to get up and wrestle ‘like a man’ he displayed a new line of shoving and burrowing tactics which can be described only as push-as-push-can. To this new and inactive style of ‘push’ wrestling he devoted himself so assiduously as to make a real contest all but impossible.

“It had been agreed that a flying fall should count. I made two in succession, each time hurling Mr. Bothner over my head. My judge claimed the falls for me, but they were disallowed, although explicitly provided for in the final agreement. Then I secured another well-known jiu-jitsu fall by folding my opponent’s arms around me and going over backward, landing him under me on his back. All three of these falls are allowed under the Japanese rules, as they constitute a real, not constructive victory.”

Higashi also makes the charge that he was tricked out of the choice of referee. “I knew perfectly well that no American referee unfamiliar with jiu-jitsu would be capable of giving an intelligent interpretation of the Japanese rules,” he says. “There is but one American, so far as I know, who is familiar with both Japanese and American rules–H. Irving Hancock. It was agreed between Bothner’s manager and myself that Mr. Hancock should referee the contest. At the last moment Bothner’s manager informed me that Mr. Hancock was to act only as my judge. Thus again I was tricked out of any possibility of a fair decision. Of the referee who served I will not say more than that he was wholly ignorant of the spirit of the rules under which it had been agreed to hold the contest.”

Whatever the merits of this dispute may be, it ought to be said in favor of Bothner that he displayed the true sportsmanlike spirit in consenting to wear the Japanese costume during the match. The thick, loose jacket plainly bothered him, and in order to weaken his opponent’s hold about his neck Bothner frequently defended himself with but one hand, while with the other he tried to keep the jacket from raising up to his neck. This in itself was a disadvantage to him. The entire affair illustrates the difficulty of arranging a satisfactory match between two exponents whose respective methods are so diametrically different.

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