Martial Arts History: Masahiko Kimura

Before I got bitten by the strongman bug and fell in love with strength sports. I used to do a lot of martial arts, mainly MMA, Muay Thai, animal style kung fu, a lil’ Kyokushin and a bit of BJJ. I always loved reading about great masters and practitioners in history! I’d like to write a little bit about some of my favorites on my Unarmored Force Facebook page from time to time. This week I want to write a little bit about Masahiko Kimura.

Born in Japan on September 10th 1917, Kimura was attracted to Judo at the age of 9. He became the youngest 5th rank black belt by the age of 18 after defeating eight high ranked opponents in a row.


kimurabenchpress.jpgThe reason why I was drawn to him, his story and training regime was because he was fanatical when it came to training. I want to remind everyone that he grew up and peaked during an era where PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) didn’t exist.
Kimura reportedly trained 6 days a week that consisted daily of Judo, strength and conditioning. Doing between 500 to a 1000 hindu push-ups a day, benching heavy with sets of 1-3 reps, doing hundreds of squats with either people, logs or some type of weight on his back. These were only a few things he did.

For a full grasp of martial arts he also trained karate with his friend, the legendary Mas Oyama.

With this Masahiko Kimura stood at a strong 84kg bodyweight being 170cm tall. Yet even while being an undisputed Judo champion and awarded athlete he still was human. Only losing 4 matches during his Judo career in 1935 he was about to quit Judo, but due to support from his friends he didn’t.

Kimura_kesa.jpgIn most MMA and BJJ circles people know Masahiko Kimura due to the Kimura shoulder lock that was named after him when he beat Hélio Gracie under the ”Gracie rules”, where the match ends at loss of consciousness or submission. In Judo these rules are foreign as matches are judged differently. After a long match Kimura caught Gracie with a gyaku-ude-garami. Kimura twisted and as Hélio Gracie was an old skool badass he did not surrender. Kimura broke Gracies arm twice before Gracie’s team threw in the towel.

After his Judo career Masahiko Kimura taught martial arts to law enforcement and later had a career in professional wrestling. He was in one of the most high profile and controversial early Japanese pro wrestling matches against Rikidozan, the father of Japanese pro wrestling.

Miki Korhonen
Personal trainer / Amateur Strongman

Training for strength has always been close to my heart alongside being able to share that strength and knowledge with others through coaching. At the moment I’m training to win the WHEA Strongman Finnish National Championship in the under 85kg weight class, as well as keep growing as an athlete and a coach.

I’m a personal trainer located in Kouvola, Finland; who focuses on strength and conditioning. My mission is to provide coaching backed by current research for people from all walks of life. I’m also working on growing strongman locally.

I’m always ready to answer all questions to the best of my knowledge if you’re wondering about strength training and nutrition. You can get in contact with me through Facebook and Instagram (links below).

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