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The Kodokwan Judo Jujitsu club of Zambia is one of the oldest founded dojos in Southern Central Africa, teaching traditional Kodokan Judo and Koryu Goshin Jujitsu. At the time of its formation in 1928 in South Africa, it was the only dojo that practiced JUJITSU and then around the early 1940s our Kodokwan began to include formal judo practice in its dojo.

The Kodokwan was originally founded by a Japanese merchant sailor by the name of Seishi Teppei or some times called Yusei Teppei who lived in Hong Kong, Shanghai in the 1920s. He taught a military style of Jujitsu and another family system of Jujitsu taught to him by his father who was from a Samurai clan. He was also taught Kodokan Judo by Kano Shihan at the Kodokan in Tokyo.

While he lived in Hong Kong he met a man from Ireland who lived in Southern Rhodesia in Africa by the name of Dr Henry Johnston who was studying medicine. He was also a very good magician by profession . Seishi Teppei decided to teach Dr Henry Johnston in Hong Kong in back street machi dojo. In 1928 Seishi Teppei gave Dr Henry Johnston the Menkyo Kaiden to the Kodokwan Jujitsu, Judo Association. Soon after that Dr Henry Johnston returned to Africa and opened his first Kodokwan Dojo in Adderley Street, Cape Town, South Africa.



Dr. Henry Johnston

Henry Johnston was born on the 31st December 1908, in the village of Clounagh in Northern Ireland. Before he was a year old his parents immigrated to Rhodesia (in Southern Africa), where they died while he was very young.

At some stage during the 1920’s he toured the orient earning a living as a magician (he was apparently a very skilled performer) and consequently arrived in China, where he plied his trade. During this period he met Seishi Teppei and was so interested in learning Ju-jitsu from him that he remained there in order to train.

After this, Johnston returned to South Africa, and founded the Kodokwan Ju-jitsu Association (known later as the South African Ju-jitsu Association) in 1928 in Cape Town. 

Having turned his talents to a variety of careers and business interests, Johnston made the decision to become a doctor and entered the University of Cape Town School of Medicine in 1940 at the age of 32. Dr. Johnston started his own very successful medical practice in Gwanda and Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, in the 1950's and 1960's where he lived with his wife Rosalie until his death in 1966.

Two of his top students were Joe Grant Grierson and Dennis McCrea who joined the Kodokwan dojo in 1943. In 1947, after graduating from University with a medical doctorate, Johnston transferred his dojo to Dennys McCrea and George Joe Grant-Grierson. These two men later were awarded Kaiden Menkyo by Dr Henry Johnston in 1954 and both were presented to the rank of 4th dan. Joe Grant Grierson came up to Northern Rhodesia now called Zambia in 1954 to work on the Copper Mines. He opened the first Kodokwan dojo in 1954 in the city of Kitwe. His first two students were John Kruger and Steve Arneil who later went to Tokyo, Japan in 1960 and started training with Mas Oyama and the Kyokushinkai Karate dojo in Tokyo.

This is an old photo of the sailors in the military that would visit ports and train on the docks practise their martial arts of Judo, Karate, Kendo. Kodokwan founders Joe Grant Grierson and Dennis McCrea would visit the Cape Town docks looking for Japanese merchant sailors and managed to challenge some top Japanese Judo and Jujitsu black belt sailors that would dock in Cape Town, South Africa. This was how they knew if the Kodokwan Jujitsu techniques taught to them at the dojo in Cape Town worked or not against the Japanese. They fought some really hard and strong Japanese Judoka that were black belts training at the Kodokan in Tokyo.




Joe Grant Grierson

Jonathan Kruger: "The late Shihan Joe Grant Grierson 10th Dan in Kodokwan jujitsu and the head of The Kodokwan in Africa. Shihan Joe Grant Grierson first started learning jujitsu in 1943 in Cape Town under Grand master Dr. Henry Johnston who learnt Kodokwan Jujitsu from Seshi Teppei in Hongkong in 1928. Shihan Joe Grant Grierson was the greatest Jujitska that I have ever met. Even when he was 79 years old I could do nothing to him I always ended up on the ground. This was the generation of the first European jujitsu masters who had studied under the Japanese. We can only try and continue what they started."

"Shihan once told me a story about when Sensei Danny McCrea (4th Dan Jujitsu) and himself visited a Japanese merchant ship docked at the port in Cape town. They were unable to communicate in Japanese but they showed their jujitsu grading certificate to the Japanese captain. The captain then said he had a very strong judoka from the Kodokan on board who was working as a sailor. This Japanese was the biggest man they had ever seen and he challenge both Joe and Danny to a fight in Judo. First Danny went and was thrown so hard he was nearly knocked out. Then the next round was against Shihan Joe himself. The Japanese picked up Joe with a powerful seoinage (shoulder throw) and while he was up in the air Shihan Joe wrapped himself around the Japanese body and ended up throwing the Japanese for a full ippon on the ship deck. Note they did not use any tatami mats. So, the Japanese hit the deck with such force that he layed there for a few moments and then slowly got up and bowed to Shihan Joe Grant Grierson and then told him that he wanted to grade Shihan Joe up to 2nd Dan in Kodokan Judo. This event happened in 1949 when the Japanese merchant ships first started visiting Africa after World war II."

"I loved every moment training with him, even the pain, it was once in a life time to train with such a great Master of Jujitsu as Kancho Joe."

Japie Cilliers: Kancho was by far the best CQC instructor that includes the past and present in our country, if not the world.

After Kancho Joe Grant Grierson returned to South Africa in 1964 Sensei John Kruger took over the running of the Kodokwan dojo in Zambia. Kancho Joe Grant Grierson 10th Dan Jujitsu, later became one of the most famous martial artists in promoting Jujitsu in Southern and Central African. He passed away in 2007 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Sensei John Kruger carried on teaching at the Kodokwan dojo from 1964 until he passed away in 2011. His son Jonathan Kruger already had taken over the running and coaching of the Kodokwan Judo Jujitsu Club of Zambia in 1998.



John Kruger

Sensei John Kruger fought in and won the 1960 Eastern and Central African Judo championships, which included some Black Belts from the Budokwai in England living in Africa. He also fought the top Budokwai Judo representative Terrace Donovan later on, who traveled around Africa challenging all the Judo clubs in Southern and Central. He was very famous for his Two Armed Shoulder Throw- Morote Seoinage. Sensei John Kruger was later challenged to an all out wrestling match by the Central African wrestling champion Fred Coates.

Fred Coates wanted to prove that European Wrestling was much better than Judo or Jujitsu. Fred Coates was a very big man and much bigger than my father. It was done at a pubic hall and the local Northern Rhodesian newspaper and reporters were there to see who would win. 

John Kruger later remarked that he had to use every skill he knew to keep alive in the fight. He managed to strike and throw Fred Coates around the ring. Fred kept trying to grab John in a wrestling hold to tap out. Eventually the match was a win for Judo. 

The following day Fred Coates came to the Kodokwan Dojo and joined the Judo club. He wanted to learn some judo throws to improve his wrestling skills. John Kruger Sensei 6th Dan Kodokwan Jujitsu later continued taking part in events against boxing and Wrestling champions to promote Jujitsu and Judo in Zambia. He was always taking part in events with no fighting rules in the ring. Many of his opponents later joined the Kodokwan dojo as students.




Jonathan Kruger

"Nigel Sessions from Gaven Ryu Jujitsu, South Africa was taught by Charles Gaven a student of Joe Grant Grierson and Dennis McCrea. He is by far our senior in the fact that he is one of the oldest still alive. But he doesn't teach the Kodokwan Jujitsu that Joe Grant Grierson taught nor does Guy Taylor of Seishi Teppei Jujutsu Kai, Canada. Nigel Sessions style is more closer to Gaven Ryu Jujitsu which was a system of Kodokwan jujitsu mixed later with Charles Gaven own system. Guy Taylor teaches the original jujutsu system taught by Seishi Teppei.

The Kodokwan I teach is a system of Joe Grant Griersons early system syllabus of Kodokwan Jujitsu that he taught in Northern Rhodesia and later continued  to change right through his life. He even taught us a whole lot of new techniques even in 2005. I sat down with him and translated his syllabus into Japanese in 2005. He even mixed some Gung Fu eagles claw, including Karate waza and some  stick fighting from the Philippines."

Today Shihan Jonathan Kruger 6th Dan is the Kaiden Menkyo third generation instructor to the Kodokwan Judo Jujitsu club of Zambia.



Early Years


Working in Japan as a missionary





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