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Written by © Jonathan Kruger 2010


Grand master Joe Grant Grierson  was one of  the greatest personalities to have ever contributed  to  the proud history of the kodokwan over the last  82 years since its founding in 1928. I dedicate this history of chronicles to the greatest Kodokwan instructor that ever lived. Grand master Joe Grant Grierson 10th dan kodokwan koryo jujitsu, 1927 to 2007 and I would  also like to dedicate this work to his first 3 students here in Zambia; Hanshi Steve Arneil 9th dan kyokushin kai karate UK, Shihan John Kruger 6th dan (my father) Kitwe, Zambia and Sensei Spike Hovlmeryer 3rd dan Japanese Shotokan Karate, Kitwe, Zambia.

Who all trained with this great Grand master almost every day for 7 years. Without their personal experiences  shared to us of their training  with the great Master this work on his life in Northern Rhodesia would not be possible for us to tell to the next generation.

Some us had the great privilege of knowing him as our instructor and mentor here in Central Africa . Our hope is that as we humbly share his heritagewith you it will inspire you as his life here inspired all of us here and made all of us hereto strivefor Godlinessin our own life.

This is the story of this great master who once lived with us here in Northern Rhodesia now Zambia




Written by © Jonathan Kruger 2010


Grand master George Jamieson  (Joe) Grant Grierson was born in south Africa on the 12th of February 1927. As a young man  growing up in Cape Town Joe  had always wanted to do something that would help those around him. He met his best friend Denny Mc Crea  while studying  to be an  electrician at the same school. According to Joe as both of them were apprentices they used to share all their dreams of traveling  around  Africa through their work. They always looked in the paper adds hoping to find companies looking for electricians that were willing to take them on when they finished their apprenticeship.


Kodokwan Prospectus early 1940Then  in 1943. One day a friend  was talking about a small  newspaper advertisement  about Jujitsu classes, and that he was thinking about joining up. This got the interest of both of them, and they went to one of the jujitsu practices to see what all the fuss was about.

They walked into a class with Dr Henry Johnston teaching some  advanced students break falls on a mat made out of saw dust with  a canvas covering . They were quite surprised to find out that the mat was really hard and not soft like they thought. And then the students were taught some jujitsu techniques.

The jujitsu Come- Alongs were the techniques that interested them the most that they decided to join right away.

Joe said that Dr Henry Johnston was a quite well built Irish gentle man who spoke with a lot of authority. He told them that he was only interested in serious students who were willing to train with discipline and commitment . Joe,  recalls that Dr. Henry Johnston taught Dennis McCrea and him a very practical jujitsu that wasn’t fancy in anyway. And when he showed a technique either a throw or a lock and he let you feel the pain of the lock to a certain degree so that you knew the technique  really worked. When he taught throws he never held back if he knew that you could breakfall and had some very powerful throws his favorite throws were Ippon seoinage and harai goshi. And when he threw someone they had their time cut out just making sure that their break fall was perfect just to get up from the throw.

Joe Grant Grierson and Dennis Mc Crea continued to train almost every day with the club even when Dr. Henry Johnston was unable to come ,even leading the beginners class at times. But they preferred to train with each other along until they had got a movement completely down.

From 1943 to around about 1947 they trained daily for about 4 hours Joe’s says. Dr. Johnston taught them mainly jujitsu and judo and on other days atemi waza, karate waza, and on special days Gung Fu eagle’s claw for only the most disciplined students. As well as hambo jitsu (short stick fighting). Joe, was particularly interested in the atemi waza, karate waza and gung fu.

Joe Grierson and Dennis McCreaIn 1947 Dr. Johnston had a job offering to go up to work in Southern Rhodesia and handed the club over to Joe Grant Grierson and Dennis McCrea who were his most dedicated students at the Kodokwan. And he graded both of them up to 4th Dan in Kodokwan jujitsu and was very proud of their efforts shown in learning the art and gave them full grading authority to continue teaching kodokwan jujitsu. 

It was during this time that Joe built up his hands in Gung fu and karate waza, so much so that  the two middle punching knuckles on his right hand fussed together into one solid piece.

In 2005 he shared with me  how he had built them up by hitting his fingers into sand as well as striking a makiwara( a forging board for extremities) and hitting wood posts, doing push up on  the concrete floor. He said that he broke the two knuckles  a few times before they healed fussed together.

At 78 I could still see the two knuckles fussed together  from many years of training. John Kruger always said that Joes fingers looked like a piano players  but they felt like steel when he hit you or a prod from  them  to the floating ribs sent you down streaming in pain unable to breath.

Please note that Eagles claw was a very secret  art even  most of Joe’s Kodokwan students never learnt it!. Joe told John Kruger that it was to put a guy out of action or kill him. This was not  a jitsu form of martial arts. Using the three main fingers as a eagles claw to rip out a throat or claw a face and blind someone for good. And to break bones. Or just  to break someone’s back in split second with two moves.


Written by © Jonathan Kruger 2010


Gung fu is used to sink your fingers right through some one’s flesh . The fingers were trained to meet each other right through the flesh  any parts of the arms ,legs, stomach ,chest or neck ,especially in the Kyusho areas of the body.

John KrugerOutside a bar in 1957, Southern Rhodesia four local thugs attacked John Kruger, two held his arms and the third tried to punch him in the face. The fourth guy was watching and telling them what to do and using terrible bad language. John Kruger knew if he just stood there they would hit him almost to death.


The first two that were holding his arms went crashing to the ground when John suddenly lifted his legs to his chest. He heard the two guys heads hit together above him when he went down.  Now the third guy got the  worst.  John got into the Gung fu  fighting stance and  used the mind mill action and hit the guy with a open hand palm strike on the side of the face which split his face from mouth to ear. This guy fell down with blood everywhere. The fourth guy said to John before you hit me please allow me to take off my glasses. He was the one leading them on.


Anyway John Kruger did not hit him as he was no threat. After the thugs went to hospital they called the police and said they were attacked by a man carry a wheel spanner. And the police wanted to lock John in jail. Until he told them the true story and that four men attacked one man and got the worst of the fight . But John soon had to return back to Northern Rhodesia due to the problems that fight coursed , everybody wanted to fight him after that. Even some of the big strong  police officers wanted to see if John could take them on and do the same to them.

One thing Joe always taught us was to GET DOWN into his especial fighting stance when you felt the situation was going to lead into a fight.


In 1954 Joe was offered a job to work as a electrician in Northern Rhodesia on the Nkana copper mine in Nkana now called Kitwe. Joe said good bye to Mc Crea who continued the kodokwan in Cape Town until 1960.

n 1954 Joe Grierson was offered a job to work as a electrician in Northern RhodesiaJoe‘s move to Kitwe was a very pleasant one .He once told me how he remembered Kitwe in the1950s. As you drove into Kitwe you felt that you were driving down a  beautiful  garden city. And every ones garden went right up to the sidewalks. The best garden mine house on the mines got an award and the worst mine house garden owner got fired from the mines every year.

On his last return to Kitwe in 2005 he was very sad to see that city had grown and no longer had the beautiful flowers growing ever where on the sidewalks. Even today Joe’s first old mine house can be seen  on right side as you come to the first traffic lights as you enter Kitwe from the main road from Ndola. It is the first house as you enter Kitwe.

John Kruger later built Joe his own beautiful house in riverside. Joe soon got bored after work every day, that he decided to open up a Northern Rhodesian Kodokwan club to all his friends working on the mines and to anybody that wanted to join from outside. He rented a small room in a  backstreet in second class trading area. As the class membership grew Joe started looking for a new premises . He found a new building hall just outside the out skirts of Kitwe called the OB Bennett Hall two minutes drive from his house , which was a perfect size room. And was able to get some real tatami  mats from somewhere. 

This was to be the Northern Rhodesia  Kodokwan HQ right up until 1961. Joe even managed to get real Kodokan  judogi  specially ordered through the mines for the club from Japan. This was at the time the club was considered to be the best martial arts school in Central Africa. The  kodokwan offered courses  in judo, jujitsu, atemi –waza, Karate-waza  and hanbo-jitsu and a special class for Gung Fu.

According to shihan John Kruger the Gung Fu classes was only for the most dedicated students and was taught by Joe when all the other students weren’t around and the doors were locked and  Joe made an oath to be sworn by the students never to show anyone this secret art to outsiders of the kodokwan.



Written by © Jonathan Kruger 2010


I was only shown the art of Gung Fu deadly techniques after 22 years of training at the Kodokwan by my father Shihan John Kruger. When my father joined the club he had already done a bit of judo in Southern Rhodesia from a European instructor who taught at the YMCA in Southern Rhodesia in 1951. When my dad joined the club in 1954 he could already break fall and was an orange belt.

Steve ArneillWhen John Kruger joined the club in 1954 he found Steve Arneil as a brown belt in judo and jujitsu and was in the Karate –waza class with Spike Hovlmeryer .This was a self-defence course ,but the students of this class never learnt how to break fall and my father was asked by Joe to take the break falls for the class when they learnt throwing techniques used in self defence. One of the things that sticks to my father’s mind always  is the way Joe could stand on one side of the mat and take one tremendous  leap right across the mat through the  air and land on the other side of the mat in a low flying kick just above the ground. God help you if you were the one he did it to!

According to John Kruger Joe used to pinfive small pieces  of  paper the size of a playing cards on top of a door frame and jump up with one leap and catch the pieces of paper with his toes every time. He also had the ability to throw someone with just his hands by pulling you in one direction and then suddenly changing to another direction only to find yourself flying through the air in a big circle and then hitting the mat .

He had a great feeling of the body movements of Kuzushi to break your balance  for such throws, and very few people were able to stop him doing that.  Grand Master Joe always thought of John Kruger as one of his best students who was willing to take on anyone during their outside demosto introduce jujitsu to the public, but at times said he could be quite a cheeky bugger. And  made sure that sometimes he had to learn the hard way in training. 

One day while teaching him atemi waza John Kruger kept getting the movements  wrong and was not covering up and protecting himself properly And Joe gave him a final warning about this, the next minute Joe prod him with two fingers under his floating ribs and John went down on the spot.

Even now Shihan John Kruger can still recalls the pain from the atemi waza, and said for two weeks whenever he wanted to take a deep breath the pain brought him to his knees. That was one of the many ways that Joe kept his students in line and humble at all times in and out of the dojo.

Joe was also known to never give out grading belts easily ,you had to properly earn them. One of his comments about this  was ,Anyone can wear a black belt but very few can be a black belt.


Itaru - reach outJoe had many interesting stories about his work on the copper mines. But one story stands out in particular . One day Joe was called to go down under ground because there was an electrical problem in one of the underground tunnels and the lights had gone off and everything was in total darkness down there. Joe had only his head lamp to see. Suddenly something very  strange happened .Joe recalls in his story. In the deep darkness Joe saw a vision of man standing in front of him dressed in full Samurai armour. He did not know if he was dreaming or just that the darkness had got to him. But he could see this Japanese Samurai  warrior very clearly in the dark.

The Samurai spoke to him and said that he had great gift given to him and that it was his duty to continue sharing this great knowledge to all mankind to change them and make them better people. Joe believe this was really  a sign from God.

After that vision Joes outlook on life changed forever. This is where Joe got the Japanese word GIRI for all of his jujitsu  grading certificates. GIRI is the Japanese word for GIRI, OBLIGATION,LOYALTY,DUTY- GOLD. This was around the time he started to  use the Japanese name for himself ITARU to REACH  OUT.



Written by © Jonathan Kruger 2010


I believe Joe really reached out  to all of us in one way or another to change our life forever! Those  of us who had the privilege to meet him and train with him will never forget him.

Fred CoatesIn 1957 John Kruger started the Kodokwan in Lusaka. The all in wrestlers in Lusaka trained in this club to improve their wrestling skills .Mr Fred Coates,the heavy weight champion of Northern Rhodesia challenged the Kodokwan and John Kruger took up the challenge.  It was a big fuss in the newspaper and it drew quite a crowd gathering  to the tournament . Fred Coates showed up with his leopard skin wrestling costume . John Kruger came with his children wearing his judogi. The crowd went wild!


As the fight  started Fred kept trying to grab John Kruger and hurt him into submission .John kept moving around and throwing him until  He gave up. The Judo Kuzushi was just too much for him!


In Lusaka John got another  challenge from a top boxer and champion of Northern Rhodesia Charley Pichy. This time John knew he had to go for him with Jujitsu. Using Jujitsu to come on his blind side  to strike both of his triceps each time , which made him unable to carry on boxing and gave up, as he could no longer pick up his limp arms to box. 


Terence DonovanThen in 1958 - A visiting Judo-ka from the Budokwai in London, Terence Donovan a blue belt at that time, was traveling around Africa challenging all the judo clubs. Donovan threw everybody in the Kodokwan with his famous- Two Arm Shoulder Throw- Morote Seoinage. Starting from yellow belt onwards everybody was upside down in the first five seconds before they knew it.


He threw the whole club in less than two minutes. When it was John Kruger’s turn to go for flying lessons, his first thought was (I must stop him before he throws our Sensei Joe and makes our club look bad) Steve Arneil had not came to training that day, so John was the only brown belt left before Joe. When Donovan came in for  the throw John found himself also upside down, but as he was about to go over he got a lock on Donovan,s head and nearly pulled it off! Donovan fell over with John on his back holding his neck in pain, and had to sit down for quite a while. Joe was not impressed with  the whole thing and disqualified John on the spot!


John says later on that he does not know if Joe was quite relieved that he did not have to be the last man to be thrown by Donovan (a blue belt throwing a 5th dan does not look good!)  


In 1959 - Kodokwan held its first ever judo competition in the Ndola city YMCA, It was called the Central and Eastern African judo championships. Clubs from all over came to the tournament even some judoka from Joe Robinsons judo clubs took part. The Northern Rhodesian newspaper covered the event (Man from the North). The hall had just been painted brown for the event and walls still had fresh paint.  John Kruger remembers all the judoka that leaned on the wall had brown paint on their judogi backs!

The Kodokwan three armed logo which was made with golden  wireJoe Grant Grierson showed up to the tournament wearing a traditional jujitsugi wearing black pants which we all now know as a Hakama. The kodokwan won most of the fights and John Kruger from the Kodokwan in Lusaka met Graham Talling from the Kodokwan in Kitwe. Graham was a taller fighter and tried to throw John Kruger with Harai Goshi,but both of them fell down together. In the ground fighting that followed John Kruger ended on top holding Graham down with a kesa gatame to win the  first Central and Eastern judo championship. John later said that he was disappointed not to have won with a nage waza, throwing technique. 

Later at a dinner  party to congratulate the winners Joe awarded John Krugerwith  the very rare golden badge with the kodokwan three armed logo which was made with golden  wire.

50 years later we found out that Joe had them made in South Africa with real golden wire. According to John Kruger only three people have ever been awarded in Northern Rhodesia with this award. 




Written by © Jonathan Kruger 2010


When Joe Grant Grierson opened the Kodokwan in Northern Rhodesia Steve Arneil had already done judo in South Africa with Joe Robinson in 1949 and received is black belt from them. According to Spike Hovlmeryer Steve really wanted to test his judo skills against the Japanese judo. And one day went to one of the Japanese ships docked in Cape Town. He asked if any one of them knew judo and a few said yes that they had practiced judo at the kodokan. So Steve asked them if he could practice randori with them. It happened that Steve was unable even to throw any of them even the ones that were white belts. This was nearly the end of Steve Arneil’s practice  of judo and he threw his black belt over the side of the ship in front of the Japanese sailors on board! He felt like giving up martial arts all together.

Steve Arneill at Kodokwan ZambiaBut this was all to change when Steve Arneil met the Grandmaster of Kodokwan judo Joe Grant Grierson and came under his tutorship in 1954. When John Kruger met Steve Arneil in the second class trading area kodokwan dojo, Joe had already moved Steve up to brown belt level in the same year of 1954.

According to John Kruger Steve Arneil was quite a stocky man and was about 5-9 a very solid fighter in Judo and jujitsu. Every time they practiced Randori together John Kruger always lost. He was strong and impossible to throw and very steady on his feet when moving. But over the years of learning judo every day from Joe, John Kruger was obsessed in one day been able to throw Steve Arneil.

John Kruger learnt everything he could possibly know about the secrets of judo from the Grand master Joe especially taught  him about bringing an opponent over yourself and breaking his balance without him feeling or knowing what you are doing. Joe always stated that your opponent should be brought on to you and getting in as close as possible giving him no space to move out of the throw. It took John Kruger a long time of learning this secret of judo from Joe before his judo really started to click and winning was the order of the day.

In 1959 The day had finally come that John Kruger was to be tested for his brown belt grading. He had thrown four blue belts at the kodokwan in randori and his final test was to see if  he could stand up to  Steve Arneil in contest. Joe was the judge to see if what he had taught John Kruger was going to work. The contest started with both opponents sizing themselves up. John knew Steve was going to give him one hell of a fight as Steve at the time was Joes best fighters and perhaps his best ever fighter that the Kodokwan anywhere had ever seen, even today! The fight continued without any one scoring a point for a few minutes. Then John saw Steve quickly shuffle sideways with his feet gliding ever so fast once to the side. And John thought to himself you just do that one more time! Sure enough Steve was about to do it again When suddenly John swept both of his feet right of the ground with an Okuri ashi harai- side ankle  drawing foot sweep. Steve flew in the air in a high full complete circle and came down with a perfect break fall for ippon! Joe commented that the throw looked like a shoulder throw.

John Kruger never fought Steve after that as Steve soon left for the Far - East and Japan to continue his studies of martial arts and to teach rugby in Japan. Steve was a very good rugby player as well as a all round sports man. In 1960 when Joe arrived finally in Japan he received his black belt at the Kodokan in Tokyo. And messages would come back from Tokyo Japan to everyone at the Kodokwan and Joe would read the letter proudly in front of all the students after practice that Steve had never lost a fight at the Kodokan. Which gave the club members something to be very proud of. 

In 2005 Shihan John Kruger got Steve’s number from the internet and phoned Hanshi Steve Arneil in London to invite him to the 50 years celebration of Kodokwan Judo and Jujitsu in Kitwe, Zambia and that Grandmaster Joe Grant Grierson was to be the guest of honor at this event.

After introducing himself Steve at once recognized John Kruger’s voice on the phone and remembered all their fights in judo they had together. Unfortunately Hanshi Steve Arniel was an unable to attend this special event but his message of congratulating the Kodokwan celebration of 50 years of judo and jujitsu in Kitwe Zambia and also congratulating John Kruger and Spike Hovelmyer for continuing their efforts in the martial arts was read out in front of all the guests who came.

Joe Grant Grierson showed that he was truly proud of the efforts done at the Kodokwan here in Zambia after hearing Steve Arneil’s message.

An interesting event took place just before Steve was about to go Japan in Kitwe, Joe shared this interesting story with us about Steve. One evening when Steve was visiting a friends house he was attacked by four local Zambians, one of them kicked him with full force in the groin and Steve fell down but soon got up as he knew that to lay on the ground was a sure way to be kicked to death. He then summoned up his inner strength and fought for his life and knocked out three of them right out on the spot. The fourth got away on his bicycle before Steve could catch him. Steve then got in his car under tremendous pain and drove to Joe’s house right away. When Joe opened the door Steve passed out in front of the door. Joe picked him up and brought him around with kappo and to helped him to get his breathing back to normal.



Written by © Jonathan Kruger 2010

Kodokwan Judo and Jujitsu club Lusaka CityIn 1957 John Kruger opened the Kodokwan in Lusaka city which was doing very well and Joe came to visit once a month to see how the club was doing and to collect the monthly club fees due. The Club now had many different students from different walks of life.

The wrestlers from the YMCA came to learn throwing techniques and judo osaekomi waza ground work techniques to improve their wrestling.

The head instructor John Kruger a blue belt now, used  to enjoy doing ground work hold downs with the wrestlers as he was always able to hold them down in judo.

The ladies self defence had quite a few interesting students due to the outside kodokwan demonstrations gave at different venues and parties in Lusaka. One of the club lady students was once at home with her daughter outside buying vegetables and fruit from a local Zambian man selling them from his bicycle  when suddenly the little girl pulled out the stick that was holding the bicycle up. Then the bicycle fell over with all the vegetables rolling all over the place. The man really got mad about this and slapped the little girl. Seeing this happen her mother was shocked and ran up to him and gave him a hard slap against the head and then grabbed the little girl and ran into the house. He then ran after them, she tried to close the front door but he was too strong and he forced the door open then she ran into the living room with her daughter he walked up to her and hit her really hard she staggered  back with her child behind her. This is when she knew that she had to fight for her life and child. She stopped and took a deep breath as he came towards her. She then struck him with a powerful Atemi-waza and then threw him with a Ippon Seoinage-shoulder throw, he went flying over her shoulder and landed on the low center table and broke it! He got up and she hit him in the face with a palm strike and moved to his side and threw him with O soto- gari- major outer reaping throw which broke some more furniture!.

By this time she just wanted to finish him off, and kept running after him but he ran out of the house even leaving his bicycle outside in her yard. Her father a rich businessman in Lusaka later called up John Kruger and thanked him for teaching his daughter jujitsu self defence, and handed him the keys to a new car!

But not all the ladies self defence  classes went that well. One afternoon at birthday party  outside in a garden the kodokwan club put on a demonstration  of jujitsu. The demo included a woman attacked by a man. In the attack demo that followed Johnny LeRoux a judoka and wrestler was attacking one of the ladies when suddenly she got too carried away and jerked so hard that she broke his neck! Thank God he was alright and was rushed to the hospital. Everybody at the birthday party thought it was part of the act and cheered ! Johnny Leroux soon recovered and became one of the best judoka in the Kodokwan. And continued training for many years.

At another outside Kodokwan demonstration John Kruger had just finished showing some judo throws when suddenly  a man in the crowd looking very nervous walked towards John encouraged  further by his girl friend pulled out a flick knife and was about to do something when suddenly before he knew it John moved on his blind side and kicked the knife right out of his hand and then came done with a sharp knife hand chop to this fellows arm, and was end of that! But yet again the crowd went crazy cheering them on thinking it was part of the act! 

Even Fred Coates the Northern Rhodesian wrestling champion was a loyal student of the kodokwan in Lusaka. One day just before they were about start, 4 top South African black belts walked into the club and introduced themselves as Mickey Dawidow’s judo club from the Shi-Heun judo association who were training at the South African police. The other three black belts might have been Jack W Burnbridge, Eddie Surtherland and John R Swaney.

But John Kruger can only remember them as Mickeys Dawidow’s Shi-Heun judo club top black belts. They asked John Kruger if he was interested in having a competition with the 4 of them. And John took up the offer to have a go on the mat with them. John knew he had to work fast and not play with them and try and throw them in the first minute or he would be in trouble. John Kruger recalls that he threw all 4 of them with the same technique Harai Goshi his favorite throw which Joe taught him how to perfect over and over again. He just waited for them to try and move in to a throwing position and John swung around on to his back leg around the side of them into his Harai Goshi throw and scored Ippon on all 4 of them. They all asked if they could fight him again but he knew next time he went on the mat with them might be a different situation as they now knew his throw and could counter it. So he respectfully told them that he had enough and wanted to now learn from them Shi-Huen judo.

That night the four black belts graded John Kruger up to Shodan First dan black belt and gave him one of their original black belts, and they made him an honorary South African police member of the Shi-Huen judo club and told that whenever he was in South Africa he was welcome to stay with them. This made John Kruger the first Kodokwan black belt student in Northern Rhodesia until he went back to the Kitwe Kodokwan to train at Joe’s club.

The following week he was in Kitwe and was showing off his lovely original Black belt to all the students and telling them how he had won it by  throwing all of the 4 black belts from the Shi –Huen judo club with his harai goshi. Then suddenly Joe walked into the dojo and saw John wearing the Black belt very proudly. Joe then told him to remove the black belt in front of all the students. He took that lovely black belt from John Kruger and he never saw it again. Joe said that when he thought John was ready to wear a black belt then he could wear the black belt. This made John Kruger a little depressed but made him even train harder after that.

Many years after this incident happened Fr Jude McKenna an Irish Catholic priest,  a 3rd dan IJF at the time was the Zambia Judo Association president. He heard about what Joe had done.


Fr Jude McKenna Kodokwan ZambiaAnd finally in 1989 Fr Jude McKenna came up to Kitwe and awarded John Kruger his First dan black belt in front of all the Zambia Judo association grading panel.

It had taken John Kruger 30 years to receive his black belt. Joe had written the incident down in the kodokwan club journal and the records were kept until Fr Jude Mckenna heard about the incident and awarded the black belt to John finally.

One of Joes most famous fights against the Japanese was around about the time of 1960 when he returned back to South Africa to see Dennys McCrea. The story was told to me in 2005 by Joe himself.

They had  both heard of a Japanese Ship docked  in Cape Town harbor. Joe always admitted that his Japanese was terrible! All he knew was the Japanese words for jujitsu and judo terms. They came aboard and showed their jujitsu grading certificates to the Japanese Captain and crew members. The Japanese Captain introduced them to a very big Japanese sailor, Joe said he was at about six foot four high, which was very rare for the Japanese to be so tall. According to Joe this tall Japanese sailor was the best judoka that he and McCrea had ever met. He had just come from training at the Kodokan in Tokyo  and was champion there and held the kodokan grading of 4th dan. He challenged both Joe and McCrea to Randori with him on board the ship. All the crew came out to watch the event. Joe had never fought a Japanese judoka and did not know what to expect.The first fight was against McCrea and this was terrible for him. He kept being thrown all around With Harai goshi and uchimata. Joe on the other hand just watched how the Japanese moved on the mat and Finally found a weakness in his movement.


After  the match between the big Japanese and McCrea was over. It was now Joes turn to take this mighty Japanese on. Before he walked on to the mat he told McCrea what he was planning to use against the Japanese. As they met in the middle of the mat the fight was on after the call of Hajime! Sure enough the big Japanese went for his powerful throw Uchimata. This took Joe right up into the air to the point of no return. According to Joe this all happened in a split second and he felt the all mighty power of this man’s strength  in the throw and then suddenly in a blur Joe wrapped his body right around the Japanese man’s body and counter flipped the big Japanese in mid air with a sacrifice throw(Sutemi –waza). They came down with such force hitting the mat with Joe on top of the Japanese! After this there was a moment  of silence From every one there. Then the Japanese
judge shouted IPPON! 

The big Japanese got up and they both bowed to each other Joe Grant Grierson honorary life member of the Kodokanslowly. The Japanese man then walked off the mat and again bowed low to Joe and told him that he would write personally to the Kodokan  head office to tell them to award Joe a 2nd dan in Kodokan judo. Soon after this Joe was made honorary life member of the Kodokan. Here at the Kodokwan in Zambia we have a copy of this life
membership to the kodokan given to Joe in 1960.



Written by © Jonathan Kruger 2010


That same year Joe was teaching at the main kodokwan in Cape Town when an old Chinese gentleman walked into the dojo and watched the training that Joe was doing. According to Joe the Chinese man was so impressed  with the quality of jujitsu that he saw, that he asked to see Joe after the lesson in private. After the class was over the Chinese came into the dojo and asked Joe to lock the dojo doors. Joe did not know what to make of this! So he did this and then the Chinese man said that he wanted to pass on an ancient Kung fu technique to Joe before he passed away.

In the Japanese jujitsu term this called the Okuden secret teaching of the school taught to the next generation instructor from the Master and head of the school before he dies. And Joe was given this honor to learn the ancient teaching of this old Chinese masters school. This was told to me in 2005 by Grand master Joe. I asked him how it was done hoping that I could have the honor of knowing the secret. But Joe said he felt that no one he knew was ready for him to pass on this knowledge.

It is not known if Joe had ever passed on this ancient secret art to anyone before he passed away in 2007. He just explained to me only in words how it was done, that you hit someone and cracked the bone just above heart in a certain way not to completely break it but to just fracture  it that the person never even felt any pain, just feeling a little stiff the next day this would cause a blood infection. And the person would die after a few days if he was not taken to a doctor who knew how it happened. Joe told me that old Chinese man tried it on his top student his son and later rushed him to the hospital for an  operation to fix the fracture which was a some operation. But his blood had to be changed not to course any infection in the body.

Now about the kodokwan okuden, as far as I know Joe only taught two of his top students here in Zambia the kodokwan Gung fu and the wind mill movement Okuden, Hanshi Steve Arneil and Shihan John Kruger. This is truly an ancient art that should be closely guarded by only the highest guardians of the Kodokwan jujitsu school.

Grandmaster Joe was also very much into weapons training from Japan and the Philipines..According to him the first weapons he learnt from Dr Henry Johnston were the Han-bo and the Tan-bo jitsu which are traditional jujitsu weapon arts. When Joe introduced weapons training to me in 2005, I could see he was truly amazing with the Han-bo. He showed us that the Han-bo could  be used in of course  many  striking techniques, but also in Kyusho-waza, locking up the neck, arms, legs and even throwing someone with it straight down to the ground. And finally it could be used in arresting techniques for guards.

Joe was also very good at using a simple pencil that he kept in his top pocket. The pencil became a deadly weapon in Joe’s fingers. Now I believe that old saying that “The pen is mightier than the sword” In Joe’s fingers it could be! I remember one particular afternoon training Han-bo, he had all of us jumping around and snapping us up on to our toes with very painful Han-bo locks. He suddenly stopped the class and spoke to us. He called me out in to the middle of the dojo and said that we should   moved so fast flicking and hitting and blocking with the Han-bo that no one should be able to see any of the movements coming before you were knocked out! He told me to throw a punch at his face, before I knew what was going on he stepped sideways came on my blind side blocked my punch with the Han-bo struck me in the face and then locked me up in a wrist lock and then finally finished the kata by throwing me on the mat and then a very painful arm lock.


Sensei Kelly Sichone Goju-ryuI got up and did not know what had just happened to me! One of the students brought to my attention that I was bleeding in the face WOW! I don’t know if Joe hit me too hard in the face by accident to draw blood , but I never saw it coming.

The next victim of another Han-bo kata  by Joe was Sensei Kelly Sichone 3rd dan Goju-ryu. He was told by Joe to try and use front kick Mae geri. Joe redirected the front kick using the Han-bo then used a Hanbo leg lock which sent Kelly flying on to the mat break falling  as hard as he could! Then tapping out and screaming as Joe used another Han-bo leg lock technique I have never seen in any school. The next morning in the dojo Sensei Kelly ankle was so swollen he could hardly walk.

That was Joes Han-bo jitsu showed to us in a practical situation, we never forgot those classes ! Joe even had a special class to protect someone from dog attacks. 


In  April 2005 the Zambia kodokwan was celebrating 50 years of judo and jujitsu in Zambia which was held at the Lechwe international school. Joe came in for this very special event and stayed with us. The kodokwan was able to raise the money for his plane ticket We had many important guests from all over the country. Even the Japanese  government here in Zambia came to meet the famous Grandmaster Joe Grant Grierson, with them came the top Japanese judo coach who was teaching judo in Zambia , Mr Kentaro Suchiya 3rd dan judo from Hokaido. Who did the Nage no kata for shod an black belt with a local judoka Michael Kanyemba a Kodokwan 1st dan.

A interesting story happened the day before the event Sensei Kentaro was showing how the Japanese combined Morote Seoinage to follow into Ouchi gari. Joe commented that he could  see that this fellow was very good at the basics of judo especially Joe noted that he had  a very good grip fighting style in kumi kata. In the afternoon was randori against him with all the different judo clubs including the local Kitwe police judo club. Sensei Kentaro was more than a match for any of the judoka present.


The last fight was against our local Zambian Kodokwan fighter Michael Kanyemba verses Japanese Kodokan champion from Hokaido university.  Joe commented he was very interested to see which fighter was better. Kodokan verses Kodokwan! Even all the karateka on the copperbelt came to see this fight. Sensei Kentaro started off with a blur of  throwing combinations which Michael blocked quite well. At the time I was sitting next to Joe watching the fight. For the first minute Kentaro was doing all the attacking and Michael had his time cut out just trying to defend himself from been thrown. Suddenly the Japanese was swept of the mat by a powerful Sasae- tsurikomi-ashi ankle technique for ippon! Kentaro bowed very low to Michael and said in English ‘Bery good surow”

Joe mentioned during the match that after 50 years our judoka still fought the way he had been taught by Dr Henry Johnston. Michael Kanyemba at the 50 years celebration was awarded 3rd dan for throwing the Japanese university champion, the very first black Zambian to receive an original Kodokwan grading from the late Grand Master Joe Grant Grierson and unfortunately the Last!

I had the great honor of being Joe’s uke in some of the best jujitsu demonstration Zambia had ever seen, Joe wanted to do the oldest form of  Kodokwan koryo jujitsu with me and was called twice back out again on the mat by the crowds. After we finished the demonstration everyone in the hall, white, black or Japanese stood up cheering his name JOE! And MASTER! The Kitwe mayor could not believe his eyes that a 78 year old jujitsu master could throw a 100kg Jonathan Kruger with the greatest of ease. 

John Kruger 5th Dan Ju-Jitsu association of South AfricaAt this event John Kruger and Fr jude Mckenna were both graded up to 5thdan , Jonathan Kruger 4thdan and Michael 3rd dan in Kodokwan jujitsu by Grand Master Joe Grant Grierson. 

The Kodokwan here in Zambia by Shihan John Kruger recognized Joe’s 10thdan grading by giving him a Zambian Judo Association recognition of his grade. At this event Joe shared humbly his vision on Zambian TV about his dream of bring all the top Budoka around the world to be one in spirit under the Noble House of IMATSU. The Japanese also told him that day that IMATSU meant NOW in Japanese.

The following day John Kruger and my family said good bye and Joe handed my wife a life membership to the kodokwan for all GIRI and work in cooking all the food for everyone at the wonderful dinner party after the celebration. I drove Joe to Ndola international airport and the last thing he gave me was his new badge to wear on my judogi of IMATSU.


Today I wear this badge with my Kodokwan thrice armed badge knowing that we belong to very long proud heritage of martial arts. As I said good bye to him at the Ndola airport I did not know that would be the last time we would ever see him in Zambia again. I remember him once saying to me that the world of this generation no longer had a place for people like him and that is why he felt he should bring all the old Budoka to a family who respected them and would be there for them.

I would like to say thank you very much to all of those who knew the Grand Master Joe Grant Grierson  who shared with me all  their personal stories of this great man. This work has taken us 20 years to finally write down from Joe’s students who knew him  and trained with him here in Zambia. Some of them are no longer with us and have passed to higher place to be with God. Please forgives us with any mistakes on dates as a lot of this happened more than 80 years ago. Finally the Kodokwan members here Zambia and the Kruger family would like to dedicate this small work to the  living memory of  Grand Master Joe Grant Grierson the man who changed our life with his teachings.


Sensei Spike Hovlmeryer, 3rd Dan in Japanese Shotokan, was my dads training partner along side Steve Arneil. He later went to South Africa and studied Shotokan Karate under Kase Sensei and Shirai Sensei and Enoeda Sensei in the UK. He has his own small dojo in Kitwe where he trains personally and some times one or two students. He is one of the last Northern Rhodesia students for Joe from the early Zambian Kodokwan era. I see him on a regularly basis. A very humble God fearing old Northern Rhodesia Gentleman.



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