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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.


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