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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.



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