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Pre-WWII Judo was a far different thing than what we see now.
The Japanese in particular, being on a global war footing, practiced a type of Judo that has little in common with the "sport" of today.
Japanese "bujin" particularly those located in China during this period had to be the BEST they could be. The Japanese police were renamed for having among their ranks many of the top Judoka.
The Japanese presence in Shanghai ensured that the quality of Judoka practicing there was of the highest caliber. Shanghai during this period was a volatile, beguiling and dangerous place.
Into this mix comes a young Irishman named Dermot Michael O'Neil. He joins the SMP in 1925 at age twenty. He raises in rank, secures a reputed position on the SMP Riot Squad, is recognized as a protégé 'of WE Fairbairn and earns a reputation as a "good" man in a dust up. Beside his recruitment training and his assignment under WEF on the Riot Squad, he becomes a dedicated devotee of Japanese and Chinese combatives, especially Kodokan Judo.
He becomes an acknowledged expert, a true expert, proved both on the tatami of various "dojo" and on the streets of Shanghai. He trains under some of the BEST native Japanese sensei available. He travels to mainland Japan testing his skill in shiai and randori, often winning against some of Japan's best. He trains diligently at the Kodokan. Becomes a protégé 'of the accused Uchijima Sensei, a master of Judo, in particular "newaza" or ground grappling. He gains a working practical knowledge of Judo, Jujutsu, Karate, Chinese Boxing and who knows what else. In 1938 he leaves the SMP after 13 years service and heads up the security detachment for the British Legation in Tokyo. He serves in this position for two years. Living and training in Japan, access to the BEST of his time (and ours too probably)!
FAST FORWARD …
The world is at war. The Allied powers against the Axis of Evil. O'Neil is now in the US, seconded to the OSS, working under WEF. A new "commando" unit is being formed headed by a man named Fredericks. This composite group of assault raiders matches US and Canadian forces under the banner of the FIRST SPECIAL SERVICE FORCE. They will become LEGEND!
Then Colonel Fredericks contacts General Donovan of the OSS and requests WEF's services in training these troops. Fairbairn recommends DM "Paddy" O'Neil. O'Neil accepts and goes a step further …… He just does not "train" these men, HE JOINS THEM!
O'Neill brave great thought to the needs of these special troops as it related to close quarters combat. He was instrumental in developing the V-42 Fighting Knife. But it was the "system" of close combat he devised that was his genius!
The entire O'Neill system as taught then is little known today. But suffice to say that this method was a blend of tactics, strategy and physical competatives that was astounding, and PROVED EFFECTIVE in REAL COMBAT countless times.
Now this is not about the nuts and bolts of the O'Neil method.
The point is this: With all of O'Neill's experience and expertise the method he devised for all intents and purposes was devoid of any Judo or grappling like techniques (and remember the Forces initial contact with the enemy was to be the Japanese). JUDO WAS HIS FORTE. Why? Because he perfectly knew and understood what the mission of the 1st SSF was all about. He tailor the training to address needs as would be faced in REAL COMBAT by these troops!
O'Neill's logic and genius is evident in the complete method (not just dribs and drabs from various FM's and TM's). But more importantly what lessons are to be garnered from this? What can be learned? WHY did O'Neil chose the methods and tactics (more important than the technique) that he did?
Without a doubt O'Neil knew his business and knew it well. So why? That's the question. And what will the answer teach US, now?
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