Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Black Belt President

A bit more than 10 years ago, in June 1997, a stone faced former KGB lieutenant colonel, fluent in English and German, a master in Japanese martial arts Judo received PhD degree from the St. Petersburg State Mining Institute.

He also repeteadly won the St. Petersburg Sambo championship titles. In 1973 he qualified for the master in Sambo and in 1975 in Judo. By the way, Sambo, from the Russion word Samooborona, is a Russian martial arts.

In September 2000, the honorary red and white sixth-dan black belt bestowed on him by the head of the Kodokan Judo Institute in Japan.

In the ceremony this former KGB agent said: “As a practitioner of judo, I understand the heavy responsibility that comes with this belt. When I return to Russia I will redouble my efforts in training, so that the day when I will truly have the right to tie on this belt will come as soon as possible.”[1]

In 2002 he co-author a book “Judo: History, Theory, Practice.” According to Yamashita Yasuhiro, coach of the Japanese National Judo team, “at the G-8 summit in Genoa in July 2001, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of host country Italy gave the leaders of each nation a copy of that book.” (This is a bit strange to me. Because English version of that book was released in 2004.)

Anyway, this former KGB agent reported as saying: “Judo is not simply a sport; it is also my political philosophy. It is the basis of how to envisage the world, and of how to build relations with the opposition in politics.”

This view is indeed not any different from the teaching of Kano Jigoro (1860–1938), founder of judo and the Kodokan -- “Employ your own strength wisely and pursue prosperity for both yourself and others.”

That former KGB agent has surely studied the writings of military strategists too. He brought a country from nearly ground zero into top 5.

General Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese strategist of the 4th century BC, taught his men to "know your enemy" before going into battle. If "you know your enemy and know yourself," he wrote in his book The Art of War, "you need not fear the result of a hundred battles." But, he warned, "If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat." He also added, “If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Our KGB agent knew himself, his subject, his competitors, and his country. And he does not fear.

Yes, the name of that former KGB agent is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, President of the Russian Federation.

[1] Yamashita Yasuhiro, Black-Belt President Putin: A Man of Gentle Arts, Gaiko Forum, Summer 2003, pp. 30-33.


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