SAGAMIHARA, Japan (Jan. 25, 2012) -- An exhibition of powerful and precise martial arts moves was presented Jan. 20 by members of the Sagamihara South Police Station here to an audience that included U.S. Army Japan Soldiers and Japanese city officials.
The annual demonstration is a New Year tradition in Japan known as "Budo Hajime Shiki," and is conducted at police precincts throughout the country as a way to emphasize the law enforcement officers' commitment to protecting their respective communities.
The nearly 30 officers at Sagamihara South who took part are trained and proficient in several different martial arts styles, including judo, kendo and karate. Their showcase featured a number of fluid and aggressive sparring demonstrations.
"I was very impressed with the enthusiasm and the talent of officers," said Lt. Col. Thomas Bischof, commander of the USARJ Military Police Battalion. "I'd like to do something [to involve them] with our combatives training in the future. They may like to see what [combat training] we do as military police officers."
Judo is a form of Japanese martial arts based around grappling and throws that closely resembles wrestling, while kendo -- "Way of the Sword" -- is the country's centuries-old take on fencing. Kendo combatants wear padded armor and a face mask, and they wield a bamboo sword called a "shinai."
"The martial arts training helps us to overcome fear when we must engage a suspect," said Masaichi Yuguchi, deputy chief at the Sagamihara South Police Station. "We gain confidence in the event that physical force is necessary. This demonstration is an opportunity to show our community that we are here to protect them and that our motivation to do so is very high."
A similar demonstration was conducted Jan. 13 by members of the nearby Zama City Police Department, also for an audience that included USARJ personnel.