Some of the most widely-traveled people I’ve ever met are retired military personnel. If you want to travel the world, go on adventures, and get paid to do it, the military might be a good option for you. As a bonus, you are bound to come back with some outstanding stories and memories!
One of my long-time judo coaches was retired from the military. He had been stationed in Japan during the late 1950s and early 1960s, where he learned Judo at the feet of some of the greatest masters the world has ever known – legends like Tomiki, Osawa, Kotani, Daigo, and Kudo.
Anyway, one day I was sitting on my coach’s front porch drinking some coffee before heading inside to practice and he walks up and out of the blue he says, “Hey Pat, have I ever told you the story about that time I was arrested in Tokyo for stealing a whore’s teeth?”
I spit the coffee out of my nose. “No, I don’t think I’ve heard that one!”
Here’s how he told it –
Backstory – the GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card
As I mentioned earlier, my coach had studied at the Kodokan (the main School of Judo) while he was in Japan, but he had also studied at the Tokyo Police Kase-jo, the local school where the police were taught Judo and defensive tactics and arrest technique.
The Kase-jo was notorious for being an extremely vigorous and violent place to work out – really hardcore! It was run by the meanest, most hateful son of a bitch that they could find because they felt like that would make their policemen tougher.
So the main instructor at the police Kase-jo was a monstrous, abusive man that everyone in Tokyo was deathly afraid of (especially the police)!
But it turns out, in an unexpected bit of reverse-racism, that this fearsome instructor actually liked American GIs and was nice to them. He would help them out in little ways whenever he could. For instance, when my coach met the Kase-jo instructor he was handing out his business card to a group of American GIs with instructions, “If the police ever harass you, show this card and tell the police to call me and I’ll take care of it.”
So, my coach had in his possession a GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card given to him by a man that the police all considered to be a demon.
More backstory – the long, narrow bar
In Japan, real estate was at a premium, so folks would use every available space. For instance, if there was a space between two buildings that was a little to narrow for a road or alley, someone would put a row of posts down the middle and hang a roof to make a long, narrow covered space.
In this case, such a space had been turned into a bar – long and narrow, booths on either side and just enough room to squeeze past the posts in the middle aisle.
My coach and some of his buddies were at this establishment and the way it worked was the patrons of the bar would squeeze into a booth and the local ladies-of-ill-repute would sit on the ends of the benches nearest the aisle to trap the GIs inside the booth so they would stay longer and drink more beer.
The whore’s teeth
It was early morning, two or three AM, and my coach and his buddies had been at this establishment for a while and had decided they’d had enough and it was time to go home, but the prostitute sitting at the end of the bench was trying to get them to stay longer. It apparently caused a ruckus and someone called for the police.
My coach scooted sideways, pushing the prostitute out into the aisle until they could all stand up in the aisle, and still the prostitute was trying to block their exit.
My coach grabbed her by her shoulders to shift her aside so they could squeeze out down the aisle but when he pushed her backward she stumbled and hit the back of her shoulders against one of the poles supporting the roof and it knocked her breath out.
When her lung full of air puffed out, the prostitute lost grip of her false teeth and spit them out right at him, and since his hands were already right between them, he reflexively caught the teeth!
At that very moment, the police rush in wanting to know what’s up with this disturbance and the prostitute points at my coach and says, “This gaijin stole my teeth!”
As improbable as it might sound for an American GI to steal a Japanese whore’s false teeth, he was obviously guilty because he was standing right there holding the teeth in question!
The police immediately dragged him off to the precinct office to stuff him in a cell and despite knowing he could have overpowered them, he went peaceably. They escorted him and the edentate prostitute into the precinct and presented them to the Police Lieutenant on duty that night and that’s when he made his move.
He shrugged the police escort off and whipped out his wallet, pulled out the GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card, handed it to the Lieutenant, and demanded in broken Japanese, “Call this man right now!”
My coach said that when the Lieutenant read the name on the card, all the blood left his face and he turned ghastly white and he started stammering. My coach pointed at the card and repeated his demand, “Call this man right now.”
The Lieutenant shook his head, “IE!” (That means NO!) There was no way in the world that the LT was going to drag the Head Instructor of the Metropolitan PoliceKase-jo out of bed at 3 in the morning! That devil might kill him – or worse, he might not!
But the LT was stuck in an untenable position. He wouldn’t call the Kase-jo instructor and he dared not imprison someone who had the Kase-jo’s business card – but he also couldn’t just turn this obviously guilty American loose after he’d stolen a Japanese woman’s teeth!
My coach let the Lieutenant stew in his dilemma for a few moments and then offered a solution he knew the LT couldn’t pass up, “How about you let me go if I apologize to the lady for stealing her teeth.”
The Lieutenant readily agreed and my coach made the most ingratiating, obsequious apology he could muster in broken Japanese begging the divine lady for her forgiveness for being so brash as to steal her very teeth from her head!
The Lieutenant declared that the prostitute accepted his gracious apology, and my coach was out of there!
If you would like to read some of the seemingly inexhaustible life stories of this interesting man, check out Twelve Winds: An Aikido Master’s Life Strategy