With the new Godzilla movie right around the corner, this week at Factfiend we wanted to take some time to dispense some lesser known facts about everyone’s favourite atomic monster. Today we want to tell everyone that Godzilla technically has a black belt in the ancient art of Judo.
Godzilla has been smashing buildings and drop-kicking giant monsters for the better half of a century and during that time he’s been played on screen by a number of actors, the most famous of which is Haruo Nakajima, who wore the rubber suit in at least a dozen movies over the course of 2 decades.
Haruo work inside the suit has been hailed by critics for decades and he’s considered by many to be the finest actor to have ever played the literal OG that is Godzilla. Part of what made Haruo’s performance so iconic and memorable was how much of himself he put into the character. That’s not a metaphor by the way, Haruo literally sweated a quantifiable percentage of his own body weight into the Godzilla suit during his tenure as the daddy of the monster movie genre.
The trade off for Haruo was that he had a great deal of say over how Godzilla was characterised on screen and, as mentioned above, he was largely responsible for choreographing his own fight scenes on set. As the Godzilla series went on and the Big G fighting other monsters became a staple of the series, Haruo began developing his own unique fighting style for Godzilla while he was in the suit. This fighting style was heavily influenced by Haruo’s own background in Judo, only with minor tweaks to account for Godzilla’s additional bulk.
Though Godzilla’s fighting style has evolved over the years, usually to incorporate a new, fantastical ability, Haruo’s vision of the character has always served as the template on which later versions of the character have been based. With the exception of the 1998 version, which isn’t considered part of Godzilla canon anyway.
This means that technically Godzilla still has the black belt in Judo he earned all those decades ago.