Liberal Arts Blog —Sports in Japan: Kano Jigoro — the Father of “Judo”
Liberal Arts Blog — Saturday is the Joy of Sports, Dance, Fitness, and All Things Physical Day
Today’s Topic: Sports in Japan — Kano Jigoro (1860–1938) — the father of “judo”
I have decided to make last week’s post on golf in Japan the beginning of a series on sports in Japan in general. Today, judo. Next week, baseball. The week after sumo wrestling. After that, the plan is to move to another country and just keep going. Judo (“gentle way”) is a Japanese martial art invented in 1882 by Kano Jigoro (1860–1938), an educator who served as director of primary education at the Japanese Ministry of Education from 1898–1901 and as president of Tokyo Higher Normal School from 1900 to 1920. He was instrumental in making judo part of the Japanese public school curriculum in the 1910s. In 1964 judo became an Olympic sport for men and in 1992 for women. The sport is descended from “juijitsu” (“gentle art”) which had a high fatality rate in training. Kano made it safer — doing for the ancient Japanese martial art what the Marquess of Queensberry did for boxing in England. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE BOXING ANALOGY — “the age of enlightenment”
1. “Dr Kano’’s Kodokan rules for his version of jujitsu brought a new, safer kind of fighting to Japan in the same way that the Queensberry Rules introduced some two decades earlier in 1867, did for boxing in England. Both the Marquess of Queensberry and Dr Kano transformed their sports, making them cleaner and safer.”
2. “One man took the grappling out of boxing; the other took the boxing out of grappling.”
3. “One worked with a padded fist; the other with a padded floor.”
NB “In the latter years of the nineteenth century, the martial histories of eastern and western civilization had reached a point at which two men at opposite ends of the globe produced, within a few years of each other, the rules which were to herald unarmed combat’s own age of enlightenment.”
THE CLASSIC STORY OF BEING BULLIED IN SCHOOL
1. “At the time of his adolescence, Kanō stood 1.57 m (5 ft 2 in) but weighed only 41 kg (90 lb).” (Kano is the shorter child in the photo above.)
2. “He was frequently bullied at school due to this small size and his intellectual nature, to the point other students dragged him out of the school buildings to beat him, so he wished he were stronger in order to defend himself.”
3. Judo is all about a smaller victim can take down a larger attacker. It’s all about “maximum efficiency with minimum effort” for “mutual welfare and benefit.”
THE PARADOX OF SOFTNESS VERSUS HARDNESS
1.”In short, resisting a more powerful opponent will result in your defeat, whilst adjusting to and evading your opponent’s attack will cause him to lose his balance, his power will be reduced, and you will defeat him.”
2. “This can apply whatever the relative values of power, thus making it possible for weaker opponents to beat significantly stronger ones.”
3. “This is the theory of ju yoku go o seisu. (softness controls hardness).”
NB: Judo techniques can be broken down into three categories: throwing (nage-waza), grappling (katame-waza), and striking (atemi-waza). The focus is on the first two. Much of practice is devoted to how to fall without injury (ukemi).
1. “Nothing under the sun is greater than education. By educating one person and sending him into the society of his generation, we make a contribution extending a hundred generations to come.” (Jigoro Kano)
2. Kano was an opponent of nationalism and militarism: “Judo should be as free as art and science from external influences — political, national, racial, financial or any other organized interest. And all things connected with it should be directed to its ultimate object, the benefit of humanity.”
3. Kano died at sea in 1938. The official cause of death was pneumonia. Some have speculated that he was poisoned as were other opponents of Japanese militarism.
Click here for the last three years of posts arranged by theme:
Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to sports, dance, fitness. Or the coolest thing you learned about Sports, Dance, of Fitness in your life — whether on the field, on the dance floor or in the gym, whether from a coach, a parent, a friend, or just your own experimentation.
This is your chance to make some one else’s day. Or even change their life. It’s perhaps a chance to put into words something you have never articulated before. And to cement in your own memory something cool you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.