THE NOT SO BRIEF HISTORY OF JUDO
Taken from Black Belt Magazine July, 1972
Indeed, he was many things to many people. Like Sir Thomas More,
a man for all seasons. His many worlds encompassed much of value
to Japan. From scattered quotes taken from various sources close
to him, we can only glimpse Jigoro Kano, the man:
"He used to take an umbrella with him every day because he didn't
like to worry about whether or not it would rain."
"When he returned home, he would go straight into the living room,
which meant on most days I would not see my father at all."
"Just after I graduated from Waseda University, he sent me a cable:
'Your father has been looking for a wife for you. What sort of
woman do you have in mind for a wife?' Less than three years later,
I married his daughter."
"He was very strict with us at school. I had to get up at 5 o'clock
every morning and help clean the rooms and the garden."
"He was so proud of his legs he used to pull up his hakama just
to show off his big calves."
"He wept when he heard of my sister's (his daughter's) death."
He was a perfectionist, a disciplinarian and a traditionalist.
But, at the same time, an innovator, an internationalist and a
man of great generosity. More important, he was a famous educator
and the father of modern sports in Japan.
But above all, Jigoro Kano was the founder of judo!
When he first saw the light of day on Oct. 28, 1860, Japan's feudal
period was rapidly drawing to a close. Across the seas in America,
the United States was embarked on a tragic civil war. Just as today,
it was a time of turmoil and change around the world.
He was fortunate enough to be born into a family that was reasonably
well off, at least well enough placed to get Jigoro into the elite
Tokyo Imperial University. His grandfather had launched the family
into the business of making sake in Nada, Shiga Prefecture, near
the Biwa Lake in central Japan. In fact, it was this same sake-brewing
clan that organized the other sake makers in the area to help finance
the Fujimi-cho Dojo which served as the Kodokan in the latter half
of the 1880s.
Since Jigoro's father was not the eldest son, the sake business
was not passed down into his hands. Even at that, his father did
all right for himself at Kobe-Jigoro's birthplace-as both a Shinto
priest -and a high-ranking government official in charge of purchasing
agents for shipping lines. It was this side of the Kano family
that prompted the building of Japan's first steel ships coastal
vessels designed to carry sake.
The third son in a family of three boys and two girls, young Jigoro
was physically weak in his early years. In fact, he was beaten
up so often by local bullies he resolved to strengthen himself
the best way he could. It was this unrelenting drive to learn how
to defend himself that eventually led to his formulation of judo.
One wonders what would have happened had Jigoro Kano been a big
brute of a man instead of the 5-foot, 2-inch, 90-pound weakling
he was in his teens.
Jujitsu was flourishing during Jigoro's boyhood. One might even
term the mid-19th century the golden age of jujitsu. So it was
with rather anxious expectation Jigoro looked forward to moving
to Tokyo, where most of the jujitsu activity was going on. When
he was 17, his father ordered him to go to the capital on board
one of the sake-carrying steel ships, but he insisted on traveling
by land. His father relented-and a good thing, too, because the
vessel he was to sail on broke up in stormy seas en route to Tokyo
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Jigoro enrolled the following year at Tokyo Imperial University
at the age of 18. When he wasn't in class or studying, he would
go off in search of an osteopath because they had all received
jujitsu training. Apparently, he was still obsessed with the desire
to learn the art of manly self-defense and concluded jujitsu offered
him the best hope. His search finally led him to the door of a
bone doctor in Nihonbashi named Teinosuke Yagi who promised to
introduce him to a jujitsu teacher living in the neighborhood.
Jigoro Kano had actually started his training in jujitsu at the
age of 17, but his instructor, Ryuji Katagiri, felt he was too
young for serious training. As a result, Katagiri gave him only
a few formal exercises for study and let it go at that. The determined
young man was not about to be put off so easily, however, and finally
wound up at the dojo of Hachinosuke Fukuda, a master in the Tenjin-Shinyo
School of Jujitsu who had been recommended by Dr. Yagi.
Fukuda stressed technique over formal exercises, or kata. His
method was to give an explanation of the exercises, but to concentrate
on free-style fighting in practice sessions. Jigoro Kano's emphasis
on "randori" in judo undoubtedly found its beginnings
here under Fukuda's influence. The Kodokan's procedure of teaching
beginners the basis of judo, then having them engage in randori'
and only after they had attained a certain level of proficiency,
teaching them the formal kata, came from Fukuda and a later sensei
In 1879, a year after Jigoro started working out at Fukuda's dojo,
the jujitsu master suddenly became gravely ill and died at the
age of only 52. The 19-year-old youth soon joined another branch
of the Tenjin-shinyo-ryu run by a 62-year-old jujitsu instructor
named Masatomo Iso. Located in the Kanda section of Tokyo near
the center of the city, Iso's dojo was known for its excellence
in kata. Iso, himself, was only 5 feet tall, but had a powerful
body and an energetic personality.
Over the next two years, Jigoro Kano ate, drank and slept jujitsu,
practicing night and day at the point of exhaustion. Things got
so bad he was even having nightmares about the martial art, shouting
jujitsu terms in his sleep and kicking out at his quilt.
The sensei saw his dedication and promise and soon made him an
assistant. Jigoro instructed 20 or 30 students, starting with kata
and then moving on to free fighting.
By the time he was 21 years old in 1881, Kano had become a master
in Tenjin-shinyo-ryu jujitsu. But Iso, like Fukuda before him,
became ill and Kano decided to move on, feeling he still had much
to learn and wanting to study rather than teach.
The next step seemed almost inevitable. Jigoro Kano met Tsunetoshi
Iikubo, master of the Kito School of Jujitsu, and began training
at his dojo. Even when no one else showed up, Kano would work out
alone. Like Fukuda, Iikubo put the stress on free fighting and
he was especially skillful at teaching nage-waza.
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It was during these early jujitsu training days Jigoro Kano worked
out some new throws and turned his attention more and more to ways
of reforming jujitsu into some kind of new system. While practicing
at the Tenjin-shinyo Training Hall, he ran up against a big, 200-pound
bruiser named Kenkichi Fukushima. Outweighed by 100 pounds, the
lightweight youth invariably lost to the bigger man. He wanted
to beat Fukushima so badly he could taste it, studying everything
he could get his hands on books on sumo techniques, training books
from abroad, etc.
Finally, Jigoro worked out a new technique. The next time he met
his burly rival he charged in low, lifted Fukushima onto his shoulders,
whirled him around and easily tossed him on the mat. He promptly
dubbed his new throw "kata-garuma," or shoulder whirl.
Other throws he worked out include "uki-goshi" (rising
hip throw) and "tsuri-komi-goshi" (lift-pull hip throw).
The original idea was merely to reform jujitsu rather than found
a new system. Kano was well aware of the shortcomings, but felt
these could be weeded out with the result that jujitsu could be
beneficial to young men-not only as a martial art, but also as
a form of physical education as well as training and discipline
of the spirit; in short, a valuable preparation for one's daily
He dedicated himself to formulating a system of reformed jujitsu
founded on scientific principles, integrating combat training with
mental and physical education. He borrowed the "katamewaza" (mat
techniques) and "atemi-waza" (throwing techniques) of
Kito-ryu, holding onto those techniques that conformed to scientific
principles and rejecting all others. All harmful and dangerous
techniques were eliminated.
When 22-year-old Jigoro Kano took nine of his private students
from the Kito-ryu Training Hall in February 1882 and set up his
own dojo in Eisho-ji Temple, judo didn't automatically spring into
being. In fact, Kito-ryu master Iikubo came to the temple two or
three times a week to help instruct Kano's students. So what they
were getting was more jujitsu than judo training. Two years were
to elapse before the by-laws of the first Kodokan were drawn up.
Much has been written about those early days at Eisho-ji, and
it is this temple that is generally regarded by most people as
the birthplace of judo. The transition from jujitsu to judo was
made slowly but surely, although it is difficult to pinpoint the
day when what that handful of students were learning was no longer
jujitsu, but judo.
It might have been the day when Kano first defeated Iikubo. Until
then he had never managed to get the better of the Kito-ryu stylist.
But that day in randori practice, Kano blocked every move Iikubo
made, then called on his "uke-waza" and "sumi-otoshi" to
throw the jujitsu master no less than three times.
Kano explained: "Force your opponent to make his body rigid
and lose his balance, and then when he is helpless, you attack."
Iikubo replied: "From now on, you teach me."
Iikubo soon retired as an instructor and Kano finally received
his accreditation as a Kito-ryu master. Apparently, Iikubo was
a vigorous fighter because every time he came to teach at the 12-mat
dojo at Eisho-ji, training got a bit more violent than usual. And
the tablets would come tumbling down!
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It seems the converted dojo adjoined the main hall of the temple
in which the image of Buddha was located together with hundreds
of mortuary tablets presented by various worshipers. And every
time Jigoro Kano and his students practiced, these clay tablets
bounced up and down and banged against each other, several falling
to the floor. This went on until one day head priest Choshumpo
rushed into the dojo and declared: "He may be young, but Mr.
Kano is really an outstanding man. What a fine person he would
be if he would only leave this judo alone."
Despite the priest's occasional protestations, the practice sessions
continued at Eisho Temple. Sometimes the training would be so rough
the dojo floor sagged and even broke in some places. Nighttime
would find the indefatigable Kano crawling under the floor with
a lantern repairing the broken boards.
The year before, in 1881, Kano had graduated from Tokyo Imperial
University and soon secured a position as a literature instructor
at Gakushuin (Peer's School), an exclusive school for the children
of high-born Japanese. His instruction at the dojo had to be sandwiched
between his work at the school and the preparation for the next
day's classes. It wasn't unusual for him to keep going into the
wee hours of the morning.
He was tough on both his academic and his judo students, a disciplinarian
of sorts. But he was also a very generous man, offering his judo
students barley tea and rice mixed with lotus roots at the temple.
He provided his poorer students with practice clothes-jujitsu-gi,
which he even laundered for them.
Priest Choshumpo finally came to the end of his tether and presented
Kano with an ultimatum: "Either leave the temple or give up
practice there." Being an enterprising young man, Kano made
a deal for using an empty lot next to Eisho-ji and built a tiny
training hall there measuring only 12 by 18 feet. But this was
only a temporary move and Kano set up his next dojo in his own
home in 1883. With 20 mats, it was the largest training hall up
to this time.
But 1884 was the key year when the Kodokan by-laws were drawn
up. Kano declared, "Taking together all the merits I have
acquired from the various schools of jujitsu, and adding my own
devices and inventions, I have founded a new system for physical
culture, mental training and winning contests. This I call Kodokan
Randori and kata became firmly established and even made the subjects
of lectures and debates as well as a part of education. But the
big difference from jujitsu was the "do" in judo-finding
the way. Kano saw judo, then, as a way of life. He saw it in terms
of a sport, whereas jujitsu was merely another of the martial arts,
a method of defense. The dangerous techniques of jujitsu were eliminated
from the judo contests, but retained as part of judo's defense
system. This especially applied to "atemi."
Another essential difference from jujitsu was judo's application
of "kazushi," a theory devised by Jigoro Kano during
his jujitsu training and used so successfully against Kito-ryu
master Tsunetoshi Iikubo. "Using a minimum amount of strength,
it is possible to throw your opponent if you force him off-balance
by breaking his posture." According to Kazuzo Kudo, kyu-dan
director of the Kodokan and author of "Dynamic Judo," Jigoro
Kano's "fame and greatness are based on this principle just
as much as they are on him as the founder of judo."
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As might be expected, a fierce rivalry sprang up between judo
and jujitsu. The martial art had been steadily declining toward
the end of the 19th Century and its masters were getting desperate
to hold onto their students who were beginning to trickle away
to judo. Kudo says reports of street fighting by judo and jujitsu
students jealous of their own prowess were exaggerated. Critics
claim jujitsu had a bad reputation for terror tactics by goon squads
and it made rowdies out of youths.
Among the now-famous pupils of Kano in those early days were Yoshitsugi
Yamashita, who later taught judo to President Theodore Roosevelt;
Tsunejiro Tomita, father of the noted author of the judo novel "Sugata
Sanshiro"; Seiko Higuchi; Shiro Saigo, who became a student
in 1884 at the age of 16 and developed into a kind of judo genius,
especially noted for his "yama-arashi" and "harai-goshi";
and Sakujiro Yokoyama who was such a fighting demon he was known
as "Devil Yokoyama."
These students were Kano's judo stalwarts in the early contests
with the police and other jujitsu dojo. The first "shiai" probably
started informally in the Kodokan, but by 1884 the first Red and
White Contest was inaugurated, continuing biannually until the
present day. The following year the Kodokan won its first shiai-against
the police, who had adopted jujitsu. "Kagami-Biraki," or
Rice-Cake Cutting Ceremony, was instituted in 1884 and has been
observed ever since on the second Sunday in January.
By 1886, Kano changed the Kodokan once again from his home in
Koji-machi to the Fujimi-cho residence of the Meiji Era magnate,
Baron Yajiro Shinagawa. And it was here during the next three or
four years that Kodokan judo achieved supremacy over the rival
Although he was a man of many interests, Jigoro Kano always thought
in terms of judo. To him, a kyudoka was a judoman using a bow and
arrow and a kendoka was a judoka with a sword.
Once the Kodokan was firmly established, Kano's thoughts turned
toward the spread of judo on a nationwide basis and eventually
throughout the world. In fact, Kano went on his first overseas
visit in 1889 to spread the good word about this new Japanese sport.
In the latter 1880s Yajiro Shinagawa, a magnate of the Meiji Period,
was appointed ambassador to England and asked Kano to take care
of his house at Koji-machi while he was gone. The young judo master
agreed, but was soon tempted into turning the house into a judo
dojo. Thus, Ambassador Shinagawa's home became the next Kodokan,
with 40 mats available for practice. Fortunately, Shinagawa was
a generous and broadminded man.
By 1892, there were still less than 100 judo students practicing
at the Kodokan. Kano preferred tachi-waza (standing techniques),
to ne-waza (mat work), at which he was less skillful and, thus,
avoided whenever possible. Indeed, he had a tough time of it when
he was forced onto the mat. To compensate for this, his assistants
and students trained especially hard in ne-waza in order to beat
Ninety -one-year-old Saburo Nango, a nephew of Jigoro Kano and
18 years his junior, remembers doing randori with his uncle in
those early years. "He was small, but a very good technician," Nango
recalls. "He was also fast and very strong."
Nango also occasionally thinks back to the first judo kangeiko
when students ran from the dojo at Kami-ni-bancho to Toranomon
and back again in the dead of winter-a distance of six or seven
miles. The first kangeiko was launched in 1894, while the first
shochugeiko (midsummer training) began two years later in 1896.
Management of the Kodokan was handled by Kano himself until 1894
when a consultative body, the Kodokan Council, was set up. To say
that Kano was busy would be putting it mildly. He usually rode
to work in a ricksha as headmaster of Gakushuin, or Peer's School,
but only after spending two hours instructing at hi s own Kobun
Gakuen (a school organized by Kano for Chinese students). After
work, he would go to the Kodokan and supervise the training. Then
late at night, he would prepare his lectures for the following
Kano became headmaster of Gakushuin at the age of only 25. It
customarily admitted only the children of the Imperial family and
titled, upper-class families, but after Kano took over, enrollment
was enlarged to include pupils from other social strata, including
commoners. According to Kazuzo Kudo, Kano ranks along with Shain
Yoshida as one of Japan's modern educators. As headmaster of both
Gakushuin and the Tokyo Teachers Training School (the present-day
Tokyo University of Education) off and on for more than a quarter
of a century, Jigoro Kano laid the basis of modern education in
He turned Gakushuin into a boarding school, allowing his students
to go home only on weekends. He refused to go along with the commonly
accepted notion that the highborn were inherently superior in mental
potential and opened the doors to commoners-a revolutionary move
at the time. He also had his students perform menial tasks in order
to discipline them and teach them humility. Thus, the entire environment
changed under Kano's administration, and not too surprisingly the
parents of the students were full of admiration for the wonders
being worked at Gakushuin.
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Strict with Students
Nango remembers Kano as unusually strict. "When I was a student
under him," Nango explained, "I had to get up at 5 o'clock
every morning and help clean the rooms and the garden."
Dr. T. Morohashi, today one of the leading professors of Chinese
culture at Tokyo University, called Kano sensei a "confident
and broad-minded president." When he entered Tokyo Teachers
Training School in 1904, Kano was 44 years old. He called in a
few of the students and asked them to speak their minds frankly.
Noting the meager resources of the library, Morohashi insisted
improvement of the library should take precedence over building
a big dojo. Kano replied one could read anywhere, but one certainly
couldn't practice judo any old place. Even at that, the next time
he met with the vice minister of education, Kano pushed hard for
a boost in the school library budget.
Jigoro's feelings about education are summed up in a statement
he made at the Kodokan's 50th anniversary in 1934. "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."
Kano often was at odds with superior authorities in the field
of education, but never once submitted a letter of resignation
over the matter. That's because he never thought he was wrong!
Dr. Morohashi also accused Kano of delivering boring lectures,
recalling once when only three students showed up for one of his
lectures. Kano was so angry he cried: "Everyone in this course
is dropped! "
It was in August of 1891 Jigoro Kano married Sumako, the eldest
daughter of Seisei Takezoe-onetime ambassador to Korea. They had
nine children-six daughters and three sons, including Risei, present
head of the Kodokan and the All-Japan Judo Federation. Atsuko,
Kano's youngest daughter, is the only other surviving child and
is married to Masami Takasaki--an 8-dan judoka and Kodokan director.
A typical "kokushi" father, Kano ruled his family with
an iron hand; his word was law and disobedience unthinkable. The
eldest daughter, Noriko, wrote of her reminiscences of her famous
father. Tall and pretty with a well-shaped nose, she was the favorite
of her parents and perhaps closer than the others to her father.
Even at that, she writes: "When he returned home, he would
go straight into the living room, which meant on most days I would
not see my father at all."
Risei Kano remembers his father as broad-minded and a man with
an international outlook. He learned judo techniques from his father
at the home dojo, but simply wasn't the athletic type. Although
Jigoro Kano was a strict disciplinarian, he also had an emotional,
warm-hearted side. "He wept," Risei recalls, "when
he heard of Noriko's death."
Although Kano provided his children with fine training and a good
education, he was so busy most of the time his family must have
been lonely without him. "He left the children almost entirely
to the mother," Noriko writes in her Recollections of My Father.
Sometimes, all they would see of their father was when they lined
up at the entrance of their home to welcome him back-" O-kaeri-nasai
mase"-before he disappeared for the day into the living room.
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Those were the days of Meiji (1868-1912) when the father was a
benevolent despot, when children were seldom seen and rarely heard,
when they were not allowed to venture into the living room if he
were there, when they were not allowed to take their meals with
him, when they feared and respected rather than loved him and when
his commands elicited instant obedience from them.
Both Kudo and Nango remember visiting Kano at his home, usually
in the morning. Kano was not always burdened with weighty matters,
for Kudo recalls they often talked of trifling things. "Kano
sensei never smoked, but he liked his sake and his face got red
quickly when he was drinking." He refused to indulge in the
Japanese tradition of exchanging sake cups with fellow drinkers
and drinking from theirs. Since this custom was greatly admired
in the rural areas, farmers invariably wanted to swap sake cups
with Kano, but he considered it to be an unhealthy practice and
grew angry when they asked him.
Jigoro Kano only stood five feet, two inches but he weighed over
165 pounds. He had broad shoulders and chest and big calves. Kudo
says "Shihan was so proud of his calves he was always pulling
up his hakama to show them off." Kudo was also amazed at Kano's
speed. "I was surprised at how quickly he threw me."
According to Kudo, Jigoro Kano was always smiling, even when he
was angry. "He laughed deeply when he was pleased." Takasaki,
his son-in-law, confirmed this by saying Kano had a keen sense
of humor, and although easily angered, he was also quick to laugh.
Takasaki also remembers Kano liked sake, but knew his limit and
usually stopped before he had too much. "If he over-imbibed,
he invariably got sick."
In his active days no one practiced harder than Jigoro Kano. He
kept at it until he was a mass of wounds, barely able to stagger
home. His judogi is on display at the Kodokan and is made of brown
linen on the outside and cotton inside. He repaired it himself
with kite twine. With the bottom in tatters, the judogi is discolored
with oil and sweat-mute testimony to Jigoro Kano's strength and
fierce fighting spirit.
In 1907 Kano had the sleeves and pants of the judogi fully lengthened
to cover the arms and legs and protect the elbows and knees. The
jacket was also shortened. Thus, the judogi assumed the final form
in which it is still used today. This was in sharp contrast to
the early days when judoka wore shorts and a jacket that left half
the arms as well as the knees and legs exposed. By the time Kano
was 60 he gave up wearing a judogi, simply putting on a haori (formal
shirt) and performing his kata in that way.
The Kodokan officially became a foundation in May 1909, and two
years later in April 1911 the Judo Teachers' Training Department
was set up. Then in 1922, the Kodokan Dan Grade Holders Association
was organized, followed by the Judo Medical Research Society in
When Kano called judo "a way of human development understandable
by people all over the world," he was attempting to formulate
an idea he had of organizing an international judo federation to
spread interest in judo. By 1912, the Shihan had made no less than
nine trips abroad to create interest in the new Japanese sport.
By this time, many foreigners-mostly sailors and merchant seamen-were
training at the Kodokan. Books on judo in foreign languages were
being written. Thus, before the outbreak of World War 1, dojo had
been set up in the United States, Britain, France, Canada and India
as well as in Russia, China and Korea.
A Russian by the name of A. Oshichenikov visited Japan in 1911
and spent six years training at the Kodokan. Before he returned
home in 1917, he had been promoted to nidan. He not only proceeded
to teach judo techniques to the Red Army and the secret police,
but was also instrumental in organizing Russia's judo-like sport
of sambo in the 1930s.
Yoshitsuge Yamashita's staging of a worldwide jujitsu meet at
the Japan Police Ministry in 1893 must have started Kano thinking
along the same lines for judo. But first he had to spread it throughout
Japan. Nango recalls Kano lecturing him along the following lines: "Japan
is a small, mountainous and highly-populated country, short of
resources, and so we Japanese must perform to the utmost of our
ability. We must mutually support one another and make the best
use of energy to keep Japan independent." Here are embodied
two of his key judo principles, "the best use of energy" and "mutual
Besides his association with Gakushuin and the Tokyo Teachers
Training School (later known as Tokyo Education College), Kano
was responsible for founding Kobun Gakuen, a special school for
Chinese students which was attended by Sun Yat-sen. Just before
the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, the Chinese Premier invited
Kano to visit China at the bequest of the Empress in order to lay
the basis for educating young Chinese in Japan and thus strengthen
China. Kano made a thorough study of the situation, communicating
with Chinese officials by the written language of kanji which is
used by both nations (although the oral language is completely
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for Chinese in Japan
Kano recommended Kobun Gakuen be set up in Japan, but suggested
Prince Saionji be consulted first since he was the Japanese Minister
of Education. This was done, and in 1902 Saionji asked Kano to
organize the school using professors from Gakushuin and Tokyo Educational
College. The Japanese government helped support the new Kobun Gakuen
which educated several hundred Chinese during the seven years of
its existence. Needless to say, judo was an integral part of the
school's athletic activities.
Although Kano was devoted to judo, he was interested in all of
sports. Just as he laid the basis of modern education in Japan,
he also became the father of modern sports in the country. In 1911
he founded the Japan Athletic Ass'n and became its first president.
About the same time, he was named Japan's first member of the International
Olympic Committee and attended the Fifth Olympiad in Stockholm
in 1912-the first Olympics in which Japan took part.
In promoting sports and physical education in Japan, Kano got
a wealthy lawyer by the name of Kishi interested in sports, resulting
in Kishi donating a great deal of money to the JAA. Today, the
Kishi Kaikan is the headquarters for the JAA. Kano continued as
JAA president until 1922, when he resigned and became honorary
president of that organization.
Kudo entered the Kodokan in 1917 and started training under Kano
the following year, continuing until the Shihan's death two decades
later. He learned kata personally from Kano and sometimes joined
with him in demonstrating kata. The stocky little kyudan, now 71,
is one of the few judoka left who has received instruction directly
from Jigoro Kano.
Takasaki, who was captain of the Waseda University judo team,
graduated in 1925 and immediately joined the Army's Imperial Guard
unit. A short time later he received a telegram from Kano: "Your
father has been looking for a good wife for you. What sort of woman
do you have in mind for a wife?" "Less than three years
later," Takasaki said, "I married his youngest daughter
Atsuko." When the first All-Japan Judo Championships were
held in 1930, 71-year-old Jigoro Kano's son-in-law, Takasaki, emerged
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Nango, 91-year-old nephew of the Shihan (Nango's mother was Kano's
elder sister), also learned judo under Jigoro Kano. He studied
judo for eight years and went as high as nidan. He still remembers
doing randori with the judo master at the "Kano Juku" (dojo).
In later years he lent financial support to the Kodokan and continued
his close association with Kano right up to the time of his uncle's
Nango's impressions of the Shihan were of a sincere, well-mannered
man who didn't drink too much and was not especially humorous during
the times they were together. He was strict and serious when dealing
with children, Nango remembers, and attempted to be completely
fair-minded. "Keichu Tokugawa, son of a former shogun, was
treated no differently in judo training than any of Kano's other
Kudo saw him as responding easily to others, not quickly angered-an
apparent contradiction to the way Takasaki recalled him. He listened
patiently to others, never interrupting them, and then won them
over to his way of thinking by logical argumentation.
Kano always fearlessly carried out what he thought was right,
according to Kudo. He was extremely generous, Kudo recalls, and
opposed to killing anything-even insects. Dr. Morohashi viewed
Kano as a person with a many-sided personality. "He was a
man of few words; once visited a hospitalized friend and spent
the entire day with him without speaking a word."
Other things Dr. Morohashi remembers: "He used to take an
umbrella with him every day because he didn't like to worry about
whether or not it would rain."
"He also had the same lunch-soba (noodles)-every day simply
because he hated to bother his head about such trifling matters
as what he could eat."
"And there were times when he was so poor that when he had
to entertain important guests at his home he first had to go to
the pawnshop and get his formal kimono out of hock."
Although Kano was a confirmed patriot he was never a nationalist
of the same ilk as Mitsuru Toyama or Morihei Uchida. In contrast,
he took the internatioanI view and was a liberal, cut from the
same cloth as Prince Saionji.
In the last few years of his life Jigoro Kano concentrated on
the educational and spiritual aspects of judo until the systems
reached a level of intellectual and moral education as well as
an athletic activity and method of combat. Actually, he referred
to judo as a sport with the three aims of physical education, contest
proficiency and mental training. Its ultimate object was "to
perfect oneself and thus be of some use to the world around oneself."
Kano taught kata until a very old age, sometimes demonstrating
its techniques with his assistants. His method of teaching judo
varied according to the age and experience of the student. Although
he stopped doing randori at a much earlier age, he continued to
stress it over kata. His idea was to have the students engage in
free practice and assimilate kata naturally.
Kudo once asked Kano his reaction to proposals for dividing judoka
by weight classifications for tournament competition. Kano replied, "now
a small man can easily throw a big man, but if small men want to
be classed by weight, I'm willing to give the proposition favorable
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Kano was opposed to the idea of government subsidies, but felt
if the Kodokan rejected it, other foundations would not be in a
position to receive grants. To keep from hurting the chances of
other groups, he agreed to receive a subsidy although it was quite
small. The Shihan was actually short of money and sought financial
aid from the Kano clan in Naha.
The Kodokan, then located at Suidobashi, celebrated its 50th anniversary
in 1934 at an impressive ceremony held in the presence of an imperial
prince and with high-ranking members attending from all over Japan.
It was at this time Jigoro Kano presented cash gifts to the memorial
plaques of each of his departed teachers and voiced gratitude for
all they had done for him. The money eventually went to the families
of those instructors.
As a member of the International Olympic Committee, Kan attended
every Olympic Games from the Fifth Olympiad in 1912 in Stockholm
to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, including the 10th Olympiad in
Los Angeles in 1932. Kudo asked Kano if judo should be included
in the Olympics and the Shihan replied: "If the IOC asks Japan
to include it, then Japan will consider it." In 1913 Jigoro
Kano, accompanied by Takasaki and S. Kotani, now international
secretary of the Kodokan, went to Geneva to offer Tokyo as the
site for the 12th Olympiad in 1940.
In 1935 Kano received the Asahi Prize for outstanding contributions
in the fields of art, science and sports. Three years later he
went to an IOC meeting in Cairo and succeeded in getting Tokyo
nominated for the site of the 1940 Olympics at which judo was to
be included as one of the events for the first time.
It turned out to be the Shihan's crowning achievement although
a cataclysmic world war was to force its postponement for another
quarter of a century. On his way home from that momentous conference
on board the SS Hikawa Maru on May 4, 1938, Jigoro Kano died from
pneumonia. He was 78 years old.
Another dream-an International Judo Federation, plans for which
Kano revealed in 1933-came true in 1952. Today, more than six million
persons practice judo in over 30 countries around the world. In
October of 1969 thousands of judo fans watched the sixth World
Judo Championships in Mexico City-vivid proof of Jigoro Kano's
prophetic statement, "When I die, Kodokan judo will not die
with me because all things can be studied if these principles (best
use of energy and mutual prosperity) are studied."
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ARTICLES ABOUT JUDO
FOUNDATION OF KODOKAN JUDO AND ITS DEVELOPMENT
By Prof. Jigoro Kano
Interpreted by Yukio Matsumoto
By D. Risei Kano
and the Unification
of Jiujitsu Disciplines by The Kodokan
Written by: Kousuke Nagaki