Like the Aikido page elsewhere on this site, this judo page deserves inclusion due to its historical connections to jujitsu.

Judo – gentle ways – has enjoyed many years of public exposure since its inclusion in the Olympics since 1964. Unjustly, this ‘sporting association’ has resulted in Judo being viewed as merely a ‘sport.’

Even though some clubs concentrate mainly on judo’s sporting applications, let’s not forget that first and foremost Judo is a martial art; an effective martial art and formidable self defence system.

Just as there are clubs placing major emphasis on the competition side of Judo there are many other clubs which place just as much focus of Judo’s martial elements. Like Aikido, Judo has strong ties with ju-jitsu, but even more so. Many of the throwing techniques used in Judo can still be found in many jujitsu curriculums, while the ground work common to both disciplines is separated only by Jujitsu’s more ‘brutal’ elements.

Jigoro Kano the father of judo

The founder of Judo, Jigoro Kano, was born in 1860. In 1881 he graduated with a degree in literature from Tokyo Imperial University and took a further degree in philosophy the following year. Apart from being the founder of judo, Kano was also a leading educationalist, pacifist and a prominent figure in the Japanese Olympic movement.

When Kano began his study of ju-jitsu as a young man, the jujutsu masters were struggling to earn a living. Although they were willing to teach the skills handed down to them over many generations, there was little interest and with the demise of the samurai warrior class the need for instruction was further diluted.

At the age of 18, Kano studied the ju-jitsu of the Tenshin Shinyo Ryu under Fukudo and Iso, both instructors at the prestigious Komu Sho. Following Fukuda’s death, Kano remained briefly with master Iso before finishing his training with master Ilkubo. In 1883 Kano began teaching his newly formed art of judo. Although the techniques of Judo resembled the original techniques of Jujitsu, Kano concluded that the ultimate purpose of practice and training in Judo should be different from that of Ju-jitsu. Kano’s Judo held as its goal the training of body and spirit.

Judo techniques can be basically classified into three categories – throwing, grappling and striking. In 1885 the throwing techniques were categorized and known as Go Kyou No Waza. The striking techniques involving striking and kicking, were restricted in the form of Kata. This reflected Kano’s objective to keep the practice of Judo safe, thus highlighting the difference goals and overall philosophy of Kodokan Judo and Ju-jitsu.

Today, judo is viewed by the general public as a sport, although Kano never intended it to be practised as only a sport and felt strongly that it was a personal art to train the body and the mind. We sometimes forget that Judo has some very powerful self defence applications and judo grapplers are some of the best ground fighters in the world one reason why many traditional ‘punch and kick’ martial artists are using judo and jujitsu to compliment their existing self defence skills.

During the Japanese military build up of the thirties, Kano resisted attempts for Judo to be utilised for military purposes, this made him unpopular with the forces re-shaping Japanese society and ambitions. In the face of strenuous objections, Kano sought to have the Olympic Games held in Tokyo in 1940 – “Sportsmanship is above war,” he told one press conference. He was successful.

That he was so, during a period when Japanese colonization was at its zenith, is a tribute to the great respect held for Kano by the rest of the world. Even the US and the UK who were resolutely opposed Japanese policies in the far east supported Kano’s controversial bid.

In 1938, while travelling home aboard the Japanese ship Hikawa Maru he died, officially of pneumonia. Speculation has surrounded Kano’s demise ever since, undoubtedly his western and pacifist sympathies were an irritation to the imperialist aspirations of the Japanese military. Interestingly. Within weeks of his death, Japan cancelled the games and invaded China.