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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Mastering judo / Masao Takahashi ... [et al.].
ISBN 0-7360-5099-X (soft cover)
1. Judo. I. Takahashi, Masao, 1929-
ISBN-10: 0-7360-5099-X (print) ISBN-10: 0-7360-8518-1 (Adobe PDF)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7360-5099-9 (print) ISBN-13: 978-0-7360-8518-2 (Adobe PDF)
Copyright © 2005 by Masao Takahashi, Ray Takahashi, June Takahashi, Allyn Takahashi, Philip Takahashi, and Tina
All rights reserved. Except for use in a review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in any form or by any electronic,
mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying, and recording, and in
any information storage and retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
The Web addresses cited in this text were current as of January 2005, unless otherwise noted.
Acquisitions Editor: Ed McNeely
Developmental Editor: Jennifer L. Walker
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Photographer (cover): Bob Willingham, International Judo Federation photographer
Photographers (interior): Barnaba Szluinski, unless otherwise noted. Photo on page viii © Kodokan Institute of Judo.
Photo on page 3 courtesy of Roy Kawamoto. Photo on page 213 © Grace Hayami. Photos on pages 2, 7,14, 18, 30-33, 36,
44,68,74,78,79,81,91, 108,112, 114, 117,118, 119, 125, 160, 163,213, and 214 courtesy Takahashi family.
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This book is dedicated to my father, Kukichi Takahashi
who provided us the opportunity to learn and study judo as a way of life.
And to nry many teachers who devoted their lives to judo and its philosophies:
Atsumu Kamino, nry first teacher,
Yoshio Katsuta, my sensei at the Buddhist temple in Raymond, Alberta,
Ichiro Abe, who guided nre with his wisdom and superb technical expertise,
Katsuyoshi Takata, for his samurai spirit,
Keiko Fukuda, for her devotion to the purity of techniques taught through kata,
and many others too many to mention.
Finally, we would like to acknowledge our students, many of whom are now
sensei themselves, ft is our hope that they continue to learn and to teach
and that they will surpass us in their ability just as our teachers hoped for us.
This page intentionally left blank.
Introduction: Kano's Art.viii
CHAPTER 1 Evolution From Art to Sport.1
CHAPTER 2 Traditional Values and Etiquette.11
CHAPTER 3 Focus and Attitude.23
CHAPTER 4 Training Methods.35
CHAPTER 5 Breakfalls, Posture, and Standing
and Ground Positions.67
CHAPTER 6 Control Grips and Grip Breaks.89
CHAPTER 7 Standing Combinations and Counters. . . 107
CHAPTER 8 Physical Preparation
and Weight Control.135
CHAPTER 9 Match Plans, Competitive Strategies,
CHAPTER 10 Self-Defense Applications.169
Appendix: A Listing of Nage-Waza and Katame-Waza .... 195
About the Authors.213
Mastering Judo focuses on advanced technical instruction for training and performance.
The book encompasses the complex dichotomy of judo as a sport and martial art.
Although many books published on judo are directed toward the beginner judoka,
Mastering Judo is written for the judoka who has already practiced judo and acquired
an introductory level of knowledge (has obtained promotion in belt ranking from
yellow to green or 5th to 3rd Kyu levels). This book is intended for the judoka who
is interested in competing and who also wishes to further his or her knowledge of
judo as both a sport and martial art.
Mastering Judo provides selected techniques that you can apply in competition. The
technical focus is on how you can apply these techniques by utilizing various grips,
movements, setups, and combinations. Information is given on training methods; the
utilization of strategy and tactics; and other considerations, such as weight control
and nutrition and the importance of studying kata. The practicality of judo is depicted
with selected self-defense techniques that you can apply outside the sport.
Mastering Judo is different from other books you may have read on judo instruc¬
tion techniques because it is based upon decades of experience from one of the most
successful judo families, the six-member Takahashi family, who among them have
a total of over 200 years of experience and 31 black-belt degrees as competitors and
teachers. The benefits of the book are twofold: First, chapters on history, philosophy,
and self-defense present a broad base of knowledge on judo as a martial art. Second,
the book provides specific information on technical skills and training that will help
you advance to a higher level. We are confident that Mastering Judo will help you
improve your practice, performance, understanding, and enjoyment of judo as an
art and a sport. Your continued progress is valued and expected in keeping with the
spirit of judo.
I want to express my appreciation to my family, all accomplished and dedicated ju¬
doka, for their continued support throughout the years. My son, Ray, deserves the
most honorable mention, for patiently compiling all the information and undertaking
the enormous task of writing the initial draft of this book.
Special thanks to Reginald Y. Hayami, for his diligent work on the family and
Sincere thanks to the expertise of our friend, photographer Barnaba Szluinski, who,
assisted by George Hambleton, graciously took the technical photos.
Thank you to Ed McNeely for the inspiration and opportunity to produce this book,
and to Jennifer Walker for her professional guidance.
Finally, to all the many teachers and outstanding students who have contributed
to making the dojo well-known throughout the judo world.
The evolution of fighting arts was first documented in Japan, with the first samurai
battles recorded around the mid-800s. At this time in history, forms of combat were
designed for the purpose of maiming and killing, both with weapons and without.
Fighting arts used by the samurai were practiced and developed over various types of
terrain and weather conditions. For example, in a prolonged fight in heavy armor, an
advantage could be gained if one's opponent was made to advance uphill facing the
sun. As the fight descended, possibly to swampy terrain below, the ability to grapple
and hold the opponent to drown him on his back was important. This can be repre¬
sented symbolically by techniques still used today.
Takenouchi jujitsu originated around 1532 and evolved from the techniques and
fighting methods used by the samurai, which form the basis for many jujitsu styles
and systems of attack. The art of jujitsu
reached its height in the 16th century,
and numerous styles emerged with
masters and teachers eager to promote
their versions. Many of these styles
were good methods of combat and self-
defense but offered little else. The role
of the samurai began to decline within
Japanese society during the Tokugawa
period. The decline accelerated with
the arrival of Admiral Perry in Tokyo in
1853, and the Tokugawa period and the
samurai finally ended in 1868.
Professor Jigoro Kano, the creator of
judo, noticed the inconsistency in the
jujitsu masters' teachings and realized
no guiding principle could be found
among the vast array of jujitsu tech¬
niques. Jujitsu was unsafe to practice
with its kicks, punches, stabs, slashes,
and twists of the limbs, and the fighting
form was abused by those having ill will
toward society (for example, thieves,
ruffians, and prison guards fighting for
money). As a result, people thought
negatively of jujitsu, and it gained a
Due to rights limitations, this
item has been removed.
Professor Jigoro Kano is considered the creator
INTRODUCTION: KANO'S ART
Inspired by his thirst for knowledge and his background in jujitsu. Professor Kano
believed a more complete version of martial arts could be devised. He realized the
educational value of the practice and study of martial arts techniques. He also envi¬
sioned physical and mental training that would have its own philosophy and objec¬
tives. At 22 years of age, Jigoro Kano created judo, taking selected techniques from
jujitsu, modifying others, and adding his own. A main feature of judo would be the
ability to engage fully in dynamic fighting without the fear of injury through randori
(free fighting), which was not possible in jujitsu with its many dangerous techniques.
Kano thus mainly developed judo from jujitsu, which had many styles and schools.
The word "judo" can actually be traced to 1724 when Masayori Inoue established Jiki
shin ryo judo, the first school of jujitsu to use the term judo. Professor Kano preserved
techniques he learned from kito ryu jujitsu, which would come to be known in judo
as koshiki no kata (classical forms), that were designed for combat while wearing ar¬
mor. He used techniques he learned practicing Tenjinshinyo ryu jujitsu from founders
Masatomo Iso and Hachinosuke Fukuda. Professor Kano chose the term "Kodokan
judo" to differentiate it from jujitsu, which had developed a negative reputation, with
the hope that judo would appeal to a higher class of society.
Initially, followers of jujitsu expressed fierce opposition to judo and threatened its
progress and development. Professor Kano was relentless in promoting judo, how¬
ever, and he was able to develop a loyal following that included good fighters, a few
of whom were later dubbed as "the four guardians": Yoshiaki Yamashita, Sakujiro
Yokoyama, Tsunejiro Tomita, and Shiro Saigo.
A clash between old-style jujitsu and judo came to a head at the 1886 Tokyo
Metropolitan Police Jujitsu Meet, which would decide which martial art would be
used for instruction. The significance of the event would either propel the practice
of judo forward and give it credibility or propel it into oblivion. The 15-man duel
ended with judo fighters winning 13 head-to-head matches against jujitsu fighters,
with the remaining two fights ending as draws. The decisive win gave judo practice
the impetus to spread and take a strong hold as the new martial art of the times.
Thus, within a few years of its creation the technical aspects of Kodokan judo were
well established. By 1922, the Kodokan Bunkakai (Kodokan Cultural Society) formed
two mottos that would guide judo practice: "seiryoku zenyo" (maximum efficiency
with minimum effort) and "jita lcyoei" (mutual welfare and benefit).
Professor Kano carefully chose the name "judo" from two Japanese words: "ju" and
"do". "Ju" can be translated to mean "gentle, supple, flexible, pliable, or yielding." The
word "ju" is also found in the word "jujitsu". "Jitsu" or "jutsu" can be translated to
mean "art" or "technique" and represents manipulating the opponent's force against
himself rather than confronting it with one's own force. The second word, "do", gives
judo a unique advantage in concept over jujitsu. "Do" means "the way" or "the path,"
and this part of the word judo implies an accompanying philosophy.
It is difficult to understand the full meaning of judo through a simple translation
of the word. For instance, the word "gentle" to the Westerner may lead to misun¬
derstanding of the conceptual definition of "ju". Although gentle can refer to being
soft or passive. Professor Kano was not opposed to strength in and of itself but rather
to the unnecessary expenditure of strength. Why swing a wooden paddle to hit a fly
when a quick flick of a flyswatter can better do the trick?
"It is not how strong you are but rather how little strength you can use."
The understanding of "do" is more difficult to grasp. Translated as "the way,"
the meaning of "do" is about more than just the perfection of judo skills and their
INTRODUCTION: KANO'S ART
application. In sport, such as football, the objective is to win the game by scoring
more touchdowns than the opposing team. Players attempt their best to win the
game. The best players are those who are able to perfect the skills of football and
perform them within a competitive environment. Such perfection can be consid¬
ered an art—the ability to perform a variety of complex skills and techniques. The
purpose would be to obtain the result of a win or to better one's statistics such
as yards per run. This is where the sport definition of judo falls short and is not a
"way," just as jujitsu differentiates itself from judo by only having the objective of
defeating one's opponent by its application of techniques and holds.
To understand and pursue the "way," consider both the judo athlete and the non¬
competitor. Both can train for perfection and compete to their fullest (that is, to win).
Yet, a difference exists in what a win means to them. The noncompetitor still tries his
hardest to win, although he may not really care if he does actually win. The desired
result in both cases is ultimately to achieve personal satisfaction and learn from the
process of striving to do one's best. The noncompetitor as well as the judo athlete can
follow the way through understanding the many life lessons that can be learned from
both winning and losing. It is refreshing to see a champion like Yasuhiro Yamashita
(Olympic gold medalist, 1984) following the way through winning and doing his
best to display the utmost respect and humbleness in his many victories. Similarly,
upon Dutch athlete Anton Geesink's gold medal win at the 1964 Olympics over Akio
Kaminaga (of Japan), a Dutch supporter rushed toward the mat to celebrate. Geesink
waved the fan back to prevent an overt display of victory and to allow Kaminaga the
dignity he deserved upon his defeat.
With a guiding philosophy and a firm establishment of kata (prearranged forms)
and techniques later to be modified and known as the gokyo (1895), a range of
people found judo appealing. Jujitsu gave way to judo, and Professor Kano took full
advantage of this evolution, always taking the opportunity to promote his new art.
Professor Kano was successful ultimately in planting the seeds of judo worldwide.
Art to Sport
T he first dojo of judo, or practice hall, called the Kodokan, was established in
1882 at Eishoji, a Buddhist temple in Tokyo. As membership grew, Profes¬
sor Kano, the creator of Kodokan judo, moved the dojo nine times to larger
quarters to accommodate the growth of judo. The word "Kodokan" is derived from
the following: "Ko" means "lecture" or "practice." "Do" means "the way," and "lean"
means "a hall."
The Kodokan was relocated to its final location in the Bunkyo-ku
district in Tokyo in 1958 and is now a modern building distinguished
by a statue of Professor Kano at its entrance. With more than 500
mats in the main dojo, which was rebuilt to commemorate its 100th
anniversary and dedicated in 1984, the Kodokan has lodging, study
and research areas, a library, and a museum. Students from all over the world can
practice at the Kodokan, as it is open to all judoka. The Kodokan is an educational
facility and important symbol for acknowledging what judo is and why it was created.
An analogy to describe the relationship of the Kodokan to judo is the relationship
of Mecca to the Muslim religion.
The International Judo Federation (IJF) recognizes judo as the fighting form cre¬
ated by Jigoro Kano. Unlike some martial arts where different federations and styles
are accepted, Kodokan judo is the recognized form that allows for standardization
worldwide. The Kodokan ensures judo is promoted as Professor Kano created it
and upholds its traditions, customs, and etiquette. Kodokan judo teachers stress the
preservation of techniques. Grading is regulated so that every yudansha (black-belt
holder) who is approved is recognized through the standards of the Kodokan.
The Kodokan upholds the traditions of judo as it modernizes in time. Many
people who practice judo are looking for more than just a sport experience. People
are increasingly turning to judo for training in self-defense, physical education, and
sport. But they are also yearning for the old-fashioned traditions and high standards
of etiquette and respect set by the study of Kodokan judo. Figure 1.1 details the
chronology of key events in the evolution of judo, which cannot be covered fully
in this chapter.
EVOLUTION FROM ART TO SPORT
FROM THE KODOKAN TO THE OLYMPICS
As mentioned in the introduction to the book. Professor Kano was tireless in his
desire to see judo accepted in the martial arts community. As a scholar, Professor
Kano was educated, bright, and visionary. He understood that establishing judo as
an Olympic sport would provide the impetus for judo to flourish not only in Japan
but also throughout the world.
The practice of judo as a sport enabled it to gain more public attention outside of
Japan. Contests were being held as early as the 1920s when some European coun¬
tries, such as England and Germany, held team competitions. Rules were established
to highlight the spectacular throwing over groundwork so that judo would be ap¬
pealing to the spectator. The ability for competitors to engage fully without holding
back out of fear of injury made judo appealing to many people. Many other martial
arts could not replicate dynamic fighting because of their dangerous techniques, and
practitioners of these other forms could only resort to kata-style practice.
Professor Kano became the first Asian member of the International Olympic
Committee (IOC) in 1909. The professor's persistence over decades paid off, and in
1938 the IOC decided that judo would be included in the 1940 Games scheduled for
Tokyo. Around this time, judo was firmly entrenched in Japan and its practice was
spreading quickly across the continents. Sadly, however, Professor Kano was unable
to witness the fruits of his labor. He died of pneumonia at age 78 during his return
voyage from the IOC meeting in Cairo, and the 1940 Games were cancelled because
of World War II.
The proliferation of judo suffered a fur¬
ther setback in 1945 when its practice was
prohibited by the postwar Allied occupation
in Japan. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur
believed judo and its followers threatened
the Allied movement so he banned all judo
and closed down all martial arts dojos (self-
defense schools). MacArthur saw judo as
being too militaristic, and he decreed that
judo was not to be practiced and taught in
schools. As far away as the United States Due to rights limitations, this
and Canada many dojos were closed. As a item has been removed,
result of societal paranoia, 110,000 persons
of Japanese origin were relocated away
from the U.S. west coast and 22,000 were
evacuated outside the 100-mile protected
zone along the west coast of Canada and
many placed in internment camps. Judo
was in jeopardy of losing much of what
it had gained over the years in terms of
development and progress.
In both Canada and the United States
there was discrimination against people
of Japanese decent, many of whom were
born on North American soil. In the United
States, judo instructors were rounded up
Judoka at P0W Camp 101 Located in AngLer, Canada.
Left to right: Nobuyoshi Kawano, Sadami Ozaki, Masato Ishibashi,
and Eiichi Yoshikuni.
1860 Birth of Jigoro Kano
11882 Kodokan judo created
1886 Tokyo Metropolitan Police Jujitsu Meet
. 1889 Kodokan enrollment of 1,500 students
1896 Modern Olympic Games held in Athens
1902 Yoshiaki Yamashita travels overseas and teaches President Theodore Roosevelt
1907 Kodokan enrollment of 10,000 students
1909 Kano becomes first Asian on the International Olympic Committee (IOC)
1918 Britain’s Budokwai Dojo is the first dojo to open in Europe
1920 Kano makes first visit to Britain and Budokwai Dojo
1922 Judo mottos established: “maximum efficiency with
minimum effort,” and “mutual welfare and benefit”
1926 Kodokan establishes Women’s Division
Y Y Y
A A AAA
1932 Kano makes first visit to Los Angeles (United States) and Vancouver (Canada)
Kano gives lecture and demonstration at Los Angeles Olympic Games
1936 Kodokan enrollment about 80,000 students -
1938 Kano dies on ship, Hikawa Maru, when returning from IOC meeting in Cairo
1940 IOC accepts judo in the 1940 Olympic program -
Olympic Games proposed for Tokyo cancelled due to World War II
1941 United States and Britain declare war with Japan -
Germany declares war on United States
1942 Ban of judo in schools, dojos, and related facilities -
Figure 1.1 Chronology of key events in judo.
1951 International Judo Federation (IJF) established with nine countries
1956 First World Championships held in Tokyo with 21 countries
1961 Japan suffers significant loss when Anton Geesink defeats Koji Sone at third World Championships, Paris
1964 Judo makes its Olympic Games debut in Tokyo
1967 IJF contest rules established
1968 Judo is excluded from the Mexico Olympic program
1972 Munich Olympic Games
1976 Montreal Olympic Games
Koka and yuko scoring introduced in rules
1979 Seven new weight classes established plus open weight
1980 Moscow Olympic Games
First Women’s Worlds held in New York City
, 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games
A A A A
1988 Seoul Olympic Games - 1
Women’s demonstration event at Seoul Games
Open weight class eliminated
Taekwondo added as second martial art
in Olympic program
France provides prize money for winners at
1990 Break up of the Soviet Union (USSR) -
1992 Barcelona Olympic Games -
1996 Atlanta Olympic Games -
1997 111 countries participate in the Paris World Championships
1998 New weight classes to be in effect -
Men: 60, 66, 73, 81,90, 100, +100
Women: 48, 52, 57, 63, 70, 78, +78
Blue judogi introduced
2000 Sydney Olympic Games
2003 New rules on penalties keeping shido and keikoku -
Ne-waza time reduced and Golden Rule introduced
187 countries affiliated with IJF
2004 Athens Olympic Games -
2008 Beijing Olympic Games -
and sent to internment camps. Although judo was practiced within the confines of
the internment camps, it virtually came to a hah in Canada and the United States.
Interestingly, no internee was ever charged with a crime by the FBI or Royal Cana¬
dian Mounted Police (RCMP) during the internment period. And, ironically, many
nissei (second-generation Japanese) fought for the United States while their families
were confined in internment camps for no reason except racism. U.S. Senator Daniel
Inouye won medals for bravery fighting for the United States during World War II
in Italy. He was wounded many times, including losing an arm in battle.
Despite these setbacks, the practice of judo continued to evolve, albeit slowly,
just as Professor Kano would have wished. In 1948 the first postwar All-Japan Judo
Championships were held, and the following year the All-Japan Judo Federation was
established. After the war, judo teachers focused on teaching judo as a sport with an
educational basis, in part to deemphasize the martial art for self-defense aspect and
to ultimately regain inclusion in the Olympic Games.
Judo was also taking hold in many countries in Europe, and in 1951 the Inter¬
national Judo Federation (IJF) was established. By this time, regular international
competitions were being held in Europe and spreading elsewhere. The first World
Judo Championships were held in Tokyo in 1956 with 21 countries in attendance.
A turning point to the acceptance of judo into the Olympic Games was the suc¬
cessful hosting of the 1958 Asian Games in Japan. The Japanese quickly focused their
efforts to get judo into the 1964 Games. Their efforts were helped by the IJF, who
asked each member country to appeal to its own Olympic Committee to lobby for
the inclusion of judo in the 1964 program.
The teaching of judo as a sport was growing rapidly, and its inception in the 1964
Olympic Games in Tokyo was a significant event. The 1964 Games were the first to be
televised and offered a chance for Japan to show judo to the world and to highlight
Japanese dominance in the sport. After considerable debate on what weight classes to
Spirit Is Victorious
In the years leading up to the 1964
Olympics, Japanese traditionalists re¬
sisted weight classes, believing instead
that regardless of weight the most
skilled judoka would always emerge
victorious. Masao Takahashi embod¬
ied the spirit of the open-weight cat¬
egory. He would often enter the open
division, where judoka of any weight
can enter. In a Detroit tournament in
1959, Takahashi took on the "big
men," and his impressive showing
was described by Frank Moritsugu
in the New Canadian as a triumph of
technique over size both in throw¬
ing and in avoiding being thrown or
pinned by doing the Mifune trick of
riding his opponent and avoiding be¬
ing thrown by floating around him
(June 29, 1959).
Because of his size and strength, as
well as his technique, Anton Geesink
of Holland dispelled the myth that
strength was immaterial by winning
the 1961 World Championships in Par¬
is by beating Koji Sone of Japan. Many
believe Sone was the technically better
judoka although Geesink was regarded
highly as well. It would be the last time
the World Championships would be
an open-weight event. Implementing
weight classes became a harsh reality
for judo traditionalists, especially when
it was realized that having them was
the only hope of having judo enter the
EVOLUTION FROM ART TO SPORT
use, four divisions were contested: light (under 68 kilograms [150 pounds]); middle
(under 80 kilograms [175 pounds]); heavy (over 80 kilograms [175 pounds]); and
the open weight class, where any competitor of any weight could enter. Japan took
all weight divisions that year except the open division, which was won by Anton
Geesinlc of Holland. The bigger and stronger Geesink beat Japan's Akio Kaminaga
with a smothering kesa-gatame (hold-down).
Anton Geesink's victory for Holland at the 1964 Games prevented a sweep by Japan
and was important for the further progress of judo. Geesink, who trained in Japan,
was highly respected and did much to promote the sport. His win symbolized the
ability of non-Japanese to excel in judo and provided inspiration for others to follow
suit. The success of other nations in judo, despite the dissatisfaction of the Japanese,
was good for the sport. A Japanese-dominated martial art
created by the Japanese would have more difficulty be¬
ing accepted by other nations if others believed that their
success was improbable.
The fast growth of judo outside of Japan was in large
part a result of judo being accepted as an Olympic event.
Many sport federations sought to gain prestige and inter¬
national recognition for their home countries as a result.
Although judo was excluded from the 1968 Games in
Mexico, the sport was again included in the Munich Games
of 1972 and has been a part of every Olympics since.
Another key moment in the evolution of judo was the
inclusion of women in the sport. The first World Cham¬
pionships for women were held in 1980 in New York City.
Women's judo gained Olympic status in Seoul as a dem¬
onstration sport in 1988. Women competed in judo offi¬
cially in the Barcelona Games of 1992. Ingrid Berghmans,
Olympic champion from Belgium is considered among
the best female competitors ever, while Tina Talcahashi,
Olympic coach for Canada in 1988, did much to further
promote women's judo, particularly in Canada.
Some of the biggest changes to judo have occurred as
a result of its inclusion in the Olympics. In fact, judo as
an Olympic event now has to contend with conditions
such as spectator appeal, and the IJF has been continu¬
ally modifying judo rules as a result. The differentiation
between judo as sport and judo as martial art became more
prevalent as a result. (See figure 1.2.)
In 1984 Tina Takahashi became the first Canadi¬
an to win a judo gold medal at a World Champi¬
onship event. She is pictured here at the 1984
World University Championships.
INTERNATIONALIZATION OF JUDO AS A SPORT
The internationalization of judo is likely one of the most phenomenal of any Olym¬
pic sport. Judo is truly practiced worldwide, and this spread has been a direct result
of the rapid development of judo as a sport. The beauty of this spread has been the
dissemination of a judo that is standardized in its teachings. The IJF clearly states
that it recognizes judo as that of Kodokan judo. What this means is that if you visit a
dojo in the United States, France, or China, you will find that the judo being taught
is the same—Kodokan judo. Currently, more than 187 national judo federations are
Figure 1.2 Evolution of judo as a sport.
affiliated with the IJF, the official organization for Olympic
participation, making judo one of the largest representa¬
tive sports. Professor Kano's vision of judo becoming an
international sport can truly be acknowledged.
Although Japan is still considered the dominant country
in judo because of its depth of high-caliber fighters, the
spread of judo has enabled many countries to find suc¬
cess as measured through the Olympic Games and World
Championships. The distribution of success throughout all
parts of the world has helped the sport of judo thrive and
continually develop worldwide. It is said that judo is one
of the most practiced sports in the world with more than
20 million participants.
Judo parity can be viewed by how competitive the sport
is from an international perspective. Despite the accepted
dominance of judo by Japan, the medal count by other na¬
tions at the Olympic Games indicates parity among coun¬
tries. Even in judo's inauguration at the Tokyo Olympics
in 1964, nine countries collected Olympic judo medals—a
good start, considering that there were only four weight
divisions. In recent times, with the inclusion of women and
the increased number of weight divisions, judo's global par¬
ity is even more apparent. In the 2004 Summer Olympics
in Athens, for example, 26 different countries took home
medals in judo.
The reasons for parity in judo are complex but can be
narrowed to some key factors. When the Soviet Union
broke up in the early 1990s, judo immediately became
more competitive at the elite level because many of the
Soviet republics have strong roots in combative sports.
The sheer number of countries practicing judo (187 plus)
indicates judo is practiced globally, so its competitiveness
is gauged internationally by what's happening. Coaching
and instruction also have improved along with training
methods that further develop the talent pool. The attrac¬
tiveness of judo for children helps in developing a strong
young talent base so the transition to senior levels can be
made easier. It is not uncommon for junior-level athletes
to do well in senior competition even at the elite level.
REFOCUSING FOR THE FUTURE
The teaching of judo as a sport became an effective way to introduce it to the public.
People could understand sport, and judo as a sport spread throughout the world
quickly. As we have seen, from its inception and Professor Kano's dream to see
judo as an event in the Olympic Games, judo has become increasingly important
to many national sport federations. Emphasis on elite sport created systems of de¬
velopment for judo, including an increased number of international competitions,
EVOLUTION FROM ART TO SPORT
better training facilities and centers, higher-quality coaching support, and leagues.
This continued support structure by nations vying for international and Olympic
gold provides a forum in which athletes can be expected to train year round with a
ft is ironic that Professor Kano promoted judo as a sport so that it would gain ac¬
ceptance internationally. But those who love judo must take note that a heavy sport
focus can alter judokas' behavior so drastically that it can override all other aspects
of judo's teachings. This attitude is contrary to the very fundamental philosophy
of judo (described next) that Professor Kano believed distinguished it from other
"Jita kyoei," or "mutual welfare and benefit," is one of two mottos (the other being
"seiryoku zen'yo," or "maximum efficiency with minimum effort") that provide the
basis of direction that ultimately will affect the behavior and actions of the judoka.
One cannot be selfish if operating out of jita kyoei. The judoka must work together
with his or her partner to accrue mutual benefit through judo. In randori training,
for example, which looks like a fight, there is "giving" to one's uke (partner who
receives the action) so that mutual benefit can be obtained. Even with full resistance,
the dynamic actions of randori resemble an all-out match, yet the attitude of the true
judoka is far from that of winning at all costs. The concept of jita kyoei is confusing
and sometimes difficult for the beginner judoka and Western thinkers to grasp. Un¬
derstanding this philosophy reveals much of what jita kyoei is all about.
The sport focus eliminates the need for jita kyoei. In sport, the athlete wants to
win and the elite athlete can obtain that objective with a sport focus that narrows
as it becomes more specialized. In many respects, to obtain elite status, one must be
selfish because everything must be directed to the good of the individual aspiring
athlete. The emphasis on competition narrows the teaching of judo, and the judo
athlete is taught judo only as a sport. As a result, parts of judo are disregarded or de-
emphasized. For example, instances of proper bowing are sometimes neglected in the
tournament environment. Fighters bow with their feet apart and arms dangling from
their sides, and they simulate a bow with a quick forward jerk of the body. The judo
traditionalist would shudder at such a display of disrespect for the very act of show¬
ing respect for mutual welfare and prosperity. But, little blame can be placed on the
fighter who is so focused on the fight and was likely never taught to bow properly
and even perhaps will never be corrected.
Michel Brousse and David Matsunroto (Judo. A Sport and Way of Life. Ed. Interna¬
tional Judo Federation. 1999. Korea. Pg. 113.) speak about the "sportihcation" of
judo. They provide the following optimistic statement: "Today the judo world has
matured and the abuses of the sport orientation are now compensated by an equal
interest in the educational aspects of judo."
In many cases, the value of judo for the education of people is not overlooked. More
and more in Western culture, there is a need for sporting activities that can provide
more than the skills of the game. In fact, many of the qualities that sport judo can
bring out in the individual are the same types of qualities that can be acquired through
the motto "jita kyoei." Sportsmanship, a Western term, is a concept that mirrors the
teachings of judo on how to act honorably as a result of involvement in sport. (For a
further discussion of attitude, see chapter 3.) George Kerr, a highly respected fighter,
coach, and authority on judo from Scotland and an 8th Dan, provides a cautionary
perspective: "If such courtesy is not maintained and the needs of competition prevail,
judo will suffer and decline, as has happened in other Western sports."
There is no question, however, that the development of judo was a result of the
application of judo as a sport. Traditionalists and modernists struggled with its evolu¬
tion, yet it was inevitable that change would occur. However, as Masao Takahashi,
8th Dan, remarks: "Running the dojo for only fighters is not good for judo. You have
to teach judo as a martial art." Similarly, June Takahashi believes the teachings of the
Kodokan tradition and history should be taught to all judoka. Further discussion of
proper judo etiquette is covered in chapter 2.
The values of judo philosophy and tradition, such as jita kyoei and mutual welfare
and benefit, are crucial. Judoka must learn to respect themselves, their bodies, their
elders and coaches, higher-ranking judoka, and others. Students of judo should not
only learn to be physically fit but also fit in spirit by concentration, dedication, and the
ideals of mutual welfare and benefit. Masao Takahashi emphasizes the wholeness of
judo: "We call judo a sport, but, really, it's the study of a culture." Read on to chapter
2 for more information on preserving the traditional values and etiquette of judo.
F rom its inception, judo has upheld traditional values and high standards of
etiquette. Professor Kano emphasized these aspects as an important part of
judo, not only to differentiate it from other martial arts but also to fulfill the
purpose of developing the overall judoka and person. Some rules are closely linked
to etiquette and are implemented within competition.
On and off the mat, etiquette is likely the most important aspect of judo. Etiquette
can be described as rules, customs, or ways to conduct oneself within judo. Much of
judo etiquette involves unwritten rules. Many other sports, some more than others,
implement etiquette. For example, in the sport of golf, etiquette is deemed impor¬
tant not only for the players but also for the spectators. When a player tees off it is
customary that spectators stay quiet and still and that they refrain from taking pho¬
tographs that can disrupt the player's concentration. In judo, the bow taken toward
one's opponent before the match is a visible procedure of etiquette that represents
Two of the main purposes of etiquette are efficiency and safety. Efficiency refers
to the judoka's conduct and the ability to operate in an effective manner. The formal
start and finish of practice (bowing in and out), for example, are a form of etiquette
that ensures that everyone is punctual, orderly, and prepared to start the practice
session. The bow also is a show of respect to one's practice partners as an expression
of thanks for participating in the practice or match so that each partner can improve
skills. Safety etiquette in judo is important, and strict rules limit the risk of injury,
especially in activities such as randori, or free-practice fighting.
Etiquette serves another important role in judo that distinguishes it from other
combative activities and martial arts. The emphasis on etiquette maintains perspec¬
tive with regard to the higher aims of judo, which was also created to educate and
develop the overall person within society. This perspective is especially important
today when so much emphasis is placed on winning. Maintaining etiquette in judo
does not necessarily mean that the judoka downplays the importance of striving to
win. True judo champions are those who excel as high-level athletes and who display
the respectful behaviors of Kodokan judo. In some respects, etiquette takes judo to a
higher level than just being a sport in which the objective can be simplified to win¬
ning the game. Emphasis should be placed on building one's character along with
one's technical ability.
EXPECTATIONS FOR RESPECT AND RITUAL
IN THE DOJO
Many dojos have their own rules and most, if not all, have been passed on with the
standardization of Kodokan judo. "Dojo," or "place where judo is practiced," originally
comes from the Buddhist terms "do" (means "way or path") and "jo" (means "place
of enlightenment or worship"). This definition helps us to understand the connection
of the dojo and the practice of etiquette in judo.
There are certain rules that are common to all good dojo that you will be expected
to know and observe. Study these well.
1. Students must be punctual at all scheduled meetings.
2. Students must wear traditional keikogi properly with a belt indicating their
earned rank at all practice sessions.
TRADITIONAL VALUES AND ETIQUETTE
3. Students must keep their keikogi clean and in good repair.
4. Students must keep their bodies clean and fingernails and toenails trimmed.
5. Students must not wear jewelry or any sharp objects when exercising.
6. Students must not chew gum or have food of any kind in their mouths while
in the dojo.
7. Students must obey the instructions and respect the discipline of their seniors
8. Students must practice only those techniques that have been formally presented
by their instructor.
9. Students of lower ranks must seek to exercise with higher-ranking partners.
10. Students must not engage in idle talk while in the dojo.
11. Students must remain quiet and attentive when not exercising.
12. Students should always be courteous and helpful to each other. The Budo code
of sportsmanship requires that the less adept in rank or physical condition be
13. Students should help to keep the dojo clean and in good repair.
14. Students must use the correct form of standing or kneeling bows, when en¬
tering or leaving the dojo and to each other at the beginning and end of each
15. Students must sit properly while on the mat.
16. Students must always be serious, sincerely entering into the spirit of the art,
especially during randori and contests. The spirit of fair play, obedience to the
referee's judgement, and giving as much importance to the attitude of the match
or practice as to the results, are of the greatest importance.
17. Students must know the rules of the contest.
18. Students must not misuse the knowledge of the arts.
The following are examples of expectations of dojo etiquette:
• Good hygiene is expected out of courtesy to others practicing judo. Not only
should you maintain good personal hygiene, but also you are expected to keep your
judogi (cotton uniform) clean and in good condition. You must wear footwear when
leaving the mat, and only clean, bare feet are permitted on the tatanri or in the prac¬
tice area. Keep your tatami clean, and wash or wipe the tatami after each session.
• Proper sitting in the dojo is important for safety reasons. The two accepted sitting
positions are kneeling (seiza) and cross-legged (anza), a less formal sitting method.
Always face toward the center of the mat or action and avoid facing your back toward
shomen, or the side on which persons of hig
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