Judo is a Japanese martial art that aims at strengthening trainees’ bodies and minds through its training. During the session a player grips the opponent and makes an effort to subdue him/her by throwing or holding.

Trainees may have respective reasons to start Judo practice. Some people start their practice for fitness while others start practice to become stronger, to lose weight healthfully or to learn safer ways of falling down.

Although trainees may have various motivations initially, the goal of Judo is to develop fine people.

Let’s learn the Rei mind through Judo training and become a fine person who is strong both physically and mentally and who willingly contributes to society.

The Purpose of Judo

Judo is loved by all generations. People of all ages from six to over eighty years, all professions, nationalities and sexes enjoy Judo at the Kodokan. They all have their own purpose for the practice. Some want to be strong, healthy, strengthen their minds and be able to defend themselves. While others want to become instructors of Judo and some are just devoted to training others. Why is Judo attracting people of all ages and people with so many different purposes?

Kano Shihan throwing Yoshitsugu YAMASHITA with Uki-goshi
Kano Shihan throwing Yoshitsugu YAMASHITA with Uki-goshi

Prof. Kano created Judo from Jujutsu as the means to learn the great principle of humanity, not only to learn Waza.

He named the training institution “Kodokan”. The word “Kodo” means to learn, prove and practice the principle. The fact that Prof. Kano named Judo “Kodokan Judo” shows us how he made much of the principle and made it a principal objective of life to learn. Prof. Kano himself said that the purpose of Judo is to strengthen the body by practicing attack and defense, to complete the personality by training the mind, and finally to devote oneself to society.

The Principle of Waza

Waza is based on the fundamental principle of Judo that is, “Maximum Efficient Use of Mind and Body”. The theories of Tsukuri and Kake are expressing the principle from Waza’s viewpoint.

Tsukuri is made up of Kuzushi which means to destroy your opponent’s posture or balance, and “holding yourself ready” to make your attack easier. To actually apply your contemplated technique, when his posture has already been broken by Tsukuri, is called Kake. Tsukuri and Kake can also be called technical principles of Judo.

While you are practicing Tsukuri and Kake, both depend upon the fundamental principle of “Mutual welfare and benefit” and “Maximum efficiency,” you can understand and master the principle which can be applied to all phases of human life. You proceed from Waza to Way by practicing Judo.

Female trainees learning from Kano Shihan (early Taisho period)
Female trainees learning from Kano Shihan (early Taisho period)

What is Judo?

Judo (Kodokan Judo) was started by Kano Jigoro Shihan (professor) in 1882. He was 22 years old and had just graduated from a university.

Judo was derived from Jujutsu that was a Japanese traditional martial art. Jujutsu is a martial art that uses techniques such as throwing, holding, choking, hitting and kicking to subdue the opponent.

Kano Shihan studied two styles of Jujutsu, Tenjin Shinyo-ryu and Kito-ryu among many Jujutsu schools. Not only learning Jujutsu techniques, he began to think that he was able to develop fine people by indicating the way of living through Jujutsu training.

Finally, he sublimated Jujutsu that was a fighting method into Judo that aims at character-building. His dojo was named Kodokan that means “a school for studying the way”, “the way” being the concept of life itself. Then he started to teach Judo there.

History of Kodokan Judo

Kano Jigoro Shihan
Kano Jigoro Shihan

Seiryoku zenyo and Jita kyoei

Here we introduce two fundamental principles that were established by Kano Shihan.

  • Seiryoku zenyo: Maximum-efficiency
  • Jita kyoei: Mutual welfare and benefit

Kano Shihan hoped that trainees learn through Judo training the way to use their body and mind most efficiently and achieve the perfection of their character and also hoped that they use their ability for the development of the society.

Let’s aim at becoming a respectable person by applying the Judo mind to daily living.

Seiryoku zenyo and Jita kyoei
Seiryoku zenyo and Jita kyoei

What images was the Kodokan symbol derived from?

The red circle expresses an iron-core that is fired, and the white outward means the floss silk that wraps the core. The floss silk is pure white and has toughness although it is soft. The more one forges iron, the more it becomes strong.

The symbol expresses the idea that Kodokan members should always have the following spirit: Soft-outward and hard-inward. That is to say, they should have a mighty heart and strengthened physical ability while they behave softly, calmly and rightly to others.

The symbol was made in 1940 improving a symbol that was set by Kano Shihan in the early days of Kodokan. It expresses the spirit of soft-outward and hard-inward. The flower-shaped outward expresses a flower shaped mirror that means trainees should have always Shihan’s words in their mind.

Kano Shihan
Kano Shihan