by Jigoro Kano
The object of this lecture is to explain to you in a general way what Judo is. In our feudal times, there were many military exercises such as fencing, archery, the use of spears, etc. Among them there was one called Jujutsu which was a composite exercise, consisting principally of the ways of fighting without weapons; using, however, occasionally daggers, swords and other weapons.
The kinds of attack were chiefly throwing, hitting, choking, holding the opponent down and bending or twisting the opponent’s arms or legs in such a way as to cause pain or fracture. The use of swords and daggers was also taught. We had also multitudinous ways of defending ourselves against such attacks. Such exercise, in its primitive form, existed even in our mythological age. But systematic instruction, as an art, dates only from about three hundred fifty years ago.
In my younger days I studied this art with three eminent masters of the time. The great benefit I derived from the study of it led me to make up my mind to go on with the subject more seriously, and in 1882 I started a school of my own and called it Kodokan. Kodokan literally means a school for studying the way, the meaning of the way being the concept of life itself. I named the subject I teach Judo instead of Jujutsu. In the first place I will explain to you the meaning of these words. Ju means gentle or to give way, Jutsu, an art or practice, and Do, way or principle, so that Jujutsu means an art or practice of gentleness or of giving way in order to ultimately gain the victory; while Judo means the way or principle of the same.
Can this principle be applied to other fields of human activity? Yes, the same principle can be applied to the improvement of the human body, making it strong, healthy and useful, and so constitutes physical education. It can also be applied to the improvement of intellectual and moral power, and in this way constitutes mental and moral education. It can at the same time be applied to the improvement of diet, clothing, housing, social intercourse, and methods of business, thus constituting the study and training in living. I gave this all-pervading principle the name of “Judo”. So Judo, in its fuller sense, is a study and method in training of mind and body as in the regulation of life and affairs.
We can say that Judo is an art because it is a method of arriving at self-realization and true self-expression. We can further say that Judo is a science because it implies mastery of various laws of nature: gravity, friction, momentum, velocity, weight transmission, and unison of forces. In its most important phase, it constitutes a kind of higher logic developed through practice and the ascencion of the true personality: a realization of the spiritual self in the philosophic rather than the religious sense of the word.
This page is provided by and copyrighted © 2000/2005 by Neil Ohlenkamp, JudoInfo.com, USA. This speech by Jigoro Kano was given at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles on the occasion of 11th Olympiad, 1932. On August 10, 1932, about 200 Judo students, mostly from the Los Angeles area, did a demonstration with Jigoro Kano at the Los Angeles Coliseum as part of the Olympic Games, the first time Judo was seen in the Olympics. All rights reserved. Last modified October 18, 2005.