The Contribution of Judo to Education by Jigoro Kano

(continued from page 1)

by Jigoro Kano


Jigoro Kano

Judo, therefore, in one of its phases, can be studied and practiced with attack and defense for its main object. Before I started Kodokan, this attack and defense phase of Judo only was studied and practiced in Japan under the name of Jiu-jitsu, sometimes called "Tai-Jitsu", meaning the art of managing the body or "Yawara", the "gentle management." But I came to think that the study of this all-pervading principle is more important that the mere practice of Jiu-jitsu, because the real understanding of the principle not only enables one to apply it to all phases of life, but is also of great service in the study of the art of Jiu-jitsu itself.

It is not only through the process I took that one can come to grasp this principle. One can arrive at the same conclusion by philosophical interpretation of the daily transaction of business, or through abstract philosophical reasoning. But when I started to teach Judo I thought it advisable to follow the same course as I took in the study of the subject, because by so doing I could make the body of my pupil healthy, strong and useful. At the same time, I could assist him gradually to grasp this all-important principle. For this reason I began the instruction of Judo with training in randori and kata.

Randori, meaning "free exercise", is practiced under conditions of actual contest. It includes throwing, choking, holding the opponent down, and bending or twisting his arms or legs. The two combatants may use whatever methods they like provided they do not hurt each other and obey the rules of Judo concerning etiquette, which are essential to its proper working.

Kata, which literally means "form", is a formal system of prearranged exercises, including hitting, cutting, kicking, thrusting, etc., according to rules under which each combatant knows beforehand exactly what his opponent is going to do. The remaining hitting, kicking, cutting and thrusting techniques are taught in Kata and not in Randori, because if they were used in Randori cases of injury might frequently occur, while when taught in Kata no such injury is likely to happen because all the attacks and defenses are prearranged. Randori may be practiced in various ways. If the object be simply training in the method of attack and defense, the attention should be especially directed to the training in the most efficient ways of throwing, bending or twisting, without special reference to developing the body or to mental and moral culture. Randori can also be studied with physical education as its main objective. From what I have already said, anything to be ideal must be performed on "the principle of maximum efficiency."

We will see how the existing system of physical education can stand this test. Taking athletics as a whole, I cannot help thinking that they are not the ideal form of physical education, because every movement is not chosen for all around development of the body but for attaining some other definite object. And furthermore, as we generally require special equipment and sometimes quite a number of persons to participate in them, athletics are fitted as a training for select groups of persons and not as the means of improving the physical condition of a whole nation.

This holds true with boxing, wrestling, and different kinds of military exercises practiced all over the world. Then people may ask, "Are not gymnastics [calisthenics] an ideal form of national physical training?" To this I answer that they are an ideal form of physical education from their being contrived for all-round development of the body, and not necessarily requiring special equipment and participants. But gymnastics are lacking in very important things essential to the physical education of a whole nation. The defects are:

  1. Different gymnastics movements have no meaning and naturally are devoid of interest.
  2. No secondary benefit is derived from their training.
  3. Attainment of "skill" (using the word "skill" in a special sense) cannot be sought for or acquired in gymnastics as in some other exercises.

From this brief survey of the whole field of physical education, I can say that no ideal form has yet been invented to fill the necessary conditions for such physical education.

This ideal form can only be devised from a study based on maximum efficiency. In order to fulfill all those conditions or requirements, a system of all-round development of the body, as a primary consideration must be devised as in the case of gymnastics. Next, the movements should have some meaning so that they may be engaged in with interest. Again, the activities should be such as require no large space, special dress or equipment. Furthermore, they must be such as could be done individually as well as in groups. Those are the conditions or requirements for a satisfactory system of physical education for a whole nation. Any system that can meet successfully those requirements may, for the first time, be regarded as a program of physical education based on the principle of maximum efficiency.

I have been studying this subject for a long time and have succeeded in devising two forms, which may be said to fulfill all those requirements. One form is what I named "representative form". This is a way of representing ideas, emotions, and different motions of natural objects by the movements of limbs, body and neck. Dancing is one instance of such, but originally dancing was not devised with physical education for its object, and can therefore not be said to fulfill those requirements. But it is possible to devise special kinds of dancing made to suit persons of different sex and mental and physical conditions and made to express moral ideas and feelings, so that conjointly with the cultivation of the spiritual side of a nation it can also develop the body in a way suited to all.

This "representative form" is, I believe, in one way or other practiced in America and Europe, and you can, I think, imagine what I mean, therefore I shall not deal with it any further here.

There is one other form, which I named "attack and defense form." In this, I have combined different methods of attack and defense, in such a way that the result will conduce to the harmonious development of the whole body. Ordinary methods of attack and defense taught in Jiu-jitsu cannot be said to be ideal for the development of the body, therefore, I have especially combined them so that they fulfill the conditions necessary for the harmonious development of the body. This can be said to meet two purposes: (1) bodily development, and (2) training in the art of contest. As every nation is required to provide for national defense, so every individual must know how to defend himself. In this age of enlightenment, nobody would care to prepare either for national aggressions or for doing individual violence to others. But defense in the cause of justice and humanity must never be neglected by a nation or by an individual.

This method of physical education in attack and defense form, I shall show you by actual practice. This is divided into two kinds of exercises: one is individual exercise and the other is exercise with an opponent (as demonstrated). From what I have explained and shown by practice, you have no doubt understood what I mean by physical education based on the principle of maximum efficiency. Although I strongly advocate that the physical education of a whole nation should be conducted on that principle, at the same time I do not mean to lay little emphasis on athletics and various kinds of martial exercise. Although they cannot be deemed appropriate as a physical education of a whole nation, yet as a culture or a group or groups of persons, they have their special value and I by no means wish to discourage them, especially Randori in Judo.

One great value of Randori lies in the abundance of movements it affords for physical development. Another value is that every movement has some purpose and is executed with spirit, while in ordinary gymnastics exercises movements lack interest. The object of a systematic physical training in Judo is not only to develop the body but to enable a man or a woman to have a perfect control over mind and body and make him or her ready to meet any emergency whether that be a pure accident or an attack by others.

Although exercise in Judo is generally conducted between two persons, both in Kata and in Randori, and in a room specially prepared for the purpose, yet that is not always necessary. It can be practiced by a group or by a single person, on the playground, or in an ordinary room. People imagine that falling in Randori is attended with pain and sometimes with danger. But a brief explanation of the way one is taught to fall will enable them to understand that there is no such pain or danger.

I shall now proceed to speak of the intellectual phase of Judo. Mental training in Judo can be done by Kata as well as by competition between two persons, using all the resources at their command and obeying the prescribed rules of Judo, both parties must always be wide awake, and be endeavoring to find out weak points of the opponent, being ready to attack whenever opportunity allows. Such an attitude of mind in devising means of attack tends to make the pupil earnest, sincere, thoughtful, cautious and deliberate in all his dealings. At the same time one is trained for quick decision and prompt action, because in Randori unless one decides quickly and acts promptly he will always lose his opportunity either in attacking or in defending.

Again, in Randori each contestant cannot tell what his opponent is going to do, so each must be prepared to meet any sudden attack by the other. Habituated to this kind of mental attitude, he develops a high degree of mental composure, or "poise." Exercise of the power of attention and observation in the gymnasium or place of training, naturally develops such power, which is so useful in daily life.

For devising means of defeating an opponent, the exercise of the power of imagination, of reasoning and of judgment, is indispensable, and such power is naturally developed in Randori. Again as the study of Randori is the study of the relation, mental and physical, existing between two competing parties, hundreds of valuable lessons may be derived from this study, but I will content myself for the present by giving a few more examples. In Randori we teach the pupil always to act on the fundamental principle of Judo, no matter how physically inferior his opponent may seem to him and even if he can by sheer strength easily overcome the other. If he acts against this principle the opponent will never be convinced of his defeat, whatever brutal strength may have been used on him. It is hardly necessary to call your attention to the fact that the way to convince your opponent in an argument is not to push this or that advantage over him, be it from power, from knowledge or from wealth, but to persuade him in accordance with the inviolable rules of logic. This lesson that persuasion, not coercion, is efficacious, which is so valuable in actual life, we may learn from Randori.

Again we teach the learner, when he has recourse to any trick in overcoming his opponent, to employ only as much of his force as is absolutely required for the purpose in question, cautioning him against either an over or under exertion of force. There are not a few cases in which people fail in what they undertake simply because they go too far, not knowing where to stop, and vice versa.

To take still another instance, in Randori, we teach the learner, when he faces an opponent who is madly excited, to score a victory over him, not by directly resisting him with might and main, but by playing him till the very fury and power of the latter expends itself.

The usefulness of this attitude in everyday transactions with others is patent. As is well known, no amount of reasoning could avail us when a person who is agitated as to seem to have lost his temper confronts us. All that we have to do in such a case is to wait until his passions wears itself out. All these teachings we learn from the practice of Randori. Their application to the conduct of daily affairs is a very interesting subject of study and is valuable as an intellectual training for young minds.

I will finish my talk about the intellectual phase of Judo by referring shortly to the rational means of increasing knowledge and intellectual power. If we closely observe society, we notice everywhere the way in which we foolishly expend our energy in the acquisition of knowledge. All our surroundings are always giving us opportunities? Are we always making the best choice of books, magazines and newspapers we read? Do we not often find out that the energy which might have been spent for acquiring useful knowledge is often used for amassing knowledge which is prejudicial not only to self but also to society?

Besides the acquisition of useful knowledge, we must endeavor to improve intellectual powers, such as memory, attention, observation, judgment, reasoning, imagination, etc. But this we should not do in a haphazard manner, but in accordance with psychological laws, so that the relation of those powers one with the other shall be well harmonized. It is only by faithfully following the principle of maximum efficiency, that is Judo, that we can achieve the object of rationally increasing our knowledge and intellectual power.

I shall now speak about the moral phase of Judo. It is not my intention to speak of the moral discipline given to students in the exercise room, such as the observance of the regular rules of etiquette, courage, perseverance, kindness, respect for others, impartiality, and fair play so much emphasized in athletic sports throughout the world. The training in Judo has a special moral import in Japan because Judo, together with other martial exercises, was practiced by our Samurai, who had a high code of honor, the spirit of which has been bequeathed to us through the teaching of the art. In this connection I wish to explain to you how the principle of maximum efficiency helps us in promoting moral conduct. A man is sometimes very excitable and prone to anger for trivial reasons.

But when one comes to consider that "to be excited" is an unnecessary expenditure of energy, giving benefit to nobody but often doing harm to himself and others, it will be seen that the student of Judo must refrain from such conduct.

A man is sometimes despondent from disappointment, is gloomy, and has no courage to work. To such a man Judo comes with the advice to find out what is the best thing he can do under the existing circumstances. Paradoxical as it may seem, such a man is, to my mind, in the same position as one whom is at the zenith of success. In either case, there is only one course to follow, that is, what, after due consideration, he deems to be the best course of action at the time. Thus the teaching of Judo may be said to lean a man from the depths of disappointment and lethargy to a state of vigorous activity with a bright hope for the future.

The same reasoning applies to those persons who are discontented. Discontented persons are often in a sulky state of mind and blame other people for what is their own fault and without attending to their own business. The teaching of Judo will make persons understand that such conduct is against the principle of maximum efficiency, and make them realize that by the faithful observance of that principle they will become more cheerful. Thus the teaching of Judo is, in a variety of ways, serviceable to the promotion of moral conduct.

Finally, I wish to add a few words to the emotional phase of Judo. We are all aware of the pleasurable sensation given to the nerves and muscles through exercise, and we also feel pleasure at the attainment of skill, in the use of our muscles, and also through the sense of superiority over others in contest. But besides these pleasures there is that love of beauty and delight in it derivable from assuming graceful attitudes and performing graceful movements and also in seeing such in others. The training in these, together with the pleasure obtainable from watching movements symbolical of different ideas, constitutes what we call the emotional or the aesthetic phase of Judo. I believe you have already come to see what kind of thing Judo really is, in contra-distinction to the Jiu-jitsu of feudal times.

If I now state in a concise form what I have said, it might be summed up as follows:

Judo is a study and training in mind and body as well as in the regulation of one's life and affairs. From the thorough study of the different methods of attack and defense I became convinced that they all depend on the application of one all-pervading principle, namely: "Whatever be the object, it can best be attained by the highest or maximum efficient use of mind and body for that purpose". Just as this principle applied to the methods of attack and defense constitutes Jiu-jitsu, so does this same principle, applied to physical, mental and moral culture, as well as to ways of living and carrying on of business, constitute the study of, and the training in, those things.

Once the real importance of this principle is understood, it may be applied to all phases of life and activity and enable one to lead the highest and the most rational life. The real understanding of this principle need not necessarily be arrived at through the training in the methods of attack and defense, but as I came to conceive of this idea through training in these methods, I made such training in contest and the training for the development of the body the regular means of arriving at the principle.

This principle of maximum efficiency, when applied to the keying up or perfecting of social life, just as when applied to the coordination of mind and body, in the science of attack and defense, demands, first of all, order and harmony among its members, and this can only be attained through mutual aid and concessions, leading to mutual welfare and benefit.

The final aim of Judo, therefore, is to inculcate in the mind of man a spirit of respect for the principle of maximum efficiency and of mutual welfare and benefit, leading him so to practice them that man individually and collectively can attain to the highest state, and, at the same time, develop the body and learn the art of attack and defense.

If we closely observe the actual state of society all over the world, notwithstanding the fact that morality in all its forms (religious, philosophical and traditional) is meant to improve man's conduct in society and make the world ideal, the fact seems quite the contrary. We notice vices, quarrels, and discontent in every level of society, from the highest to the lowest. While we are taught hygiene and correct ways of living in school from childhood up to mature age, we still are prone to neglect the rules of good clean living and of hygienic and orderly lives.

The actual facts prove that our society is lacking in something which, if brought to light and universally acknowledged, can remodel the society and bring greater happiness and satisfaction to this world. This is the teaching of maximum efficiency and mutual welfare and benefit.

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I do not mean to say that our time honored moral precepts and hygienics should be shelved. On the contrary, let those precepts and advice be respected ever as they used to be, but in addition to these; our principle of maximum efficiency and mutual welfare and benefit should ever be paramount. This I emphatically say, because in this age of criticism and new ideas, for any teaching to have effect, it must have behind it, some indubitable reason of fact. We do not hear the thinking man today say, "Because I believe in such and such a thing, therefore you must believe in it, or, I came to such and such a conclusion through my own reasoning; therefore you also must come to the same conclusion." Whatever one affirms must be based on facts or reasoning which no sane person can deny or doubt. Certainly none can deny the value of the principle "Whatever be the objective, it can best be attain by the highest or maximum effective use of mind and body for that purpose." Again, none can deny that it is only by aiming at mutual welfare and benefit that every member of society can keep from discord and quarreling, and live in peace and prosperity. Is it not because of the universal recognition of these facts that people have come to talk so much about efficiency and scientific management and that everywhere these are being advocated? In addition to this, the principle of give-and-take is more and more coming to be the determining factor in the lives of all human beings. Is it not because this principle of mutual welfare and benefit has been recognized that from the League of Nations and the Great Powers of the World we came to meet for the decrease of naval and military armaments? These movements are also automatic acknowledgment of the crying need of efficient and mutual welfare and benefit. The educational forces of every country in which Judo should have a prominent part must further them.