By Shinichi Oimatsu (Kodokan)
The Bulletin for the Scientific Study of Kodokan Judo
Volume VI, 1984
Jigoro Kano (1860-1936) studied the representative forms of Jujitsu known as Tenjin
shinyo-ryu and Kito-ryu, and was eventually able to comprehend the heart of their
mysterious natures. He felt that these forms of Jujitsu had something of value for the
contemporary education of young people. He also achieved the three purposes of physical
education, self-defense, and moral training for young people at the same time as improving
upon the fundamentals of Jujitsu. Jigoro Kano went on to establish Kodokan Judo based on
mastery of the fundamental truths of the "Way", the basis of human and social
life. In the 15th year of Meiji (1882) Professor Kano named the place of such teaching as
Jigoro Kano continued to pursue the Way of Kodokan Judo even more and in the 4th year
of Taisho (1915) he proclaimed "Judo is the most effective way to develop the
strength of the mind and body" as the fundamental meaning and declared his guideline
of Seiryoku Zenyo-Jita Kyoei (Worthy Use of Human Efforts. Mutual Prosperity) based on
II. Judo is the Way of Seiryoku Zenyo-Jita Kyoei
(1) The Concept of Kodokan Judo at the Time of Its Founding
Professor Kano stated this fundamental attitude in an address seven years after the
founding of Kodokan: "Judo is a valuable asset. The more one strives to improve, the
more Judo will collectively become an educational method of physical growth, mental
growth, and moral growth at the same time. The reason for this is that as a consequence of
much study of the former forms of Jujitsu the necessary elements were kept, needless
elements were discarded, and the most suitable thing for today's society was formed."
Moreover, Kodokan Judo "achieves the three purposes of physical growth, challenge,
and moral training simultaneously." For the following reasons the term
"Judo" was chosen instead of the more general term of "Jujitsu": (i)
Jujitsu was dangerous as including the arts of strangle-hold and joint-twisting, (ii)
Jujitsu lost its value as an art since it was being taught by unqualified people, and
(iii) Jujitsu came to be thought of as something vulgar because of charging admission fees
and entertaining people by showing Jujitsu. For these and other reasons as well the name
"Judo" was given.
Professor Kano synthesized the three purposes of Judo and what he regarded highly was
"the realization of the Way of managing human and social life." This was
especially deeply related to moral law." That is to say, 1) cultivation of morals, 2)
refinement of mental development, and 3) application of the doctrine of the challenging
spirit of Judo to everyday life. Regarding the third point in particular, what is taught
at the dojo (training hall) and what is learned about Judo are not where Judo training
stops but where it starts. All that is taught and learned should be made a part of one's
own life as well as a part of society.
(2) Seiryoku Zenyo: Theory of Application
The principles of technique of Kodokan Judo are "kuzushi (unbalancing
the opponent), tsukuri (movement and positions to prepare to throw the opponent),
(throwing)". These are explained as the principles of Seiryoku Zenyo today;
however, in the early period of Judo the principles were explained mainly by
such terms as
"Gentleness turns away the sturdy", "the unity of gentleness
strength", and other phrases. What provided the pioneering role of "Judo",
namely "Seiryoku Zenyo" were Professor Kano's ideas which were set
forth in the 43rd year of Meiji (1910). This is also substantiated by the recollection
Nagaoka (10th dan) of what was already being taught to Professor Kano's disciples
30th year of Meiji (1897).
What is the Application of Seiryoku Zenyo:
- To Be a Person of Value
As a human being, one must set his/her goal in life and discipline his/her naturally
endowed abilities. Moreover, since people "are not something that can exist apart
from society" and since the fortune of today is a result of the past, everyone should
develop his/her given abilities. If one contributes to society, the personality
traits-even if there is a difference in achievements-can develop.
To become a person of value one should make it a purpose to believe in one's best, one
should judge the steps to achieve this purpose, and once this has been done one should
gather all his/her strength and work hard.
- Seiryoku Zenyo--Application
The momentum of determination, judgment, and effort comes from one's own strength. All
the phenomena of the universe function on strength. In comparison of similar living beings
those with much seiryoku will have a more magnificent life.
Therefore, everyone must strive to nurture seiryoku. To achieve this one must be
moderate in eating and drinking, exercising, sleeping, etc. However, on the other hand,
training in the spiritual aspects of life must not be neglected. It is also important how
this Seiryoku is utilized. This utilization is important not only for one's own problems,
but also for society and the nation.
(3) Judo is the Best Application of Seiryoku
Research and study in Professor Kano's Judo principles and techniques continued and the
following was written in "Kodokan Judo Gaisetsu" (Outline of Kodokan Judo) in
JUDO, No. 2 published by Kodokan from the 4th year of Taisho (1915):
"Judo is the most effective use of the body and spirit. Judo training is to
practice attack and defense to strengthen one's own body and spirit, and is the
realization of the essence of Judo. From this, one is perfected and becomes a person to
benefit society. This is the ideal purpose of Judo training."
(4) The Way of Seiryoku Zenyo Jita Kyoei
Professor Kano stated in the kunwa (discourse on teachings) of the kagamibiraki
ceremony, (the first day of Judo practice) at Kodokan in January of the 11th year of Showa
(1936): "The fundamental meaning of Judo is the most practical application of
seiryoku. With virtue as the purpose, it is the most effective application of seiryoku.
Virtue aids in the continued development of group life and anything that hampers this is
bad. In this meaning loyalty and faith are virtues. The continued development of group
life and social life is attained by sojo sojo (mutual help and mutual compromise) and jita
kyoei. Therefore, this is also a virtue and is the fundamental meaning of Judo".
The meaning of Seiryoku Zenyo was clarified even more. According to Kodokan
Judo research, the
Kodokan Bunkakai (Kodokan Culture Association) was established [in 1922] with
the purpose of serving society through practice of the principles of Seiryoku
Zenyo, the nature of which is found in the following pledge:
This association idealizes the achievement of all man's purposes in accordance with the
best application of seiryoku. Based on this doctrine, this association:
- is determined to develop each and every body into robust health, to refine
one's knowledge, and morals, and to become an effective part of society;
- with regards to the nation, will respect national unity, esteem history, and be
diligent at improving what is necessary for the prosperity of the nation;
- with regards to society, will effect thorough harmony through mutual help and mutual
compromise with individuals and with groups;
- with regards to the world in general, will remove itself from racial prejudice and
strive just as equally to elevate culture, and seek the prosperity of mankind.
- the best application of seiroku-zenyo lies in one's self-realization,
- one's self-realization is attained through the help of others' self-realization,
- self-realization is the basis of human prosperity.
(5) Judo and Dojo Training
In the Kunwa of the 11th year of Showa, Professor Kano stated the following regarding
the relationship of kata (form) and randori (free practice) in a dojo to Judo: "Just
as there are many ways to climb Mt. Fuji, there are just as many ways to understand Judo
principles. As for me, I started from the randori training of old Jujitsu. The same way is
also applicable to Judo. However, this is not an explicit explanation of Judo. Study is
never ending and the definition evolves that Judo is the most effective way of using
mental and physical strength". The "ju" of Judo is the way of gentleness
and is in contrast to "strength". Even in the Chinese classics such phrases as
"gentleness turns away strength" can be found. The "do" of Judo is not
the sense of the word "way" that means a street, but the sense of the word that
is a path commonly referred to in spiritual matters of man. It signifies the path which
should be followed in personal and social relationships. The method of "ju" that
Professor Kano got from kata and randori as a method that pervades human and social life
is what became "Judo".
Therefore, it is easier to learn by actually experiencing through the body from the
first step of kata and randori, and this should also be made an active principle in life.
III. Items to Be Seriously Considered in Instruction as a Way of Education
How is Judo taught in the dojo?
(1) Jita Kyoei and Rei (Etiquette) Instruction
As long as people are alive, human relations is an important matter. If respect and
affection towards others are lost, then we are just like animals. Hence,
"bowing" etiquette is important. Just as the character indicates, the left half symbolizes the "gods" and the right half symbolizes
"a religious offering". In an agricultural society an offering was made to the
gods at the end of the harvest as appreciation and to pray for further divine protection.
This conventional practice is rei and is the present-day aspect of respect for mankind and
conforms to equality in the Constitution.
Rei is classified as that towards individuals of higher rank, towards those of lower
rank, and towards those of equal rank. However, what should be seriously considered today
is the rei towards those the eye cannot see; that is to say, the public spirit. It is
important that this last form of rei be taught in the dojo over a long period of time.
This rei is also exemplified in the term omoiyari (thoughtfulness) of Confucious.
Sympathizing with others are not causing them trouble-this is the true spirit of rei. And
this also constitutes the basis of the spirit of Jita Kyoei.
(2) The techniques of tai-sabaki (preparing oneself to meet an opponent),
kuzushi, tsutkuri, and kake embody the fundamental principles through one's
efforts in practice and
a rational and scientific nature become part of oneself.
There exists a realization of technique as one of the main points of instruction
in a dojo. This evolves from kuzushi, tsukuri, kake, as well as tai-sabaki
which leads to the
skill of tsukuri. Kuzushi is making the opponent's body unbalanced through rendering
him vulnerable to the attack. Tsukuri is making the opponent's body unbalanced
(kuzushi=preparing the opponent), and holding your own position and stance ready
(preparing oneself). Kake is to pass into the overcoming and deciding movement
at the instant of preparing the opponent and preparing oneself. All of the
should be utilized to their utmost.
As for instruction, one must first grasp the importance of the technique of how to
overcome and throw one's opponent, and after understanding the theory of the attainment of
that technique as technique, one should practice that technique again and again properly
as the theory prescribes. You will be aiming at the limit of your power and skill if this
is done more correctly, faster, and with more strength. In this manner understanding the
principles of technique and repeated practice in order to move as such principles
prescribe are the fundamental attitudes of acquiring skill. Since the body will not move
as prescribed from the start, notice what movement is not in accord with the principles
and practice hundreds of times everyday while adjusting at the same time. It is also
important to devise the tai-sabaki movement which produces smoothness in tsukuri and kake.
Since the opponent at the same time has also done much to prepare, and while you adapt to
these changes one must further the ability to maintain command of movement. Mind,
technique, and body are refined by following this form of practice and there is value in
this alone; however, the aim is not only the advancement and development of technical
skill, but also-through instruction in such technique is more important to instruct this
nurturing of the attitude of movement based on theory. No matter how it is studied to
compensate or to cope perfectly with this, it is of prime importance to be proper in the
theory in all aspects of everyday life.
(3) Attitude of Study and Creativeness
When one understands the principles of technique and tries to embody them just as they
are as one's own technique, the degree of training progresses. And when the time comes to
test one's technique against various opponents one becomes aware of the opponent's
physique, physical strength, muscular strength, the way of grappling, favorite technique,
personality, etc. that are unique to each individual. This is done in accordance with the
rules, yet the method of attack and defense should be thought of as well as how to perform
the most suitable technique in relation to each other. This does not mean using technique
haphazardly, but whether it is one step forward or one step backward, that one step must
be patterned after the one step that aims at the proper technique for the right kind of
attack. And at the same time one must have the mentality and attitude that can change
quickly to meet any attack from whatever direction, at whatever instant, and with whatever
technique from an opponent. At this stage a comparative study is made of the elements of
oneself and others of the relation of attack and defense from the standpoint of technique,
of the way to win, of accumulating practice in the right manner, and of pursuing the right
In this case, one must think and study oneself, but one should also consult the seniors
and teachers who have already had more experience, read specialized works, and it is
important to know the countermeasures of one's predecessors. Kodokan Judo techniques have
gradually developed to a great number. There is a special technique of Professor Kano
called ukigoshi (floating hip throw) and the story how haraigoshi (sweeping loin throw)
resulted from the countermeasure against Shiro Saigo, He also painstakingly conceived
tsurikomi-goshi (lifting hip throw) when haraigoshi was thwarted. He studied and developed
katame-waza (holding techniques) just as his old high school opponent the large Yoshitsugu (Yoshiaki)
Yamashita (10th dan) did, and the fine ukigoshi of 10th dan holders Shuichi Nagaoka and
Hajime Isogai. Both katame-waza and nage-waza (throwing techniques) have been studied and
widely developed. The objective is a challenge (match) in accordance with the rules and
what results is the accumulation of serious training, and the study and development of
technique. Today such subtle techniques have become quite diversified.
This attitude of study and creativeness-as well as being important in the
study and creation of technique-is important in all aspects of human life and
importance of study and creativeness related to a match and technique are
taught in the dojo while learning judo, but more than this, it is made to be
that this attitude takes on even more importance throughout the rest of one's
life. Without it both personal development and public service would not exist.
attitude nothing can be expected of individual advancement and the development
of society. Jigoro Kano referred to this attitude in the 22nd year of Meiji
(1889) in "Judo and
of its educational value". He stated that this attitude "is applicable
not only to the purpose of a match, but also in any case of commerce, politics
and education it
undoubtedly serves a purpose".
This is truly something to which serious consideration should be given.
In order to raise judoists in this manner, nurturing the attitude of study and
resourcefulness in dojo Judo training is of first importance. At the same time this does
not stop only within the dojo, but forms an association. More than being born merely as a
individual, think of one's personal role in helping society as much as possible. For the
advancement and development of society, study continuously and foster the attitude that
endeavors to create. This is something that should be thought of during the instruction of
(4) Positive Attitude (Courage)
Generally speaking, in order to stand more advantageously than your opponent in a match
or in practice you must have overall strength of superior physical fitness, technical
skill, and vigorous spirit. This being the case, it is something that depends on
continuous effort in practice from whence it results. And in this manner vigorous spirit
and courage are able to be inspired.
There have been many cases in which both physical strength and technical skill have
been exemplified to a degree higher than normal. Since Judo is a form of personal contact
the attributes of spirit, technical skill, and physical strength of the opponent can be
directly felt. Without a superior spirit you will be overwhelmed by your opponent. As a
result, there will be an inability to demonstrate the necessary technical skill or
There are extremely numerous opportunities in Judo practice and matches to heighten a
vigorous spirit that uses all one's strength in order not to lose to an opponent. It is
through practice and matches that instruction is given to elevate a vigorous spirit and
courage. An effort is made to make courage understood as "collectively or spiritually
for the purpose of accomplishing a worthwhile goal, unrealistic strength with firmness and
positiveness". In order to make this true courage a part of oneself it must be
self-realized and instruction should make one strive harder. In other words, uphold truth
and reason to the bitter end and nurture the attitude to stand up boldly to that which
opposes truth and reason.
(5) Proper Sitting & Proper Posture-Proper Mind
The fundamental posture of Judo is the natural posture of the body; that is to say, the
natural standing posture that can counter instantly when either you begin to move or
receive the technique of your opponent. In Judo the natural posture of standing is
fundamental (or a defensive posture but this is a temporary one). However, the proper
sitting posture has also been common due to the nature of the practice dojo having tatami
(straw mats) over the years. Proper sitting is maintaining the proper sitting posture,
breathing from the stomach quietly, and while this continues deeply and repeatedly worldly
thoughts and. wicked desires are eliminated when the mind becomes calm. Then mushin
(no-mind) and seishin (proper-mind) are approached. The advantageous mental state of
natural posture, immobile posture and true self are easy to enter. This is due to the
state of blood circulation being forced throughout all internal organs. As a result all
such movements are increased and there is also a result of a stable, active effect
spiritually. Thinking of one's own daily posture, approximately 2/3 of the time is spent
awake and approximately 1/3 is spent asleep. Even if proper posture is maintained during
the time of physical education and Judo but most of the other time the posture is not
good, there is an unrecognized bad influence on the growth, development, and health of the
body and spirit. Through natural posture and proper sitting the importance of posture and
breathing is realized.
(6) If There is Effort, There's Always Accomplishment
Professor Kano stated that as a human being, one must set one's goal to be
a person of value. There are different kinds of people but of the utmost importance
is risshi, setting a purpose. Next is takudo, selecting the way to accomplish
this purpose. Professor Kano continued, "Rishii and takudo, from these
two things, once what should be done is decided, follows ketsuryoku (effort).
We must strive until there is fulfillment"
(from Seinen Shuyokun). Judo practice consists of repeating theoretical techniques
and progress is measured after such repeated practice. Once an objective is set,
search for the most advantageous method for it to be carried out. This attitude
of not giving up quickly and pursuing thoroughly until the objective is fulfilled
is something that is important no matter what line of work you choose. In the
Hagakure the following is found:
"During the course of study, there is no accomplishment. At the point of
accomplishment there is a contrary nature. Throughout one's life when you are thinking of
dying and thinking of discontent you will become a person of accomplishment when this is
Professor Kano always instructed his students to attend to their business
with the spirit of "No, I won't give in". When he was asked to write
some maxims by his students he often gave them such phrases as tsutomureba
kanarazu tassu (if there is effort, there is always accomplishment), katsuryoku
(effort), and others that showed the spirit of "Seiryoku zenyo".
IV. Points to Be Heeded in Instruction
Professor Kano expounded on the method of Judo instruction and put forth four items:
(1) kata (form), (2) randori (free practice) (3) kogi (lectures), and (4) mondo (questions
and answers). Lectures include those of a long duration for the purpose of understanding
Judo more deeply and those of dealing with technique, practice lessons, and matches in
general. The content of the lectures covers the history of Judo development, fundamentals,
the value of training, the sport as a science, theory of physical education, and other
topics. This is done logically and systematically over a long period. The latter are
directly related to technique, directly related to dojo etiquette and practice attitude as
well as social life, and directly related to social life as well as a social attitude.
When such lectures are given it is hoped that they will make an impression on the mind
whether it might be 50 minutes or even a short 5 minute lecture on technique. When trying
to make logical and systematic theory understood, it should be done within a short time.
Since for most a considerable amount of time is necessary, some other time and opportunity
must be considered. When planning lecture material, be careful that it is (1) adjusted
according to the level of the development of the trainees and their way of life, and (2)
sensitive to the trainees' feelings and their understanding. There must be a prudent
choice of the lectures given by the instructors. There is a saying in Japan that
"ryoyaku, kuchi ni nigashi" (good medicine tastes bad). In the Hagakure:
"In the world there are many who teach and few who enjoy that teaching. And those who
follow those teachings are rare". To achieve a result through education in the Way is
difficult. This is actually a turning point in the life of the young people who learn
judo, and since it nurtures the roots of the spirit and the body the instructors should
keep the spirit of Professor Kano in mind. We find the following passage by Professor Kano
about the quest, realization, and instruction of the Way of Judo: "There is nothing
greater under the heavens than education. The virtue of one spreads to many; in real
education goes on for hundreds of years".
While the old form, jujutsu, was studied solely for fighting purposes, Kano's new system is found to promote the mental as well as the physical faculties. While the old schools taught nothing but practice, the modern Judo gives the theoretical explanation of the doctrine, at the same time giving the practical a no less important place.
.....T. Shidachi, 1892