Ju Jitsu Jigoro Kano, Part 2

Ju Jitsu Jigoro Kano, Part 2

The following years saw the Kodokan change its address a number of times as it expanded and sought increasingly larger premises. In 1883 it moved to Kojicho where the dojo had twenty mats,in1886toFujimicho and a forty-mat dojo. It moved again in 1887 to Masago-cho, by which time Jigoro Kano had been sent to make a cultural study tour of Europe by the Japanese government. By 1887, after just five years, the Kodokan already had over 1,500 pupils.

Kano’s judo had developed into much more than just another combat system because of the educational philosophy upon which the founder had based it. Two of the most important maxims of Kodokan judo were jita kyoei and seiryoku zenyo, the former being ‘mutual benefit’ and the latter ‘maximum efficiency in the use of force’. Judo was conceived as a form of charactertraining, something like the way the sport of rugby was used for centuries in the English public school system, but within a much more disciplined and ascetic framework.

In 1895 the Kodokan established the first go-kyo, which consisted of forty-two throws, the bulk of which were techniques derived directly from ju-jitsu complemented by those which Kano and his disciples had evolved, such as uchimata, harai-goshi and hane-goshi. In 1920 the go-kyowas reorganized; eight techniques were removed and six new ones were introduced. Sixty years later in 1985 the Kodokan gave its official recognition to a further seventeen distinct throwing techniques, naming them the shimmeisho-no-waza (new techniques). However knowledge of the go-kyo remains the basis of most judo grading systems throughout the world.

Judo has spread considerably from its humble beginnings in the ten-mat dojo of Eishoji; it is now practiced in over 160 countries by literally millions of people and continues to grow in popularity.

Although there were contests and bouts right from its inception and rules were introduced as early as 1899 abolishing the use of wrist locks, ankle locks, neck locks and leg scissors (such as do-jime) for safety reasons, judo’s evolution into an international sport took some time. Nevertheless from quite early on it was clearly Kano’s intention that this should happen; it was to be an important aspect for the popularization of judo.

A standard for the training suit or judogi was established in 1907, with longer trousers than in the early days, and in 1911 ashi-garami (a leg lock) was banned from competitions although it was still widely practiced. In 1922 Kano was appointed as a senator of the Imperial Court and worked continuously to make judo an international phenomenon.

In 1926 the Kodokan established a woman’s section. Kano came to be deeply involved with the Japanese Olympic Movement and travelled abroad extensively lobbying for the 1940 Olympic Games to be held in Japan, which unfortunately never came to pass because of the Second World War. In 1938 Jigoro Kano died on returning from Cairo on the liner Hikawa-maru after contracting pneumonia. He had worked on behalf of the Japanese Olympic Movement right up until the time of his death. He was aged seventy-nine.

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