Prepare For Life With Judo
As the saying goes, Life Happens.
The universe is larger than we can possibly imagine, and some physicists are now even saying there may be multiple universes. Life is a mystery, full of challenges and opportunities for growth.
Fortunately for us Judo offers, whether we are a child or an adult, very pragmatic and deeply beneficial lessons for how to live a good life, how to cultivate oneself, and how to be of service to others. All while learning how to grapple!
How cool is that?!
Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, was a remarkable person. It is tempting to think of Kano as a very “old school” kind of man, and in many ways he was. However Kano was also a pioneer, an innovator, a moderniser, and a synthesiser of information its practical application.
Kano was raised to value education and from an early age was steeped in the traditional philosophy of Japan, as well the subtle and profound art of Japanese calligraphy (Shado, the Way of the Brush).
Kano was a vigorous autodidact and studied English diligently so that he could educate himself more widely. The school he attended only had a single English textbook that the students had to share between them. Prior to exams Kano’s allotted time to be able to study from the English textbook was between 01:00am and 05:00am! That’s some dedication!
During his studies the conscientious student Kano was bullied by hazing and sought a martial system that he could use to protect himself. Jujustu, as it was then called, was a broad term that applied to any form of unarmed combat, and was frequently intertwined with various forms of armed combat, particularly the sword or the stick.
Individual schools, known as ryu, were very individual and ran on the principle of passing down a scroll of knowledge from one teacher to the next along a lineage of teachers. This scroll was often kept secret and guarded so that it’s information didn’t fall into the hands of other schools.
Kano said that his first teacher showed him what his life’s work would be (jujutsu, later called judo), his second teacher showed him the importance of kata (prearranged sequences of movements) and his third teacher showed Kano the importance of technique and timing in their correct application.
As we said earlier however Kano was deeply influenced by both Eastern and Western thought.
As well as founding judo Kano was an educator and during his graduate studies he learned about British philosopher Herbert Spenser’s book The Theory of Education. In this book Spenser argues that a complete education should cultivate the body, the mind, and the morals. This had a huge impact on Kano, and became an integral part of Kano’s Kodokan Judo.
In his writings Kano outlines three levels of Judo, the pinnacle of which is that the Judoka is able to contribute to society and be of benefit to others.
Kano describes the first level, the lower level, of Judo as learning to defend oneself against attack. He notes that training should mainly be done with bare hands but also may include weapons, and that children could use safe toy swords to familiarise themselves with defense against these.
At the middle-level the Judoka becomes interested in cultivating their body and their mind. Cultivating the body is done through physical fitness culture as well as Judo but it is not done for show. The cultivation of strength for Kano is always so that strength can have a practical purpose and wider benefit.
Also through Judo at this middle level the mind is developed by cultivation of one’s skills of observation, by one’s own research into how to further your waza (technique), by controlling one's emotions, and developing courage during the inevitable difficulties that come through training.
At this middle level Kano notes that the Judoka can also cultivate their aesthetic sensibility by gaining an appreciation for beautiful technique. This sentiment echoes many Japanese swordsman who also studied Japanese calligraphy to further their understanding of their art.
At the upper level of Judo the individual child or adult is learning the lessons of most effectively harnessing their mental and physical energy gained in the earlier stages of practice and making a positive contribution to society.
It is here that Kano really expands an understanding of training as a being a genuine ‘Do’, or Way of living. Practising Judo in this way gives people a steadiness of mind and spirit so that they are not pressured by fear or anxiety and have the flexibility and fortitude to achieve their goals and help others.
This may all sound a bit abstract or idealised but the great things about Judo is that it teaches these lessons gradually over time, and through the very practical art of grappling another resisting opponent!
This culture of mutual benefit, respect for others, and cultivation of self mastery persists today through the culture of Judo and in many dojos around the world.
The success and popularity that Judo has enjoyed attests to the sound principles behind Kano’s vision and watching any Olympic Games we can see the huge positive impact Judo continues to have on thousands of people around the world.
One great example of the transformative power of Judo is Judo Fanatics tutor and one of the best Judoka out there Ilias Iliadis. When Ilias trains and competes and then teaches to inspire others he is opening a door to a huge world of possibilities!
Watching Ilias score with such powerful Ippon at the highest levels of competition we can’t help but feel that we can go and train, go and study, and take that next step to become a better person more able to help others.
Fortunately for us here at Judo Fanatics we have Ilias full course ‘The World Championship Judo Blueprint’ right here!