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What would Kano Jigoro have thought? 

In my last post I mentioned a change in the rules of Judo regarding coaches being allowed matside. I also started threads on and the BJA forum.

A weird thing happened, people started debating not the surprise rule change, but the nature of what Judo is.

A majority of the loud voices on the for example held that it was correct to ban coaches as Judo is all about one on one combat. There are also comments about it being demeaning to the players to have someone shouting instructions at them. and having people shouting matside is against the spirit of Judo. People suggest almost that Kano would be up in arms about the way Judo looks today if he were alive.

It is an interesting debate and one I recommend you join in and enjoy.


I have a blog and as such have a vehicle to state my own views in more detail and I am about to do so. :-)

My take on the "What Kano would think":

This is such a touchy subject and one people get very emotional about, myself included. So I shall attempt to tread carefully.

What Kano would have thought is not what you say it is!

Sorry but it is not, the spirit of Judo and our ideas on Kano Jigoro are different in each and everyone of us. My ideas on the spirit of Judo is based on my years in Judo, on the lessons and ideas I gained from the coaches and players I have met along the way. Increasingly it is based on the reading and research I do as part of my Judo specific degree and the people I interview on the podcast.

Your view of what Judo is all about is different to mine, I am happy with that.

Personally, I think those who talk about Judo "as Kano intended" are often mistaken. My view is that Kano was a radical. Lets face it he created Judo in his early 20s!

Not only that, he took a collection of important traditional Ju Jitsu and rebranded it Judo. He did amazing things in his life, one was Judo.

Kano (I understand/believe) instituted competitions in the Kodokan. So I am not sure I agree with people who say he was against Judo as a sport. He was also a fan of the Olympic movement, more than that he was a member of the IOC! Which again leads me to not be sure he would hate the idea of Judo being a sport.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that Kano was pushing for Judo to be a sport or for it to be in the Olympics.

Kano also I understand, let others run the Kodokan whilst he was doing his various other works. He was a busy man and left the running of Judo to people he trusted.

We can perhaps extend this to today, and say that the people he trusted, picked people they trusted and onwards to now. So in a way I could see Kano taking the attitude of "this is what people want, so this is what it is".

We do not see Kano running Judo like the old school Ju Jitsu schools and keeping control firmly in his own hands. This makes me think that perhaps he felt that Judo had a life of it's own.

Now if I go further, I might suggest that Judo was like a child. And maybe Judo is not turning out quite how Kano envisioned it.

But do we hate our child because they become a sportsman rather than a philosopher?

No, I choose to believe that Kano would approve of young men and women pushing their own limits through the sport of Judo.

I choose to believe that Kano would approve of the fact that Judo is done almost everywhere on this little planet of ours.

I choose to believe that he would see that as more important than it remaining exactly how he may have imagined it to be.

Kano did not live in our times, his attitudes changed during his life and would be so amazingly different if he were alive now, that I don't think it is fair to suggest he would have wanted Judo to remain as it was.

I choose to believe that Kano would have been on the web, on twitter, on facebook. I wonder that if he was alive today if maybe he would have founded Wikipedia? Or just run a really great blog.

You see, I think that Kano might have liked to see the development of coaching and matside coaching. I think he would have liked to see two people working together so that they could beat an opponent. That seems alot like mutual benefit in a way to me. Also a lot like maximum effeciency.

I also choose to believe that Kano would have wanted us to respect the past. That he would want us to do Kata and participate in Judo with and without competition.

I choose to think that Kano would want us to embrace the new ideas, not hide from them. I beleive he would want us to develop and change Judo (as he did).

You can see I use words like "I choose", "I think" and "I believe". I do not want to suggest that I know what Kano would have liked. I want to suggest that I would like him to agree with my perception of Judo.

Your views on what you think Kano would believe are perfectly valid. But they are not facts, they have no weight. They are only your ideas. Just as mine are only my ideas.

But that is the wonderful thing, we are able to have different ideas, to practice Judo in different ways.

What I do not like is people saying that the competition way is wrong because they think it should be done their way.

Of course my saying that, makes me guilty of the same crime. ;-)


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