Kano Jigoro As Educator & Founder Of Judo

Kano Jigoro lived his life as an excellent teacher and athlete and left a legacy as the founder of Judo. He would start university in 1877; wanting to learn a martial art, he looked for Jiu-Jitsu teachers who would take him on as a student.

He figured that the best Jiu-Jitsu teachers would be those who were also doctors, in particular chiropractors, osteopaths or doctors who specialised in anatomy.

He believed their knowledge of the human body would enable them to teach their martial art more effectively. Eventually, he found that person in Keiko Fukuda, and he taught Kano martial arts next door to his doctor’s practice.

Kano Jigoro And His Early Martial Arts Training

The training method was mainly concerned with learning how to break fall by being thrown multiple times by the higher ranks and understanding that being thrown would help you feel the technique. 

Interestingly, Fukada had a more discovery-based teaching style. He would only briefly describe the technique and then allow students to practice through play and repetition until they learned the correct movement through experience.

Kano Had difficulty beating one of his training partners, and as a result, he began to try unorthodox techniques on him. These included techniques he learned from sumo wrestling and western wrestling (A Firemans Carry) until he could make them effective against his sparring partner.

Combining the best of all systems to produce a better result would be a constant theme throughout Kano’s life as he lived by and promoted the maxim of “Minimum Effort, Maximum Result”.

Kano As A School Teacher & Educator

Kano also earned his living as a teacher at university in majored in political science and economics, and after graduating, he began work as a professor of economics. He would also work for the Japanese government in the ministry of education and was the director of primary education at one stage, which gave him a financial grant to study abroad in Europe. 

Kano used his academic position to develop his students’ minds, bodies, and spirits. His ideas ran counter to the common thoughts of the time, which had a heavy emphasis on callisthenics. These callisthenics were performed in large military-like formations repetitively. Kano felt that these were boring to the students and lacked moral or intellectual development aspects.

After Kano had developed his Judo system, he felt that it would be a much better replacement for the callisthenics of the time. It would allow an all-encompassing martial art to provide physical exercise and moral development and engage the students in their workouts.

The Founding of Judo

Kano continued to practice his martial arts and even demonstrated jiu-jitsu in front of the President of the United States of America. He would train under multiple teachers with differing Jiu-Jitsu styles and with different opinions of Kata and Randori. Kano would study the different style types, taking all the lessons onboard until he eventually established the Judo Kodokan.

Kano established the Judo Kodokan after overtaking his teacher’s skill level and becoming confident in his system. He founded the style that he named Judo which means “The Way”. It combined multiple choking, pinning, and throwing techniques from the traditional forms he had previously studied under numerous teachers.

The Development of Judo

By taking all the practical techniques from the various systems he had studied, his new system of Judo provided a holistic way of teaching physical education, moral development and methods for self-defence and combat situations. 

The topic of his development of Judo and the inclusion of the moral system and the ways he used it to promote helping the community is a topic I discussed with School Of Grappling where we went over his book “Mind Over Muscle“.

His combination of experience as a teacher, education administrator, and advocate for Judo would eventually lead to Judo’s introduction into the Japanese public schooling system.

The Kodokan would have separate premises as a full-time Judo Dojo and would increasingly gain popularity, enrolling more students and progressively requiring moving to more significant buildings multiple times to accommodate the expanding student base requirement for grappling mat space. 

The Passing Of Kano

Eventually, Kano would pass away while on a ship during a voyage for the International Olympic Committee from pneumonia. At the same time, some suspicions did exist about the exact circumstances of his death. Still, his work with establishing Judo, the Kodokan, his philosophy and his legacy continues to survive into the modern-day.