Jigoro Kano (1860-1938)

The Founder of Kodokan Judo

Jigoro Kano founded Kodokan Judo from the old Jujitsu styles that were starting to die out in Jpan.
Jigoro Kano founded Kodokan Judo from the old Jujitsu styles that were starting to die out in Jpan.

Jigoro Kano is the martial arts master who developed and promoted modern Judo.

As a young man, Jigoro Kano studied Jujitsu under several different masters. By his mid-twenties, he had been initiated into the secret teachings of the Kito Ryu and Tenshin-Shinyo Ryu Jujitsu styles.

In 1882, Jigoro Kano established the Kodokan Institute, with a tiny 12 tatami dojo and just nine students, and created the new martial arts system called Judo – the Way of Gentleness.

The Japanese character “Ju” means gentle, and any art ending in “Jitsu” means it is a combat art. Professor Kano took these combat arts and turned them into a “Do” art, which means “a Way”… as in a Path to self discipline and improvement. (It is the same Chinese character as “Tao” – like the “Tao of Gentleness”.

In Kodokan Judo, Jigoro Kano Sensei adopted the teaching methods of both Randori (free practice) and Kata (formalized routines). He added physical education to the intellectual training and the moral traditions.

One of Kano Sensei’s champion Judo students was Kenji Tomiki.

Tomiki was sent to learn this new Aikido from its founder, Morihei Ueshiba, and Tomiki was the first of Ueshiba’s students to earn an 8th Dan black belt in Aikido.

Tomiki was a professional Judo teacher, and Judo has a very formalized teaching method. At that time Aikido did not. So Kenji Tomiki took the formal structured training system of Judo and applied it to the techniques of Aikido, as taught by O-Sensei, Morihei Ueshiba.

Ueshiba’s personal style of teaching was famous for its lack of structure. Some would even call it haphazard. This is not a slur on O Sensei (who was a genius) or of Aikido. Back in those days, being taught most Japanese martial arts was not structured like today. You were often thrown around like a rag doll until something eventually stuck in your brain!

Happily, most styles these days have a formal training structure to teach you step by step.

This is the Kodokan, the original 12-mat dojo belonging to Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo.
This is the Kodokan, the original 12-mat dojo started by Jigoro Kano.

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