The Contribution of Judo to Education

The following is an excerpt from a speech given by Jigoro Kano, founder of Kodokan Judo, at the University of Southern California in 1932 on the occaision of the 10th Olympiad.

Kano gave a copy of this speech in it’s entirety to Prof. Henry Seishiro Okazaki upon visiting him in Hawaii that same year. Okazaki gave a copy of this speech to Sig Kufferath. It is reprinted by permission here from the “Talk Story”, Newsletter of the Kodenkan Jujutsu & Restoration Therapy.

by Jigoro Kano

The object of this lecture is to explain to you in a general way what Judo is. In our feudal times, there were many military exercises such as fencing, archery, the use of spears, etc. Among them there was one called Jujutsu which was a composite exercise, consisting principally of the ways of fighting without weapons; using, however, occaisionally daggers, swords and other weapons.

The kinds of attackwerechiefly throwing, hitting, choking, holding the opponent down and bending or twisting the opponent’s arms or legs in such a way as to cause pain or fracture. The use of swords and daggerswas also taught. We had also multitudinous ways of defending ourselves against such attacks. Such exercise, in its primitive form, existed even in our mythological age. But systematic instruction, as an art, dates only from about three hundred fifty years ago.

In my younger days I studied this art with three eminent masters of the time. The great benefit I derived from the study of it led me to make up my mind to go on with the subject more seriously, and in 1882 I started a school of my own and called it Kodokan. Kodokan literally means “a school for studying the way”, the meaning of “the way” being the concept of life itself. I named the subject I teach Judo instead of Jujutsu. In the first place I will explain to you the meaning of these words. Ju means “gentle” or “to give way”, Jutsu, an “art” or “practice”, and Do, “way” or “principle”, so that Jujutsu means an art or practice of gentleness or of giving way in order to ultimately gain the victory; while Judo means the way or principle of the same.

Besides the acquisition of useful knowledge, we must endeavor to improve our intellectual powers, such as memory, attention, observation, judgement, reasoning, imagination, etc. But this we should not do in a haphazard manner, but in accordance psychological laws, so that the relation of those powers one with the other shall be well harmonized. It is only by faithfully following the principle of maximum efficiency – that is Judo – that we can achieve the object of rationally increasing our knowledge and intellectual power.