The Man Behind Judo 

04th

OCTOBER, 2020

Judo
Life
History

Mark Poole,

Partner @ Destination Judo

When I was younger – and I am not going to say how long ago that was  I remember for a school project we had to pick a person to research.

At the time I was involved in several different sports, one of which was (of course) Judo.  I decided to do my research project on its founder: Jigoro Kano. It was a long time ago, I cannot remember all the details, and that is why I decided to have another look and share just a couple of the things that I do remember.

His name was Jigoro Kano, and he was born on October 28th, 1860. Over 160 years ago! He had two brothers and two sisters. His mother taught him the importance of helping others – to have a good heart and good manners. Sadly, his mother passed away when Jigoro was still very young (in 1869). His father was a great believer in the importance of education, and so made sure that Jigoro also understood that same importance as well. 

His name was Jigoro Kano, and he was born October 28th, 1860.”

In his early teen years, Jigoro was unfortunately bullied by other boys from his school – although, academically, Jigoro was ‘strong’, physically he was quite weak and small. It was this that fueled Jigoro to seek out a means to increase his physical strength. It was at this time in his life he developed an interest in the martial sport known as Jujitsu. 

“In his early teen years, Jigoro was unfortunately bullied by other boys

It was from Jujitsu that Jigoro learned how a small person like himself could overcome and overpower an individual who was bigger and stronger. 

Jigoro sought out to learn from a variety of teachersJigoro believed that in order for him to become better that it was not solely dependent on how hard he physically trained, but on how he could blend and learn a wider variety of techniques so that he could adapt to any opponent. It was this realisation that would inspire Jigoro to develop the sport further, and to change it into something else; something new. 

“It was from Jujitsu that Jigoro learned how a small person like himself could overcome and overpower an individual who was bigger and stronger. 

In 1882, in order to support himself, Jigoro became a teacher at a Jujitsu school. Using the money that he earned, Jigoro would then open his own dojo, which he named the ‘Kodokan’. He would also change his school from Jujitsu to something else – it became the first Judo school. 

As time went on, Jigoro would continue to develop his Judo further, not just as a martial art sport, but also as a philosophy by focusing on principles of the mind, body, and development of character. 

It was a few more years (in 1889) that Judo began to spread beyond the borders of Japan when Jigoro performed a Judo demonstration whilst aboard a boat when he was travelling to Europe. 

Jigoro Kano did so much, not just for the new sport of Judo, but also for Japan. He would be invited to join the International Olympic Committee in 1909 – he was the first Japanese member of the committee  which would then lead to Japan sending athletes to the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games for the very first time. It would not be until the 1964 Games in Tokyo that Judo would become an Olympic Sport. 

Jigoro would then open his own dojo, which he named the ‘Kodokan’…– it became the first Judo school.

Jigoro Kano passed away in 1938Of course, what you have read here is only a (tiny) fraction of his extraordinary life – but as we know, his name will forever be remembered through the sport of Judo. 

 

Marv

Mark Poole Partner

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