Professor Jigoro Kano founded judo, with it officially being launched in 1882 in Tokyo Japan with the opening of the Kodokan to teach judo to others. Judo came from the traditional Japanese jujutsu that uses techniques known from the earliest times. Eventually judo displaced jujutsu, and no one any longer speaks of jujitsu as a contemporary art in Japan, although the word has survived overseas.
Many martial arts were practiced in Japan during the feudal age with the use of lance, archery, swordsmanship and many more being used. Jujutsu was one such art, however it was not until the latter half of the sixteenth century that jujitsu was practiced and taught systematically. During the Edo period (1603-1868) jujutsu was developed into a complex art taught by the masters of a number of schools. These schools taught systems of attack that involved throwing, hitting, kicking, stabbing, slashing, choking, bending and twisting limbs pinning an opponent, and defence against these attacks.
Jigoro Kano studied jujutsu under many eminent masters, with Kano’s vast knowledge coming from years of diligent research and rich experiences which was of great value to him, however Kano found jujutsu had no common guiding principle with each master presenting his art as a collection of techniques. When Kano encountered differences in the teaching of techniques, he often found himself at a loss to know which was correct. This lead to him start to look for an underlying principle in jujutsu, one that applied to when one hit an opponent as well as when one threw him.
After a thorough study of the subject, Kano discerned a pervasive principle being: “To make the most efficient use of mental and physical energy”. With this principle in mind, Kano reviewed all the jujutsu methods of attack and defence, retaining only those that were in accordance with the principle. Those techniques not in accordance with it were rejected, and in their place he substituted techniques in which the principle was correctly applied. The resulting body of techniques he named judo to distinguish it from its predecessor.
The primary principle of judo is to give way to the force of an assailant. To understand what is meant by this Kano explained, let us say that a man is standing before you whose strength is ten, but your own strength is but seven. If he pushes you as hard as he can your sure to be knocked down, even if you resist with all your might. This is opposing strength with strength. In judo we learn to give way to such advances, so instead of opposing him you give way withdrawing your body and maintain balance, your opponent will lose his balance. Weakened by this awkward position, he will be unable to use all his strength. His strength will have fallen to three, and because you have retained your balance your strength remains at seven. Now that your in a situation of being stronger than your opponent you can defeat him by only using half of your strength, keeping the other half available for some other purpose. With this in mind Judoka’s are taught to first give way even if you are stronger than your opponent. This principle of giving way is a good mindset to use in all aspects of everyday life.
Judo teaches the principle of flexibility in the application of techniques. This is the flexible or efficient use of balance, leverage, and movement in the performance of judo throws and other skills. Skill, technique and timing, rather than the use of brute strength, are the essential ingredients for success in judo. For example, in judo classes you may learn how to give way, rather than use force, to overcome a stronger opponent.
The two underlying principles of judo are "Maximum Efficiency" and "Mutual Welfare and Benefit", which can also be used in our dealings with others in life. The ultimate goal in judo is to develop oneself to the maximum extent possible and always striving for perfection, so that you can contribute something of value to the world.