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Will Aikido Follow in the Footsteps of Judo?

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by Stanley Pranin

Aiki News #44 (January 1982)

The following article was prepared with the kind assistance of Thomas S. Kristensen of Denmark.

In today’s issue of Japan Times (October 9, 1981), I happened across an article with a title which immediately caught my eye. It was entitled “Humiliation for Kodokan?” and bore the subtitle, “IJF’s (International Judo Federation) Decision to Issue Dan Diplomas Splits Japan’s Judo World”. The article goes on to describe the dispute over ranking in the Judo world in which it appears that the influence of the Kodokan over dan grades has noticeably diminished. The author of the essay, Kiyoaki Murata, observes that as a result of the recent IJF ruling “… the Japanese standards for awarding dan have been tossed to the wind.”

I must confess that I am only vaguely acquainted with the history of Judo as an overseas movement, but it seems to me that the internationalization of the art occurred primarily beginning in the 1950’s and as Judo spread abroad rival organizations sprung up and gradually acquired sufficient political influence so that at a certain point the “Headquarters” dojo, the Kodokan, found itself no longer able to dictate policy as it once had. In particular, the IJF seems to have wrested control over the decision-making process in the Judo world. Yet on reflection, is it really so surprising that an organization with strong foreign representation and large vested interests, and, in some cases with close governmental ties (take the case of France and certain other European countries, for example) should balk at being controlled by a Japanese core group despite the fact that its claim to being the “oldest and largest” dojo is indisputable? The author goes on to remark that as a consequence of the recent problem, “The implication is that Kodokan, even though it is the Mecca of Judo, is, technically speaking, only one Judo school that happens to be the oldest and largest.”

The last paragraph of the article offers a very perceptive insight:

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