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Jigoro Kano, Founder Of Judo

by Stanley Pranin

Aiki News #80 (April 1989)

In recent issues of this magazine we have attempted to gradually expand the scope of our coverage. In keeping with this theme, we introduce in this issue the first installment of a series of autobiographical essays by Jigoro Kano, the Founder of Judo. Our focus will be on the roots of Judo, more specifically, the transition from the jujutsu forms surviving in the Meiji era to the colorful early days of Kodokan Judo in the first decades of this century. In addition to being a key figure in the development of modern Japanese martial arts, Kano was a major intellectual force in the field of education and one of the pioneers of the Olympic movement in Japan. In our last issue Minoru Mochizuki Sensei issue paved the way for the present series in discussing some of Kano’s pivotal ideas seen in light of today’s competitive Judo.

There are, moreover, several interesting historical connections between Aikido and Judo. Kano witnessed a demonstration by Morihei Ueshiba in 1930 which resulted in him sending several of his top Judoka to study under the Aikido Founder. Kenji Tomiki, the creator of Tomiki-style Aikido - often referred to as “Sport Aikido” was an advanced practitioner of Judo in the 1920s and strongly influenced by Kano’s theories. Tomiki later became a prominent figure in the development of prewar Aikido and a senior instructor at the Kobukan Dojo. Another fascinating historical sidelight is the fact that Admiral Isamu Takeshita, who would later become an enthusiastic student and patron of Morihei Ueshiba, arranged for top-ranking Judo instructor Yoshiaki Yamashita to visit the United States in the early 1900s where he taught jujutsu to President Theodore Roosevelt.

Death And Injury In Aikido

Another subject touched upon in this number is that of accidents and injuries in Aikido. We offer an in-depth article by Professor Fumiaki Shishida of Waseda University who is also a top instructor of Tomiki Sport Aikido. I believe this article is the first attempt to statistically document the incidence of injuries and deaths in Aikido. This topic is usually considered taboo in Aikido circles because the occurrence of injuries and the attitudes and behavior which produce them stand in such blatant contradiction to the Aikido philosophy. Nonetheless, the shocking truth is that unnecessary deaths have occurred in Aikido, especially in universities in Japan. In addition, violent behavior in various Aikido dojos by individuals who regularly inflict injuries continues unchecked.

I was recently taken to task by a good friend who felt that AIKI NEWS had been lax about taking an active role in the exposure of such unacceptable and dangerous conduct. His view was that this magazine along with its several thousand readers could make a difference and ensure that those responsible for such injuries are held accountable for their acts. Although we have taken up this subject on several occasions in the past (see AN #58 and 74), we would like to once again focus the spotlight on this all-important, but neglected subject. Moreover, in order to initiate an ongoing dialogue, we encourage readers to send in letters outlining the occurrence of dojo injuries of which they are aware, their gravity, the circumstances involved, and what measures were taken to prevent their reoccurrence. We will reprint your contributions as space allows. Perhaps it is time that concerned practitioners finally begin to speak out so that these practices can be progressively eliminated.

(The full article is available for subscribers.)

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