History of Judo

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Birth of Jigoro KANO,founder of KODOKAN JUDO
Jigoro KANO enters Ikuei Gijuku boarding school in Tokyo, where all the courses were taught in English or German by native speakers. He first hears of JUJUTSU, but unable to find a JUJUTSU master.
Jigoro KANO enters the Tokyo School of Foreign Languages.
Graduates from the state-run English School. Enters the state-run Kaisei School.
Kaisei School is renamed Tokyo Imperial University. KANO begins TENSHIN SHIN’YO JUJUTSU training at Hachinosuke FUKUDA’s (1829-80) DOJO.
KANO and Fukushima performs JUJUTSU for former U.S. President U.S. Grant (1822-85) when he visits Japan. KANO’s first teacher FUKUDA dies.
KANO graduates from Tokyo Imperial University and stayes on another year for further study. Master MASAMOTO dies. This time he goes to train with Tsunetoshi IIKUBO of KITO RYU JUJUTSU.
In February he moves to EISHO-JI, a small Jodo Sect Buddhist temple in the Shimo-tani section of Tokyo. There he establishes the KODOKAN („.Institute for Study of the Way”).
KODOKAN moves to new quarters twice. The first move is to Minami Jimbocho in Kanda, where he opens an English academy. A few months later he moves to Kami Niban-cho in Koji-machi and builds a small DOJO. IIKUBO continues to teach KANO, who receives a KITO RYU teaching licence. Only eight students formally registers.
KANO divides students into two groups, which is the non-grading (MUDANSHA) and the grading (YUDANSHA). He created three basic levels (KYU) and three advanced ranks (DAN). KANO instituts KAN-GEIKO (“cold weather training”).
Kodokan bylaws were drawn up. The Kodokan name was formally established, "taking together all the merits I have acquired from the various schools of jujitsu, and adding my own devices and inventions, I have founded a new system for physical culture, mental training, and winning contests. This I call Kodokan Judo." Said Jigoro Kano.
Kodokan was, literally, the Hall (kan) for Studying (ko) the Way (do). Ju jitsu had meant gentle techniques. Kodokan Judo, was the Hall for Studying the Way of Judo. Judo meant "gentle way." The "Do" ending had enormous philosophical meaing. It was Japanese for the Chinese word "Tao.”
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police host a tournament meant to resolve the question of which was better, Kano Jigoro’s Kodokan judo club or a Yoshin Ryu jujutsu school headed by Totsuke Hikosuke. By winning thirteen of fifteen matches and drawing the other two, the Kodokan athletes firmly established their primacy. A 1943 Kurosawa movie made Saigo Shiro the most famous of the early Kodokan wrestlers. Saigo’s favorite technique was said to be the yama arashi, or mountain storm, technique of aiki jutsu, but there is debate over what this technique was. Yokoyama Sakujiro was another powerful Kodokan judoka, and his 55-minute bout with Nakamura Hansuke during the 1886 police tournament remains the longest judo match on record. (Modern matches only go 20 minutes, with the possibility of a 10-minute extension.) Uniforms of the era were similar to modern uniforms except that sleeves and trouser legs were much shorter. The dignified silence that the wrestlers and their fans maintained greatly impressed foreign visitors.

Jigoro KANO becomes a professor at Gakushuin. KODOKAN DAN-grade JUDOKA defect leading JUJUTSU teachers of the police force.

The first five groups of instruction, or gokyo no waza, are introduced to Kodokan judo. These are followed in 1920 by a second group of seventeen additional techniques known as shimmeisho no waza. The additions were due to the Kodokan wrestlers having absorbed most traditional jujutsu styles and their best techniques in the meantime.
The Kodokan won its first recorded contest with the Metropolitan police, in a shiai, pitting the police ju jitsu against Judo in organized competition for the first time. The first of many such matches that the Kodokan won.
The KODOKAN is moved to Kojimachi Fujimi-cho. Fujimi-cho DOJO students with DAN rankings first began wearing black belts as a sign of their status.
Shochugeiko, the beginning of summer training celebration, was inaugurated. Reflecting the rigorous workout in the summer heat, comparable to the Kangeiko of winter training, it became another Kodokan tradition.
An historic passage came for the Kodokan when the Tokyo Metropolitan Police hosted a showdown between the Kodokan and the ju jitsu school considered the strongest fighting school in Japan at the time, the Totsuka-ha Yoshin-ryu jujutsu.
The KODOKAN is moved to Kami-NI-bancho area, he had more than 1,500 full time students.
September 16, KANO went on his first overseas visit to spread the good word about JUDO. He visited Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Vienna, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Amsterdam and London.
January, KANO returned to Japan. He had been abroad for 16 months. He married Sumako Takezoe. KANO left his new bride behind in Tokyo.
KANO returned to Tokyo where he became principal of the No 1 Junior High School. And later, he was appointed to the same position at the Tokyo Higher Normal School. His wife gives birth to their first daughter, Noriko. In December a new 100 TATAMI DOJO is opened at the KODOKAN.
The first version of the GOKYO NO WAZA were officially introduced at the KODOKAN.
SHOCHU-GEIKO („mid-summer training”) was formally instituted.-The first of the modern Olympic Games is held in Athens, Greece. Kano’s second son is born.
In January 1898, Kanō was appointed director of primary education at the Ministry of Education, and in August 1899, he received a grant that allowed him to study in Europe. His ship left Yokohama on 13 September 1899, and he arrived in Marseilles on 15 October. He spent about a year in Europe, and during this trip, he visited Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam, and London. He returned to Japan in 1901
The Kodokan suffered a school defeat in a contest with Fusen Ryu ju jitsu. Fusen Ryu specialized in ne waza or grappling techniques, and this specialty carried the day.
KANO visited China on an official inspection tour of educational institutions. Upon his return, KANO expanded the academy for Chinese exchange students that he had founded a few years earlier.
An American industrialist named Samuel Hill invited Yoshiaki YAMASHITA (1865-1935) to teach his son KODOKAN JUDO in the United States.
The 3rd Olympic Games are held in St. Louis, USA.
During the Russo-Japanese war, a number of senior KODOKAN members died in battle.
The KODOKAN expanded again, this time to a new 207-mat (TATAMI) DOJO in Shimo-Tomisaka-cho. The JUDOGI (practice uniform) was standardized in the form we see today.
The 4th Olympic Games are held in London. The Japanese Diet approves a bill requiring all middle schools (in Japan) to provide instruction in Gekiken (swords-manship and jujutsu).
KANO was selected as the first Japanese member of the INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITEE (JUDO was not included in the Olympics until 1964)
Members of both houses of the Japanese Diet are invited to the KODOKAN to view demonstrations of JUDO.
The Japanese establish an International Olympic Committee under the leadership of Kano Jigoro. While only two Japanese athletes went to the Olympics in 1912, 15 went in 1920, 18 in 1924, 43 in 1928, 130 in 1932, and 154 in 1936. Although the Japanese won medals in many sports, including wrestling, equitation, and tennis, as a team they did best in swimming and running.
Jigoro Kano leaves to attend the 5th Olympiad in Stockholm, Sweden. Japan competed at the Summer Olympic Games for the first time. The delegation, two athletes accompanied by four officials. Kano makes his fourth trip to Europe.
Kano called together the remaining leader masters of Ju Jitsu to finalize a Kodokan syllabus of training and kata. Aoyagi of Sosusihis Ryu, Takano, Yano, Kotaro Imei and Hikasuburo Ohshima participated from Takeuisi Ryu. Jushin Sekiguchi and Mogichi Tsumizu participated from Sekiguchi Ryu, Eguchi from Kyushin Ryu, and Hoshino from Shiten Ryu, Inazu from Miura Ryu. Takamatsu, a Kukkishin Ryu
World War I breaks out in July. The KODOKAN JUDO Association is founded. In 1914, The All Japan Special High School championships were started at Kyoto Imperial University. These championships emphasized the trend toward NEWAZA or (grappling techniques), and the schools that participated became so proficient at this approach that they earned for it the name "Kosen Judo" or grappling Judo. This form of Judo was becoming so predominant that by 1925 Kano began to see throwing techniques as disappearing from the syllabus of effective Judo skills.
The 6th Olympiad in Berlin is cancelled.
Foundation of the BUDOKWAI in London. KANO attends the opening of a KODOKAN branch DOJO in Korea. End of World War I.
KANO explains the principles of JUDO at the KODOKAN to Dr. Dewey from Columbia University.(He was the founder of the American educational system, who was then a guest lecturer at the Imperial University of Japan.
KANO receives an award from the Japanese Government for his diligent services to Society. Kano attends the 7th Olympic Games in Antwerpen, Belgium. Japan sent fifteen Olympic competitors to Antwerpen – the first Olympic medals ever awarded to athletes from Japan (tennis players were awarded two silver medals)
In March Kano resigns from his post as chairman of the Japan Amateur Sports Association and becomes honorary chairman. He attends an IOC meeting.
The Kodokan Dan Grade Holder's Association was formed.
Japan’s Ministry of Home Affairs announces the establishment of a national athletic festival called the Meiji Jingu Championship Games. Its purpose of mobilizing Japanese youth. Games included judo, kendo, archery, and sumo.
The Kodokan opens its women’s section. In accordance with contemporary medical theories, the women’s judo was, in the words of Rusty Glickman, a New Yorker who trained in the Kodokan’s women’s dojo in 1962, "a much more refined, milder form than the men."
The first All-Japan Judo Championships are held in Tokyo. As competition was categorized by age, the so-called All-Japan champions before 1948 were actually first in their age class. After 1948, there was an overall champion, too, and this person is now the sole All-Japan champion.
In September 1932, Kano attended the IOC Session in Los Angeles and explained Tokyo’s bid for the Olympics after handing the official letter of invitation to the IOC President Count Henri de Baillet-Latour. Kano travels to USA (Los Angeles, Seattle) and Canada (Vancouver). In Los Angeles he attends the 10th Olympiad..
Seventeen-year old Kimura Mashiko wins his first All-Japan Collegiate Judo Championship. Kimura then went on to win the All-Japan Judo Championships for his age group in 1938, 1939, and 1940. In 1949 Kimura returned to the mats and earned a draw in the finals against Ishikawa Takahiko. Kimura then tried to establish a professional judo circuit in Japan.
According to the German writer Arthur Grix, there were 66,994 judo black belts in Japan . Of these, 39,660 were first-dan, 15,060 were second-dan, 6,600 were third-dan, 3,661 were fourth-dan, 1,615 were fifth-dan, 346 were sixth-dan, 44 were seventh-dan, five were eighth-dan, two were ninth-dan, and one (Kano Jigoro himself) was tenth-dan.
In May, Kanō died at sea, while on board the NYK Line motor vessel MV Hikawa Maru Because the Japanese merchant fleet of the 1930s used Tokyo time wherever it was in the world, the Japanese date of death was 4 May 1938 at about 5:33 a.m. JST, whereas the international date of death was 3 May 1938 at 8:33 p.m. UTC. The cause of death was officially listed as pneumonia.
The 12th Olympic Games cancelled because of the WWII.
The 13th Olympiad is cancelled.
The Allied occupation government of Japan prohibits the teaching of judo and kendo in Japanese public schools and bans the words (and concepts) budo and bushido. In November 1946 an All-Japan Judo Yudanshakai ("Grade Holders’ Association") was organized.
In May the first All Japan Judo Championship since the Second World War is held. In November the first All Japan Police Judo Championship is staged.
The All Japan Judo Federation is established in May. In November judo is added to the List of official sports at the 4th Japan Sports Championships. The All-Japan Judo Yudanshakai is reorganized into the Japan Judo Federation, and then made part of the Japan Physical Education Association.
In October judo is reintroduced in Japan’s secondary school curriculum.
In June judo is reintroduced in the high schools’ curriculum.
Kodokan judo instructors are sent to both the U.S. and Europe.
Japan joins the International Judo Federation. Head of Kodokan, Risei Kano (1900-1986) becomes president of the International Judo Federation (1952-1965).
In 1954, the first SAC Judo Tournament was held at Offutt AFB the Grand Champion was Airman Morris Curtis. Also in 1954, 26 SAC Air Police went to the Kodokan to study judo fourteen weeks. The curriculum consisted of police tactics, aikido, karate and, of course, judo.
The first edition of the world championships took place in Tokyo, Japan There were no weight classes at the time and Japanese judoka Shokichi Natsui became the first world champion in history, defeating fellow countryman Yoshihiko Yoshimatsu in the final.
Twenty-one countries participate. (The World Judo Championships are the highest level of international judo competition, along with the Olympic judo competition. The championships are held once every two years by the International Judo Federation, and qualified judoka compete in their respective categories)
In November a bronze statue of Jigoro Kano is erected at the entrance of Tokyo University of Education.
The second world championship was also held in Tokyo, with the Japanese winning the top two spots in the competition for the second time. Eighteen countries are represented.
Tokyo was awarded the 1964 Olympic Games. The Kodokan sells its old building to the Japan Karate Association, and moves to a new seven-story building that had a weight room and a 500-mat main floor. To celebrate, the Kodokan introduces 21 new techniques known as Kodokan goshin jutsu, or "Kodokan self-defense techniques." Twelve of these techniques were designed for use against unarmed attackers while nine were designed for use against armed attackers. This new interest in practical self-defense was encouraged partly by urban dwellers’ fear of attack by teenaged hoodlums, and mainly by the interests of Kodokan leaders who belonged to the Japanese military, police forces, and security guard companies.
The 3rd World Judo Championship was held outside of Japan for the first time, and Dutch judoka Anton Geesink defeated the prior world champion, Koji Sone, in Paris, France to become the first non-Japanese world champion. Twenty-five nations participate.
The 80th Anniversary of the founding of the kodokan is celebrated.
The 18th Olympic Games are held in Tokyo from October 10 to 24.
The judo events took place in the Nippon Budokan – the Japanese Military Arts Hall. The matches were held on a traditional Japanese tatami, set in the center of the stadium. Preliminary round matches lasted 10 minutes, and the finals were 15 minutes. Most of the competitors had spent at least some time training in Japan. The exception was the Soviet team, which brought athletes who had converted to judo from the traditional Soviet jacket wrestling sport of sambo.
In 1982, Judo celebrated its 100th anniversary at the Kodokan, and initiated construction greatly expanding the Kodokan and renaming it the Kodokan International Judo Center. Construction was completed in 1984.
After the Japanese judo team turns in a disappointing showing at the Summer Olympics (well, disappointing by Japanese standards -- the team still won one gold and three bronze medals), its coaches announce their intent to return to the fundamentals. Publicly, this meant that in future the Japanese judo team would put more emphasis on character-development than winning.
At the Seoul Olympic Games, the "open" division was dropped from the program. The "Open" was where any Judoka could prove his mettle. It was the original competition in Judo, emphasizing the idea that Judo was not a weight sport, but fundamentally a technique-oriented sport
By 1995, the World Championships, once again held in Japan, were attended by 625 competitors from100 nations, with medalists from Japan, Korea, France, Cuba, Russia, and Germany, showing that expertise in Judo was no longer limited to Japan.

More Information[edit]

  • Harrison E.J., The Fighting Spirit of Japan and Other Stories, London, Foulsham, 1912
  • Helm Dennis, 2000 Years Jujutsu and Kodokan Judo, Rockford, The Illinois Judo Association, 1991
  • Masumoto David, An Introduction to Kodokan Judo, History and Philosophy, Tokyo, Hon no Tomosha, 1996