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Kano Jigoro

Kano Jigoro

Kano Jigoro (28 October 1860 – 4 May 1938) was the founder of Judo an educator and athlete. Kano included the use of black and white belts, invented dan ranking system. Most often attributed mottoes to Kano Jigoro are “Maximum Efficiency with Minimum Effort” and “Mutual Welfare and Benefit”.
He played a key role in making judo and kendo part of the Japanese public school programs of the 1910s. Kano jigoro is also known for being first Asian member of International Olympic Committee.His official honors and decorations included the First Order of Merit and Grand Order of the Rising Sun and the Third Imperial Degree. Kano Jigoro is also the first member inducted to International Judo Federation (IJF) Nall of Fame on May 14. 1999.

Kano Jigoro Early years

Kano’s father,  Kano Jirosaku, was adopted son into a sake brewing family in the town of Mikage, Japan, he did not go into family business and instead he worked as a lay priest and senior clerk for a shipping line. Kano’s mother died when he was nine years old, and afterwards his father moved the family to Tokyo.

Kano’s father was an incredible devotee to the strength of education, and he provided Jigoro, his third son, with an excellent education. His early teachers included neo-Confucian scholars and young Kano, after his mother’s death, was enrolled in private school ran by the Europeans to improve his English and German Lingual skills.

At that time Kano Jigoro was 1.57m (5 feet 2 inches) tall and weighed only about 40 kg (90 pounds).Kano’s wish for growing stronger was noticeable at this moment. At some point Nakai Baisei, a family friend and a member of shogun’s guard, mentioned ju jitsu as an great form of physical enhancement. Nakai instructed Kano on a few techniques by which a smaller man might submit a larger and stronger one, to his will. Kano persecuted  learning this art despite training was outdated and to some degree perilous and in addition to that his father also discouraged  him from ju jitsu directing his young son towards some more modern sport instead.

Ju jutsu days

In 1877, Kano began looking for ju jitsu teachers and in the most unorthodox way possible.

Kano Jigoro’s quest was one of looking for “seifukushi”, bonesetters as he believed that doctors should know who the best martial arts teachers are. Upon finding a bonesetter, who taught Tenjin Shin’yo-ryu ( combination of two schools of jujitsu Yoshin-ryu and Shin no Shindo-ryu ), Fukuda Hachinosuke, Kano began practicing ju jitsu but found himself experiencing troubles practicing with a senior student student at the school.  To overcome this hurdle he started trying unusual techniques, from other disciplines like sumo or wrestling.

Only a year after Jigoro started working out at Fukuda’s dojo,  the jujitsu master died after becoming greatly ill. 19 year old Kano soon after joined another dojo run by Masatomo Iso.

For the 2 years Kano lived for ju jitsu, practicing to the point of exhaustion all the time. His obsession with martial arts drove young Kano to having nightmares and shouting ju jitsu terms in his sleep.

Kano Jigoro and his dedication was noticed by sensei and soon he was made assistant at the dojo. He had become a master in Tenjin-shinyo-ryu ju jitsu but did not stop there as he strove to learn more.

Kano Jigoro

Kano Jigoro Founds Kodokan Judo

During the early 1880s, there was no clear separation between the ju jutsu that Kano was teaching and the ju jutsu that his teachers had taught in the past. The original idea was to reform ju jitsu not to found a new system as Kano was well aware of the shortcomings, but believed that singled out whit final goal for ju jitsu to become beneficial to young man as a form of physical and mental discipline as well as discipline of spirits. All harmful and dangerous techniques were eliminated. As Kano explained: “Force your opponent to make his body rigid and lose his balance, and then when he is helpless, you attack.” to Iikubo his teacher to that point, he replied with  “From now on, you teach me.” becoming a student once again.

And judo was born, after this Kano Jigoro directed his work towards teaching, naming and developing his own system. Judo translates to “The Gentle Way”.
Kodokan dojo was started with only 12 mats in a back end of a Buddhist temple in the Shitaya ward of Tokyo. In 1886 a contest was held to determine who was better ju jitsu practitioners or ones who practiced Kodokan judo, and Kano’s Kodokan judo students won the competition decisively.

By the 1911 Kano had over 1000 dan ranked students in addition to this judo was adopted to Japan’s  educational system not as a martial arts class but as much more. Later on, as we know it, in 1964 judo became an Olympic event, which is probably a greatest testament to a great martial artist, International Olympic Committee member from 1909 to 1938, educator, innovator in short Kano Jigoro.


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Kano Jigoro | The founder of Judo
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Kano Jigoro | The founder of Judo
Kano Jigoro the founder of Judo an educator and athlete, related often to one of his motos Maximum Efficiency with Minimum Effort.
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