This article is written by
Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo - 1882. From his book
entitled “Kodokan Judo”, reprinted by Kodansha International Ltd.,
Most people are
no doubt familiar with the words jujutsu and judo, but how many
can distinguish between them?
arts were practiced in Japan during its feudal age: the use of the
lance, archery, swordsmanship and many more. Jujutsu was one such
art. Also called taijutsu and yawara, it was a system of attack
that involved throwing, hitting, kicking, stabbing, slashing,
choking, bending and twisting limbs, pinning an opponent, and
defenses against these attacks. Although jujutsu's techniques were
known from the earliest times, it was not until the latter half of
the sixteenth century that jujutsu was practiced and taught
systematically. During the Edo period (1603-1868,) --- Yoshin Ryu
Jujitsu(1671)--- it developed into a complex art taught by the
masters of a number of schools. In my youth I studied jujutsu
under many eminent masters. Their vast knowledge, the fruit of
years of diligent research and rich experience, was of great value
to me. At that time, each man presented his art as a collection of
techniques. When I encountered differences in the teaching of
techniques, I often found myself at a loss to know which was
correct. This led me to look for an underlying principle in
jujutsu, one that applied when one hit an opponent as well as when
one threw him. After a thorough study of the subject, I discerned
an all-pervasive principle: to make the most efficient use of
mental and physical energy. With this principle in mind, I again
reviewed all the methods of attack and defense I had learned,
retaining only those that were in accordance with the principle.
Those not in accord with it I rejected, and in their place I
substituted techniques in which the principle was correctly
applied. The resulting body of technique, which I named judo to
distinguish it from its predecessor, is what is taught at the Kodokan.
jujutsu and judo are each written with two Chinese characters. The
ju in both is the same and means "gentleness" or "giving way."
The meaning of jutsu is "art, practice," and do means "principle"
or "way," the Way being the concept of life itself. Jujutsu may be
translated as "the gentle art," judo as "the Way of gentleness,"
with the implication of first giving way to ultimately gain
victory. The Kodokan is, literally, "the school for studying the
Way." As we shall see in the next chapter, judo is more than an
art of attack and defense. It is a way of life.
what is meant by gentleness or giving way, let us say a man is
standing before me whose strength is ten, and that my own strength
is but seven. If he pushes me as hard as he can, I am sure to be
pushed back or knocked down, even if I resist with all my might.
This is opposing strength with strength. But if instead of
opposing him I give way to the extent he has pushed, withdrawing
my body and maintaining my balance, my opponent will lose his
balance. Weakened by his awkward position, he will be unable to
use all his strength. It will have fallen to three. Because I
retain my balance, my strength remains at seven. Now I am stronger
than my opponent and can defeat him by using only half my
strength, keeping the other half available for some other purpose.
Even if you are stronger than your opponent, it is better first to
give way. By doing so you conserve energy while exhausting your
opponent. This is but one example of how you can defeat an
opponent by giving way.
principle of yawara, even a small person can throw a large one.
It was because
so many techniques made use of this principle that the art was
Let us look at
a few other examples of the feats that can be accomplished with
Suppose a man
is standing before me. Like a log on end, he can be pushed off
balance-frontward or backward-with a single finger. If at the
moment he leans forward, I apply my arm to his back and quickly
slip my hip in front of his, my hip becomes a fulcrum. To throw
the man to the ground, even if he greatly outweighs me, all I need
do is twist my hip slightly or pull on his arm or sleeve.
Let us say I
attempt to break a man's balance to the front, but that he steps
forward with one foot. I can still throw him easily by merely
pressing the ball of my foot just below the Achilles' tendon of
his advancing leg a split second before he places his full weight
on that foot. This is a good example of the efficient use of
energy. With only slight effort, I can defeat an opponent of
What if a man
were to rush up and push me? If instead of pushing back, I were to
take hold of his arms or his collar with both hands, place the
ball of one foot against his lower abdomen, straighten my leg and
sit back, I could make him somersault over my head.
that my opponent leans forward a bit and pushes me with one hand.
This puts him off balance. If I grab him by the upper sleeve of
his outstretched arm, pivot so that my back is close to his chest,
clamp my free hand on his shoulder and suddenly bend over, he will
go flying over my head and land flat on his back.
examples show, for the purpose of throwing an opponent the
principle of leverage is sometimes more important than giving way.
Jujutsu also includes other forms of direct attack, such as
hitting, kicking and choking. In this respect, the "art of giving
way" does not convey the true meaning. If we accept jujutsu as the
art or practice of making the most efficient use of mental and
physical energy, then we can think of judo as the way, the
principle, of doing this, and we arrive at a true definition.