During Japan’s feudal era, constant strife and civil warfare demanded the development of a sure, viable method of combat, what we know of today as jujutsu—a fierce, dangerous art practiced only by the warrior class, the samurai.
But as the 19th century drew to a close, Japan settled into an era of peace, leaving all the bujutsu (the combative arts) impractical and unnecessary.
At that point, those arts began to evolve into budo, from a system of techniques devised for the annihilation of one’s enemies into more philosophical pursuits, practiced rather as an introspective means of perfecting the self, both physically and mentally.
Dr. Jigoro Kano, university educated and a student of the classical jujutsu, (and later several other arts, sumo wrestling included), understood the need for an art more suitable for a peaceful populace, even for the public school environment, (certainly one which would lead to much fewer injuries and fatalities than the old jujutsu training schools). From this ideal, Mr. Kano founded the art of judo, and in 1882, established the Kodokan Judo Institute.
Founder of Judo
After carefully scrutinizing the elements inherent in the arts in which he had trained, Mr. Kano began improving upon their weaknesses, eliminating anything he found to prove inefficient. He proposed an ultimate ideal, as expressed by his familiar maxim of “maximuim efficiency and mutal benefit.”
By attempting to attain a “maximum efficiency” of both mental and physical energies, a student would begin to understand by means of their own intellectual energy the basic principles involved, rather than simply performing any one technique by rote memory. Physically, energy can be better applied by following these three fundamentals:
Taking your opponent off balance
The execution of the throw
The final two steps should not be attempted until after successfully achieving a kuzushi. The study of kuzushi and of human movement is essential. One simply can’t throw another human being without first disrupting their balance any more effectively than trying to trip someone who’s standing perfectly still.
From performing these principles in the act of throwing, accurately, in their correct order, after years of practice and repetition, quickly and smoothly, blooms the more artistic beauty of judo.
By adhering to them, the issue of strength or speed becomes meaningless; the most delicate and diminutive of women may completely devastate the biggest and brutish of men.