I could laugh at my failures. I knew they would not be for ever.

A Motto is a maxim, a sort of slogan, which is often on the crest of a coat-of-arms of a family or a city or a university and so on. It is supposed to show the ideal of the holder. I saw above the desk of a Japanese executive the two characters: Tesshi – Iron Will. My feeling was that probably he was trying to strengthen his will, not that he had one. Similarly, if I saw on the wall in a politician’s office the English motto: Honesty Is The Best Policy, I should feel a bit suspicious. Sometimes a motto is very misleading. By the side of the tomb of King Edward I of England, in Westminster Abbey, there is an inscription: Pactum Est Factum, Promised is Done. This 13th century king borrowed great sums of money from the Jewish bankers , but when he could not pay it back, he suddenly realized that to lend money and charge interest, as they did, was against Christian teaching. So in 1290 he decided that the Jews ought not to remain in England any more, and he killed some and expelled the rest. They never got their money from him. So …

Read moreI could laugh at my failures. I knew they would not be for ever.

In life, most people judge what to do by looking at outside standards often they simply do what other people are doing.

People who live in towns (in other words, most people) keep themselves upright by looking at the walls when they are indoors, and looking at the corners of the buildings when they are outside. They use these things to tell them what is vertical. This is proved by putting people in special rooms where the walls are slightly tilted to one side. When they are asked to walk across such a room, they walk unsteadily. They must continually adjust their balance. However much they try, they unconsciously align themselves with the walls, which means that they tend to lean a little to one side. If they are told to shut their eyes, they can walk fairly steadily. But with shut eyes, an ordinary person cannot balance himself very well, because his inner balance is weak. A footballer or skater put in the room does much better: he is trained to feel his balance internally; he does not rely much on outside verticals to keep upright.  After all, there are no outside vertical lines on a football ground or a skating rink. But even he may become unsteady occasionally; when he is indoors, he may have developed a habit of relying on the straight walls. …

Read moreIn life, most people judge what to do by looking at outside standards often they simply do what other people are doing.

Everything changes; everything ends in Goodbye to all that

Like Japanese, French people do not like to say, “Goodbye”. Instead of “Adieu” (goodbye) they would rather say “Au revoir”, meaning roughly, “till we meet again”. The French have the famous saying: “To say ‘Goodbye’ is to die a little.” This became a song, popularized by Ella Fitzgerald, among others. That French expression is attractively poetic; it says much in very few words. English people admire the French for their ability to invent such sayings. We are not so clever at making them. The proof is, that we British have to use a French phrase to describe them: “mot juste”. That means: “exactly the right word for it”. What an awkward English phrase for the neat French “mot juste”! In such things we feel a cultural inferiority to our French neighbours across the Channel. To save our pride, we say to ourselves: “After all, these are only small things: the French are clever in small things.” But secretly, we envy them. So, the French do not like to say “Goodbye”, because that means, a final parting* They prefer to say, “Till we meet again”. The Germans say the same thing: ‘Auf wiedersehen’, “Till we see each other again”. Over the …

Read moreEverything changes; everything ends in Goodbye to all that

The man who relies on certain tricks in life, may have success for a time, but it cannot last long.

One of the elements in more advanced stages of the Ways is, to develop ingenuity. Some of this can be done by the student himself. For instance, in judo he can try practising with one arm tucked inside his belt, so that he has only die other arm to fight with. This will sometimes give him an insight into the true mechanics of a throw, especially if he tends to rely on the strength of his arms to make up for lack of technique. When he has only one arm to use, he can no longer do this, and he has to discover how to use the rest of his body properly. Some physically strong judo men tend to use one or two techniques which they can force through by their strength. But if they come up against a good technician, who can anticipate and forestall their favourite technique, they fail completely. I mentally compare them to people who go to a foreign country, and do not study the language properly but master a number of set phrases, sometimes highly colloquial. They often sound impressive for about ten minutes. But after that, they have exhausted their repertoire of phrases, and …

Read moreThe man who relies on certain tricks in life, may have success for a time, but it cannot last long.

Why do we do judo? The true answer is to train body and mind to act efficiently in life

EVEN EFFORT There has to be some effort in a judo technique, but Dr.Kano’s principle was to make that effort efficient. In his time there were still some flourishing jujutsu schools, though not as flourishing as they had been. He studied their methods, and found that a good many techniques relied on surprise and extra strength developed by particular exercises. They were not using the body as an efficient unit. For this reason, they tried to keep their techniques secret. Although judo is no longer generally taught in this way, one sometimes sees something like it. If a man has a very strong right arm, he can get results with a poor technique because of the extra strength he has with that arm. Unless something is done to check it, he will develop more and more limited judo, and cannot acquire a real mastery of it. But it is not necessarily easy for a teacher to get him to change. One can explain to him that he must try to use the whole body as a unit, and if he is reasonable he will see and understand this. But when he actually tries to do it, the strong right arm …

Read moreWhy do we do judo? The true answer is to train body and mind to act efficiently in life

In the Far East the Dragon is the spirit of transcendence

At the Kodokan in the 1930s national Judo contests were held every year. Each county in Japan provided at least two contestants, and these were reduced to 64 and then to 32. In those days contests were decided by a full point – throw, lock, or hold – and there were no half points. This meant that were a fair number of drawn contests. Even though on contestant was clearly superior to the other if he failed to score the full point the contest was drawn. The winner was then determined by chance: the two contestants stood by the side of the mat, and the referee presented one of them with two straws and if he choose the long one he won and if he pulled the short one he lost. I was deeply impressed by an incident that I saw on one such occasion in the forth round. The two contestants, whom I shall call Kihara and Rwu were fairly evenly matched and Rwu was asked to draw a straw. He pulled the long one, so I was told; I was not near enough to see. But there was a brief animated conversation between him and the referee. After …

Read moreIn the Far East the Dragon is the spirit of transcendence

The outer calm, which so impresses visitors to Japan, is part of an external gloss.

When I am asked how to tell the difference between Japanese and Chinese, I sometimes answer: ‘In general, Japanese are more self-controlled. They talk less excitedly, speak in lower tone, move their bodies less and do not use many gestures. They usually do not interrupt each other. They seem a rather placid people’. ‘But remember’, I add, ‘this applies to the exterior’. ‘Within, the Japanese may be irritable, nervous, quarrelsome and deeply emotional. It is only that at ordinary times they do not like to show it. Only at exceptional times, when they are really roused, they do show it’. I sometimes explain that the ordinary word for ‘Excuse me’ in Japanese is shitsurei. Rei means something like a ceremony, orderly and harmonious; shitsu means losing it or breaking it. So the word shitsurei means: ‘I am doing something out of order, breaking the smooth surface conduct which is so important in Japan’. Of course, such generalizations are made about all nations. It is a curious fact that though there is truth in them, they never seem to apply to the individuals whom the foreigner meets. For instance, before I went to live in Germany in 1935, I had read …

Read moreThe outer calm, which so impresses visitors to Japan, is part of an external gloss.

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