The limit of endurance

Some Judo training exercises are taken to the limit of endurance. In classes performing them – e.g. dragging the body round the dojo face down by the arms – the instructor has to watch carefully. While a participant has the energy to grunt Whew! or some such, he is not exhausted. But when one who is silent begins to turn pale, the instructor knows he should stop. If the class is going well, the instructor does not want to stop them. However, the atmosphere at such times is very delicate: if one is taken out, the whole energy tends to collapse; everyone feels that he too should stop. So the teacher may have to resort to subtle methods. He suddenly pounces on the silent one, picks him up by collar and belt, and brings him into the middle. He shouts: ‘How do you expect to keep going when you’re doing …

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Humility

There is no need to practise humility as it is usually understood – that is to say, pretending one hasn’t got a skill or knowledge that one really does have. There are superiorities, and they should not be falsely concealed, any more than they should be boasted about. Because the superiorities, whatever they are, are still only little; once we raise our eyes from the immediate surroundings, we see we are like children who think that the hill at the back of their village is higher than the Himalayas. A saying in all the martial arts is this: “When you find yourself becoming an expert, and feel yourself puffing up like big frog, just go to the next pond, and you’ll find you’re only a little tadpole.” One famous Judo teacher whom I knew insisted that all his students should practise the flute; the shrieks and wails that proceeded from …

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Cutting off the bull’s horns (longer version)

Most keen Judo students come to develop special skill in one or perhaps two throws. These are not necessarily the throws which they took up naturally at the beginning, but throws recommended to them by the teacher on the basis of his long experience of physiques and facility of movements of particular kinds. As skill increases, the student gets more and more of his successes – such as they are – from these techniques. All such special techniques, however, have their limitations, and furthermore to concentrate on refining them leads to a failure to develop evenly. So there comes a point when the teacher tells him: “Now for at least three months give up those techniques which you have developed, and learn to use other ones.” One teacher used to call this “cutting off the bull’s horns”. And as a matter of fact, if the student is strong-willed enough, and …

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Kata judo introduction second part

‘Katame ’ is a Japanese root meaning to harden or tighten or hold still; to clench the fist, for instance, could be rendered in Japanese by this word. The Katame-no-kata, or form of Katame, is in Judo often referred to as the ‘groundwork’ Kata, but the last one, for instance, begins in a standing posi­tion. The Katame-waza or Katame techniques are really the methods of immobilizing the opponent, whether by restricting his movement by a technical hold, or by threat of causing pain or unconsciousness. It is true that in general it is easier and more appropriate to use the Katame techniques at present permitted in Judo when on the ground. In this connec­tion it may be noted that this same final technique of the Kata, namely Ashi- garami, involves a lock on the knee which would not now be permitted in contest. The great difficulty with Katame-no-kata is to prevent …

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Kata judo introduction first part

Kata or formal demonstration is an important part of Judo training. A pre­arranged opportunity is given and then the appropriate technique exe­cuted. Under these ideal conditions, a far greater degree of perfection is required than when a throw is brought off in the flurry of Randori or free practice. It is now compulsory for students to prepare themselves for examination in the Kata here described before they can take the ist Dan (first Black Belt grade) in the British Judo Association, the official Olympic body in this country. This book is designed to help them; by studying the explanations and pictures, it will be possible to master all the main points and most of the fine points as well. I introduce each throw with the formal ‘standard’ text, as laid down by the Japanese Convention on Kata held in i960. This text can be taken to be the official version …

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They put on fierce expression and attitude, though they have no intention of actually fighting Judo

When I lived at the British Embassy, there was a British bulldog who used to sit on the steps of the central building. The bulldog is a thickset animal, bred for fighting, and with a terrifying face. This one was supposed to be a symbolic guardian of the Embassy. A dog normally regards himself as a guardian of the house where he stays, and he barks at (and if necessary attacks) any strangers who come, not accompanied by a member of the family. But in this case there were people coming and going all day, and he had learned when he was a puppy that day-time visitors were not to be challenged. So in the end he tended just to sit there and occasionally walk round a little. At night he changed, and challenged any outsider. Even in the daytime, he would occasionally bark excitedly at nothing, just to prove …

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Judo should naturally lead to meditation

Trevor Leggett, 8th Dan Judo, scholar and author of several fine books on judo and Buddhism, head of the B.B.C. Japanese service until his retirement, has had an enormous influence on Western judo. He is regarded by many as the greatest non-Japanese judoka. Background The 17-year-old Leggett started judo seriously at the Budokwai about 1931 because of bad health. “The doctor said I must do some physical exercise. I tried several things but found them boring. My parents forbade me to do judo, so I practised secretly for about a year. Tani and Koizumi were the two instructors, then, at the little club near Victoria Station, and they had very different styles,” explained Leggett. “I trained every day and did a lot of running at weekends, realising for the first time how bad my health was. I soon became fascinated by the variety of technique in judo. If you do …

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The student must realize that the teacher has faith in him, the student himself

The cherry tree blossoms for three weeks. For the remaining forty-nine, nothing shows above the ground, but the roots are going deeper and deeper. The phrase in the Chinese Book of Change is: ‘The thunder is buried in the earth The vitality is in the roots.’ That long time of apparent inertia, and the short period of blossoming, form a unity. It is not that the cherry tree is depressed and sad, and a failure for a long time, but then has a wonderful success, but that success is, alas, all too passing, all too quickly taken away. No: this is a single tree, not two trees. The human being, especially the poet, sees the moment of qlory, and a long dull stretch when the life is in the roots as two things. But they are one. In the West there is a tendency to think of a tree or …

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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 …

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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 …

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Judo spontaneity, the blind spot and Bushi of the Yin, Bushi of the Yang

When the time comes, we have to jump. We should learn the right technique, but there is something else that judo can give us if we really train. We have our tokui waza – this is how I am going to win. We rely on it. But the psychological training is to go in and forget all your favourite things and just throw yourself in totally. It is very difficult to do. But if you succeed in doing it, something new will come. The body seems to move by itself. And quite often it is something that you are not very expert at. This is one of the things which the old masters stressed. That the Way comes to an end. You train and train and now you have got to forget that training and open yourself. This applies to life. We have got our pet techniques in life. I always look …

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Trevor leggett on Judo and Shuji

When I had been a few months in Japan and had learnt a few hundred of the most frequently occurring Chinese characters, and became able to read a sentence here and there which was written in those common characters, I felt quite pleased  with my progress. But then I found that for anything beyond simple sentences, one would need to know not a couple of hundred more, but a couple of thousand more. I set to work, but began to get bored with the drudgery of it. Like most foreigners at this stage, I experienced a sort of oceanic weariness. Each new character had to be written out twenty times in order to learn it, but for each  hundred new characters one learnt, it seemed that one forgot some old ones. ‘You cram them into your head in the day,’ complained one student, ‘but you find that in the night …

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Imagination and Open Judo : Weaknesses, Stances and Training

Judo is not football. When we are young, we play football, and we are told, ‘Try and win, try and win’. But the main purpose is to develop our physique. It’s not for most schoolboys to become professional footballers. In the same way, judo is to give you something for life, and for most of us it is not to become contest leaders. Dr Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, regarded judo as a training for life. He thought it was much better for this than ball games which are not natural activities. But fighting is a natural activity and if the natural activity can be spiritualised and made rational, so that instead of making enemies, you are making friends, then it will give you something for life. Imagination and Open Judo But it is much more than that. In order to safeguard the health of competitors, contest judo has …

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Judo is not football.

When we are young, we play football, and we are told, Try and win, try and win’. But the main purpose is to develop our physique. It’s not for most schoolboys to become professional footballers. In the same way, judo is to give you something for life, and for most of us it is not to become contest leaders. Dr Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, regarded judo as a training for life. He thought it was much better for this than ball games which are not natural activities. But fighting is a natural activity and if the natural activity can be spiritualised and made rational, so that instead of making enemies, you are making friends, then it will give you something for life. Imagination and Open Judo But it is much more than that. In order to safeguard the health of competitors, contest judo has become narrower and narrower. …

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Cutting off the bull’s horns in Judo

In judo, when the teacher tells us (and he says this only to people who are determined to improve), ‘You’ve mastered that technique. Now give it up for six months,’ we think, ‘What? I’m not allowed to do that? I go on the mat and I’m not allowed to do my big throw? I’ve got to try and do other things that I can’t do? I’ll get countered, I’ll look an absolute fool!’ Now many of us fail this test. We think, ‘Oh no! I’m not going to do this.’ And we go back to what we can do, and we get some success. But those who have faith in the teacher and who realise the teacher has got faith in them, follow his advice and give up their favourite technique for a while. They begin to develop a free movement, not fixed on one point. They can move freely. …

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