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 …

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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 at things scientifically.’ ‘Well you have got to be a bit practical, you know.’ ‘Well, what about the feelings of other people?’ We keep on repeating our favourite lines. ‘I’m the one who is always thinking of other people. I am the conscience of other people.’ ‘I am the one …

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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 they have leaked away out of your heels.’ One seemed to be  swimming through a sea of weird shapes without any glimpse of a far shore. Many of us gave up. I was determined to go on, but looked about for something that would lighten the task, or at least …

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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 become narrower and narrower. The rules have been narrowed down and every time they are narrowed, the opportunities for the small man are limited. And that means there’s a poverty of imagination. I suggest you should go back and introduce in your rcmdori -which, after all, means free practice – open …

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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. The rules have been narrowed down and every time they are narrowed, the opportunities for the small man are limited. And that means there’s a poverty of imagination. I suggest you should go back and introduce in your randori – which, after all, means free practice – open judo, in …

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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. If the opportunity is there they can take it because their minds are not fixed on one throw or one situation. We go round looking for opportunities, trying to create opportunities, so we can bring out the big gun. But actually people somehow get an instinct for not getting in …

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