History of Judo (Long Post)




Before I begin; lets understand the ground rules. Disagree if you wish; but you are going to have to do it with facts not emotion. You will have to back up your statements with historical facts.

The history of BJJ/GJJ is a cloudy one; made so by people who wish to "sell" it. Miscalling people like Maeda and Kimura jujutsu people is a glaring example of this. To this end; we are going to have to define once and for all what jujutsu is; and what judo is. Subsets are not really the issue.

In terms of what came from Japan, and then became BJJ/GJJ; EITHER it is jujutsu or judo. There is NO middle ground here. Jujutsu (jiujitsu or jujitsu are incorrect spellings; Check out Secrets of unlocking Aikijujutsu for full chapter and verse on this); was a traditional Bujutsu ryu-ha of old Japan. As a traditional ryu-ha; it was taught and practiced in a certain way.

Dragger spells this out plainly in his works on Bujutsu both old and modern; to wit 1. No Belt Ranks 2. No sparring, only kata and one steps 3. Training for the Battlefield only I could post more but you get the point. ALL traditional bujutsus were about killing someone in the course of defending or storming a castle, or fighting a large-scale battle.

In the case of Jujutsu it was about getting free to kill someone. The skills of grappling in armour with a tanto; getting your arms free to draw a sword, etc., THIS is the basis for the traditional ryu-ha's of Jujutsu. Now; BUDO unlike Bujutsu, was always about the person, not the group. The change from bujutsu wasn't about "watering down" techniques; but rather changing them to apply to the new world they lived in. People were not wearing swords; or storming and defending castles anymore. The focus of the training had to change with the times.

Now; for this first part; the ONLY thing we are going to ask is "Is BJJ/GJJ a traditional Bujutsu ryu-ha".

Well, lets look: 1. Belt Ranks - Yes 2. Katas & One Steps - No 3. Battlefield training - No (a one on one duel is not the battlefield.) Again, if you want to debate this, you are going to have to do two things; disprove Dragger, AND tell me the NAME of the traditional jujutsu ryu-ha BJJ/GJJ claims to come from. There is a question for any Gracie to answer, if you want to use them for your quote and history source. CLEARLY; even the Gracies admit that Maeda was the one who brought them "jiujitsu" as they call it. I will get to him in the course of this history class. But for now; the point is, BJJ/GJJ is NOT Bujutsu and then cannot possibly be jujutsu, as defined by Japan's history. Next; lets see what "jujutsu" evolved into. Class dismissed.

Jigoro Kano was from a well to do family and an educator. He saw several problems with the old style training that he knew had to change. Brutal treatment of students and the lack of a systematic training method being high on his list. Also, he saw Budo as something beyond fighting. He felt that we should grow from the experience (the playing fields of Eaton and all that). So Kano created a "new" way to teach and train in the old Bujutsu. I put new in quotes because how much of this was his idea and how much of this he "improved" from other sources is subject to much debate.

But; in 1882 he opened his first school with the following training methods in place:

1. A belt system to show the difference between beginning, intermediate, and advanced students. 2. A "lesson plan" that taught the basic skills then built on them to advanced skills. 3. Katas to preserve tradition. 4. Randori and Shiai as the new "battlefield" to test your techniques.

Now; much has been said over the years that Kano wanted to create a safe "sport" rather than a combat art. This is simply not so and ignores dozens of written works by Kano that refute it. What he wanted was a "sporting" attitude in Judo. That is not the same thing. Example, I am rolling with a player and he gets the choke, I tap, he lets go. THAT is sporting. I tap, he doesn't let go, that is NOT sporting. If he cranks on a joint lock and I have no chance to submit, THAT, is not sporting.

There is the "sport" Kano wanted to create. He knew you couldn't allow strikes in Randori/Shiai as people would get seriously injured. But there was more to it than that. Kano knew by then that so called "deadly" techniques (for an unarmed fighter) were mostly myth and impossible to master the way "sporting" techniques could be. How you you master an eye gouge? Look how well you can master the throw into the arm lock. This was Kano's point.

Also, Kano wanted to keep the "life and death" aspect of the old Samauri tradition in the matches. The problem is, killing students tends to decrease the student body. So the "death" became a symbolic one, submission! The ONLY way you could win a match in Kano's Judo was to tap out or get knocked out by a throw. Both of these areas held real Budo lessons that Kano wanted taught. "9 times thrown, 10 times rise," taught that you must keep getting up when life knocks you down. The submission aspect was the "death", by tapping I agreed you "killed" me. This was still a death to the ego (and the reason so many people have a problem with submission fighting); and Kano felt learning how to deal with, and overcome this death would build strong character; and better people.

Finally Kano changed the name of what he was doing from Jujutsu to Judo, to show this difference in training methods. NUMEROUS Jujutsu masters of the old ryu-ha came and joined him in this new concept. They began to share and exchange techniques under these new training methods, and for 4 years their skills grew. This is important because in 1886, we have the first UFC test for Kano's school. But that is the next lesson... OK; we understand now what a true Bujutsu ryu-ha is. And we are now at the point where the change is happening from Bujutsu (battlefield arts) to Budo (personal arts).

As far as major techniques go; the real difference here is lack of weapons. On the battlefield you have several; in personal life, you have none. The very term "martial art" is flawed as there has never been a war where the Judo army charged the hill held by the Tae Kwon Do army. What "war" was fought with what we think of as "martial arts". That term should be reserved for true battlefield arts with weapons. I say this to explain the problem people had with changing the systems from Bujutsu to Budo. Simply put; you can't train unarmed fighters the same way you train people with weapons. Think about it; with a sword; kata works because really if I draw my sword faster than you and get the first cut in; there isn't much else to worry about. Same could be said for gun fighting in many ways. If someone had a new idea; well, there were plenty of wars and duels to the death to see if this guy was full of crap or not. Only the living taught the classes. But unarmed skills were not that clear. How do you fight unarmed? What skills are needed? How do you train? What is effective in a fight like this and what is the best way to gain those skills? These were the questions people were trying to answer with the "new" manner of teaching the "old" ryu-ha. Training was brutal; people were seriously injured; and brawling in the streets was common to test the fighter's skills. Clearly this wasn't going to work well, or for very long.

In fact these brawls are why ALL jujutsu masters began to get a very bad reputation. This as about to change as a young man named Kano had been training in jujutsu; and after seeing what people were trying to do; he had a plan of his own... NOTE: I am going to make a promise here. If people will wait until history thread is over; and honestly and objectively think about it; even the BJJ/GJJ folks are going to say in essence "yep; this is correct and in truth we were wrong about what we thought he was saying." Lets see if they do! The events changing Jujutsu to Judo were not only at the Kodokan (Kano's home for Judo). Remember all those changed ryu-ha's with the brawling members? Other schools were attempting to make the change from Bujutsu to Budo. To say there was great rivalry between these schools was an understatement.

The tradition in Japan was that ANYONE could walk into a school and challenge the top student; if you beat him you could challenge the head master. If you beat him you could take their dojo sign down. (Notice Bruce Lee does this in one of his movies; Chinese Connection) Kano did not like this kind of thing and never sent people out to do so. However tradition was tradition and he knew people would be coming to the Kodokan. He ALWAYS made sure there was a student there who could handle anyone "dropping by". They never lost those matches and many people became students because of this. About 1886; the Tokyo Police department wanted to set up a program in "modern" (a relative term for us in 2000, but not to them in 1886) combatives for their officers. The question was, which unarmed ryu should they be taught. Several presentations were made; and they decided to hold an event to see which of the various styles were more effective. The rules were simple; one-hour time limit; you either had to tap out, quit, or your seconds throw in the towel (I have a translated release form for this event). Other than that it was anything goes.

Kano put himself above all other styles and insisted his "Judo" be tested against every other style that day. Every match would have a Kano's fighter in it. The number of these matches is unclear. (THE FOLLOWING IS OPINION) I have been told my real inside Kodokan people is the reason you get different numbers is not because Judo lost any of those matches (Fact: they did not); but that some people they fought were seriously injured or died and that really flew in the face of Kano's idea for "Budo". If you think about the level of fighter, and the techniques allowed; it isn't hard to see this is quite possible. But it doesn't matter if there were 10; 12; or 15 fights that day, History shows us that Judo defeated all comers (with one draw, but more on that next time...) and was chosen by Tokyo Police as the unarmed combat method for their Officers. Like it or not; (and some people are not going to like it); on that day Jujutsu as a living active martial art ended. Yes, there are a few styles in Japan keeping their old traditions alive. Just like some people in this country go into the woods and play "Civil War" for a few weeks every year. These are not living, changing, adapting systems; but people who enjoy playing Samurai. Nothing wrong with that; but don't try and sell it as a modern effective system. We don't wear swords anymore.

Judo became the prominate Japanese martial art, and it's first Budo.

The only question was, what would happen when others adopted its training methods... I'll answer it next time, as we talk about that draw...

Well, things sure look great for the Kodokan! Teaching all over the place; won the 1886 event; sounds great right?

Well, there was another "UFC" match that the judo folks REALLY don't like to talk about. It was in 1888. More on that in a moment.

Judo at this time was a slamming art with some strikes and pins. The art of submission was VERY limited, as most old style Jujutsu or modern judo people had little need for submission in the real world. Kano taught four kinds of throws in Kodokan Judo, sport throws (to win events) "building throws" (a throw that teaches you a movement you will use in a later advanced throw i.e. uki goshi/harai goshi); gymnastic throws (simply there because Kano felt the rolling and tumbling was good for you); combat throws (miscalled; these throws were safe ways to practice serious combat throws i.e. hiza guruma).

To see the truth in the above; notice that only about 10 throws from the go kyo no waza are used to score ippon in judo shiai's! Worse; there are VERY few people any more who know which throws were which. This is why I tell people to focus on those 10 and leave the others alone. At this time, another jujutsu ryu-ha saw the need to change their training methods and they too joined the Kodokan and began using the Judo training methods. This school after watching many randori and shiai sessions at the Kodokan made a simple observation; it was VERY hard to slam someone until they quit. Moreover, it was painful too!

They looked at the rules of the 1886 Tokyo Police Challenge and took it upon themselves to come up with a better way to win such a match (remember that one hour time limit).

Now (all BJJ/GJJ folks pay attention); I want you to read carefully how they trained (BTW: Osaekomi by Kashiwazaki pages 14 & 15 contains this information and more): 1. First to avoid losing and cause a draw. 2. To defeat the defence of a person playing for the draw and go for the win. Submission was key to these people! They found that "dojime" or "trunk squeezing" could keep a person at bay as they looked for a submission (read dojime as guard folks).

They would NOT submit; it was dishonour to them to do so (hmmmm... sound familiar?). I leave you to the source for more of this material. But I think you get the point. They attended the Kodokan Shiai event in 1888 with a team of 10 men; ten men who would fight the top ten men of the Kodokan.... Ten matches; ten submissions; no draws! O U C H! Kano at that point saw that if his ideal of "balance" were true (and it was/is) then Ne-waza would have to be of equal importance to the Kodokan as Tachi-waza.

The submissions fighters were given a High School to not only teach at but perfect new and varied submissions such as sankaku-jime and new kansetsu waza. This continues to this day and is where the term "Kosen Judo" comes from. From that point, and up until 1920 Judo grew to the ends of the world with equal importance on throws and submissions. Kano even brought an Okinawan karate master to the Kodokan seven times to teach advanced striking methods (this is how Funakoshi came to move to Japan and set up the Shotokan karate dojo). The challenges to the Kodokan pretty much ended. There were many people such as Kimura and Maeda who travelled all over the world fighting and defeating all comers with the Judo they mastered from the various specialists at the Kodokan.

When next we talk we will speak of the changes made in 1925; the death of Kano; Judo as Sport; and the Olympic games. Till then; I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am!

"A camel is a horse that was designed by a comittie"

Well, time for the problem of all groups to begin to occur... Kodokan Judo is a very big thing.

When you look at it, it can be sport; self-defense; police training; traditional martial art; exercise; Budo; etc. Or any and all of the above. People coming to the Kodokan were there for different reasons. Each person tended to work on what best suited those reasons. More often than not; they forgot the basic lesson of Judo, ballance.

This caused MAJOR internal strife and battles (throws vs submissions; combat vs sport; etc) Kano began banning various techniques due to injury (BTW: I now have historical evidence that people were killed in the Tokyo Police challenge matches). Some people liked these changes; others did not. People left over this. Kano also had to remove members for brawling. This pained him; but his school was the training school for the police; he had no choice. Kimura is an example of this. (People say Medea or Count Koma as well, but I can find no evidence of this). Still, People from all over the world came to him to seek out his teaching methods.

W.E Fairbairn trained and got a 2nd degree black belt from him! Also one of the "big three" of Sambo did the same. These men, and many others; didn't leave so much with techniques; but with training concepts that they would carry on to their own programs.

However; the greatest change was outside of the Kodokan; upon Japan itself. Let's just say that Japan had plans and wanted all aspects of its Country to be in step with them. (See "Blood on the Sun" with James Cagney, who BTW, was another Kodokan Black Belt!) The decision was made to turn the Kodokan into a military academy.

The only problem was; Kano objected to this. He felt that there was no place for "war" inside of the Kodokan. It was a direct violation of Judo. Obviously this did not please the government of Japan. Then, oddly, on his way back from Egypt from a meeting with the IOC about making Judo an Olympic sport; Dr. Kano died from "food posioning". A few weeks later; the Kodokan was indeed, a military academy. If you think the connection is too vague (or not possible); may I suggest you read the book "Unit 731" or "The Rape of Nanking". I suggest the former (731); but I WARN you; it is not for the weak of heart or stomich. Next lesson; WWII; Combat realities; Japan loses the war; and the fate of the Kodokan.

The War is on; and people everywhere are learning Judo (books are sold through the mail such as "Lighting Judo" "Combat Judo" Super Judo made easy" etc.). All showing how anyone could become an unbeatable fighter in 10 easy lessons. But a simple truth was forming at Army Camps, OSS training centers, and the battlefield itself. This was that a good big man will beat a good little man. These battles taught the world that there was nothing mysterious about Judo; it was simply the science of wrestling with some methods that people were unfamiliar with.

Once they understood those methods; the Judo people had a much harder time defeating people. In fact; wrestlers were begining to defeat many Judo "champions" (hard to say; Kimura went undefeated, however there were others who lost) as they began to understand how they were going to fight. However, it needs to be pointed out that almost EVERYONE in the fight game; was taking something from the Kodokan to add to their methods. This is an amazing thing when you understand how far and wide that was.

Now the war is over; and Japan is a conquered country. General MacArthur is now running things; and he makes a decree that will change Judo for the rest of its history. ALL military arts were banned in Post-War Japan. The Kodokan was closed because it was a military academy! (Kano warned them!) After many meetings; it was agreed that the Kodokan could re-open ONLY if it taught sport judo, and only sport judo, with the goal of it becoming an olympic sport. There my friends is the smoking gun; and it is in the hands of MacArthur! It was NOT Kano who wanted Judo to become a mear sport; but General MacArthur! For almost twenty years; Sport Judo would be the only focus of the Kodokan, under the direction of the Americian Forces there. It would be "Judo" experts in other parts of the world that would have to move the ball for the next several years. Next lesson; I will discuss the most notable of these; Madea, the Gracie's; and Brazilian Judo... or as they call it Brazilian Jiujitsu!

Lets get this done now; BJJ/GJJ is not a version of jujutsu. It simply can not be. It connects to NO battlefield bujutsu ryu-ha; there is no "linage" of its creation other than to Judo masters. More over; I challenge you to take a look at the Gracie In Action vol 1; and watch the first match. Look at Helio; look at the grips; the techniques. CLEARLY this is Judo! Not the Olympic Judo of today; but the orginal fight until a person quits or submitts Judo!

Madea was a Kodokan Judo master who made his living as a prize fighter. But there were NO Jujutsu championships of ANY kind after 1886. Kimura was another Kodokan Judo master who made his living as a prize fighter; again, this was NOT a world Jujutsu champion as there was NO world jujutsu championship to win. BOTH these men were highly trained and knew and understood Judo in all its aspects. (Opinion follows);

I clearly see by what the Gracies are doing today that Madea had some connection to the Kosen Judo program. I say this from the most objective source there is; watching Royce Gracie! Lets take a look at a quote from Kashiawki's book "Osaekomi": "At this time newaza was extreemly popular and well researched, particularly by the Kosen Judo students. This was because Kosen Judo was an inter-school (Note by me: this means public schools not dojo's) team contest only, so there was the posibility to draw. This was a time of only one score IPPON or a draw. Most of the students participating were beginners, so in a very short time they had to develop players who could compete. For this reason newaza training was very useful. It was easer to get draws in newaza so they researched turtle positions, double leg locks (NBM: read that guard positions), and so on extensively.

At first they prasticed in order to achieve a draw., then to overcome the defensive positions and achieve a win. They became very proficient at these simple, direct, but effective tasks..." Then: "The Kosen Judo students were the elite of the time; they fought for the school, the judo club, and their team.

Even if they were strangled, or if their arms were broken they didn't quit - they refused to give in or say maitta (I quit)! This was the background of the Kosen students - fighting for their country and their school." Sound like any group of people you know?

Look at Royce's last two NHB fights. BOTH of them he used the basic Kosen skill of defense to prevent his opponent from doing ANYTHING to put him in danger of losing. While others find this "cheating" (or whatever else they are saying); when placed in the context of the Kosen Judo roots of their style; it is not only acceptable; but a true skill! How many times have you heard BJJ/GJJ people say about those matches "Well, why didn;t they pass Royces guard?". Again, this is a Kosen remark from the second part of their training, learning how to defeat the defensive fighter. It is perfectly normal for them to feel this way.

In fact, truth be told; todays BJJ/GJJ players have a more direct route to Kano than the current crop of "Sport Judo" fighters! Current Judo people have ONLY seen what the IJF rules say Judo is, and that AFTER the MacArthur ban (something Brazil didn't have to deal with). Now; like ANY country that has taken Judo home with it; the BJJ/GJJ people have focused on a certin aspect and improved upon those aspects. Clearly the top BJJ/GJJ fighters are at the top of the world with their Newaza skills.

I for one would LOVE to see a Kosen School vs BJJ/GJJ school event! So, and this is the central issue; why call it "Jiujitsu" when clearly this is just their way to do Judo? Well, we could say the same to Wally Jay; John Saylor; and numerous others who are really doing a version of Judo by training method and technique. Why not call it Judo? You'll have to wait until next time to find out!

am going to make a jump here. Moving to the late 60's early 70's era. Prior to this there were many Judo schools with full and ballanced programs. I want to talk about the two things that have brought us to where we are today.

First; it became commom prastice to give high judo ranks to people soly on the basis of tourniment wins. The problem with this is very simple; A young man, who has a strong game, good ballance and one hot throw is going to "retire" from fighting around 4th or 5th dan this way. Years latter he will be an 8th dan; running judo in America, YET, he has no real in depth knowledge of Judo. Worse, he may not even be able to teach you how to do what he did; players are not always great coaches and vice versa. Sooner or later; you are going to have people with only a brown belt knowledge of Judo; running the show.

Second; here in the US; the SOLE goal of almost 90% of ALL judo clubs; is to train people to win olympic gold medals. ANYTHING else is of minor importance. I submit to you that if that is your only goal; you are NOT going to have a successful commercial club (only because you are not going to be giving the paying customer what they are looking for). Most people walking into your door are not trying to win an olympic medal! This "paradyme" shift really turned Judo upside down in many ways. It created political problems, bitter arguements; some terrible backstage actions; and on and on. Now; ask yourself a central question. Was Wally Jay a Judo-ka? He says so, and I've seen him work many times and of course he is. How about Gene LeBell? John Saylor? OK; here is the question; why do these people have NOTHING to do with Judo in this counrty any more? You would think; when you see how much Gene did; he'd be on a board of directors somewhere!!!! But then again; it is hard to do that and fool people that you have a true in depth knowledge of Judo. These men simply walked away when they saw where Judo was going; and that they were powerless to stop it. To avoid confusion; the word "jujitsu" began popping up again. Clearly these were not battlefield ryu-ha; just men doing judo the way they thought it should be done; but with out the politicts; power struggles; and single minded focus of the current US Judo world.

I could fill these pages just with the back door bs that was pulled on my school by the "powers that be". But let me make it real clear..

Michigan Judo has a web site; WHY is there nothing there about the Konan Shiai at MSU next Sunday? My Uncle has had the same school and location for 20 years; why no fliers? There are several BJJ/GJJ schools that have gone to these events; they haven't been told either. One would think that people would want a large turn out for an event like this; why only contact a selected few? This is the major reason I am working through the AAU about holding Kosen Judo events. But more of that in another post.

But lets just say a prayer of thanks to Wally Jay, Gene Lebell, John Saylor, and yes; every Gracie from Helio on down, across, and every other way their family tree goes... THEY are the ones keeping the real Judo alive!

(This is how it was when I was there; I do not know about current Police work in Japan) The history of Judo being taught to Police goes all the way back to the 1886 Tokyo Police challenge matches. This tradition went all over the world.

In Japan; police take their training VERY seriously. You MUST train either before or after your shift; and there is at least a 6th dan there at all times to supervise those classes. Earning rank; and winning matches at the Police events is a MUST for promotions. The Detroit Judo club; in its heyday; was the training center for the Detroit Police Department. In fact; in those days the DPD had their own team and PAL program for city youth. However; it must be noted that the changes from Kodokan Judo to Olympic Judo did not sit well with the Police! In the mid-sixties; there was a definate "break" from Kodokan tradition at the Police Academy. This came from too many officers being stabed when "grabbing" a suspect in the now standard Judo manner (lapel and sleeve). Japan is a knife culture and this is a grave error. This is NOT to say that the Tokyo Police do not train in Olympic Judo; in fact; theirs is one of the top places Olympic Players train! But they saw the need to "keep it real" as it were.

They created a set of techniques called "Renkoho" or "arresting techniques"; and created randori sessions to drill these. They took the Kosen idea that throwing a person face down was a better combat idea than throwing him face up; same for pinning him. When you add the concept of a hidden weapon to the match; you see the reason for this. In Randori sessions; it was NOT uncommon for a person to have a hidden weapon; and bring it into play at a moment of error or distaction. This would keep you on your toes. Taking Kano's idea of a "striking" randori forward; they created the first idea of a "padded" attacker. The defender was NEVER padded; and in MANY cases was injured in this training! The "armor" was modified Kendo Armor and is now of course used by many karate programs around the world.

The Atemi-waza was brought back (sometimes now called Nihon-Kempo); and with the armor could be used full power. The kendo shinai was modified to be the size of their telescoping baton; and this was drilled at well. Finally this was codified into a system called "Taiho-jutsu" or sometimes "Keijutsukai". NOW; listen! This does NOT mean that their core Judo skills were ignored; far from it. But what they felt was that a good Judo man would be better able to apply the Taiho-jutsu skills BECAUSE of his Judo training.

I was VERY fortunate to have trained with Frank Aul; who was a DPD officer for many years, and a very strong Judoka as well. He taught me the Police Randori methods (and for those of you in this area; drilled them with Mark Scott for two solid years). More so when I had a chance to go to Japan in 1975 and train at the Tokyo Police school as a guest (thank all of you for not killing me). Clearly; this is a VITAL approach to Judo; and yes; if I ever get the idea that someone wants a real video course in Judo; this will be on it. But to close; I remember being on Okinawa in a bar with at least 50 drunken service men; ONE japanese police officer walked into the bar. EVERYONE got quiet, and respectful, the second that he did.

Nuff said... Revisionist History Let us begin with a simple quote that will set the stage for our discussion today: "Prior to the end of WWII, Judo in Japan rose to an all time high of technical perfection. Although exponents looked forward to competition, the real purpose of all training was seishin tanren, or spiritual forging.

The prohibition against carrying on martial arts and ways declared by SCAP in 1945 included Judo and resulted in its technical stagnation. When Judo was finally reinstated in 1947; Kano Risei; adopted son of Kano Jigoro and third president of the Kodokan, made resolute efforts to rebuild the technical integrity of Japan's Judo under the aegis of the Kodokan. He organized the Zen Nippon Judo Remmi (All Japan Judo Federation) in 1949 and assumed leadership over the administrative and technical aspects of Judo.

Although aware of the cultural values of Kodokan Judo, Kano Risei's policies nevertheless placed emphasis on Judo as a competitive sport. This emphasis began with the organization of the first truly national Japanese Judo championships in 1948. Judo in Japan today is primarily a sport, much to the dissatisfaction of many traditionalists who view Judo as a Japanese cultural activity.

Nevertheless, the way all judo training is conducted today continues to be one in which experts for World and Olympic competitions are formed." (Donn F. Draeger; Modern Budo and Bujutsu Vol 3; Page 123) Now lets add a few other facts to the above. The very first World Judo Championships were held in Tokyo, Japan on May 3, 1956. There were no weight classes and Anton Geesink took third place. Five years later; at the third World Championship; he would be the first non-Japanese to win the Gold medal.

The very first European Championships were held in Paris in 1951. With the interesting division of not weight; but rank! Brown belt; then 1st; 2nd; 3rd dans (each with their own division), and finally an open division. The Kano Cup came along in 1978; the Fukuoka Cup in 1983; and the Tournoi De Paris in 1971. With all of the information above firmly in our minds; let us now revisit the notion that Kano created Judo to be a sport. If this were so; why wait sixty-six years to have a true national championship? Or Seventy-five years to have a world championship?

More interesting; why were there no such things until AFTER Jigoro Kano's death? Clearly when we read Draeger the answer is plain; Judo was NOT a sport until the reopening of the Kodokan in 1947. What is also clear is that Risei Kano's sole goal was to promote Judo as a modern sport. To prove this all we have to do is read quotes about Judo prior to 1947; then again after 1947.

Let's look at a quote from the Sport of Judo by Kobayashi and Sharp to see that point: "Although Judo is based on the martial arts of Japan (Bujutsu), judo men (judoka) practice it only as a sport to be played against other Judo men. It's application for self-defense is rarely taught in Judo schools. Formerly a part of the curriculum of all Japanese police academies, general hand to hand tactics has been discontinued, except for, special problems in handling mob violence." Interesting; but how do you square that with Jigoro Kano's own words printed in the Budokwai Bulletin, April 1947: "I have been asked by people of various sections as to the wisdom and possibility of judo being introduced with other games and sports at the Olympic Games.

My view on the matter, at present, is rather passive. If it be the desire of other member countries, I have no objection. But I do not feel inclined to take any initiative. For one thing, Judo in reality is not a mere sport or game. I regard it as a principle of life, art and science. In fact, it is a means for personal cultural attainment. Only one of the forms of Judo training, so-called Randori or free practice can be classified as a form of sport. Certainly, to some extent, the same may be said of boxing and fencing, but today they are practiced and conducted as sports." Note the date; and remember Draeger said not everyone liked the change to pure sport. Do you think this interview was printed to make a point about the new direction for Judo? But lets take this to the finish line!

In front of me I have a book called "Modern Judo" by Charles Yerkow. Its copyright is 1942. Let's read from its preface: "The fault of most books purposing to teach judo is either too much text poorly illustrated or too many pictures poorly explained. One book deals painstakingly with every major trick of self-defense and simple attack, yet entirely neglects such important phases as throwing and mat fighting, and give no hint even of basic principles and techniques. Another contains a great variety of tricks and breaks used in mat-fighting, most of them too complicated for the average student of judo.

One of the best books...also contains a number of major throws and locks...However this book fails to show how these tricks can be used for simple attack or self-defense."

Hmmmm...Lets look at what is in this book shall we?

Introduction; Breaking the Falls (Ukemi); Judo Principles and the art of throwing (Kuzushi and De ashi Barai; a drop tai otoshi; Yoko Otoshi blocking the ankle, O soto gari; Ko Soto gari; Hiza Guruma; Tsurikomi Goshi; Harai goshi; Hane Goshi; O Guruma; Tomoe Nage; Ippon Seoi Nage; Morote Seoi Nage; Soto Makikomi; Kami Basami (interesting version from the "gracie get up" position) and Kata Guruma);

Fundamentals of mat fighting (Kesa, Kami shiho, and Mune Gatame; cross choke from the guard and the mount; sliding choke from the mount; interesting single lapel choke from the rear guard; hadaka jime bar and CVR from the rear; leg scissors choke (not a triangle but a neck scissors);

Top wrist lock from the mount; spinning cross body arm lock from the mount (yep the one on all the BJJ tapes!) Bent arm lock out of kesa gatame; straight ankle lock; defense for same; defense for the defense by turning from over into a rear bent leg lock; passing the guard; cross body arm lock from the guard; leg lock from a throw; reverse into mat work from being thrown), Individually Developed Technique (interesting chapter on creating "your" judo attacks),

Simple attacks and Nerve Centers (spin turn into rear choke; push down into front guillotine; side headlock choke; wrist lock come-along; hammerlock come-along; straight arm lock come-along; handshake wrist lock; outside wrist lock; outside wrist spinner; inside arm spinner into hammerlock; lapel and groin pull takedown; arm between legs come along; block arms into O goshi;

Atemi-waza with numerous strikes and nerve grips)

The science of self-defense (numerous Judo defenses from attacks of all types including weapons), Body development exercises (looks like yoga, interesting). BTW this is only Vol 1 of a three-volume set. I only have the one but am working on getting the other two. Now; if anyone wants to say that Judo after 1947 is the same as what you just read above, I have a question; where are the modern Judo texts teaching it?

Reread the contents of "modern judo' then read Kobauashi's quote again. Clearly something is amiss. Of course there is, and its called revisionist history. This should not be a new concept to most of you; you can see it every day in dozens of examples.

In this case Risei Kano had to create a new direction for Judo to get the Kodokan reopened. He did this and everyone got in line behind it..well, most people did. Fortunately for us we have people like the Gracies who didn't make those changes and by studying their methods we can see what Judo was like before it was changed.

Not to leave anyone out the same can be said for Gene LeBell, Wally Jay, and many others you have never heard of like Ernie Cates. In closing, it is not my intent to anger, but to educate. I am not here to flame but to instruct. I was able to absorb these facts by keeping an open mind. I would hope all of you could do the same.

Well, after the dust has now settled; we can see that after 1947 the Kodokan had changed into a sporting academy to spread the new "Sport of Judo" to the world. It would take a while but in time this would indeed be the way judo was practiced in every corner of the globe. In my humble opinion; when this happened, it ushered in the Karate fad, and ended the Judo one. This of course was very bad, as it would take almost 30 years to pass before the Gracies would arrive and show everyone that Kano was right in the first place. For us to learn where we need to go; we need to understand where we are.

So let me ask some very hard questions; and lets be honest in the answers!

1. Of the number of people who walk into a commercial dojo; how many of them want to train in an Olympic sport to earn a medal? (This is the focus of USA Judo and has been for over 30 years).

2. Of the number of people who walk into a commercial dojo; how many of them want to learn effective, practical self-defense? (Which has not been the focus of the Kodokan from 1947 to present?)

3. Of the number of people who walk into a commercial dojo; how many of them will actually be able to apply Judo to someone bigger, stronger, or armed? (I remember yawara sticks and canes being taught in Judo classes; I have old books from 1942 where these techniques are taught in detail).

4. In approx. 1985; when a national health mag listed Judo Randori as the second most effective aerobic exercise in the world, second only to swimming; what did the judo people in America do with that information? (can you say tae-bo boys and girls?).

Before it is asked; look up Seikyoku-Zen'yo Kokumin-Taiiku sometime and you will see Kano had Tae-Bo before Billy Blanks ever did! I can go on but you get the point. I won't even bother to speak to silly political fights and the like.

Now, I want you to ask the questions again but use the words BJJ/GJJ and you will clearly see that Rorion Gracie understood one very simple fact; people walking in the door were there for YOU to serve them; not for THEM to serve you or your traditions. He made a few bucks by understanding that too. Too bad most people can't see that, especially those locked into "Judo is a sport" thinking."



Purple Belt
Sep 11, 2002
Reaction score
West Midlands, UK
That was a great read, thanks for that.

Having read a little into Judo history myself, I was always very disappointed with the seemingly "watered down" content of the modern syllabus compared with what was originally taught at the Kodokan. I moved on and everntually found the school of jujutsu that I currently train at. Now this school is not koryu and has never made any claims of being so, but it has roots in three places: shorinji kempo, daito-ryu and kodokan jujutsu. The art was originally formed in japan shortly after the founding of the kodokan but before the art was renamed judo.

This isn't the interesting part. The interesting part is that I've often described the art I do now as "what judo was probably like to begin with" and "more like what Kano created".

This probably sounds stupid or arrogant (or both) but I thought it was an interesting point to add.


I guess I'm lucky. M. Tripp is my instructor who has LOADS of knowledge regarding Judo. Our Judo club actually trains the techniques like the traditional Kodokan. I really never knew the difference until I hurt myself, and was off for a few years. I wandered around looking at other clubs, and was blown away by the lack of 'true art' being shown. Everything was about competition -- and I mean everything. It was a baffling for me not to see guys practicing newaza (or if they were, it all turtle stuff). Our club practices everything, from those foot/ankle locks all the way to hip locks and the strikes that are in Kodokan Judo.

After I healed up, I went back with a new found admiration for my club, and my instructor. I eventually received my Shodan, and now am an Assistant Instructor and Director of Community Relations for that particular club.

Hope everyone enjoys the read!

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

Senior Master
Mar 9, 2004
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Dana Point, CA
Awesome history & research piece, but not really breaking news. Many in the GJJ/BJJ camps have known for a very long time that GJJ is really only just "old judo"...from before it came to America. Lots of conversations around Torrance when it opened about the similarities and differences between it and pre-WW2 judo.

One difference: Training buddy of mine went to train with a wrestling legend as complement to GJJ (think it was Dan Gable, but not sure). When the coach found out the Gracies were in town, he asked how "Little Rorion" was doiung. It seems that, after the guy had won his olympics way back when, the Gracies brought him to Brazil to help them with entries and transitions. Lots of freestyle position stuff in there if you look.


Blue Belt
Oct 26, 2001
Reaction score
Central Florida
I know virtually nothing of BJJ/GJJ so will not comment. When I trained at the Kodokan back in the early 1960s the major impetus was on the competitive side of Judo. However, since the mid-1950s the U.S. Air Force had contracted with the Kodokan to teach classes in combative measures to qualified Air Force people. I attended a five-week course that included several types of jujitsu, akido and karate, plus atemi waza and some other stuff I just dont remember. There were some older Judo masters around who practiced and taught several katas that were slanted towards self-defense and such. This was in the early 1960s so Judoka were a fairly rough bunch. We had formed friendships with many of the Judoka of our age groups so would be invited to other dojos around Japan. These were much rougher and IMHO taught a more technical Judo than they did at the Kodokan.

Earlier in my Judo life there was only one dojo in my areas so no tournaments and such, so we learned the old Ju-do or a mixture of Judo and jodo or jujitsu. My interest was cursory in the beginning but after moving to another location I sought out a place to continue Judo practice. After joining the Jr. High school wrestling club I quickly found a Judo teacher and took up with another style: of Judo. Then we moved again and I finished high school with yet another instructor, but this guy had been in the Air Force and attended the first combative measures courses at the Kodokan and was a 4th dan. While I cannot for the life of me remember his name he was very active in Judo tournaments in Japan during the 1950s. After that I joined the Air Force and was off on my own Judo experiences.

Over the years I saw a great change in the attitude of Judo leaders, organizations and such, and grew less interested in Judo. Maybe I just didnt like all the changes and POLITICS, but it really falls down to Judo was not what I had learned and I had little influence on the organizations to stop the changes. IMO, we would have been better of if we had not changed so much and forgotten the old ways that many of us had known. While it is only an assumption on my part but during my life I have known at least a thousand Judo players and today I can only count the active ones on one hand that includes me too. From those I met during the 1950s though the 1970s they all seems to have quit. While many have aged or were hurt and had to stop, many just got tired of the BS and walked away. Judo politics just wasnt our game.