EARLY LIFE OF THE FOUNDER
The early history of judo is inseparable from its founder, Japanese polymath and educator Jigoro Kano, born Shinnosuke Kano. Kano was born into a relatively affluent family. His father, Jirosaku, was the second son of the head priest of the Shinto Hiyoshi shrinein Shiga Prefecture. He married Sadako Kano, daughter of the owner of Kiku-Masamune sake brewing company and was adopted by the family, changing his name to Kano, and ultimately became an official in the Shogunal government.
Jigoro Kano had an academic upbringing and, from the age of seven, he studied English, Japanese calligraphy and the Four Confucian Texts under a number of tutors. When he was fourteen, Kano began boarding at an English-medium school, Ikuei-Gijuku in Shiba, Tokyo. The culture of bullying endemic at this school was the catalyst that caused Kano to seek out a Jujutsu dojo at which to train.
Early attempts to find a jujutsu teacher who was willing to take him on met with little success. With the fall of the Tokugawa shogunatein the Meiji Restoration of 1868, jujutsu had become unfashionable in an increasingly westernised Japan. Many of those who had once taught the art had been forced out of teaching or become so disillusioned with it that they had simply given up. Nakai Umenari, an acquaintance of Kanō's father and a former soldier, agreed to show him kata, but not to teach him. The caretaker of Jirosaku's second house, Katagiri Ryuji, also knew jujutsu, but would not teach it as he believed it was no longer of practical use. Another frequent visitor, Imai Genshiro of Kyūshin-ryū school of jujutsu, also refused. Several years passed before he finally found a willing teacher.
In 1877, as a student at the Tokyo-Kaisei school (soon to become part of the newly founded Tokyo Imperial University), Kano learned that many jujutsu teachers had been forced to pursue alternative careers, frequently opening Seikotsu-in. After inquiring at a number of these, Kano was referred to Fukuda Hachinosuke (c.1828–1880), a teacher of the Tenjin Shin'yō-ryū of jujutsu, who had a small nine mat dojo where he taught five students. Fukuda is said to have emphasized technique over formal exercise, sowing the seeds of Kano's emphasis on randori in judo.
On Fukuda's death in 1880, Kano, who had become his keenest and most able student in both randori and kata, was given the densho of the Fukuda dojo. Kano chose to continue his studies at another Tenjin Shin'yō-ryū school, that of Iso Masatomo (c.1820–1881). Iso placed more emphasis on the practice of "kata", and entrusted randoriinstruction to assistants, increasingly to Kano. Iso died in June 1881 and Kano went on to study at the dojo of Iikubo Tsunetoshi (1835–1889) of Kitō-ryū. Like Fukuda, Iikubo placed much emphasis on randori, with Kitō-ryū having a greater focus on nage-waza.
Founding of the Kodokan
Eisho-ji temple, Tokyo
In February 1882, Kano founded a school and dojo at the Eisho-ji, a Buddhist temple in what was then the Shitaya ward of Tokyo (now the Higashi Ueno district of Taitō ward). Iikubo, Kano's Kitō-ryū instructor, attended the dojo three days a week to help teach and, although two years would pass before the temple would be called by the name Kodokan, and Kano had not yet received his Menkyo in Kitō-ryū, this is now regarded as the Kodokan founding.
The Eisho-ji dojo was a relatively small affair, consisting of a twelve mat training area. Kano took in resident and non-resident students, the first two being Tsunejiro Tomita and Shiro Saigo. In August, the following year, the pair were granted shodan grades, the first that had been awarded in any martial art.
Judo versus jujutsu
"Judo", written in kanji
Central to Kano's vision for judo were the principles of seiryoku zen'yō and jita kyōei. He illustrated the application of seiryoku zen'yō with the concept of jū yoku gō o seisu:
In short, resisting a more powerful opponent will result in your defeat, whilst adjusting to and evading your opponent's attack will cause him to lose his balance, his power will be reduced, and you will defeat him. This can apply whatever the relative values of power, thus making it possible for weaker opponents to beat significantly stronger ones. This is the theory of ju yoku go o seisu.
Kano realised that seiryoku zen'yō, initially conceived as a jujutsu concept, had a wider philosophical application. Coupled with the Confucianist-influenced jita kyōei, the wider application shaped the development of judo from a martial art to a martial way. Kano rejected techniques that did not conform to these principles and emphasised the importance of efficiency in the execution of techniques. He was convinced that practice of jujutsu while conforming to these ideals was a route to self-improvement and the betterment of society in general. He was, however, acutely conscious of the Japanese public's negative perception of jujutsu:
At the time a few bujitsu (martial arts) experts still existed but bujitsu was almost abandoned by the nation at large. Even if I wanted to teach jujitsu most people had now stopped thinking about it. So I thought it better to teach under a different name principally because my objectives were much wider than jujitsu.
Kano believed that "jūjutsu" was insufficient to describe his art: although Jutsu means "art" or "means", it implies a method consisting of a collection of physical techniques. Accordingly, he changed the second character to dō, meaning way, road or path, which implies a more philosophical context than jutsu and has a common origin with the Chinese concept of tao. Thus Kano renamed it judo.
Text credit from Wikipedia