Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Three Levels of Judo

From Mind Over Muscle: Writings from the founder of Judo, pp94-5:
The Three Levels of Judo
We have now established judo's three aspects -- training for defense against attack, cultivation of the mind and body, and putting one's energy to use. We have also affirmed judo's highest goal as self-perfection for the betterment of society. For the sake of convenience, let us place the foundation -- training for defense against attack -- at the bottom and call it lower level judo. Let us call training and cultivation, which are by-products of training for defense against attack, middle-level judo. The study of how to put one's energy to use in society comes last, so let us call it upper level-judo.
When we divide judo into these three levels, we can see that it must not be limited to training for fighting in the dojo, and even if you train your body and cultivate your mind, if you do not go a level higher, you truly cannot benefit society. No matter how great a person you are, if you die without achieving anything, as the proverb says: "Unused treasure is a wasted treasure." It can be said that you perfected yourself, but it cannot be said that you contributed to society. I urge all practitioners of judo to recognize that it consists of these three levels and to undergo their training without undue emphasis of one aspect over another. -- Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo
Since the passing of the founder of Judo in 1938 can it be said that mainstream judo has truly honored Kano's aims? I think that it's fair to say that modern "Olympic" judo prioritizes victory in sporting contest as its main goal.

Now: With this in mind, which judo would you rather study? Modern "Olympic" judo, or Kano's classical judo?


Neal Martin said...

Fine words there from Kano, and very applicable to most martial arts besides judo. I think many martial artists fail to go any higher than the first two levels (these days, with the likes of MMA and such, most never get past the first level)and don't even realise that there is another level. Ignorance and purely selfish needs tend to blind most to this fact. Thankfully though, there are still plenty of martial artists out there who freely contribute to society in whatever way they can, through teaching others and adding value to the world, two things I try to do myself as much as possible.

I am considering taking up Judo to complement my Jujitsu training, to improve my throws and groundwork. I think it is a very effective art and very useful for self defense in terms of vertical grappling.

I already practice Kime no Kata. I had to perform it for my 2nd dan grading. It's a kata that I love to do, very enjoyable and very satisfying when you complete it. It's also like a form of meditation, due to the level of focus you have to bring to it.

I know that Kime no Kata is usually referred to as a judo kata, but is it? Is it not a jujitsu kata, since judo is derived from jujitsu? I hear differing opinions on this all the time. Perhaps you can enlighten me on this?

Dan Prager said...

Hi Neal

According to Wikipedia Kime-no-kata was formalized in 1888, while a post on Judo forum said 1908, or possibly 1920s. Regardless, it comes from the hey-day of what I call classical judo, and I guess may be thought of as a distillation of jiu-jitsu, formulated by jiu-jitsu experts who went over to Kano's judo.

However, judo has undergone something of a drift post WWII and Olympic acceptance.

Of the main Judo katas, Koshiki No Kata is definitely a Jiu-jitsu kata, and I think Itsutsu is too. But those are rarely practiced nowadays AFAIK.

The most commonly practiced katas nowadays are Nage-no-kata (throws) and Katame-no-kata (groundwork). In our system we mainly practice those, plus Gonosen-no-kata (counters) and Kime-no-kata.

Best of luck in finding a Judo dojo that suits your needs. Maybe asking whether they practice kata would be a good first question. And to see a bit, would be a good follow up!

-- Dan

Neal Martin said...

Hi Dan. Nage no Kata I shall have to do for my 3rd Dan grading, though I haven't started working on it yet.

Thanks for the advice. I'll be sure to ask those questions. Cheers.