Goals of Judo Teaching

The ultimate goal of Judo teaching, as in any other Martial Art and art in general, is to raise an expert in the Art who will surpass his teacher and will be able to contribute to its development, will expand its knowledge and will care it to next generation of teachers…

Yes, it’s a tall order. Please, hold the stoning of me. You’ll have this opportunity later.

As cornerstones of Judo, as defined by Dr. Kano, lay in physical, intellectual, and moral spheres, teaching of Judo can be seen as a very broad multi-faced activity. It further complicated by the fact that Judo has been build on the foundation of traditional Japanese moral values and Word view of early 20th century.

As Judo become non-Japanese-only World artifact, Judo teaching can no longer be just copied from an early (or even modern) Kodokan template as when physical attributes of Judo can be transplanted into non-Japanese soil, its intellectual and moral elements required significant (and at times radical) re-working in order to be accepted by host societies. To get a sense of this complexity think of how samurai ethic code viewed by Chinese and Koreans amid collective social memory of atrocities committed by Japanese (samurai) military against those people in the course of the first half of the 20th century and amid deeply rooted historic ethnic animosity (sometimes even now it bursts out in bi-lateral political relations).

Teaching Judo as-is in its traditional way in the Western World empties its moral code of any real value making it just an external decorative attribute like hanging Japanese (Judo, Karate) or Korean (Takwando) flag in American clubs where no any allegiance exists to it (witch for me seems more like degradation of the flag then honoring). Also, with Judo diversification and branching into streams unsubordinated to Kodokan, the physical attributes are preserved when the rest is at large discarded as unwanted junk (defining one’s own set of moral values and supporting foundation legend is the common underlying reason behind creation of new Judo styles – see history of SAMBO as a good example).

Saying this I don’t want to imply that Dr. Kano’s work to implant moral values into martial art training (and he was the first to do it) lost in vain, but that every Judo Teacher that worth his soul should use it more as a guidance and a draft blueprint when he’s developing his own approach that is relevant to his time-and-place, then as literal instructional curriculum. I’m absolutely sure that Dr. Kano would do exactly this if he would on our place.

In nowadays 24/7 rush hour life teaching of moral values in dojos is visibly absent, nor it’s explicitly given even for advanced students – [potential] future Teachers. However, not been seen taught doesn’t mean not been taught. Lead-by-example is the most common and the most effective way to teach it. Every Teacher should remember that he is watched by his students all the time on tatami and outside of it.

Judo teaching of technical elements of the Art is less controversial. One point that I would like to stress is the Judo canon contains approved Judo technique and restricted Judo technique, but not all technique that applicable in Judo, used in randori, and the most certainly not all techniques that used in competitive sport Judo bouts (even Olympic Judo, not to mention Brazilian jiu-jitsu and SAMBO).

Leaving aside Brazilian jiu-jitsu and SAMBO that severed any links to Kodokan and not adhere to Judo canon in principal, the question can be asked “Should Judo instructor teach technique that not part of the Judo Canon?”

Well, the answer can be subject of personal opinion and political loyalty (to Kodokan, to IJF, etc.), however mine is resounding “yes”.

I see three reasons for this:

Judo canon and common sporting and self-defense techniques should provide backbone for teaching Judo, but not the limitation.

However, saying this isn’t very helpful ether as it can be seen as undo for Dr. Kano conversion of a set of unstructured jujutsu techniques into logical Judo system. So, the limitation is exists, but if it’s not in the canon, then where?

Judo technical arsenal is defined by Judo principals (and competition rules that enforce those principals on the ground by channeling sport training). Canon itself is providing the general definition of Judo as grappling style that uses Gi (in opposite to Sumo that isn’t using Gi or Karate that is a striking style).

It also worth to note that Judo canon itself is not frozen once-for-ever defined set. It has been changed in the past and can fully expect to be changed in the future.

Judo teaching as martial art and as a sport discipline should be broader then its narrow technical definition as students should be exposed to non-traditional Judo techniques as well as to non-Judo techniques and to understand why those techniques aren’t Judo techniques, if they can be used in Judo and if not, then why. Good example of such case can be discussion about striking in Judo.



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