Modern Olympic Judo, it's roots and how it become what it is...

The story of Olympic Judo started around 1930th when Dr. Kano, who was the head of Japanese Olympic committee, started to promote Judo with an aim to inclusion into Summer Olympic program.

While working to unify Judo in the time of its diversification, Dr. Kano opted for the way of codifying techniques and restricting areas that wasn’t universally understood.

Key principal virtues of sport are the fairness and the popular appeal. So, when Dr. Kano went for codifying techniques and restricting areas that weren’t universally understood while emphasizing so appealing for accidental public spectacular high amplitude throws and limiting tedious ne-vaza (ground fighting) to quick follow-ups.

This effectively created three off-splits: Kodokan tournament Judo , Kodokan combat Judo , and Kosen Judo .

After Japan’s defeat in WWII practicing of combat Judo was banned. Kosen Judo remains internal Japanese discipline on pare with Sumo . And, finally, successful effort by Kodokan team and by Kyuzo Mifune personally (including publishing his book “Canon of Judo” ) achieved Kano’s dream of getting Judo into Olympic summer schedule for Tokyo 1964 Games.

At this point the Olympic Judo distance itself even more from its Kodokan roots while preserving its historical ancestry like old-day landless samurai with only treasured family history roll left of all possessions. With getting under the light of regional and global tournaments without necessary participation of tradition bearing Kodokan masters (closed non-Asian championships as an example) and with emphasis on sporting success, the main focus shifted and techniques diversified by influx of non-traditional Judo masters.

“Lost grandsons” of Kano, Russian/Soviet SAMBO masters from Vasili Oshchepkov Judo schooling, got into the play diverting attention and showing “how to do stuff” their own way (the well documented astonishment in the international Judo community on how easy SAMBO masters achieved high level in the Judo contests can be explained only by complete lack of understanding of what SAMBO is in its relation to Judo that comparable only to the almost magical interpretation of Jujutsu/Judo itself on the West 60 year earlier).

While Japanese judokas held their prominent place, they weren’t able to dominate completely the international Judo playground. The national and regional schools became more apparent. New techniques became adopted and even made their way into Judo canon. While official Kodokan techniques listed only 67 throws, “non-Judo techniques” won championships. Kodokan lost its complete control over “what is Judo” to IJF and, de-facto, to the loosely defined multicultural community of sport Judo practitioners.




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