Monday, October 28, 2013

THE WISDOM OF ... Jigoro Kano

Judo, one of the most popular martial arts in the world, was created by Jigoro Kano (October 28, 1860 -
May 4, 1938). I posted a tribute in honor of what would've been his 153rd birthday today.

It's only fitting on this day that I type up some of the Wisdom, the Principles, and Precepts of Kano's teachings.

May you be able to implement some of Kano's teachings in your Sojourn of Septillion Steps!

Kano's five pieces of advice to his graduating students:

  1. Do not drink too much.
  2. Do not let your students see you going to the toilet. (This strange admonition, I presume, can be interpreted as "Always maintain your dignity in school, and do not let your private matters intrude on your public behavior.")
  3. Never let anything shake your confidence.
  4. Do not forget to apply the spirit of education in the broadest possible sense.
  5. Even though you are graduating from teachers' college, it does not mean you have to become a teacher. You should be able to use the talents you have acquired in this college in any endeavor.

Kano established these precepts for training:

  1. Trainees in judo are here to forge their body and mind while working for the greater good of society.
  2. Always bow toward the master's seat when entering or leaving the dojo.
  3. Respect must be shown to the master, instructors, your seniors, and to all the other trainees. Seniors mus look after their juniors, and juniors should listen to the advice of the seniors.
  4. Training is never to be skipped except in the event of serious illness or injury. Inform the instructor beforehand if you must be absent for any reason.
  5. Casual or sloppy attire is not permitted.
  6. Proper posture must be maintained at all times. Informal sitting, standing, or lying in the dojo is not allowed.
  7. Never enter the dojo or engage in training when intoxicated.
  8. Being uncloted, changing, or smoking outside the changing room is not allowed. Clothes and personal belongings must be kept in the changing room.
  9. Participate as much as possible in all dojo events - New Year's ceremony, monthly contests, and the twice yearly Kohaku tournaments.
  10. Through judo training, cultivate sincerity, morality, proper deportment, good physical and mental health, and a positive attitude.

(Compiled from the journal Shugyosha kokoroe, March 1894 and may 1912)

Kano taught these principles to his students:

  • Do not let victory enthrall you.
  • Do not let defeat defeat you.
  • When it is safe, do not be careless.
  • When it is dangerous, do not be afraid.
  • Above all, move forward on your path to the end.
  • In order to defeat the enemy without, you must defeat the enemy within.

Further, he established the Five Principles of Judo:

  1. Carefully observe oneself and one's situation, carefully observe others, and carefully observe one's environment.
  2. Seize the initiative in whatever you undertake.
  3. Consider fully, act decisively.
  4. Know when to stop.
  5. Keep to the middle.

The two pillars of Kano's philosophy:

seiryoku zenyo 精力善用
"focused effort, maximum efficiency"

jita kyoei 自他共栄
"mutual well-being and benefit"

Right:  seiryoku zenyo
Left:  jita kyoei

Seiryoku zenyo, jita kyoei was Kano's mantra, a kind of judo elixir meant to cure all ailments, individual and and social. The principle of concentrated effort, maximum efficiency can be applied to any endeavor.


In Judo, the first goal is to develop self-control and self-cultivation, best realized through
seiryoku zenyo.


Jita kyoei, on the other hand, has practical application on a broader scale. Doing things in a manner that benefits oneself and others naturally makes everyone prosper.


The Way of Judo:  A Portrait of Jigoro Kano & His Students
by John Stevens
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Copyright 2013
ISBN 978-1-59930-916-2
Pages 72, 191-194

For more Wisdom from various sources, please check out:

Other Jigoro Kano/Judo-related posts:



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Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps