Saigo Shiro (西郷四郎 1866 – 1922) was one of the earliest disciples of Judo. Saigo, together with Tomita Jojiro 富田 常次郎 (1865-1937) , became first in history of judo to be awarded Shodan by the founder of judo Jigoro Kano, who established the kyu-dan ranking system.
Judo Memoirs of Jigoro Kano by Brian N. Watson
In 1882, Kano opened his Kodokan dojo in Tokyo, where he taught jujutsu to his first class of nine students. His choice of the name 'Kodokan' symbolizes precocity in one so young and is highly significant, for it means 'the institute where one is guided along the road to follow in life', that is to say, a road that one travels as a means of self-cultivation, which Kano regarded as the optimum way to live one's life. This cultivation, however, can only be attained following long years of training made with vigorous exertion in an effort to reach the ultimate goal: self-perfection.
At the age of twenty-four, Kano abruptly gave up the teaching of this ancient and altogether brutal activity and never taught jujutsu again. In his attempt to create for the modern age a non-violent, spiritually inspiring antagonistic art, he carried out research on several styles of jujutsu. Primarily in the interests of both safety and practicality, he altered and added his own devices to the techniques that he was later to incorporate into his newly conceived system of skills, which he named 'Kodokan judo'. In lectures, Kano often stated the following: 'The ultimate object of studying judo is to train and cultivate body and mind through practice in attack and defense, and by thus mastering the essentials of the art, to attain perfection of oneself and bring benefits to the world.' He had sought to create in judo, therefore, something positive out of something largely negative.
In the writing of this book, every attempt has been made to achieve historical accuracy, and both Japanese and English sources have been consulted, as noted in the Bibliography. Since the
chief aim of the book is to make the life of Jigoro Kano accessible to the widest possible audience, dialogue has been included, much of which has been re-created in the light of documented
historical fact and the known personalities of the people involved. It is my hope that this device will make the book more approachable and enjoyable to all those interested in the life of
the founder of judo.
Brian N. Watson
Jigoro Kano (1860-1938)
Professor J. Kano at the 1936
Berlin Olympic Games as official
IOC representative for Japan
1.Kano Jigoro, Nancy H. Ross, “Mind Over Muscle: Writings from the Founder of Judo”, 2006, Kodansha Inc. 160p.
2.Brian N. Watson, “The Father of Judo, a biography of Jigoro Kano”, Kodansha International Ltd., 2000, New York, USA, ISBN 4-77002530-0
3.Kano Jigoro, “Judo (Jujutsu)”, Tokyo, Japan, Buyu Shoseki Shuppan, 2001, 59p, ISBN 4901619005.
4.Kano Jigoro, “Jujutsu and Judo: what are they?”, Tokyo, Japan, Kodokan, 1937, 70p,
5. Stevens, John, “Three budo masters: Jigoro Kano (judo), Gichin Funakoshi (karate), Morihei Ueshiba (Aikido)”, Tokyo, Japan, Kodansha International, 1995, 144p, ISBN 4770018525.
6. Hirasawa, K. (1950). "The Death of Professor Jigoro Kano, Shi-Han," Judo International, edited by Henri Plée (Paris), pp. 3-4. Reprinted at the Kano Society, http://www.kanosociety.org/articles.htm
7.Kano, Jigoro. (1936). "Olympic Games and Japan," Dai Nippon, 197-199. Reprinted at Thomas A. Green and Joseph R. Svinth, editors. (2003). Martial Arts in the Modern World. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, pp. 167-172.
8.Anonymous. (1950). "Principal Events in the Life of Mr. Kano," Judo International, edited by Henri Plée (Paris).
9.Conroy, Hilary, Davis, Sandra T.W., and Patterson, Wayne, editors. (1984). Japan in Transition: Thought and Action in the Meiji Era, 1868-1912. Rutherford, New Jersey: Farleigh Dickinson University Press.
He was a famous educator and the father of modern sports in Japan. But above all, he was the founder of judo. He was born in Mikage (now part of Kobe City). His ancestors include many illustrious Shinto priests, Buddhist masters, and Confucian scholars. Japan’s feudal period was rapidly drawing to a close. Across the seas in America, the United States was embarked on a tragic civil war. Just as today, it was a time of turmoil and change around the world. He was fortunate enough to be born into a family that was reasonably well off , at least well enough placed to get Jigoro into the elite Tokyo Imperial University. He declared his majors to be political science, philosophy, and literature. Kano had actually started his training in ju jutsu at the age of 17. In 1877 he located a good instructor, Hachinosuke Fukuda (1829-80), of the tenshin shin’yo ryu. In 1879, a year after Jigoro started working out at Fukuda’s DOJO, the master suddenly died. The 19-year old youth soon joined another branch of the Tenshinshin’yo ryu run by a 62-year old ju jutsu instructor named Masatomo Iso (1818-81), he was the son of the school’s founder. Over the next two years, KANO practiced JU JUTSU night and day. The sensei saw his dedication and promise and soon made him an assistant. Jigoro instructed 20 or 30 students, starting with KATA and then moving on to free fighting. By the time he was 21 years old. Kano had become a master in Tenshin shin’yo ryu JU JUTSU. But Iso, like Fukuda before him, became ill and Kano decided to move on. In 1881, when Iso died , Kano was once more left without a teacher. This time Kano met Tsunetoshi Iikubo, master of the kito ryu, and began training at his DOJO. In Kano’s time the kito ryu focused primarly on NAGE-WAZA (throwing techniques). In his memoirs Kano stated, “From Master Fukuda , I learned what my life’s work would be: from Master Masamoto, I learned the subtle nature of KATA: and from Master Iikubo, I learned varied techniques and the importance of timing”.
It was during these early ju jutsu training days Kano worked out some new throws and turned his attention more and more to ways of reforming ju jutsu into some kind of new system. In 1882 Kano moved to Eisho-ji a small Jodo Sect Buddhist temple in the Shimo-tani section of Tokyo. There, at the precocious age of twenty-two, he founded the Kodokan, “Institute for Study of the Way.”
Iikubo continued to teach Kano during the first half of 1883. Then, one day, Kano grasped the key to judo – “If my partner pulls, I push: if he pushes, I pull.” So Jigoro Kano created his own style and ranking system – at this incipient stage, three basic levels (KYU) and three advanced ranks (DAN). Jojiro Tomita and Shiro Saigo were the first two trainees to be presented with the rank of shodan.
In 1886 Kano was able to build a nice forty-mat facility, Kodokan moved to Fujimi-cho, Tokyo. At the beginning (1882) Kano had nine students but later at the Fujimi-cho DOJO he had ninety-nine students. This year Fujimi-cho DOJO students with dan rankings very first began wearing black belt as a sign of their status. After he had founded his Kodokan Institute, his aim was to create a sporting discipline which was much less dangerous, and more likely to meet the wishes of the people in a period of peace. In 1889 Kano left Japan for the first time in his life.
He had been abroud for sixteen months. In 1891 Kano wed Sumako Takezoe. The couple went on to have, five girls and three boys. In 1894 a nice hundred-mat DOJO was built in Shimo Tomizaku-cho, Tokyo. The first version of GO-KYO No WAZA was formed in 1895.
The following year shochu-geiko („mid-summer training”) was formmally instituted.
In 1902 Kano was invited to China by Chinese fereign ministry then he expanded his academy for Chinese exchange students. Several Chinese students took up judo at the Kodokan during their stay.
In 1903 Yoshiaki Yamashita (1865-1935) was invited to US to teach judo. President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) developed a keen interest in judo. He wanted Yamashita to do a demonstration of Kodokan judo in Washington.
In 1906 the Kodokan moved again to a new 207-mat DOJO. JUDOGI (practice uniform) was standardized in the today form.
Kano taught judo to women but, only in 1926, women’s section of Kodokan was formally opened. Noriko Watanuki, Kano’s eldest daughter was head of women’s section. After WWII Ruth Gardner from US became the first non-Japanese female Kodokan student.
He visited the 10th Olympiad in Los Angeles and Vancouver in 1932 and in 1936 he visited Seattle, Vancouver and New York. He gave demonstrations everywhere. In 1906 the Japanese Diet passed a bill requiring all middle school students to be instructed in either kendo or judo. Lot of visitors were becoming a common sight of the Kodokan. And many Kodokan students were sent to abroad to teach judo (e.g. Yoshiaki Yamashita (1865-1935), Jojiro Tomita (1865-1937), Mitsuyo Maeda (1880-1941) etc.)
In 1909 Kano was selected as the first Japanese member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). While Kano was a member of IOC, and eventually arranged for the 1940 Olympics to be scheduled for Tokyo. He was worried that judo in the Olympics would became an instrument of nationalism. (judo was not included in the Olympics until 1964.
The last 25 years of Kano’s life were spent in almost constant travel at home and abroad. He made thirteen trips, visiting the four corners of the world. In 1938 Kano attended an Olympic Committee in Cairo, and arranged for the 1940 Olympics to be held in Tokyo. (They were ultimately canceled owing to the outbreak of the World War II). On the return trip to Tokyo aboard the Hikiwamaru, KANO fell ill and died peacefully on May 4, 1938, aged seventy-eight. Today judo is one of the largest sport in the world. And it is a part of the physical education systems of many countries.
Young Kano and his wife (Sumako Takezoe)
Kano with his wife and six children (1902)
The couple had two more children, the latter born
when Kano was fifty-two years old
1909 Kano was selected as the first Japanese member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
1911 Dr. Kano and his contemporaries then formed the Japan Amateur Sports Association
1912 Jigoro Kano, Omori, and two runners went to the Fifth Olympiad in Stockholm. Neither Mishima nor Kanakuri won any medals or races, but everyone agreed that it was pleasant to see the world. After the games, Omori and the two runners returned to Japan, while Kano traveled throughout Europe and North America to see how Europeans and Americans taught physical education.
1916 Olympic Games were canceled, since World War I broken out.
1920 Dr. Kano and a group of athletes were sent to Antwerp, Belgium to compete in the seventh Olympic Games. Japanese tennis players received two silver.
1924 Olympics were held in Paris. Japan, with an Olympic team comprissing twenty athletes. Kano was unable to attend the event in Paris.
1928 At the Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Japan took its first two gold medals, in track and field, and swimming. Athlete Hitomi Kinue became the first woman to join a Japanese Olympic contingent. She received a silver medal in the 800-meter running event, and her success encouraged more women to take up competitive sports.
1932 A contingent of 131 members represented Japan at theOlympic Games in Los Angeles, including 16 women. Japanese athletes earned a total of 7 gold, 7 silver, and 4 bronze medals in track and field, swimming, equestrian events, and field hockey.
Kano arrived in California. Shortly after arrival, he met with Seiichi Kishi, the president of the Japanese Amateur Athletic Federation. (The organization had recently reorganized and been renamed.) Kano and Kishi then started on a public speaking tour. In his speeches, Kishi said that while Japanese sports formerly consisted mostly of judo, kendo, and sumo, ever since the YMCA introduced the Far Eastern Championship Games in 1913, the Japanese had taken up western-style sports with enthusiasm. Meanwhile, Kano read a letter written by Tokyo mayor Hidejiro Nagata that said, in part.
1933 Kano left for Vienna. Accompanying him were two judo 6-dans, Sumiyuki Kotani and Masami Takasaki. Takasaki was Kano's son-in-law, and the winner of the All-Japan Championships of 1930. Meanwhile, Kotani, a future judo 10-dan, had represented Japan in freestyle wrestling during the 1932 Olympics. During this trip, Kano demonstrated judo in Germany and Austria, and attended the International Olympic Committee conference in Vienna, an international parliamentary conference in Madrid, and meetings at the German Sports Ministry in Berlin.
1934 Meanwhile, the Italians began making overtures to have the 1940 games held in Rome. Toward preventing this, Kano went to Athens, Greece.. For the international Olympics, the most important decision of this particular meeting was the approval of a torch relay from Greece to the site of the Olympics. This was an idea first developed by Carl Diem during the 1920s, and subsequently pursued with vigor by the German Olympic committee. For the future of Japanese sport, the German barbells that Kano shipped to Japan after this meeting were very important, as they represented the beginning of Olympic weightlifting in Japan. However, for the promoters of the Tokyo Olympics, the only thing that mattered was that the decision regarding where to hold the 1940 Olympics was again postponed.
1936 Dr. Kano attended the eleventh Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. He also obtained approval for Tokyo to be the host of the 1940 Olympic Games.
Kanō Jigorō after the IOC vote on 31 July 1936 in Berlin, which decided to organize the 1940 Olympics in Tokyo (wikipedia/Kano)