Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Friday, April 29, 2022

The Influence of Karate on Judo

Below is an excerpt from a post at Ryukyu Bugei, about a kata developed by Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo. It is one of ten kata recognized by the Kodokan.

The development of the kata may some influences of karate upon the development of judo. The full article may be read here.

The “Seiryoku Zen’yo Kokumin Taiiku no Kata” (in the following SZKTK) is a collection of combative movement exercises, created under inclusion of concepts from the field of physical education. It translates to “Form of national physical education of maximum efficiency”. It was officially released by the founder of Jūdō, Kanō Jigorō, in 1930 and today is one of the ten kata that are recognized by the Kōdōkan.

The SZKTK consists of two categories: The first category consists of 29 individual movements (tandoku-undō), performed by a single person. The second category consists of 20 partner exercises, performed by two persons (aitai-undō). Its salient characteristic is the almost exclusive use of atemi (impact) techniques. These atemi techniques particularly seem to indicate that Kanō incorporated results of his exploration of karate into this form.
In a lecture read on April 18th, 1888, Kanō explained towards the Asiatic Society of Japan that
“In some of the schools [of jūjutsu] special exercises, called Atemi and Kuatsu, are taught. Atemi is the art of striking or kicking some of the parts of the body in order to kill or injure the opponent.”
In his 1888 lecture Kanō strongly opposed any clams that jūjutsu originated in Chinese martial arts of any kind, while some of the major schools employing the concept of atemi clearly referred to it (See Chin Genpin, Akiyama and others), wich probably rendered it some sort of ideological no-go for Kanō at the time, or at least to be treated with great care.

As regards a possible influence from karate: Kanō grew interest in karate – with Okinawa being Japanese – in 1908, when pupils of the Okinawan 1st Middle School of Shuri presented karate at the youth tournament held by the Butokukai in Kyōto, which “Doctor Kanō attentively observed with bated breath”.

In Kanō’s “Imitative physical exercises” (Gidō taisō) published in 1909 we find movements such as
  • “polishing a long board (tate itamigaki)”,
  • “kicks in four directions (shihō-geri)”,
  • “strikes in four directions (shihō-ate)”
and others. These are considered to be the prototypes of techniques incorporated in the SZKTK, namely the techniques called
  • “polishing a metal mirror (kagami-togi)”,
  • “kicks in five directions (gohō-geri)”, and
  • “strikes in five directions (gohō-ate)”.
When in 1911 six members of the Karate Club of the Okinawa Teachers College of Shuri made a trip to Tōkyō, Kanō invited them for a karate demonstration at his Kōdōkan Jūdō Institute. There they demonstrated kata as well as tameshiwari (smashing boards). As regards Kanō’s reception of this performance, it is said that “The Jūdō founder, Master Kanō, could not contain himself from expressing his high praise.”

Further references to atemi techniques made by Kanō next appeared in his “Overview of Jūdō” (Jūdō kaisetsu, 1913).

In May 1922 Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957) came to Tōkyō to present Karate at the 1st Exhibition of Physical Education, sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Education. In June the same year Kanō invited Funakoshi for a demonstration of karate at his Kōdōkan Jūdō Institute. At that time Funakoshi was provided both a jūdō practice uniform and a black belt to wear during his demonstration. This fashion soon reached Okinawa. Initially, in jūdō practice the traditional keikogi (practice uniform) of jūjutsu was worn. Later the current practice uniform of jūdō with its longer sleeves and trousers was created and used during practice.  As the training content in jūdō and karate was quite different, other functionalities of the practice uniform were necessary. The practice uniform of jūdō gradually adapted to its own necessities, as did the practice uniform of karate. In this way the current practice uniforms were born.

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