on 14 December 2008
The diary of Samuel Pepys has been likened to a spotlight that lit up events of English society in the 17th century. The work, Judo Memoirs of Jigoro Kano (Trafford Publishing) by Brian N. Watson, himself a Kodokan judo fourth dan and former special research student, does this also for the philosophy, methods and aims of Jigoro Kano, the "Father of Judo" - a remarkable man. The book allows us to enter Kano's mind and review his psychology, methods and goals involved in his creation - judo.
Most people on learning judo or learning of judo regard it, rightly so, as an enjoyable sport, some may have heard it described as a physical, mental, and yes, spiritual study. Few actually realize these latter potentials. This book may redress this.
In the book we learn of Kano's views on the importance of randori, judo katas, correct posture, contest judo and much general advice to judoka, but most importantly, a judoka's ethical, moral and intellectual responsibilities.
Watson has translated lectures by Kano over the years revealing to the English-speaking world, in detail, probably for the first time, Kano's aim in judo training summed up by his words: "The purpose of judo is to perfect oneself physically, intellectually and morally for the benefit of society."
The book contains a useful Glossary of terms and of personalities involved in the development of judo and a Bibliography for further reading. In Watson's "Afterword" are included potted judo biographies of Trevor Pryce Leggett, Donn F. Draeger and Noboru Murakami, all personally known to Watson and presented as men much influenced by Jigoro Kano's teachings.
This book is a must, not only for judoka but also for all dedicated budo practitioners. Serious minded kendoka will also find resonance in Kano's words in their own kendo philosophy, having been taught kendo is "the path of human development achieved through training in the principals and technique of the sword ".
In transforming the violent military techniques of jujitsu into the physical and mental system of judo, Kano truly "Wrought sword into Ploughshare".
John V. Clarke, Kendo 5th dan
Former Chairman, British Kendo Association.