When Dr. Kano adopted the term Judo
to describe his new system, he was not the first to use the term. Its
first usage appeared about 50 years prior to Kano’s usage; however,
this in itself is of little concern. The important point is that
–jutsu and –do schools existed in Japan for hundreds of years.
Many feel that by identifying the suffix the can determine something
about the curriculum but this is not always true. But, first let us
say what the two terms generally connote.
Jutsu means art or science, art in
the sense of technique or Wasa
being employed. More appropriately, it is the study of a method of
doing something and thus science is the more appropriate term.
Do means Way. It is from the Chinese
Tao that refers to Way of Life. In ancient China, there was Tao or
simply Way as taught by Lao Tzu and Chaung Tzu. There was the Tao of
Confucius and Mencius as well as the Tao of Buddhism. These are all
Ways by which one can lead a better, fuller life – in harmony with
one’s family, neighbors and Nature.
From earliest times in China, prior
to the arrival of Zen Buddhism to Japan, there was a union of martial
techniques with the practice of a Way. Indeed, the term Dojo with
which we are all familiar means “Place where the Way is practiced”.
Dojo, then really means temple. It is not necessary to identify which
Way or temple where one practiced. Suffice to say, in ancient China,
first Taoist temples of Lao Tzu and then Buddhist temples were the
gathering places and study halls for martial practice.
This means that martial practice has
always been associated with the betterment of self. This does not
mean that all martial schools from ancient times emphasized this
aspect, only that there is an association from antiquity where the
betterment of self was a concomitant goal with the study of the
martial curriculum. For this reason, as the Chinese philosophy
migrated to Japan and became inculcated into Japanese society, those
aspects of self development which aided the Samurai into becoming
better fighters quickly found their way into the study and practice
of martial schools.
Samurai (the professional warriors of
Japan) had an interest in anything that would improve their chances
of survival for theirs was a life devoted to studying methods of
fighting and preparing themselves for death in combat. All three of
the Chinese philosophies – Taoism, Buddhism & Confucianism
found a home in the Samurai’s studies.
Taoism brought the concept of Wu
Wei or non-action as well as Chinese medicine
to Japan. Since the practice halls were often places of brutal
engagements, it was beneficial to know how to heal the injured and
restore the unconscious. Thus, Katsu &
Kappo came to play a significant role in the
The concept of Wu
Wei found a home primarily in the Jujutsu,
Aikijutsu and Yawara schools (or basically schools of unarmed
combat). This principle is exemplified by yielding. In modern Judo
“when pushed – pull, when pulled push" and Jujutsu/Aikijutsu
“when pushed – turn, when pulled – enter”. (It is this
concept that was developed by Dr. Kano in the Seiryoku
Zenyo or Maximum Efficiency/Minimum Effort
axiom and became his vehicle for propagating his form of Jujutsu.)
Buddhism (particularly Zen) brought a
way of dealing with death to the Samurai, for in order to be a great
warrior, one must reconcile oneself with death. (This may have been
easier when people were dying from injuries suffered in class as well
as duels for the slightest offense, for to see death on a constant
basis could inure one to it.)
One of the first concepts taught to
the warriors was Isshin
or “one-mind”. This means to focus all one’s will and spirit on
the opponent directly in front and attach with abandon. This often
resulted in mutual death (Aiuchi). If one fighter had a weaker spirit, then
the stronger might
survive to kill another warrior (and so on). Eventually, one warrior
army would defeat or put another to rout. As this was one of the
easiest concepts to teach, it became quite prevalent – particularly
during the warring period when the warlords needed new recruits on a
regular basis (fresh fodder so to speak).
After the warring states period,
other teachings and concepts began to take root. The concept of
became the goal of the sword schools. This is the highest
accomplishment of spiritual training achieved only after years of
meditation and practice in the dojo. It is the state where the mind
is “mirror-like” – it reflects everything and has no
attachments to anything. This is the purest mind for fighting as it
allows one to react spontaneously to all forms of attack. Thus,
Mushin-consciousness signifies mastery.
So, spiritual development became a
key component to developing mastery of martial skills. Without it,
one was fearful and weak and could easily be defeated. After
having undergone spiritual training along with martial training, one
went beyond life and death to being at peace with oneself and in
harmony with one’s surroundings.
The third philosophy to enter the
dojo was Confucianism. This primarily concerns itself with respect
for one’s parents, teachers and seniors. It emphasizes a community
spirit, but if there is no opportunity to help the community, then to
help the family and if there is no family to help, the to improve
One of the chief principles of
Confucianism is Sincerity. Professor Okazaki wrote, “Every student
of Judo should realize that Sincerity is the foundation of all
virtues”. Confucius said, “Sincerity is the Way of Heaven. The
attainment of Sincerity is the Way of men. He who possesses Sincerity is
he who, without an effort, hits what is right and apprehends, without
the exercise of thought; - he is the sage who naturally and easily
embodies the right
Way. He who attains to sincerity is he who chooses what is good and
firmly holds it fast.” (Doctrine of the
Mean, Ch. XX, 18). Thus, Professor Okazaki
stressed the primary ethic of Confucianism as one of his chief
In time, what came to distinguish the
–Jutsu schools form the –Do schools was the emphasis on their
practice. If we have not indicated that Do concepts were part of most
martial schools then we should so like to state. From early on, the
warriors learned that only spiritual development allowed them to
overcome their fears of combat and so they prepared themselves as
both warriors and, in a manner of speaking, as acolytes.
With the beginning of the Edo period
in the 1600’s, many Samurai no longer felt the pressures of war.
Their schools dropped all vestiges of combat activity and used
martial practice strictly for the development of their spirit. Such
systems as Kyudo (archery), Iaido (drawing the sword) and Kendo (Way
of the Sword) come to mind. These are schools of the Do without the
vestige of Jutsu.
Thus –Do forms of martial practice
have a long history, both as part of inherent teachings of systems,
as well as a specialized practice without the emphasis on combat
forms. The emphasis is on the practice. This can be verified by
visiting any Kyudo or Iaido school. What they do is not important.
How they do it is!
One of the first actions of emperor
Meiji was to dissolve the Samurai class. Since Samurai were unused to
work and had no trade skills, many took to using their martial
knowledge to rob and intimidate the populace. For this reason,
Jujutsu became associated with the decadence that befell the Samurai
class as a result of their abolition.
Kano wished to preserve Jujutsu. In
order to do this, he needed to change the public’s opinion about
the purpose and use of this martial art. He took those martial
techniques that he could preserve in a safe environment and continued
to teach and modify them until they lost nearly all their resemblance
to their original combat form. He wished to create a –Do school
while preserving the essence of Jujutsu. Due to Kano’s success, the
name Judo came to be synonymous for the type of Jujutsu taught at his
school (the Kodokan). This is in spite of the fact that the original
meaning of Judo has become lost due to the emphasis on the sport
element. Dr. Kano, himself, stated the principle of Judo was embodied
in the Jita Kyoei or
mutual welfare/assistance. This has a similar meaning in the Hawaiian
word Kokua and is to
be found in the Dojo where each helps the other to learn. Moreover,
Judo embodies the practice of least effort that is rare in sports
events, for it entails yielding to aggression in order to overcome.
This requires a disciplined mind and a type of training seldom seen
As we have said earlier, Do means
Way. It’s usage in the martial arts means the practice of
developing one’s spirit (or character as Professor Okazaki said).
Thus, when Professor Okazaki wrote, “Since the fundamental
principle acquired through the practice of Jujutsu has been elevated
to a finer moral concept called Judo, ‘the Way of Yielding’, it
may well be said that the primary object of practicing Judo is
perfection of character.” If we read this sentence closely, the
emphasis is on the practice and this is important. Professor Estes
used to say that if one practiced for one hour and was exhausted so
that they could do nothing else, then he did not know what they were
practicing. But, if they felt refreshed and invigorated so that they
felt as if they could continue for still another hour then “you are
practicing my Judo”. Again, the emphasis was on the practice. How
one practiced was important. To Professor Estes it distinguished “his
Judo” from “that other stuff”. The other important point is
that both Professor Okazaki and Professor Estes used the term Judo
differently than the way it is used today (by most). Also important
is that Professor Okazaki’s uses the word character where others
might have used spirit, thus we might assume Professor Okazaki held
character synonymous with spirit.
As we have attempted to demonstrate,
Judo is the practice. Jujutsu is what one practices and Judo is how
one practices. But the how is very specific for it to be Judo. It
connotes a special attitude with which a person enters a Dojo and
then steps onto the mat. The how of the practice means to concentrate
solely on the technique one is doing, or if listening, then on the
instructor. It means to be quiet on the mat, attentive to one’s
surroundings and to regulate one’s breathing to avoid exertion and
stress. The how means to cultivate the “mirror-like state of mind”.
When one practices in this manner, one is practicing Judo. What one
is practicing is Jujutsu.
This is as Professor Okazaki declared
it, as Professor Estes taught it, and as we now convey the meaning
restored to its significance.
Thus, what today is called Judo is
really Kodokan Jujutsu or International Jujutsu. This is because it
does not meet the criteria of a Do form. Their emphasis is on
competition and sports events rather than spiritual or character
development. It is perhaps for this reason that Professor Okazaki
declined to join Dr. Kano’s Judo federation. Professor Okazaki may
have been convinced that his was more a Judo school in the Ancient
Tradition than Dr. Kano’s in the Ancient Way, for it is in the
Kodenkan schools today where harmony with one’s partner is taught.
It is where yielding and blending are part of the curriculum. And, it
is where the development of character is a prerequisite for
advancement. These are all aspects of Do schools.
So, when someone asks what type of
martial art is being practiced, the answer is, “What is being
practiced is Judo, the techniques are Jujutsu.” This reinforces the
idea that a special attitude is required for the proper learning of a
martial art, an attitude that is still taught today by many Kodenkan
©1991, 2002, 2009; David A. Scheid, All Rights Reserved