Judo Home Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10KanoMifune


Part 3: Eishoji Kodokan

In the meantime, Kano had been studying furiously at Tokyo Imperial University. He had learned English. Western sports and theory flooded into Japan. Kano fell in love with baseball. He threw himself into studies of political philosophy. He became learned in Chinese literature. Kano represented a whole class of Japanese intellectuals who eagerly sought out all the world's knowledge. In the process, he saw how Western nations utilized sport as an organized means of peacefully bringing peoples of otherwise divergent backgrounds and cultures together. 

Kano was absorbing all of this. When he graduated from the University in 1881, he immediately received an appointment to the Gakushin (Peer's School), an exclusive school for children of the elite Japanese classes, teaching literature. In February, 1882, 22-year-old Kano took nine of his private students and set up his own training hall at Eishoji Temple in Tokyo. Kito-ryu master Iikubo often came to help instruct. Training was still more ju jitsu than Judo. The Eishojo priests were tolerant of Kano's practices, but, frequently, especially when Iikubo visited, practice would become so violent that mortuary tablets, lined up on shelves, would begin to fall onto the floor. Sometimes the floor itself would begin to collapse, and Kano would be seen crawling under the temple with a lantern to fix broken boards.

His appointment at the Gakushin worked out well with his new Kodokan activities. Since ju jitsu was frowned upon by respectable folks, and Judo had not yet been distinguished in the public mind from ju jitsu, his students could  attend practice by promising their parents, plausibly, that they were going to study literature with Professor Kano.

Clearly, young Kano  had a combination of enormous intellect coupled with boundless energy. By the time of his graduation from college, he was fluent in English, accomplished in both European political philosophy and Chinese literature, as well as a recognized master of ju jitsu, and he had formulated a revolutionary new approach to martial art practice. Most people would have been content with any one of those achievements, at any age, let alone at 22 years of age.

But, if these achievements were not enough, in 1882, he also opened up the Kano Juka, a preparatory school where children lived so as to build their characters as well as acquire education. He also opened the Koubunkan, an English language school. Kano had a remarkable facility for languages and English, being in high demand, provided an opportunity to make money teaching. In conjunction with translation work, the language school funded both his preparatory school and his Kodokan.

Kano felt a natural synthesis between his Japanese old culture, Chinese philosophy, and Western sport theory. After he opened his school at Eishoji Temple, he named his style Kodokan Judo, to not only distinguish it from ju jitsu and earlier judo schools, but to emphasize that this was something new: a martial art that stood for a martial philosophy consistent with ancient Chinese concepts of Taoist concepts of daily life, and, as importantly, a philosophy based upon European ideas of societal progress by individual endeavor. "We all go forward together" was an idea that Kano readily embraced, and expressed as a guiding principle "Jita kyoei," literally, "going forward, shining together." This was not a concept with tangible roots in any Oriental system of philosophy. Reorganizing ju jitsu principles into an efficient, scientific method of movement, he added the physical principle of maximum efficiency, minimum effort, as "Seiryoku zenyo." This too, appears to have come from English philosophy, although it blended nicely with  Taoist thoughts Kano found in Chinese literature.


Eishoji: the First