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History of Judo

Judo is a Japanese martial art which emerged in 1882 in Tokyo as the brainchild of Dr Jigoro Kano, a jujitsu master, educator and professor of the Tokyo University.   The late 1800`s in Japan was a period of great change which saw many old crafts and skills wither or disappear as modernisation and exposure to the rest of the world swept through Japanese society. Kano`s genius lay in his ability to effectively preserve the legendary Samurai fighting skills by transforming them into a sport orientated character building pursuit rather than a craft of war.   Thus jujitsu (the pliable craft of the warrior) became judo (the pliable or gentle way - of life).

This new form of jujitsu, distilled from the best of the most noteworthy old schools and with the benefit of modern sport science in a competitive setting spread around the world and become an Olympic event with astonishing speed; it appealed to the western notion of sportsmanship and character building yet preserved the extensive and intricate arts of the pre-Meji era Samurai to some sizeable degree.   A select few of the many hundreds of jujitsu schools (Ryu) of the day played a major role in shaping judo in its formative years, including Tenjin Shinyo Ryu,   Kito Ryu, Fusen Ryu, Daito Ryu and others.

The influence of Kano and judo`s birthplace at the Kodokan (place of learning) further spread to other martial arts; the ubiquitous ``gi``, that strong durable grappling jacket and trousers that most other martial artists now wear, the system of coloured belts, the coverted black belt and Kyu-Dan grading system all sprang from the Kodokan. Today Judo enjoys a popularity second only to soccer throughout the world and is played in more countries than any other single sport or martial art.

To quote from the Kodokan website directly . . .
``The Kodokan was founded in 1882 by the late Prof. Kano who himself had established Judo. Judo was derived from Jujitsu which had many names and schools.

Jujitsu is an art for either attacking others or defending oneself with nothing but one`s own body. Prof. Kano adopted the superlative parts of all the Jujitsu schools, got rid of precarious parts, and established the new Kodokan Judo based on his own insight and arrangement.

It started with only nine disciples and a twelve-mat dojo. The Kodokan Judo was recognized in a few years to be excellent since its students overwhelmed the Jujitsu athletes at the Police Bujitsu Contest. This really was the first step for its future rapid progress. Prof. Kano promoted judo as a physical exercise from a wide national point of view. Proceeding with the organization of the Kodokan and enacting the regulations of Judo, he became the first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee in 1909 and worked for the spread of Judo world-wide.

Judo became an official event in the Olympic Games of 1964, backed by Judo fans and sport promoters all over the world. It is now a very popular sport almost anywhere in the world.

Judo, which is now exercised in many countries of the world,   is the very Kodokan Judo, created in 1882 by Prof. Jigoro Kano.   It is clearly stated in the Article 1 of International Judo Federation (IJF) statutes, ``IJF recognizes `Judo` which was created by Jigoro Kano.``

History of Kawaishi Jujitsu

Mikinosuke Kawaishi
Mikinosuke Kawaishi
Kawaishi was born in Kyoto in 1899, and he died on January 30, 1969 in Paris. In the mid-1920`s he left Japan and toured the United States, teaching particularly in New York and San Diego. In 1928, he arrived in the United Kingdom and established a jujitsu club in Liverpool, where he taught Aiki-jujutsu. He supplemented his meager income from teaching by wrestling professionally under the name "Matsuda", taking on wrestlers and boxers in the ring and on stage in music halls.

In 1931, he moved to London, founding the Anglo-Japanese Judo Club and teaching Judo at Oxford University. Around this time Kawaishi was awarded his third dan by Jigoro Kano. In 1936 Kawaishi moved to Paris where he taught jujitsu and judo. During World War 2, Kawaishi returned to Japan and was imprisoned in Manchuria for a time, but he returned to Paris after the war to continue teaching.

Kawaishi came to believe that merely transplanting the teaching methods of Japan to the West was inappropriate. He developed an intuitive style of instruction and a numerical ordering of the techniques that he felt was more suitable for the West. He adapted his teaching methods to suit the European culture. This became known as the Kawaishi Method. One of the changes he is credited with is the introduction of colored belts for each Kyu grade instead of just the white and brown belts previously used. This seemed to catch on in France and there was a rapid growth of interest in Judo and Jujitsu. His system of Judo is fully described in his book My Method of Judo written when he was a 7th dan and published in English in 1955. He wrote:

And now some words of advice. Learn thoroughly all these movements. Study them carefully in all their details. One can never know too much technique. And then, above all, at the dojo train hard, conscientiously, seriously and courageously.

After World War II and through the 1950`s, the Kodokan moved more and more towards the sport of Judo; banning techniques from shiai and dropping them from the Kodokan syllabus. Kawaishi, however, continued to teach many of these techniques. He authored My Method of Self Defense, Standing Judo and several other books.

Kawaishi placed special emphasis on kata training. He promulgated Kyuzo Mifune`s Gonosen No Kata (Forms of Counters) in Europe, and possibly his own version of Go No Kata, the forms of hardness. He also wrote the book Seven Katas of Judo.

Kawaishi on far right pictured with Kano
Kawaishi on far right pictured with Kano
Kawaishi is credited with being the person most responsible for the spread of Judo and Jujitsu throughout France and much of Europe. His books continue to be popular, and the Kawaishi Method is still practiced around the world today, mostly under the banner of Kawaishi Jujitsu since his judo did not constitute a split from kodokan judo but rather something more than the sport of judo. Kawaishi and Moshe Feldenkrais founded the French Judo Federation and he served as Technical Director for many years. In 1947 he and Koizumi held the first ever international Judo tournament between France and the United Kingdom which became known as the Kawaishi Cup.

The Colours of the Kyu-Dan Grading System


  • White belt - RokuKyu - starting grade

  • Yellow belt - GoKyu - novice student

  • Orange belt - YonKyu - advanced novice

  • Green belt - SanKyu - proficient student grade

  • Blue belt - NiKyu - advanced student grade

  • Brown belt - IkKyu - highest student grade, able to sit for black belt grading after one year in this grade.

  • Black belt - the Yudansha grades from Shodan to GoDan (1st Dan to 5th Dan) are competency based grades

  • Red and White belt - optionally may elect to continue wearing black belt. The grades from RokuDan to KuDan (6th Dan to 8th Dan) are largely recognition of service rankings and do not require further training or knowledge

  • Red belt - 9th and 10th Dan, extremely rare in a bona fide system. Not achievable in under 55 years of service by the accepted rules of the Dan grading system. Only one such holder in Australia

See our grading policy for a more detailed description of grading requirements.