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  • Book about Kodokan Judo


    JIGORO KANO AND THE KODOKAN:AN INNOVATIVE RESPONSE TO MODERNISATION
    Translated and Edited by Alex Bennett


    I guess this is one of the reasons why my blog has been a little neglected of late. Have just published a book about the life and ideals of Kanō Jigorō, the founder of judo.
    As judo has become an immensely popular international sport, particularly since its induction as an official Olympic event in 1964, many of the progenitors original educational ideals have arguably fallen by the wayside.

    The competitive side of judo has always been an important feature since the Kōdōkans inception in 1882. However, Kanō Jigorō, the esteemed founder of Kōdōkan judo, was an ardent educator, and developed judo primarily as a way for moral, intellectual and physical education. Although his ideals evolved over the course of five decades, personal documents, articles and lecture transcripts that he left us explicitly state his educational values and hopes for the role that judo would play in the betterment of society.

    Reading through these historical materials, one cannot help but wonder if Kanō would be disappointed in the way in which judo has seemingly veered away from his original ideals of self-development to a preoccupation with attaining victory at all costs in tournaments. He would undoubtedly be overjoyed with the extent in which judo has spread to the four corners of the globe, but would surely turn his head at the selfish political motivations seen in some judoka in Japan and around the world, and how judos potential as a form of education has not been fully explored.

    With these issues in mind, Professor Murata Naoki from the Kōdōkan Judo Museum approached me about publishing this book. He asked me to translate Chapter 3 of Kanō Jigorō (Kōdōkan, 1964). The entire book is over 750 pages long, and Chapter 3 alone consists of 263 pages of documents and commentary pertaining to Kanōs career, and the various periods of the Kōdōkans development. It is a valuable record of Kanōs genius as an educator, and as an idealist.

    The nature of the content, and the way it is linked together, meant that a simple translation would not suffice for an English publication. Many of the documents included in the original Japanese were written in the now antiquated language of the Meiji and Taishō eras. In the Japanese book, quoted materials are followed by modern Japanese interpretations for the benefit of Japanese readers, resulting in considerable repetition of content. The same repetition is not necessary for the English edition, and some sections were consequently omitted. In addition, the content in the original Japanese text was not placed in any particular chronological order. Thus, to make this English version read with more fluidity, I was compelled to remove some of the redundant sections, and retouch others to link them up.

    Furthermore, a significant portion of the subject matter would seem strange without a contextual understanding of the historical processes surrounding Japans modernisation. In order to help the reader understand the true significance of Kanōs innovative approach, I was given permission to add to, or embellish some segments for the sake of comprehensibility.

    I divided the book into six chapters and moved some text to more relevant sections of the book. This English publication is, therefore, structurally different to the original Japanese, but the crucial points regarding Kanōs values should be clearer to the non-Japanese reader as a result. It is hoped that this book will be an important contribution in reassessing the core objectives of judo as espoused by its founder.

    As it is hot off the press, apparently the Kōdōkan is going to send about 2000 copies to various federations around the world. Then it will be for sale to the general public. I'm not sure where it will be on sale, or for how much yet, but as soon as I know I will post in the KW forums. Hopefully it won't be too much.
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