Florida Judo Ki no Fuda's Editorial
Instead of me writing an editorial this time, I decided to look back through some of my father's editorials from the original Florida Judo Ki no Fuda. I felt the following editorial still applies today. This editorial was in Volume 1, Number 2 date May/June 1989 as written.
One of the stated objectives of the Ki no Fuda is inform Florida Judoka regarding local shiai. I feel frustrated by the lack of interest in shiai by many students (including some of mine who have been around for years). Shiai is an important part of Judo!
A little over a hundred years ago, Dr. Jigoro Kano brought together a variety of throwing and grappling techniques into a new art he called Judo. Besides being an expert in several form of Ju Jitsu, Dr. Kano was a well-known educator. He wanted to revive certain aspects of the old arts in a way that would be safe for everyone to study as a means of maintaining physical fitness. Being a scholar, he carefully selected techniques (not only from Ju Jitsu, but also from Sumo and Western style wrestling) which were consistent with his underlying principles of Judo. For one thing, the techniques had to work because they obeyed the laws of physics. The student would have to be able to apply them without possessing superhuman strength or agility.
Dr. Kano believed in the effectiveness of what he taught. Several years after the creation of the Kodokan (the original school of Judo in Tokyo), masters of several of the older schools of Ju Jitsu became jealous of the popularity of Judo and questioned its viability. They believed that Dr. Kano unfairly used his position of influence in the educational system to promote his art, but that what he taught could not stand up to the older arts. The first ever Judo shiai was held as a series of contests between Dr. Kano's Judoka and the Ju Jitsu students of a rival school. The outcome was overwhelming; Dr. Kano's Judoka won 12 of the 14 matches, and tied the other two. The contest proved two things. First, Judo was made up of workable techniques. Second, the students who studied under Dr. Kano were very effective in using those techniques.
The ultimate goal of Judo the "harmonious development and eventual perfection of human character". Notice that it says nothing about becoming national champions or even winning in tournaments. So why do we emphasize competition?
If taken seriously, Judo training is hard. It requires a sense of purpose and dedication. Learning to execute difficult techniques builds character. Self-discipline and patience are necessary to train the body to make correct movements which seem so awkward. Nothing can be learned without the cooperation of many training partners. All of these facts of Judo training build character.
But how does a Judoka determine how his training is going? What is his or her measure of progress? The answer is shiai. Shiai is the test! Aite (the other player) does not cooperate and only skillful application of learned techniques will provide consistent match victories.
I tell my students not to worry about winning and losing, that is the wrong goal. They are told to play the best Judo they know and if their techniques are good enough, then they will win. Regardless of whether they win or lose, they should get to learn what they need to work on during training to improve their techniques for the next tournament.
Shiai can either be one of the most important parts of training, or it can lead to the downfall of Judo. In some schools, winning is placed ahead of personal development as the ultimate goal. Students must not feel that they must win by any means. Students should be taught that dedication to training develops the techniques which allow winning. There are no shortcuts to replace hard work.
We are very fortunate to have a good group of clubs in Florida who largely subscribe to this same philosophy. We hold frequent shiai through Florida, normally several each month. This is an excellent atmosphere for friendly, albeit-hard fought, competition among our developing Judoka. I hope that we can get more parents to support their children in their Judo training and get them to these excellent tournaments. Many long term friendships are developed among the competitors at these tournaments as well. But, that too is an important part of Judo...