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Japan judo's views on judo internationalization 柔道の国際化における日本の柔道について

Judo club training at the International Budo University

This is my third post on different Japanese Budo group's perspectives on the internationalization (globalization) efforts of their respective Budo arts (see Karate, see Kyudo). These come from the official 25th International Seminar of Budo Culture report, as the seminar was held in March.

This is not an exact or perfect summary, but it should be enlightening in regards to what Budo leaders in Japan are thinking. Any mistakes are my own.

Speaker: All Japan Judo Federation Secretary General, Kiyoshi Murakami

Murakami Sensei spoke about Judo in a special presentation and during the general discussion session. (Highlights are from report pages 28-29, 69-70.)

Judo was created by Kano Jigoro in 1882.  The All-Japan Judo Federation was started in 1944.

There are now 200 countries in the International Judo Federation, which was created in 1952 (he later said 1951). Judo became an Summer Olympic sport in 1964 at the Tokyo Olympics.

Murakami Sensei spoke about the French Judo Federation, which was formed in 1946, as Judo was introduced to France in 1889. Now France has the largest number of members outside of Japan as there are 570,000 French judo-ka. Amazingly, 80% are under the age of 18.

A 'sport of high educational value' is emphasized by the French Federation as they even use cartoon characters to teach the moral values (respect, courtesy, etc) for the younger members.

Certifying instructors is overseen by the Ministry of Education.

The West's boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow was one reason the International Budo University (IBU - Katsura, Chiba, Japan, the location of this seminar every year) was established by Dr. Matsumae Shigeyoshi in order to develop Budo instructors with an international, peaceful perspective.

The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics led to the 'winning at all costs' mentality, which persisted until the 2012 Olympics, but he felt the former IOC President Rogge tried to reduce this mentality by introducing the Youth Olympics in 2010 which focuses more on participants opportunities to interact with others than just competition.

For Judo it means focusing on mental discipline before winning. 'We are trying to project the educational side of judo by rethinking our roots and what the great things about judo are as a budo sport'.

He emphasized the words keiko suru (to practice) and shugyo suru (to undergo training) instead of the word play, which he felt were important concepts needing to be taught at an international level.

Judo's globalization history is quite interesting and far too complex for the short length of time speakers at the seminar have to share about their respective arts. The French example gave a clear indication of the depth of acceptance of Judo in another country.

Some points about the internationalization of Judo that I would be curious to know are;
- What are the major changes to the competitive nature of Judo in terms of how points are scored, etc. I had heard a few years ago Japan was focusing on only the full ippon point scoring at the national team level, while other countries were emphasizing scoring small points to win a match. Is this true?

- Has Judo gained or lost its breadth of technical skills with the wider acceptance of Judo overseas?

- My impression of Judo is that the number of participants are decreasing - I see that in Japanese judo dojo and I see that overseas. Is this the case and if so what can Japan do to help reverse this trend? Since the last 20 years has seen an explosion of martial arts options come about, I wonder how Judo faired.

- I'm still hoping to see Budo leaders better describe terms and values. Sure, I can get what they mean, but I would like to know Murakami Sensei description of shugyo as compared to just training because normally someone's personal description can be quite enlightening.

For myself, Judo was my first experience with Budo over 35 years ago, and while I switched to Karate, I still very much appreciate Judo for its practical aspects. While Karate had a bit of a 'bad boy' image not too long ago before becoming a safe activity for kids, recently at some arenas in Japan I have heard that due to a few incidents during Judo tournaments of rowdy behavior (fighting, yelling outside when teams have lost) that some arenas will refuse to hold a Judo event. I'm sure it's only a few trouble-makers (I have seen Karate parents get out of hand at regional high school events after a kumite team has lost in the final) so obviously the win-at-all costs mentality can be found anywhere.

To register for next year's Budo seminar, keep an eye on this Nippon Budokan webpage.