Kanō Jigorō: The Father of Judo

Saurav Singh

Kanō Jigorō (October 28, 1860 – May 4, 1938) was a Japanese educator and martial artist who is best known as the founder of Judo, a martial art and sport that has gained worldwide recognition and popularity.

Early Life & Career

Kanō Jigorō was born on October 28, 1860, in Mikage, a district in the modern city of Kobe, Japan. His early life was marked by a profound interest in martial arts and a desire to study them. He studied jiu-jitsu, a traditional Japanese martial art, and recognized the need for a safer and more effective form of self-defense. This realization set the stage for his life’s work.

Kanō Jigorō’s career was defined by his dedication to martial arts and education. Key milestones in his career include:

  1. Foundation of Judo: Kanō developed Judo, which means “the gentle way.” He combined elements of jiu-jitsu with his own innovations to create a martial art that focused on using an opponent’s energy and movements against them, rather than relying solely on brute force.
  2. Kodokan: He established the Kodokan, the first Judo dojo (training hall), in Tokyo in 1882. The Kodokan became the epicenter for the spread of Judo and continues to be a renowned institution for the study of the art.
  3. Global Spread: Kanō worked tirelessly to promote Judo both in Japan and internationally. He traveled the world, demonstrating Judo and establishing Judo schools in different countries. His efforts were instrumental in making Judo an Olympic sport.

Kanō Jigorō passed away on May 4, 1938, but his legacy lives on through Judo, which continues to be practiced and respected worldwide. His teachings and philosophy of Judo remain influential, emphasizing the balance of physical prowess with moral character.

Legacy and Awards

Kanō Jigorō’s contributions to martial arts and education are significant:

  1. Olympic Recognition: Judo was included in the Olympic Games in 1964 when Tokyo hosted the event. Kanō’s vision and promotion of Judo led to its recognition as an official Olympic sport.
  2. Philosophy of Judo: Kanō emphasized the importance of moral and physical education. Judo was not just a martial art but a way of life that promoted discipline, respect, and personal development.
  3. Honors and Titles: Throughout his life, Kanō received numerous honors and titles for his contributions to martial arts and education. He was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, one of Japan’s highest honors.

Kanō Jigorō’s enduring impact as the founder of Judo and his commitment to character development through martial arts have left an indelible mark on the world of sports and education. His legacy is celebrated not only in dojos around the world but also in the Olympic arena, where Judo athletes compete in the spirit of his teachings.

On 28 October 2021, a Google Doodle was created to celebrate Kanō Jigorō’s 161st Birthday.