By Gunji Koizumi
Copyright © 2000 all rights reserved. From Budokwai Quarterly Bulletin, April 1951. Copyright © 1951, the Budokwai http://www.budokwai.org. Reprinted by permission of Richard Bowen.
The late Prof J. Kano and his disciples have often warned against or deprecated the style or method of training and practice called "Contest Judo". The term refers to the type of judo developed solely to win contests as if it were the end of the training, disregarding the intention and purpose for which judo was originally founded. Some of the methods, therefore, are crude and forcible, if not dangerous. The training is highly specialised and unbalanced, like that of some jujutsu schools in pre-judo days.
Judo was founded and developed to be of service to human welfare and a means of mental and physical training, combined with recreation. The study of it involves science, art, ethics, and philosophy. Contests are a part of the training and a means of testing the standard of skill. So, experience and knowledge are pooled, and contests are conducted in the spirit expressed in the motto: "In skill opposed, in spirit united." However, the innate human desire to win or acquire ascendancy often manifests itself beyond the logical limit and sets in motion that culpable process, the vicious circle of "Contest Judo". The controversies on the wisdom of including judo in the Olympic games or organising matches amongst rival bodies or of an international character are due to this fact of human weakness. Nevertheless, it is well to remember that a poison is a stimulant if used in a suitable dose. The principle of balance is the saving factor of all things in the universe.
To win might be the aim of sport itself, but its value and nobility lie in the quality of self-detached appreciation of human achievement and mutual respect towards the efforts of fellowmen cultivated amongst sportsmen. The employment of unfair or vicious methods just to win or evade defeat not only mars the honoured tradition of ages but brings in its train injuries and fatalities, contrary to the basic principle of judo.
Some of the contest rules are drawn to bar the methods proved to be injurious or dangerous, others to encourage training in all sections of the art. To drag the opponent down for groundwork is barred, for once there was developed, connected with inter-University matches, a system of selecting teams for their weight and strength, and training them in only a few methods of holding. The method no doubt had the advantage of making it possible to train contest-winning teams in the shortest period of time, but degraded judo to a mere "beefy" competition. Apart from this method, there are various tactics and tricks which are not evident enough to infringe the rules but are clearly inspired by the spirit of "Contest Judo", such as dragging the opponent down for groundwork with an apparent body throw, falling on the top of the opponent in executing a throw in order to prevent his evasive action of turning his body, using spine and leg locks, in elusive manner, to weaken the opponent's balance or to obtain advantageous holds or positions to apply throws or locks. The practice of such methods, though it cannot be stopped with clear-cut rules, should be discouraged strongly to keep judo as judo.
To work against or break the vicious circles by which the human world is bound today may be a hard task, but to cultivate the spirit of striving for an ideal or for one's conviction is the main aim of judo training.
JCS Jan 2000