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The History of Judo

Aug 18, 2007
Unlike many forms of martial arts that have unclear histories and origins, Judo is one of the few forms of martial arts that has a clear founder and creation. Judo was conceived by Kano Jigoro (1860-1938) who was a very affluent and well-heeled Japanese educator and polymath.

Kano Jigoro's grandfather did very well in the sake brewing business, however, Kano Jigoro's father failed to become heir to this wealth as he was not the first born son. Kano Jigoro's father did very well however, in spite of the lack of inheritance, he became involved and influential in the Japanese government and was a Shinto priest as well.

Kano Jigoro was a small boy, never weighing over a hundred pounds, as a result, he was often the butt of jokes and got picked on and bullied during his childhood. He sought out Judo as a result, however, none of the Judo masters or instructors would take him seriously enough to school him in the martial art. Having given up for the time, Kano Jigoro sought a major in literature at the local University, but not long after, he was accepted as a student to the prominent martial arts school who's master was Fukada Hachinosuke.

Sadly, Fukada passed a way not much more than a year after Kano Jigoro began working with him. Kano did not give up this time, however, after having formal instruction in martial arts and sought out another school in which to study. He joined the school belonging to Iso Masatomo and not long after he began studying, Kano Jigoro became the assistant teacher to Iso Masatomo. As fate would have it, Iso fell ill as well and Kano was forced to find yet another school in which to learn all he could about martial arts.

Kano began studying under the prominent Tsunetoshi Iikubo and it was at this point that Kano began devising his own martial art techniques and form. Kano Jigoro was a mere 22 at this time, but after having his own ideas about how to renovate the art of jujutsu, he felt compelled to begin his own teachings. Nine students of Iikubo's left his school to begin studying under Kano and the art of Judo began to take its modern form.

Kano devised a unique belt system for Judo, with the first six ranks each having a name and belt color. Similar to other martial arts traditions, the belts ascend from white to black, with yellow, orange, green, blue and brown as the middle ranks. The black belt, or Shodan, is the first dan rank - there is generally only ten dan ranks as no one has ever studied past the tenth dan, however, Kano Jigoro himself wrote that "There is no limitation" the grade one can receive.

Therefore, if one does reach a stage above 10th dan, there is no reason why he should not be promoted to 11th dan. There are, however, only 15 Judo masters that have reached 10th dan and if one does reach higher ranks, he or she must be approved by the President of the Kodokan who is currently Kano Jigoro's grandson - Yukimitsu Kano.
About the Author
James Dunn owns and opperates Martial Arts Tutor
Visit Judo Lessons for more information about Judo or Jiu Jitsu Lessons to learn about Jiu Jitsu.
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