Friday, August 20, 2010

Classical Judo - spirit and motivation

Last week I posed the question, "What is Classical Judo," and I got some good input.  I have several things to say about Classical Judo - but today I want to talk more about the philosophical underpinnings of Classical Judo.  What I really think defines Classical judo is much along the lines of Charles James response to the previous post...

"Classical Martial Arts" are those that retain as much of the originality as practiced by the person who created it.
What makes judo classical is not so much you doing your techniques the way that the old dead guys did their techniques. What makes judo classical is doing it in the same spirit and for much the same reasons as the founder and his original disciples.Kano expounded two fundamental philosophical principles upon which judo was based...
  • Jita Kyoei - "Mutual benefit and welfare" ... "You and me going forward together" ... Classical judo must be a win-win sort of thing instead of being exploitative in nature.
  • Seiryoku Zenyo - "Make the best use of your powers" ... "Maximally efficient use of effort" ... "Maximum efficiency with minimum effort" Classical judo must be both effective and as efficient as you can make it.
Problem with this is, anyone can say, "Yes, I subscribe to those two ideals whole-heartedly... jita whatever and seirokyu blah blah..." and then go and do judo any way that they want, calling it "Classical Judo" for some of the nefarious purposes I listed in the previous post.
You have to do judo in the spirit of, and for the same reasons as the founders, but those beliefs and ideals have to influnce your practice and your technique too. 
Your actions have to be congruent with your beliefs because not only will people not believe you otherwise, but also because the dissonance within incongruent, inconsistent systems will eventually shake them apart.
In the next post I want to get into some of the technical differences between classical and non-classical judo, but I thought to leave you with some questions...
  • What is the antithesis to classical judo? Is it "modern judo" or "Olympic judo" or "competitive judo" or "eclectic judo" or "American judo" or what?
  • Judo has been influenced by so many masters over the years, where do you draw the line as to which ones classical judo should emulate?  Is Kano the only model, or should we include Mifune?  What about Fukuda? Kawaishi? Feldenkrais? Okano? Daigo? Geesink? Sato? Gracie? At what point do we draw the line between what judo was and what it is now?
  • Wherever you draw the line, what was the spirit in which the classical sensei did their judo?  How were their motivations different from those of non-classical sensei.

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