Jita Kyoei - Ethics In Judo

I ran across a recent post on JudoInfo.com’s forum from a Judoka who was purchasing a gi, who’s sole consideration was a “super stiff collar”… he even stated that “I am only going to wear this gi in competitions so that it stays difficult to grip.”

Then he posed the question: “Is this unsportsman like, or is it just a reasonable use of the rules and regs?”

It seems to me that if the question needs to even be asked, he already knows the answer to it.

I recall in my competition days (admittedly, a while back…) when referees started to bring rulers to check sleeve length and fit.  But no one that I know of was intentionally attempting to stop their opponent with other than merely good Judo.  Judo gi’s were expensive, most of us only had one - and if it was a bad fit, it wasn’t intentional.

What happened to our concept of shiai?  Nowadays, the consideration is only to win - yet you can learn as much in losing as you can in winning.  The purpose of shiai is to go a notch above randori with partners that you do not routinely train with - and thus get a better idea of your Judo skill level.

Jita Kyoei, commonly translated as “Mutual Benefit & Welfare”, can more accurately be translated as “Going Forward, Shining together”, or, as Phil Porter puts it, “You, Me, Shining Together”.  Can anyone think of how this principle would allow you to intentionally do things that are not Judo, to gain an ‘advantage’?

And what have you learned should you be successful?  Did your Judo skills allow you to come back victorious, or did your sly, underhanded strategy do so?

My original Sensei, George Hamm; used to refuse to teach us the complicated rules that apply at the edge of the mat. (The ‘red zone’)  He kept insisting that we keep the match in the middle of the mat, and let the better Judo prevail - rather than the one who had the better knowledge of the rules.

I suspect that my Judo is better for that… at least, I would rather lose a match than let non-Judo related skills win the match for me.  And as much as it’s necessary for Olympic Judoka to master the rules of the game, for ordinary Judoka, I think it’s far more necessary to learn the guiding principles that Jigoro Kano taught.  At least, that’s my thought…