Basic Judo

Click Here to Enlarge
Author: E.G. Bartlett
Pub: 1975 by Arco Publishing Co.
Pages: 111
Out of Print


This book almost got a two star rating, but it's really not a bad book for beginners. It covers Nage-no-kata, Katame-no-kata, and Kime-no-kata. With over 250 photos, it covers basic Judo rather well. I did, however, have a good laugh at a few random sentences in the book... one sentence for example, in the Kime-no-kata, admonishing you "Be careful, however, not to land the blow, for it is one that can kill."

Chapter                      Page

  Introduction ............... 7
1 Basic Principles .......... 10
2 Breakfalls ................ 15
3 The Gokyo ................. 18
4 Groundwork: Holding ....... 48
5 Groundwork: Armlocks ...... 54
6 Groundwork: Strangleholds.. 56
7 Nage No Kata .............. 60
8 Katame No Kata ............ 76
9 Kime No Kata .............. 87
  Index to Movements ....... 111



Judo was first introduced into Britain about the turn of the century, when Mr Barton Wright brought over a Japanese expert, Yukio Tani, who toured the music-halls, taking on all corners. He was followed by Mr S. K. Uyenishi, who made a similar tour and started teaching judo to the Army at Aldershot. Various Japanese masters followed, including Mr G. Koizumi who founded the Budokwai, one of the most famous clubs in Britain, in 1918. Mr Yukio Tani was the instructor there for many years.

Before the last war, however, judo was comparatively little known. There were approximately forty clubs in Britain, many connected with the universities, and the police had some training in the art. Since 1946, however, interest in judo has grown apace and there are now at least a thousand clubs or schools, and probably well over a hundred thousand active students, in Britain alone. A similar growth of interest has been seen in other parts of the world, especially on the continent and in the United States. Judo was included as a sport in the 1972 Olympics as well as in the 1964 games.

There is a tendency in the west to regard judo purely as a competitive sport. This is unfortu-nate,;is it tends to suggest that its appeal is limited to those who feel themselves young enough to engage in competition. In fact, judo is much more than this. It is an art, a science, a philosophy, even a way of life. It can be practised as a means of keeping fit, or a method of self-defence, or simply out of interest, even by those who have no intention of entering championships. This book looks at all these aspects, as it is felt that the art, science and philosophy of judo will appeal even to those who consider that their competitive days are over.

To understand these deeper aspects of judo, it is necessary to look at its history, which is bound up with the history of the Japanese people. There are roughly five periods to be considered.

The Ancient period lasted from 1500 BC to AD 720. During this period, the Japanese nation came into being. There are legends of the descent of the islands andof the emperors from gods, which those who are interested in a deeper study can find in any history of Japan. It was during this period that the first emperor subjugated the hostile tribes and established the Japanese Empire. There was contact with the mainland, and aspects of Chinese and Korean culture influenced the Japanese. Confucianism came to Japan about AD 284.

The Japanese have always been adept at copying and adapting different cultures to their own ends, and there is some doubt as to whether judo did actually originate in Japan or in China. It is certainly true, however, that judo owes its more recent development to the Japanese.

In the Ancient period, the fighting arts developed as part of the essential way of life, and in addition to learning to fight with weapons, warriors were taught methods of unarmed combat. There were numerous schools and methods known by many different names, such as Yawara, Taijutsu, Kempo, Shubaku and the like. The term 'ju-jitsu' became a generic name for all these schools, 'ju' meaning 'gentle' or 'supple' and 'jitsu', 'art' or 'practice'. The methods of fighting without weapons in this early period probably have very little in common with modern judo, heing more akin to sumo wrestling as far as can be ascertained. The first book ever published in Japan, the Nihon Shoki or Chronicle of Japan, contains a chapter on wrestling entitled Chikara Kurabe, which means 'superior strength'. The mere title suggests that the techniques were unlike modern judo or even ju-jitsu of a later period, since ju-jitsu and judo enable people of inferior strength to defeat those who are stronger than themselves.

There is record of a tournament held in 230 BC of Chikara Kurabe, but it was almost certainly more like sumo wrestling than judo.

From the point of view of the judo student, the next two periods in Japanese history, the Nara period (AD 720 to 793) and the Heian period (AD 794 to 1140) can be grouped together. It was during these periods that the Japanese capital was established, first at Nara and then at Heian; Buddhism and written language came to Japan, and the Fujiwara and later the samurai clans took over administrative power. Japanese wrestling was invented in this period, and Sukone Nomi compiled the system known as 'sumo' which is now very much a national sport in Japan. This is the form of wrestling in which two big men, trained from birth for the role, try to push each other out of the ring.

The wrestling techniques of this period were very wild and rough. There were kicks and chops such as we now associate with karate, and contests frequently ended in death. Some of the sumo throwing techniques do, however, bear a resemblance to judo throws.

The next period, known as Yoroi Kumiuchi No Jidai, is a most important one since it saw the emergence of the samurai, or warrior class. It was a feudal period in which from time to time different families would come to the fore, having deposed their rivals in the seats of power. It lasted from AD 1141 to 1526. The samurai at their best were knights with a code of honour and ethics comparable to King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. At their worst, they were wandering thugs whose swords were for hire.

They studied the philosophy of life as well as the martial arts and the influence of their native religions, Shintoism and Buddhism, can be seen in their attitudes. Their main weapons were, of course, the sword and spear, but they also learned to fight with bow and arrow and with helmet. Before a battle between the clans, it was the custom for the champions on either side to fight a duel, the result of which might be accepted as decisive and the battle called off. Armour was improved in this period, and as contestants had to aim for weak and exposed points, the fighting became more skilful. But the wrestling techniques remained much as they had been in the previous period.

Throughout this feudal period there was rigid class distinction between the warrior and the common man. Commoners could not bear weapons, and so for their self-defence they had to learn to fight bare-handed. This contributed to the development of techniques.

In the next period, the Tokugawa period from 1602 to 1868, outside influences were suppressed in Japan and when Hideyoshi became regent, he brought peace to the country and the armies of samurai became unnecessary.

It was during this period that the first school of ju-jitsu appeared. It was founded by Hisamori Takeuchi, who based his techniques on those of Yoroi Kumiuchi. Sumo and ju-jitsu now became definitely independent studies. A professional sumo association was set up and many judo schools apart from Takeuchi's were founded. Towards the end of this period there are said to have been over three hundred different schools and theories of ju-jitsu. The differences between the schools were often quite minor ones. A teacher would become known as a specialist in certain techniques and would build his system around them.

There was a rigid code of conduct and discipline in these schools. Often a pupil would have to enter a master's home as a servant, and prove his worthiness by serving for a long period before the master would consent to teach him. Ju-jitsu was taught under vows of secrecy and pupils had to swear never to misuse their art.

The last period to consider is the Meiji period, which extends from 1868 to the present day. The Emperor Meiji regained sovereignty from the Tokugawa clan in 1868 and a distinct decline in the martial arts followed. The wearing of swords was abolished by decree in 1871, and a policy of westernisation began in Japan.

Whilst, at the beginning of this period, ju-jitsu schools were still flourishing, these too soon began to die out and the survival of the art is largely due to Professor Jigoro Kano. Born in 1860, he became interested in ju-jitsu because he was of small stature and had learnt that the techniques enabled such as he to hold their own with bigger men. He studied under various jujitsu masters and selected the best techniques from them all to create his own system, which he called 'judo'. He says that 'the old style was not developed for physical education or moral and intellectual training. The latter were nothing hut the incidental blessings of the former, which was exclusively devised for winning'. He found much to disapprove of in the old ju-jitsu schools. Dangerous techniques were practised, which sometimes resulted in injury. Supervision of schools had become poor, and senior pupils would bully or pick quarrels with less well advanced pupils. Some masters would present public exhibitions for money. This kind of degradation of the ancient martial arts was repugnant to Dr Kano, and it was largely for this reason that he found a new name for his system. He called it judo, the name by which it is now generally known throughout the world, and the spread of the art has largely been due to Kano and his pupils.

Kano's first practice hall was an old Buddhist temple. He founded the school in 1882, with a mat area twelve feet by eighteen feet, which is smaller than some provincial British clubs would consider adequate today. The two principles which became the basis of his system were 'maximum efficiency - minimum effort', and 'mutual aid', and these express the basis of his thought. In terms of modern mechanics, you must get a mechanical advantage from your techniques. If you overcome purely by strength, then you will not be able to overcome anyone whose strength is superior to your own. You must win with the minimum of effort. And at the basis of all your practice and effort must be the purpose of helping your partner in his studies.

Dr Kano died in 1938, after a visit to the United States to discuss bringing the Olympic Games to Japan. Not until twenty-six years later did judo become one of the sports featured at the games.

The national body of the judo organisations in Japan was the Butoku Kwai, founded in 1895. It catered not only for judo, hut for the other martial arts such as kendo (sword fighting), aikido, kyudo etc. It had a membership of over three million. More recently, the International Butoku Kwai has been started by Kenshiro Abbe, who was one of the instructors in the original organisation, and when the first international judo championship was held in Tokyo in 1956 it attracted entries from twenty-one countries. There is no single national body in any country today. In Britain, there are three main bodies: The British Judo Association, The Amateur Judo Association, and the British Judo Council, as well as minor organisations and independent teachers and schools. The European countries and the United States also have a number of national organizations. Some are linked with the Butoku Kwai; others are not. The differences between teachers and schools is largely one of emphasis. Standards are roughly similar.

In this hook, we shall study first the basic principles and methods of falling; then the forty basic throws of Dr Kano's system (The Gokyo); then the basic groundwork movements, and finally three of the katas, or formal demonstrations of the art. The latter are essential to preparation for the Black Belt examination.


Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)