Zen Judo - A Way Of Life

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Author: Brian N. Bagot
Pub: 1989 by Blandford Press
Pages: 128
Ranking:Two star Rating
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Although this book contains both photos and line drawings, it often fails to provide them when discussing techniques. And the photos are often of either children, or teenagers demonstrating a technique. Many uses of non-standard terminology greatly detract from the usefulness of this book. Non-standard technique names such as 'Hiki Tai', and 'Uchi Ashi Sasae' abound. This book also confuses Deashiharai with Kosotogari, although the book while discussing Kosotogari comments: "There appears to be some controversy over the naming of the foot sweeps, and you may well encounter this technique described as de ashi bari (or harai) in other manuals." So it also appears that the author is unaware of the correct harai/barai usage as well. The only other book that I've noted that has this curious mixup, and it only shows Kosotogari as Deashibarai (it doesn't show Kosotogari in the book) is Secrets of Judo. I can't honestly recommend this book, as it's Judo is questionable, and it doesn't contain anything else of interest.


 Foreword by D. C. McCarthy,                  
 7th Dan Zen                               6
 Author's Preface                          7
 Introduction                              8
  1 Etiquette and Rules of the Dojo       11
  2 Basics of Throwing Techniques         16
  3 The Zen Syllabus of Standing          
      Techniques                          22
  4 Combination Techniques                56
  5 Counters to Standing Techniques       62
  6 Sacrifice Techniques                  71
  7 Groundholds                           86
  8 Gradings                              96
  9 Atemiwaza                            103
 10 The Spirit of Zen                    110
 Appendix A -- The Full Syllabus         115
 Appendix B -- Forms for Use in Gradings 119
 Glossary of Terms                       123
 Index to the Main Movements             126
 General Index                           127
 From start to End -
 From Colour to Colour                   128



Foreword by Dominick McCarthy
7th Dan Zen Judo Family

To Dr Jigoro Kano, founder of this 'Wonderful Way of Life', and all others who followed him and those who still keep his work and name alive today.

As a humble being I try hard to pass on to others his marvellous skill. As the great man said, 'It is for everyone'. It is not confined to associations and committees. It spells freedom for all people. It eliminates fools who abuse it and allows the dedicated to prevail. Time is of no consequence. You cannot be in a hurry on a round planet or, to put it nearer home, why hurry when you're not going out of the room in which you are practising. Love your practice and it will reward you. My respects to the Amateur Judo Association, the British Judo Association and the British Judo Council.

Dominick Charles McCarthy



This book is not about competitive Judo, and the Zen style is not suited to those who wish to carry their physical training to the limit. If you are a player who is looking for clubs where your prowess at competition can be stretched, then my advice is not to inflict yourself upon a Zen club, or a Zen club upon yourself. You will only be disappointed, and the club membership will be pleased to see your inevitable departure. If, on the other hand, you are a player searching for a chance to build on your technique or to learn other techniques, then I can only advise you to visit a Zen club and see Zen Judo for yourself.

Zen Judo accepts students of all ages from six to sixty, male or female. Those without preconceived ideas of the art are most suited, and progress quicker, than those with previous experience. Zen Judo is still only in its infancy, but is growing rapidly and will one day rank among the more popular Judo styles. Needless to say Zen Judo is very different in nature to the other styles and possesses a charisma all its own. The Zen club is usually a close-knit organisation enjoying a friendly atmosphere both on and off the mat. This is the reason that the organisation is called the 'Zen Judo Family'. I sincerely hope that the friendly and caring spirit of the Zen Judo Family has been encapsulated within the pages of this book. You will notice that the text only covers the student's progress during the initial training period up to the grade of 1st Dan. Your progress thereafter will be the subject of a further book in the future dealing with Dan-grade tuition, further techniques and kata.

Brian N. Bagot



Zen Judo was founded in 1974 by Dominick McCarthy, a man who has trained in both Judo and Karate for many years. The concept of Zen Judo is a reversion to and a building on the original or traditional style of Judo as pioneered by Dr Jigoro Kano. Since World War Two the Europeans have developed Judo as a sport rather than an art, and the advent of the Olympic Judo competitions has changed the traditional values associated with this art. Nowadays the object of Judo is to win, albeit within the scope of the rules, and gradings in the sport are based primarily upon success in competition. The traditional Judo values are, to many, far more important than an obsession with winning in all walks of life. In Zen Judo the accent is on achieving perfection of technique in all throws and holds, helping your partner in a search for perfection rather than beating your partner, and achieving a confidence in your ability whereby you feel no need to 'prove yourself' on the mat by resisting all throws put on you by lesser grades.

This is not to say that competition does not play any part in Zen Judo. There are interclub competitions, team competitions and annual individual events which are run more or less to the European Judo rules which currently prevail. Such competitions have proved as hard as any run by many other Judo associations, and several players have joined Zen from other styles to concentrate upon technique in their search for further knowledge.

I was lucky enough to find myself working near the main headquarters of Zen Judo when I had the time and inclination to try Judo. I feel sure that if I had tried the purely competitive style I would not have continued for very long. The nurturing style of Zen, and the carefully graded structure of its syllabus, ensure that you are introduced to Judo in a prudent and highly controlled manner. The grades are awarded for pure technical knowledge and skill rather than competitive success. This does not mean that grades are given away, rather they are awarded following an arduous grading session under the eye of a competent instructor. The grading sessions become progressively harder and longer as you climb the ladder, whilst the perfection of technique expected at each grading will increase. My progress through the grades of the Zen Judo Family (a name recently ascribed to the style by Sensei McCarthy) was initially slow, due probably to my age and to the fact that I was by no means a 'natural'. I had to overcome difficulties at almost every stage, and still do to this day, although most difficulties succumb with time and patience. It was with the help of Sensei McCarthy and some of his instructors that I was successful in surmounting the obstacles placed by my mind and body along the way to my black belt. It is because of, rather than in spite of, these problems that I feel competent to write this book.

As a first Kyu (brown belt) I moved to another part of the country, where I started up my own club. The club has grown in strength and popularity over the years and is now among the strongest in the Zen Family. My style of instruction has been tempered by the many setbacks that I have experienced, and readers will note the care with which I try to explain those areas which may become stumbling-blocks for others. All clubs are styled upon their instructors, and although I belong to the Zen Family there are several areas in which I tend to depart from Sensei McCarthy's teaching style. There has not been a published manual for Zen Judo - only a series of duplicated sheets - and now some thirteen years after its founding I feel that the time has come for a comprehensive text which will serve to introduce newcomers to this alternative form of Judo, and which can also act as a manual for the members of the Zen Judo Family. With this in mind I have endeavoured to depart from the tried and tedious format of other Judo books, and have laid out this manual so that students can see exactly what they need to learn for each grading. Chapters on combination techniques and sacrifice techniques give most of the various requirements of the syllabus and, in addition, I have included some of my methods of instruction where I feel it may be necessary. I make no apology for treating my students with extra care, as I feel that this will be eventually reflected in the amount of understanding between student and instructor in the future. Zen Judo is an art for everyone. Zen can cater for fighters and thinkers: the fighters learn how to channel their aggression and control it, whilst the others are free to enjoy their Judo without being piled through the mat. It is my hope that this book will encourage people to join the Zen Family who have hitherto been put off from Judo by the competitive element contained in the European style. It is my belief that Zen Judo has a big future in Britain and elsewhere. There are now Zen clubs starting in the British Army of the Rhine, and my own club is closely associated with the Hemsbach Judo Club in Germany. Finally it is also my hope that this book will provide coherence once and for all to the Zen Family syllabus. There have been several amendments over the years, and this book itself has precipitated a rethink of the grading syllabus. There has tended to be an accent upon the right-handed techniques in the past. This has now been reconciled by Sensei McCarthy, with the full syllabus to be performed to both right and left. I wish to thank Sensei McCarthy and his chief instructors for their help in compiling this text. I also wish to thank the members of the Wareham Zen Judo Club who were so patient when I practised all the combinations upon them, and who provided me with ample criticisms of my text during the draft of this book.


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