Year Beginning Impressions
Kodokan President Haruki UEMURA
I would like to wish you a Happy New Year, with the coming of 2018.
Last year, various tournaments and seminars for all age groups from boys and girls to high Dan holders were held domestically and abroad and drew much excitement. I watched the World Judo Championships in Budapest and the World Junior Judo Championships in Zagreb and enjoyed impressive matches in which athletes were gripping each other well and showed their offensive and defensive techniques. However, still there were some players who disregarded Riai (a principle of using correct, sufficient motion to perform each technique properly with maximum efficiency. This includes the concept of Kuzushi, Tsukuri and Kake as well as the sense of right timing and distance) and repeated false attacks. It made me think that I needed to provide guidance about the way of daily practice that included both offensive and defensive techniques and would lead to a better understanding of Riai. Under these circumstances, the performance of Japanese players were excellent. They attracted spectators with their courteous behavior and their playing style aiming at Ippon.
The IJF Kata World Championships were held in Sardegna, Italy. The Japanese delegation won four gold medals in five Kata categories, and also won a silver medal in Kime-no-Kata. However, delegations from each country have raised their level much higher than the first Kata World Championships. The Japan team could not show overwhelming superiority and won by a narrow margin in some Kata categories. The Championships have become a global battle and are no longer a competition for limited countries. After the Championships, Kodokan experts conducted seminars on Koshiki-no-Kata and Itsutsu-no-Kata for the first time for this event, and trainees from each country participated with enthusiasm and showed their high-level skills that seemed to be developed through daily practice. I admired their attitude to understand the essence and to study real thing.
Concerning our important mission to diffuse and promote Judo domestically and abroad, we conducted various seminars abroad (Germany, U.S.A., Australia and Hong Kong) and dispatched experts to the IJF Judo Academy, while in Japan we conducted Kodokan International Judo Seminar and Kodokan Youth Judo Educational Camp for various trainees including young people and high Dan holders from many countries. Furthermore, the Kodokan dispatched instructors to conduct the seminars and grading examinations in ASEAN countries as a part of a joint project “JAPAN-ASEAN JITA-KYOEI PROJECT”. It was started in November 2016 and has been co-organized by the Kodokan and Japan Foundation Asia Center. We are consulting with some Judo Federations about the establishment of Kodokan committee (organization to intermediate the application for Kodokan Dan grade) in each country. Moreover, we dispatched two instructors to Brunei that was the only ASEAN country without any Judo organization. Their Judo demonstration and Judo experience session got a favorable reception. These activities led to the establishment of the Brunei Judo Federation. Here at the Kodokan, we conducted International Judo Seminar for the instructors of ASEAN countries. 18 instructors from 9 countries participated in the program and studied diligently various things including Judo history, philosophy, coaching methods and Kata, and they made significant progress. This year again, we have many plans of the seminars and events for JAPAN-ASEAN JITA-KYOEI PROJECT that will continue until 2020, and we hope this will lead to the diffusion and promotion of Judo in ASEAN countries. Besides these, we would like to conduct Kodokan Seminars to answer requests from some countries of Europe, North America and South America, and we will choose the best timing and content to make them effective.
Domestically, we have been conducting Kodokan seminars to provide guidance on Kata, basics and refereeing method, and also Kodokan Youth Cultivation Training Seminar that is co-sponsored by Token Corporation. We believe that these seminars contribute a lot to diffuse correct Judo and to activate Judo in each region, so we will further enhance them this year.
Concerning the list of Judo techniques that was a pending matter, we reviewed each technique in the context of Riai and organized a list of 100 techniques that includes Nage-waza and Katame-waza, and then IJF adopted it immediately. Also we are going to complete two ongoing projects, a glossary for Judo terms and a guide of self-defense method for children, by the summer. Furthermore, IJF requested us to organize a Kata for beginner children because Judo was introduced to elementary school curriculums in some countries. We will immediately start organizing the Kata that will consist of low-impact Nage-waza and following Osaekomi-waza.
IJF revised refereeing rules in January 2017, and then the executive committee reviewed the rules after the World Judo Championships in Budapest. In recent circumstances where the evaluation of Ippon was not stable, I explained about the essence of Ippon in Nage-waza and obtained consent from many members. This led to adopt Japanese words Ikioi and Hazumi that were used in the definition of Ippon in the Kodokan. Needless to say, the appeal of Nage-waza is in the skillfulness and dynamism that accord to Riai. I am very glad that Ikioi and Hazumi that are used in the original definition as the principle of Nage-waza were understood by people around the world. Refereeing rules have changed with the times, nevertheless, Judo rules fundamentally maintain the spirit of martial arts. Although it is important to make rules simple so that spectators can easily understand, we should not change Judo to lose its charm and the original form. We will keep making efforts to theoretically and intelligibly convey principles of various definitions--techniques (Nage-waza, Katame-waza, Kaeshi-waza, etc.), positions (standing or ground), evaluation of scores (Ippon, Waza-ari, etc.) and giving penalties for behaviors against the Judo spirit. It will lead to protect the right way and spirit of refereeing.
Here at the start of the year, we will go back to the original point of Kodokan Judo started by Kano Jirogo Shihan and will make a persistent effort to promote “Judo as education” and “Judo for human development” together with the development of “Judo for competitions”. We are going to put Seiryoku-zenyo and Jita-kyoei into practice and communicate the spirit and essence of Kodokan Judo both domestically and internationally, so that we can carry on the tradition of Kodokan Judo developed by ancestors and can continue into the future.
I would like to ask for your guidance, support and continued cooperation. Lastly, I wish that this year will also be a good year for you all.