16 April 2020


Translations of Jigoro Kano


Associate Professor in Japanese Language and Civilisation from the University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès and member of the EJU Scientific Commission, Mr Yves Cadot (6th Dan), has translated original text from Jigoro Kano. We will continue with part five for the attention of judo specialists.

The text translated firstly in to French – with the link available in his quote directly below – and then in to English has allowed a further insight in to the workings of Jigoro Kano. 

Because many of us are frustrated in these days of closed dojos, deprived of the physical link to our discipline, to others, and because judo teaches us to transform situations into opportunities, I suggest we take this opportunity to take an account of our own practice through the writings of Kano Jigoro. 

The idea is to offer every day, until the reopening of the dojos, a quote, a few lines or pages, raw, without comments (but sourced!) to feed our knowledge, feed our thinking, cultivate us. You will find them, if possible in the early morning, in my Hypotheses.org research notebook (Le dire en corps), in the section ‘Une journée, un texte’.

Part Five: Purpose of the special section of randori exercise I am about to put in place at the Kodokan

“In the previous issue, I mentioned my intention to soon set up a special randori exercise section at Kodokan, and here I would like to speak a little more about it.

The way in which randori is generally practiced today no longer corresponds in many respects to the original purpose, so I have long wanted to modify it; without an immediate and judicious idea, however, to achieve this, I had not previously been working on it. However, this is a situation that could not last indefinitely, and as some ideas have recently come to my mind, I decided to put them into action.

Since I didn’t have an immediate and wise idea of how to modify the practise of randori, up until now, I haven’t done anything about it. 

As I already said in the previous issue, the judo randori combines the martial aspect with that of physical education and, while it is easy for everyone to understand the aspect of physical education, it is more difficult with regard to the warrior aspect. It is possible to slash, strike or kick without danger in kata but difficult to do it in randori. That’s why we’ve come up with a method of safe confrontation. However, I didn’t realize something that I hadn’t thought about enough and that was inevitable. Indeed, it is clear that in the randori neither of them applies an atemi or any other technique which could cause injuries to the other; however, neither should adopt an attitude or posture that would allow them to be easily hit by an atemi.

On the one hand I must not really apply what would cause injury to my partner but, on the other hand, I must be ready, in case the other would really hit me, to dodge or avoid attacks. In today’s randori, that the atemi are not used is obvious but because we agree not to strike, we have come to neglect the preparation for the eventuality where the opponent would strike for real. It must be said that this is a deficiency. As a result of this error, the attitude and posture in randori have become what they are today. If you put force in your arms and legs, spread your legs, lower your body very low when you are in contact, the movements are slow and it is difficult to move your body nimbly. This is why it is desirable, during the randori, to confront the partner as much as possible in shizen-tai or, if not, in jigo-tai which allows to move the body at any time. When one adopts this attitude, one can easily avoid attacks by the partner or, in the event of a failed escape, at least one is not violently struck head on. In addition, when we take the point of view of physical education, it is clear that it is desirable to exercise in shizen-tai, an attitude that allows you to move freely both to the right and to the left. There are sometimes people who think that having a developed muscular body is the ideal body but, the ideal body, it is not that, and one cannot condone prominent musculature: it is necessary to obtain power which one can apply in any direction, and where the strong muscles express themselves as soon as strength is applied. To build such a body, one should not permanently introduce force during randori.

If one wishes to educate the attitude described above and get used to this posture, it is necessary to educate the habit of exercising with the right attitude and posture, without stubbornly fighting in randori such as it is usually practiced today. When you get too attached to the fact that you should not fall, it becomes difficult to fall skillfully. Not knowing how to fall skillfully leads to insanely resisting. From there comes injuries and failures. If, on the contrary, we do not hate being thrown, that we do not try to resist with all our might when the partner’s technique is sufficiently effective and that we are ready to fall courageously, we finally master the fall and that is no longer in the least painful. When you accumulate this experience, you come to be able to carry techniques while being thrown or even to be able, in the fall, to dodge the body and get up.

As, by such an exercise, we come to be able to move the body with lightness and freedom, this body is an excellent body which has been well strengthened. When we reflect from this point of view, we must take care to, without focusing like today only on the fact of not falling, practice rather to fall and, through this, to gain freedom of the body and produce natural and skillful techniques.”

This specific text is available in both French and Japanese here. Traduction de travail par Yves Cadot de : Kanô Jigorô 嘉納治五郎. « Chikaku Kōdōkan ni mōken to suru randori tokubetsu renshūka no mokuteki ni tsuite 近く講道館に設けんとする乱取特別練習科の目的について (A propos de l’objectif de la section spéciale d’exercice de randori que je compte bientôt mettre en place au Kōdōkan) ». Jūdō 柔道. Juillet 1937.


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Author: Sören Starke