In the early 1880's, Professor Jigoro Kano, a teacher from Tokyo who had studied Ju-jitsu as a young man, was confused when masters of various schools taught similar techniques in slightly different styles. Dr Kano searched for a common principle and identified it as the efficient use of mental and physical energy.
Dr Kano was concerned with the many injuries suffered by students learning Jujitsu and wished to emphasize the health benefits. As he wrote, “Jujitsu employed dangerous practices such as throwing by quite incorrect methods or by roughly applying torsion to the limbs”. Kano filtered out the more hazardous techniques and combined some of the more benign Jujitsu techniques with those of the other arts, like Karate and Sumo, and added some methods of his own to create his own system and code of conduct for students to follow, called Judo. Hence, he transformed the practice of Jujitsu (Ju = flexible, yielding) from a fighting art (“Jitsu”) to a way or path (“Do”).
In 1882 Dr. Kano founded the Kodokan, literally “The School for Studying the Way” in Tokyo to teach his theories (pictured with original Kodokan members).
Gradually, Judo gained appeal. Between the two World Wars, the military often trained in Judo because it instilled discipline in the men. Although some Westerners travelled to Japan during this time, Japanese masters are the most responsible for the spreading of Judo around the world.
Judo was brought to Europe by Gunji Koizumi, on of Dr. Kano’s original students. He founded the Budokwai Judo Club in London in 1918 where Yukio Tani was appointed chief instructor in 1920 (picture applying a strangle to Koizumi).
Koizumi’s vision for the growth of Judo on an international basis began to materialize in 1948. On the 24th of July that year the British Judo Association (BJA) was established as a representative national body; four days later a meeting under the chairmanship of Trevor Leggett (pictured throwing Geof Gleeson), the most senior non-Japanese player in the world at the time, approved the constitution of a European Judo Union (EJU) to represent Judo in the continent of Europe.
The International Judo Federation was formed in 1951 in Seoul, South Korea as an inter-continental body with overall control of Judo. By 1984, Judo had gained enough appeal to become an official sport and the first martial art to be included in the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The British Judo Council was founded in 1958 by Mr Kenshiro Abbe who was an eight Dan Judo and Sensei of the Budokai, which was, until the end of the Second World, was the special training college for the Martial Arts Society, controlling all teach and grading’s in Kyoto, Japan. My Abbe, the son of a Kendo Master (Japanese swordsman), trained at the Budokai in Kyoto which was the main rival of and usually the victor over the Kodokan in Tokyo. During this time he won the equivalent of the present day All Japan championship three times.
Mr Abbe also held 6th and 7th Dan’s in other martial arts such as Kendo and Aikido.
At the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1064 the BJC held what is probably the biggest and most prestigious Judo event ever to be held in this country. Apart from the competition with over 800 competitors many martial arts masters came from all over Europe to take part in the demonstrations of Kendo, Aikido, Karate and Judo. One of the highlights was a demonstration of Nage-no-Kata (formal throws) by Mr Abbe and his colleague from the Budikai, Mr Haku Michigami who was by then living in France.
The British Judo Council (Martial Arts Circle) was founded in 1958 after Mr Abbe had returned to Japan where he sadly died in 1978. The original founders – Nobby Clarke, John Hughes, Bob White, Vince Williams, Bill Wood and John Vine – actually signed a charter ensuring that the membership would always be put first; a tradition that continues up to the present day.
In 1956 the BJC (M.A.C.) entered its first team in the European Judo Union Championships which that year was held in Vienna/ After some great performances the five-man team took the gold and Mike Ilott, although officially under age, brought home the Council’s first individual European title.
Throughout the 1970’s the BJC (M.A.C.) continued to dominate the European scene with its best result coming in 1974 when not only did the Council take both the men’s and women’s team titles but also 9 out of them 14 individual titles.
There are many Martial Arts Organizations established nationally and internationally, below is a brief list of some of them with Founding Dates.
1882 – Kodokan
1895 – Butokukai
1948 – BJA British Judo Association
1948 – EJU European Judo Union
1951 – IJF International Judo Federation
1952 – IMAF International Martial Arts Federation (Japan)
1952 – USJF United States Judo Federation (Formerly AJA)
1958 – BJC British Judo Council
1966 – IBF International Budo Federation
1968 – BJC (M.A.C.) British Judo Council (Martial Arts Circle)
1969 – USJA United States Judo Association
1972 – AMA Amateur Martial Arts Association