Unlock the Secrets of the Art of Judo

By: Jimmy Cox

With the rapid expansion of interest in judo throughout the world today, there has developed a need for more understanding of the art and science of this sport. The terms jujitsu and judo are common to our knowledge, but the difference in their meaning is not too clear.

Judo is a derivative of jujitsu and is the correct term used to refer to that art in today's language. The word judo specifically explains the truer meaning of the art as it is practiced today. The "ju" part of the word means "gentleness" or "giving way" and implies a flexibility of techniques, while the "do" part means "way" and signifies the application of the "ju" principle in the execution of the techniques, not only in the physical exertions of the judoist but also in his mental attitude. The older "jitsu", which was replaced by "do", meant "technique" or "art".

We can say that judo is an art because it is a method of arriving at self-realization and true self-expression. We can further say that judo is a science because it implies mastery of various laws of nature: gravity, friction, momentum, velocity, weight transmission, and unison of forces. In its most important phase, it constitutes a kind of higher logic developed through practice and the ascension of the true personality: a realization of the spiritual self in the philosophic rather than the religious sense of the word.

The study of judo without the realization of its secrets - that is, its metaphysical side - leaves one in partial mental emptiness. We must first realize that the study of true judo is symbolic of mental attitudes and behavior. The subconscious mind is where our behavior patterns are collected in a vast reservoir of our years of experience.

When we are able to tap these resources we can build our personalities anew, developing positive attitudes and, in the end, mastering the purely physical. It has been said, in regard to a judo expert's level of mental development, that "the arms are an extension of the mind".

Training in judo disciplines the mind through physical-symbolic exercises, bringing about a maturity of the skill of higher logic. It is the use of this skill that characterizes the mental reaction of the judoist to a given situation when it arises. This serenity of mind is developed in proper judo practice, but the true reservoir of mental composure is built through Zen meditation.

Zen is a relative form of yoga, without the difficult gymnastic feats. Through correct breathing and proper postural discipline, one creates a mental state of reserved energy. Throughout the meditation period, the Zen student concentrates on "nothingness" and accepts no opposing force of any kind. He seats himself in a kneeling-sitting position in a state of relaxation as nearly complete as possible.

There seems, however, to be no serious reason for the Western judoist to adopt this practice, since the Zen effect is embodied in the exercises of judo itself.

The beginning judoist should realize that it is better to learn the basic techniques and principles well than to oversaturate the mind with hundreds of subsidiary techniques that cannot possibly be mastered in one lifetime. In other words, it is better for the student of judo to perfect himself in the basic techniques and principles in order to set an impression on his subconscious mind. This is the result most to be desired.

Once these symbolic exercises have been impressed upon the mind, the new, positive, expert attitude to situations begins to develop. Two good judo maxims illustrate the purpose of such training: Seiryoku zenyo means "the maximum efficient use of physical and mental energy" and jita kyoei, "mutual welfare and benefit".

Self-defense in judo is only one basic aspect of this art. The nucleus must be mental control, in order that mastery of the self-defense techniques may be achieved. It is important for us to realize that even though Zen originated in a religious environment, it is a philosophy and can be applied to any of our personal beliefs.

Now you understand some of the philosophy of judo, it is time for you to begin the practice!

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