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Was Kano shihan religious? Was judo his alternative? Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   NBK 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 11:51 AM

The title pretty much asks the question - was Kano shihan a religious man?

I can't recall ever reading anything from him or about his religion. He was very nationalistic, to be expected of a proud Japanese helping build the country; the changes he lived through were amazing, as Japan went from almost medieval quasi-fudalism to a modern Asian regional power.

Mrs. NBK was trying to explain to a Westerner just how seriously the students of one of my dojo take practice and the physical dojo. At a loss to explain, finally she said it is their religion, and their practice is their worship. Simply consider the dojo their church.

I would not have said such myself, but she got the point across, and got me to think about Kano's religion.

Thanks,


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#2 User is offline   Hyperborean 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 12:19 PM

First, I don't know about Kano-sensei's religion. Second, I wouldn't be comfortable calling Judo a religion. One of its strengths is that it is able to offer educative principles to everyone. If you say it is a religion, or a replacement therefore, it might 'scare' those people away. Especially since problems with greeting and bowing do occur (although I have never had them at our club).
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#3 User is offline   NBK 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 12:28 PM

Nor would I call or consider judo a religion - such a term was simply the wife's effort to explain to a non-martial artist why we were not happy that she failed to properly clean the dojo after borrowing it.


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#4 User is offline   Mitesco 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 01:35 PM

I don't think Kano considered his judo to be any kind of religion. He teached principles about a way in life, with elements comparable to religion. Religions however are characterized by a goal in terms of God, heaven, religious items. The goals of judo are human: the benefit of mankind. Elements judo shares with religions, but is not religious in itself.

For the rest: what do we know about the personality of Kano? Almost nothing. Whether he would have been a religious man, is speculation.

Quote

Buddhism, Confucianism and Christianity each have their own guiding principles which may be found through study, but this is very difficult. I often have occasion to exchange opinions with authorities on Buddhism, Confucianism and Christianity. Those who have made such profound study and cultivated their minds, say the same I do: the path may differ, but in the end the aims of both religion and learning are ultimately the same, and I consider these authorities as my colleagues. (...) So, through judo, we are teaching a principle that can work together with the highest principles of Buddhism and Christianity and the exhaustive studies of philosophers, one which, like the other great philosophies and religions, can be put into action.
Jigoro Kano, Mind over Muscle, p. 82




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#5 User is offline   Belatucadros 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 01:43 PM

It's not a religion but many people view martial arts spiritually. I have what I think is a JJ Machado quote (at least, a snippet of it):


The mat is my church, the ground is my heaven, Jiu-Jitsu is my religion.
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#6 User is offline   Fed_Arrestler 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 01:50 PM

Its a fascinating topic.

While I don't consider Judo to be religion, there are certainly those among us whose passion (dare I say fervor) for the philosophical aspects of the art definitely seems to border on religiosity. My parents tried without success to raise me up in a very strict religion that I could not find it within myself to accept or believe in.

I see the value in teaching courtesy and ethics in martial arts. In fact I think it negligent to teach techniques that can be used to harm or kill without attempting to incorporate some kind of ethics and discipline regarding their use. From time to time amongst Judoka I find a peculiar intensity of observance that I find, well, troublesome.

I'll admit I don't get it. I have friends that handle snakes and speak in tongues and I don't get that either. This idea that by throwing and choking one another we might develop better character and better a society based on mutual welfare and benefit does not seem to me to be reflected by the facts of the matter. Is there any objective evidence to support the contention that Judo people are more honest, ethical, have better character, are better members of society than people that practice other martial arts? I don't know the answer to that but I'm inclined to say no.

I have met a very small number of people who seemed to my layman's eye to possibly be spiritually developed more so than the average person. They were, without exception, people who had spent a lot of time and energy developing their ethics, morals and spirituality. None of them were martial artists. The notion that one might get the same results via a practice of martial arts seems unlikely.

Seems to me that the path to "maximum efficiency and minimum effort" in developing character, ethics, spirituality, morality or whatever would be in undergoing a direct study of those things, rather than trying to mix it all up with the practice of throwing people on their head and then choking them unconscious.
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#7 User is offline   dustymars 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 02:09 PM

Judo is a Way of Life, nothing more, nothing less. Kono sensei was a Shinto Buddhist; however, as an educator he appreciated other religions. Too bad some of his followers never learned such things.

How do I know this? Well, an old freind and sensei of mine, who studied Judo under Kano sensei, told me so.

This post has been edited by dustymars: 26 June 2009 - 02:39 PM

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#8 User is offline   Fed_Arrestler 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 03:27 PM

View Postdustymars, on Jun 26 2009, 07:09 AM, said:

Judo is a Way of Life, nothing more, nothing less. Kono sensei was a Shinto Buddhist; however, as an educator he appreciated other religions. Too bad some of his followers never learned such things.


It still begs a question. For some people, bowling, civil war re-enactment, or collecting barbie dolls or old blues records is a way of life. You and I might find it odd that someone would devote so much time and energy to something we find trivial but I see no real harm in it. Most folks engaged in such hobbies, even to an obsessive degree, prefer the company of like minded people but I rarely find any implication that they believe themselves morally or ethically superior or that their habits improve the world around them.

If we agree that Judo is not religion, there are some that seem to believe that as a "way of life" it is still a system of moral development. As such, is it effective?
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#9 User is offline   Mitesco 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 03:38 PM

View PostFed_Arrestler, on Jun 26 2009, 05:27 PM, said:

It still begs a question. For some people, bowling, civil war re-enactment, or collecting barbie dolls or old blues records is a way of life. You and I might find it odd that someone would devote so much time and energy to something we find trivial but I see no real harm in it. Most folks engaged in such hobbies, even to an obsessive degree, prefer the company of like minded people but I rarely find any implication that they believe themselves morally or ethically superior or that their habits improve the world around them.

If we agree that Judo is not religion, there are some that seem to believe that as a "way of life" it is still a system of moral development. As such, is it effective?


You have the ability to make things more relative, indeed. ;wry)

However, when all judoka would discover the deeper meaning of judo and practice, yes, it would be a useful system of complete development, moral, intellectual and physical. Could be. In that sense, as lifelong education, Kano built up judo. That most judoka in the world consider it just as a hobby, a sport, comparable to their collecting stamps or being a football-supporter, that is their choice. We cannot send them to JudoGitmo for that. Not every judoka feels the challenge to make it a way of life. Which doesn't mean that it has not the potential to become it. Not religiously, just human. Not superior to others - not at all. When a judoka has understood Kano well, he will have a very open mind to other people. Judoka should be nice and gentle people. And btw, I know a couple of those guys. It's nice to go the same way in life with them, and sometimes even throw them. :hap:



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#10 User is offline   Taigyo 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 03:44 PM

I think there is a bit of a problem with differences in the concept of religion. It is an adequate metaphor to express how serious someone is about something, however it is not a true equivalent. Most Christian varieties (especially the evangelical types one finds very often in America) do not have the concept of "practice" that one finds in Buddhisim or other eastern religions. They are more focused on faith and worship, than actions. I have no idea if Kano sensei was religious or not, but Judo in comparison to the Koryu, is very non-religious. Koryu dojo almost universally have a small shrine in the kamiza, they often have a particular shrine or temple that they are associated with, and might incorportate Shinto or Buddhist concepts (some very esoteric) in their teachings, and more often than not attribute their origins to some sort of divine intervention or inspiration. The methodology of Eastern Religion, focused practice, meditation, etc. seems to have extended from a purely religious application, to permeate everyday life. I was recently told a story by an elderly martial artist of his experinces as a temporary worker on a highway crew while he was in college. The permanent workers were highly disgusted with him and the other part-timers because they were not able to shovel dirt into a perfectly square space, or fill a truck, perfectly level and even using only their shovels with no tamping or adjustment. These men were focused, they put themselves into their work even though they were "merely" ditch diggers.

This post has been edited by Taigyo: 26 June 2009 - 03:45 PM

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#11 User is offline   Fed_Arrestler 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 04:10 PM

View PostMitesco, on Jun 26 2009, 08:38 AM, said:

You have the ability to make things more relative, indeed. ;wry)

When a judoka has understood Kano well, he will have a very open mind to other people. Judoka should be nice and gentle people. And btw, I know a couple of those guys. It's nice to go the same way in life with them, and sometimes even throw them. :hap:


I know a few of those type folks in Judo also. But I've also met them playing softball, soccer, rugby, karate, BJJ, boxing, billiards and darts. And, I hate to say it, but the most kind, open-minded and gentle people I have met in Judo are generally not the ones who seem to be taking the whole "Judo as a way of life" thing the most seriously.
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#12 User is offline   Fed_Arrestler 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 04:26 PM

View PostTaigyo, on Jun 26 2009, 08:44 AM, said:

Most Christian varieties (especially the evangelical types one finds very often in America) do not have the concept of "practice" that one finds in Buddhisim or other eastern religions.


I think the term "most" is a bit of a stretch. The faith vs. works debate featured prominently in the Catholic/Protestant schism. However, most contemporary Christian churches, even the American Evangelical variety tend to think that good works are, well, "good", but that they aren't necessary for salvation. And would not prayer and bible study etc., be a form of practice?

A tremendous amount of service is done by these organizations. I dare say if the homeless shelters and transitional housing services provided by the Salvation Army and Association of Gospel Rescue Missions closed up overnight, many major metropolitan cities would be overwhelmed. And these are distinctly protestant organizations.

But again, what is being practiced in Judo? Is it kindness, patience, tolerance, love for ones fellow man? Or is it toughness, courtesy, and agression? Can it be both?

This post has been edited by Fed_Arrestler: 26 June 2009 - 04:26 PM

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#13 User is offline   dustymars 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 05:00 PM

View PostFed_Arrestler, on Jun 26 2009, 03:27 PM, said:

It still begs a question. For some people, bowling, civil war re-enactment, or collecting barbie dolls or old blues records is a way of life. You and I might find it odd that someone would devote so much time and energy to something we find trivial but I see no real harm in it. Most folks engaged in such hobbies, even to an obsessive degree, prefer the company of like minded people but I rarely find any implication that they believe themselves morally or ethically superior or that their habits improve the world around them.

If we agree that Judo is not religion, there are some that seem to believe that as a "way of life" it is still a system of moral development. As such, is it effective?


My fascination with the mysterious "Judo chop" is about the closet I ever came to treating Judo as anything other than a lot of hard work and play. After the first months of practice it became painfully obvious that Judo was not some exotic metaphoric magic, but was going to be fun and a way to spend a lot of energy I had as a kid. When we speak of "The Way” of Judo it is not as complicated as some make it out to be. However, when my student asked me to explain this, my retort was to “have a cup of tea.” It just cannot be explained. In comparison; it is easier to demonstrate to someone how to scratch their nose, but try explaining to them -- using only words.

There are no secrets or religious connotation of Judo – just a lot of fun getting all sweaty and working hard.

This post has been edited by dustymars: 26 June 2009 - 05:05 PM

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#14 User is offline   Y-Chromosome 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 05:25 PM

Judo is an education which leads one towards being a more valuable member of society. In order to contribute to Jita Kyoei one develops three aspects of the self: Shin Ghi Tai.

So far this thread seems to have centred mainly on the Shin (moral, ethical aspects) of judo and it's been suggested that Judo is lacking compared to other pursuits in developing shin. Perhaps but this doesn't change the fact that Judo is fantastic at developing the Ghi and Tai so insofar as society may benefit from citizens who are clever and strong as well as moral judo still supports Jita Kyoei.

Insofar as Judo develops Shin I must quote the great Canadian media guru Marshall McLuhan who staed that "The medium is the message." Judo is a great example of this. Text or speech can convey the idea of mutual benefit, but judo practice forces one to LIVE it in a very real and practical way. I can draw sketches and explain calculations of maximum efficiency but in judo you FEEL it and are altered by the feeling. Judo does not just preach certain values and ideas, it goes further and EMBODIES them.

In this sense it probably isn't necessary or desireable to THINK very hard about these things in one's judo life, if the judo itself is conveying them whether you think about it or not.

In short, if you want to use Seiryoko Zenyo in seeking the Shin, Ghi and Tai needed to support Jita Kyoei the "do" is clearly "ju".
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#15 User is offline   dustymars 

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 05:36 PM

While living in Okinawa and Japan, in my early 20’s, some of their religious teachings fascinated me so I attempted to study some of it. Zen was something that interested me a lot, but to even get to first base one must understand a little of Buddhism, at least two methods I knew about. The studies were interesting and educational; I still find interest in them to this day after a half century. By traveling in the foot steps of the sensei that helped me understand Martial Arts they also helped me study their religion, without reservation because they knew I was just their witness it. Nagamine sensei, our karate teacher, was into Zen Buddhism and having developed a close relationship with him he allowed me to study Zen with him. He would smile occasionally when I asked dumb questions and asked me to have a cup of tea. Never really ever figured that out. The again, the language barrier didn't help much either, as I was also learning Japanese and Okinawan as well. I was a confused dude :P He did help to educate me in several Ways of Life, and also taught me some valuable Judo methods as well. Yes, he was an experienced Judoka too. Several karate sensei there were really good Judo competitors in their younger days. While living in Japan a couple of my Judo sensei were happy that I was interested in their lives outside the dojo. In those days it seems they treated me like their step son, so would teach me about their religion and family life. While it has been a long time ago their teachings are still with me. I suspect that if never asked they would have never brought up the subjects. Judo, or even karate, has no hidden secrets; nor are they a form of religion – unless one treats them as such. If anyone treats these things other than hard work and sweat, then they are very lonely and insecure people.One of my Judo sensei in Japan and one in Texas told me of Kano sensei's religion. They said that he was more interested in Judo than forms of worship.

View PostY-Chromosome, on Jun 26 2009, 05:25 PM, said:

Judo is an education which leads one towards being a more valuable member of society. In order to contribute to Jita Kyoei one develops three aspects of the self: Shin Ghi Tai.So far this thread seems to have centred mainly on the Shin (moral, ethical aspects) of judo and it's been suggested that Judo is lacking compared to other pursuits in developing shin. Perhaps but this doesn't change the fact that Judo is fantastic at developing the Ghi and Tai so insofar as society may benefit from citizens who are clever and strong as well as moral judo still supports Jita Kyoei.Insofar as Judo develops Shin I must quote the great Canadian media guru Marshall McLuhan who staed that "The medium is the message." Judo is a great example of this. Text or speech can convey the idea of mutual benefit, but judo practice forces one to LIVE it in a very real and practical way. I can draw sketches and explain calculations of maximum efficiency but in judo you FEEL it and are altered by the feeling. Judo does not just preach certain values and ideas, it goes further and EMBODIES them.In this sense it probably isn't necessary or desireable to THINK very hard about these things in one's judo life, if the judo itself is conveying them whether you think about it or not.In short, if you want to use Seiryoko Zenyo in seeking the Shin, Ghi and Tai needed to support Jita Kyoei the "do" is clearly "ju".
for sure "Shin Ghi Tai" is difficult to grasp. while not been in practice for many years, never the less even all the years of practice I never really learned it 100%. Maybe it goes way at times. Jita Kyoei is difficult for weaterners to grap anyway.
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