Year Beginning Impressions
Kodokan President Haruki UEMURA
I would like to wish you a Happy New Year, with the coming of 2017.
Last year, the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, a big event of sporting world, was held on a large scale. World’s top athletes showed exciting matches making their utmost effort of mind, body and technique, in 306 events of 28 sports. The Japanese delegation gained a record number of 41 medals including 12 gold medals. Their performance impressed us and provided cheerful, pleasant topics.
In Judo events, 390 athletes from 136 countries and regions participated. Most players were gripping each other well and showed their offensive and defensive techniques in exciting matches. However, there were some players who were desperate to win and disregarded Riai (the principle of using correct, sufficient motion to perform each technique properly with maximum efficiency) such as Kuzushi, Tsukuri and Kake, and repeated false attacks. Also there were some players who only focused on blocking opponent’s grip and continued that until the end of match. There were also many cases that referees called Osaekomi although the situations did not satisfy required conditions. The definition of Osaekomi and the way of refereeing need to be reconfirmed immediately.
This time, the number of countries with a gold medalist became 10, including Argentina and Kosovo that gained a gold medal for the first time in the history of Olympic Judo. Also the number of countries and regions that gained any kind of medal became 26. These results show that world’s Judo has increased the level surely and extensively. In such circumstances, the Japan team struggled to win a record high 12 medals including three gold medals. Not only that, their proper Reiho, posture, fighting style always aiming at Ippon, and also their manner after matches were highly praised by IJF and Federation officials as well as audience. Also in Paralympics, Japanese delegation gained 24 medals much more than the previous time. In Judo events, a Japanese female player won a medal for the first time, and Japanese delegation brought four medals to the country. I believe that these efforts and momentum in Rio de Janeiro will lead toward the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020 four years later.
Kano Jigoro Shihan created Kodokan Judo and diffused domestically and internationally. At the same time, he preached about the importance and need of physical education throughout his life. Not only accomplishing enormous achievements as an educator, he became the first Asian member of the IOC in 1909 and devoted himself to realize Japan’s participation in the Olympics, a festival of peace, and to make Japan a hosting country. He founded Dai Nihon Taiiku Kyokai that is the predecessor of Japan Amateur Sports Association and Japanese Olympic Committee in 1911, and became the first president. The next year, in 1912, the 5th Stockholm Olympics was held with 2437 participants from 28 countries. Kano Shihan participated in this Olympics as the chief of Japanese delegation consisting of one coach, Mr. Hyozo Omori, and two track-and-field athletes, Mr.Yahiro MISHIMA and Mr. Shiso KANAGURI. After that, he worked actively to realize the first Olympics in Asia. In 1936, finally Tokyo defeated Helsinki in the bid to host the Olympics in 1940, in the IOC General Assembly held just before the Berlin Olympics. However, Shina-jihen (China Incident) broke out in 1937, therefore IOC members raised questions about the possibility of the Tokyo Olympics and Japan’s aptitude as a hosting country. In the IOC General Assembly at Cairo in 1938, there was a meeting to take a vote on the holding of the Tokyo Olympics two years later. Kano Shihan made a great effort to persuade his opponents and gained the final approval of the Tokyo Olympics as well as the holding of the Winter Olympics in Sapporo.
After getting the approval of summer and winter Olympics in Japan, Kano Shihan went to Athene to pay respect at gravesite of his friend, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a former IOC president. He visited various IOC officials travelling across the Atlantic Ocean and the North America, then boarded a ship Hikawamaru at Seattle to return to Japan via Vancouver. On the ship, he got pneumonia from a common cold and passed away on the 4th of May, in 1938.
In July of the same year, Japan’s government decided to give up holding the Olympics due to the intensification of the war. If the Tokyo Olympics was held in 1940, Judo matches were supposed to be held as demonstration sport. I sometimes imagine if the Tokyo Olympics had been held in 1940, how it would have been, “Was it held in open-weight or weight class?”, “How was the refereeing?”, or “Did it help Judo to diffuse to the world earlier?”
24 years later, Judo became official events in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, and 74 male athletes from 27 countries participated. Women’s Judo started as a demonstration sport in the Seoul Olympics, and became official events in the Barcelona Olympics.
I thought about the reason why Kano Shihan aimed at participating and hosting Olympics. The purpose of Olympic Movement is to seek hand-in-hand world peace through sport, cultivating friendship, cooperation and the spirit of fair play while promoting mutual understanding. In chapter 1 of the Olympic Charter, it is prescribed as follows: “The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced in accordance with Olympism and its values.” Probably the reason is that these Olympic principles are consistent with Kano Shihan’s thought, “Judo is the way of using one’s mental and physical strength in the most efficient manner. Through training and practicing techniques for offense and defense, one disciplines and cultivates body and spirit, and thereby masters the essence of this way. Thus, the ultimate goal of Judo is to strive for personal perfection by means of this and to benefit the world.”
In the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, 11000 athletes from 206 countries and regions participated. Japanese delegation was 601 of these. The Olympics has popularized and promoted sports in these 104 years and shown its history of expanding and enriching.
We think that all Judo-related people need to make the utmost effort for the success of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, to pursue Kano Shihan’s goal. That is to say, developing human resources through sports and promoting international exchange and friendship, as well as the furtherance of world peace.
This year again, the Kodokan is going to conduct various events. Not only Kodokan Seminars both at home and abroad, we will further develop Kodokan Youth Cultivation Training Seminars that have been held for four years with co-sponsorship of Token Corporation. The seminars are providing good opportunities for young people and their coaches and parents to review the basics of Judo. In addition, we will enhance Youth Judo Education Camps and International Seminars for overseas coaches and trainees, and also willingly respond to requests from other countries to dispatch experts and provide instructional tours.
Here at the start of the year, I express my resolve to pursue the concept of Seiryoku-zenyo and Jita-kyoei, and to dedicate all my strength to diffuse and promote Judo, in order to carry out my responsibility to correctly pass down Kodokan Judo created by predecessors to posterity.
I greatly appreciate your guidance, support, and cooperation.
Lastly, I wish that this year will be a good year for you all.