Year Beginning Impressions
Haruki Uemura, President of The Kodokan
I would like to wish you a Happy New Year, with the coming of 2019.
Last year was the 80th anniversary of Kano Jigoro Shihan’s decease. We held a ceremony to commemorate the anniversary on April 28 after the All Japan Judo Contest for High Dan Holders. It was held on a grand scale with many participants from home and abroad. In commemoration of the anniversary, the President and Chairman of Token Corporation Mr. Kansui SOUDA dedicated three Japanese swords (Katana, Wakizashi and Tanto) and another three swords for demonstration that would be used in Kime-no-Kata demonstration on the next day in the All Japan Judo Championships. This year, the swords will be used again in Paris for both Kata demonstrations in Kagami-biraki ceremony of French Judo Federation and in the Paris Grand Slam.
Last year as usual, various tournaments, contests and seminars were held domestically and internationally. In August, in the World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan that was the intermediate period between Rio Olympics and Tokyo 2020, young athletes who wanted to bring the generational change and former medalists showed exciting matches with the best of good spirit, technique and physical condition. Nevertheless, it seemed that new rules for the transition from Ne-shisei (ground position) to Tachi-shisei (standing position) and the prohibition of the Kansetsu-waza and Shime-waza in Tachi-shisei had not yet been commonly understood by athletes, coaches, referees and officials. In regard to Nage-waza, I have seen many scenes that referees awarded Nage-waza points to attacks and defenses in Ne-shisei, or to the rolling by Uke himself. Concerning Katame-waza, some referees misunderstood a simple pinning as Osaekomi-waza even though Tori’s front upper body did not cover Uke’s body. Also, Tori who was trying to apply Ude-hishigi-te-gatame was given penalty as it was considered as an attack to Uke’s shoulder, with the current tendency of overreacting to hazardous actions. These seem to be caused by lack of knowledge rather than insufficient referee skills. In the IJF board meeting held after the World Judo Championships in Budapest two years ago, we reviewed refereeing rules to improve the situation that the evaluation of Ippon is not stable. Japanese words Ikioi and Hazumi that show the essence of Nage-waza were introduced to the definition of Ippon. Most referees considered Nage-waza as an action to bring Uke down to the mat and make his back touch there. Now in the IJF, there is a debate whether it can be called as Waza or not. Taking this opportunity, we will clearly show definitions of terms such as Tachi-shisei, Ne-shisei, Nage-waza and Katame-waza. We need to brush up the skill to convey our thought and give appropriate guidance with words those are easy to understand. After CARE system (Computer Aided Replay system, decisions are made using videos) was introduced, referees became to confirm Waza and forbidden actions not in the motion but by still images. However, it is sometimes difficult to evaluate properly with still images in the case that Riai should be considered. Furthermore, frequent interruption of a match may cause a sense of mistrust of referees. While the IJF made it mandatory for referees to learn basic skill and knowledge in the IJF Academy, I think that we should not depend too much on videos but should doubt that have been taken as common sense among people involved, and need more study. Although refereeing rules have changed to become easy-to-understand for spectators as well as to get a favorable reception from media, it seems that the most important thing, the understanding of the essence of Judo has been ignored. We should not adopt rules just for determining the winners and losers, but should adopt rules that can judge serious matches in which athletes seek the essence of Judo, and we should make judgments are well understood by all spectators.
Kata World Championships were held in Cancun, Mexico in October. Participants of 85 pairs from 22 countries and regions were divided into two categories depending on the age of Tori, one for under 36 years old and the other for 36 years old and older. The preliminary round and the final were held for each category. Japan team participated in all events for the first time in four years and won each of them. Nevertheless, we need to further promote Kata in which we can study the origin of Kodokan Judo and Riai of techniques, in order to pass on correct Judo and to increase Judo devotees of all ages. We should pay attention to widely favored Judo such as Kata or contest for high-dan holders. I hope that various people including children, beginners and seniors get in touch with Judo according to their respective purposes and deepen mutual exchanges through Judo while making efforts to improve their skills. Among various Judo techniques such as Nage-waza and Katame-waza, beginners firstly learn Reiho and then practice Ukemi. Needless to say, Ukemi means the skill to defend oneself when being thrown. In other words, Ukemi is the method to fall down properly to avoid injuries by reducing the impact of falling. To know how to fall safely would be very important to prepare for a risk, both for growing children and for seniors who have fewer opportunities to get any exercise. I want them to train their minds and bodies through the full-body workout making use of wonderful Judo techniques. In the current circumstances of spreading of competition among lower aged children, instructors should teach them basics deeply instead of asking them to win matches, and also should evaluate their skills according to a certain standard of valuation. In addition to the method and procedure created by predecessors, the Kodokan has almost completed Kodomo-no-Kata (Kata for children) in collaboration with the IJF and the French Judo Federation. Moreover, we are going to make a proposal of easy Judo for all that is available also to beginners with no experience. We would like to provide opportunities for many people young and old, male and female of various nationalities to experience Judo, study and enjoy it at their own pace.
Last year, we introduced 6th and 7th Kyu grades for children and set their belt color to light-blue. While Dan and Kyu grade certification system that serves as encouragement of practice has been discussed, we would like overseas trainees to understand Kodokan grading system, and also wish to expand Kodokan Committees those are overseas organizations to recommend applicants for Kodokan Dan promotion.
Concerning Judo promotion that is an important mission for the Kodokan, domestically we are conducting Kodokan Seminar and Kodokan Kata Seminar to teach Kata, basics and refereeing method, and also conducting Kodokan Youth Cultivation Training Seminar that is held in cooperation with Token Corporation. We believe that these seminars are contributing to diffuse correct Judo and to activate Judo in regions. We will further expand the seminars this year. Internationally we are conducting seminars regularly in Germany, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, and dispatching instructors responding to increasing requests by the IJF Judo Academy. In addition to Kodokan International Judo Seminar and International Youth Camp, we are providing private lessons for more and more trainees from all over the world from children to high-dan holders to respond to requests. In Japan-ASEAN JITA-KYOEI PROJECT that is co-organized by the Kodokan and the Japan Foundation Asia Center, we have dispatched instructors to ASEAN countries and also invited their coaches to International Judo Seminar. As a part of the project, the Kodokan started to have a relationship with Brunei that had been the only country with no judo-related organization among ASEAN countries. It led to the establishment of Brunei Judo Federation last year followed by its accession to the IJF through the Judo Union of Asia. Furthermore, JAPONISMES 2018 to celebrate the 160th Anniversary of Japan-France diplomatic relation is being held in France around Paris from July 2018 until February 2019 under an agreement between the Japanese Government and the French President’s Office. As a part of the project, Mr. Tadahiro NOMURA 7th Dan and I conducted JAPONISMES 2018 JITA-KYOEI PROJECT Kodokan Seminar in Paris and Toulouse last December. Also in January and February of this year at the competition site of Paris Grand Slam, we will exhibit items connected to Kano Shihan as well as showing videos and Kata demonstrations. In order to diffuse and promote Kodokan Judo, many dispatching projects, invitation programs and events are planned this year again.
Here at the start of the year, we will go back to the original point of Kodokan Judo created by Kano Shihan and will make a persistent effort to promote not only Judo for competition, but also Judo as education, that is to say Judo for human development. We are going to put Seiryoku-zenyo and Jita-kyoei into practice and communicate the spirit and essence of Kodokan Judo both domestically and internationally, so that we can carry on the tradition of Kodokan Judo developed by ancestors and can continue into the future.
I would like to ask for your guidance, support and continued cooperation.
Lastly, I wish that this year will also be a good year for you all.