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Judo and Rei - Its Spirit

In the Judo dojo, we are able to learn and engage in bouts because we have training partners. Therefore, we should take care to show them every courtesy. When entering a competition or cheering on others, we should suppress the desire to win at all costs, making reckless movements without caring if we cause injury, and mistreating our opponent. Because the budo arts are mainly composed of fierce techniques and attacking movements, if the spirit of respect and harmony is neglected, the bout will descend into little more than a violent conflict. The expression "Budo begins with Rei and ends with Rei" emphasises the spirit of respect needed to prevent such a regrettable occurrence, and is very important in Judo today. The stronger you become, the spirit of Rei and the attitude of Jita-Kyoei must be maintained all the more.

Unpleasantness directed towards you from a senior must not in turn be passed on to a junior. Offensive behaviour emanating from a person in front of you, should not be channelled back to a person behind you. It is true in many cases, however, that one comes to understand what is unacceptable only when it is done to them for the first time. Those who practise Judo should always consider whether or not their conduct towards others is causing discomfort or bother. The root of the spirit of Rei that we embody in Judo is precisely to respect others, and to not initiate acrimony. As a matter of courtesy, we demonstrate Rei to people above us, our peers, and those below us. Now, however, the Rei that we must earnestly reflect on is towards those whom we cannot directly see: that is, the Rei of civic virtue and positive social contribution.

In modern society, although we increasingly see and hear of actions that are lacking in the spirit of Rei, those engaged in Judo training more than anybody else should cultivate the fundamental attitude of Rei in the dojo. Without allowing Rei to diminish even a little, it is incumbent on us to continue holding in esteem its spirit in the course of our daily lives. I hope that this will become a model for society.

Reference: Shinichi OIMATSU, "Japanese Budo: Judo"