logo logo

History of Kodokan Judo

Kodokan was founded by Shihan Kano Jigoro in 1882.

Birthplace of Kodokan, Eisho-ji
Temple (永昌寺) in Tokyo

Kodokan Judo was founded by Jigoro Kano, who as a youth began practicing jujutsu* as a way to strengthen his frail body. Kano studied both the Tenjin Shinyo-ryu and Kito-ryu styles of classical jujutsu, eventually mastering their deepest teachings, and supplemented this training with an avid interest in other combative forms as well. Integrating what he considered the positive points of these with his own ideas and inspirations, he established a revised body of physical technique, and also transformed the traditional jujutsu principle of "defeating strength through flexibility" into a new principle of "maximum efficient use of physical and mental energy." The result was a new theoretical and technical system that Kano felt better matched the needs of modern people.

*Close-quarter fighting systems


"Seiryoku-zen'yo";"maximum efficient use of energy"(right), "Jita-kyoei";"mutual prosperity for self and others"(left) written by Prof.Kano

The essence of this system he expressed in the axiom "maximum efficient use of energy", a concept he considered both a cornerstone of martial arts and a principle useful in many aspects of life. Practical application of this principle, he felt, could contribute much to human and social development, including "mutual prosperity for self and others", which he identified as the proper goal of training. What Kano had created transcended mere technique to embrace a set of principles for perfecting the self. To reflect this, he replaced jutsu (technique) in the word "ju-jutsu" with the suffix do (path) to create a new name for his art: judo. His training hall he named "Ko-do-kan," or "a place to teach the path."



Los Angeles Olympic in 1932

Kano has also been lauded as "the father of Japanese physical education." As principal of Tokyo Higher School, he established a general physical education faculty aimed at training teachers capable of bringing quality physical education to Japan's youth. He also helped found the Japan Amateur Sports Association, and in 1909 he became the first Japanese member of the International Olympic Committee.
Kano traveled abroad thirteen times, lecturing and demonstrating judo in order to introduce his art to people around the world.


Today, the International Judo Federation includes representatives from 195 countries and regions, with practitioners from all walks of life donning judo uniforms and stepping onto the mat to forge their minds, bodies, and spirits through the Judo created by Jigoro Kano.