Richard Riehle wrote:
Cichorei Kano wrote:
Not wanting to kick in any open doors, but the Kôdôkan these days is hardly in pursuit of Kôdôkan jûdô. They already let that slip as soon as they started brokering deals with the SCAP post World War-II. Many distinguished Japanese sensei who are not employees of the Kôdôkan and even some of the nonagenarian sensei at the Kôdôkan who can't perform anymore themselves feel pretty desperate about their successors. These "young people" ('young' includes some who are past 60 !) obviously still know how to perform this and that throw very decently, but for the rest they no no longer have the intellectual knowledge and insights that someone like Daigo does. When the current generation of 10th dan-holders passes away, the Kôdôkan would better change its name into 'Kareki' 枯木. 'Kareki' means 'Deadwood'.
You're unlikely to kick any doors in with that - perhaps you meant 'close any doors'.
The Kodokan never negotiated with SCAP. Unlike the nuttiness of the Iraq invasion, when the entire government was dismantled, SCAP left the Japanese government largely intact. The Japanese ran the country with close scrutiny from SCAP, so the Kodokan appealed to the Ministry of Education. I do have a copy of the letter sent SCAP asking to allow judo training in school; while kendo organized a huge writing campaign with lots of senior support, judo seemingly only had a small one.
It will survive but not as Kano shihan envisioned it. It has never become what he really wanted, but gets farther away by the year.
There is a relatively steady state of a type of jacketed stand up wrestling that was enacted post WWII that chugs along. The relatively small changes since then pale in comparison to the changes made from the early 1900's through 1945.
As for the next generation, didn't Daigo sensei himself admit he had not much interest in kata and history when younger? One hopes that some will step up.
I am not as pessimistic as some of you regarding the Kodokan. There are people such as Tadashi Sato (hachidan) whose classes I enjoy (when he is not teaching in the women's section), and some others who I respect for their traditional Judo. There are other relatively young (in their sixties) high-Dan Kodokan instructors who still strive to master traditional Kano Judo. Kariya in the International division has exquisite nage-no-kata, Daigo is leaving a legacy of well-trained high-Dan holders who have a deep understanding of Koshiki-no-kata. I think having Uemura as Kancho, especially after reading his written statement of his vision for the Kodokan, will bode well for the quality of Kodokan Judo well into the future
The IJF can do their evil shenanigans to revise Kodokan Judo and tru to turn it into a sport focused on jacket wrestling, but I see some hope for the future of Judo beyond the competition venues. Kano's vision may have dimmed in some places, but there are still those quietly dedicated to keeping it alive.
We are somewhat comparing apples and oranges, and it becomes difficult to publicly respond from the moment specific names are mentioned unless they are dead or amount to being public persons. It is comparing apples and oranges because we are talking about entirely different levels. Most people, certainly foreigners who visit the Kôdôkan are still in need of improving in kata and much of jûdô at the mechanistic level. So, anyone who is better than them can teach them that. In other words, for what THEY come to the Kôdôkan, they do not need to come to the Kôdôkan and they will find competent teachers (emphasis here on competent in terms of that they master the mechanics) in any country, and pedagogically much better trained teachers in countries like France, Germany or the Netherlands where pedagogy and didactics in the teaching curriculum are much more solid than in Japan.
Where the problem really starts is when one has the ambition (and knowledge, skills and abilities) to go beyond the shu-level. This is where a Daigo-sensei, but also Abe-sensei take up their place, even though neither of them can perform much of what they know no longer. There is no one besides Daigo-sensei at the Kôdôan who has a "deep understanding of Koshiki-no-kata". There are luckily still 4 or 5 other people in Japan who do, but they would be "below the radar" for most people as they are usually "not in the Kôdôkan circuit". What you still do have at the Kôdôkan is 2 or 3 other people who can perform the basic mechanics of the kata with a smoothness that is still out of reach for most Westerners, but that's mechanics, and has in a sense little to do with the core of the kata.
For something like nage-no-kata this is far less of a problem because much of nage-no-kata IS mechanics, hence why it is also the basic randori-no-kata. There are indeed some younger sensei for these kata who are enthusiastic, but there are 2 challenges to that. To make it up the Kôdôkan hierarchy and still be there in 10 years, evolved and more proficient, isn't just a matter of enthusiasm or skill, but also one or politics ... or didn't we just a couple of years ago positively comment on the Kime-no-kata at the Kôdôkan taught by Kaise Teruo-sensei ? Who ? That's right ...
The second challenge is that the enthusiasm, nor the skill in one kata or in lower kata transfers to other or higher kata. It's sad, but that is the way it is as other kata target a different and sometimes also a much higher and much more complicated understanding.
It is when one talks to the most senior sensei who still come to study at the Kôdôkan that one hears the most expressions of fear if something were to happen to Daigo-sensei. Why ? Because they are on that long and difficult road towards an understanding that most of the green sensei can't even begin to fathom. The Kuden-group is privileged and they have they have been fortunate enough these past few years to have been exposed to that what only Daigo-sensei can bring. Of course, there is much to pick up when he teaches during the International Summer Kata course too, but unfortunately it is simply over the head of most foreigners. For the same reason the opening lecture has since a couple of years been abolished, a valuable too much unappreciated by most foreigners who would be sitting there staring and impatient to engage in the mechanical copying of what they see, which is what they have been taught, where they are still stuck at, and what they believe it is all about. For them Daigo-sensei is just another sensei, but one with 10 stripes on his belt so useful to pose with for pic. But the value of the man, unfortunately is lost to them, or doesn't transgress the value of that pictures they can proudly show to generations to come. The Kodôkan will continue to exist and great deal of people especially foreigners can learn there and improve, just as they could learn and improve in most basic dôjô in France ... To go for that to Japan, is, I guess, a nice perk, an exotic perk. When that they comes that these sensei will all have become part of stories of times long past told by teachers whose words frequently start with "Back in my days ..." I shall still feel privileged to have learnt from Daigo-sensei, Ôsawa-sensei, Abe-sensei, or even that single class I once had from Kotani-sensei. One would think that those past 25 years someone would come in his place, but I regret to say that since the days of Kotani-sensei or Takata-sensei I haven't seen any goshinjutsu performed at the Kôdôkan either. Sure, I have seen many copy and drag themselves through the patterns and mechanic moves of it, but the kata itself, naaah ? Come to say, that I also haven't seen anyone 'teach' it like that either, and there have been, no doubt, since there passing, many "relatively young (in their sixties) high-Dan Kodokan instructors" who have passed through the Kôdôkan Cabaret too. We are bound to lose more and more of what jûdô was and has been. Daigo-sensei has --much in vain-- been trying to safeguard his legacy, but much in vain. There is still a book from his to appear, which is the last we can expect, and part of his legacy luckily appears as the 7-part article a couple of years ago. No one else currently at the Kôdôkan would know, could find out, or could contextualize that information. Besides, most aren't even interested. The small group of Japanese sensei who have been quietly and respectfully training under him is where probably one would find some of the most knowledgeable people who regularly visit the Kôdôkan teaching staff.
The deadwood is not limited to Daigo-sensei's legacy. A couple of years ago when I was working with Umezu-sensei on my Joshi jûdô goshinhô skills she expressed joy at me wanting to learn this from her. No foreigner, certainly no male had ever asked her. Even in Japan no one asked her. She explained to me how she worried about all of her knowledge possibly being lost. She said how she for years had tried to teach her assistants to ensure the continuation of that legacy: not just goshinhô, but also kime-shiki, SZKT. No one cared, no one was interested. Of course, they could always add it to the kata competition menu, and good Lord who knows, maybe it would change, but the product we might then get probably isn't what she had in mind when talking about her legacy.
These problems are not limited to the Kôdôkan. I am responsible for teaching my federation's kata and technical courses. We see something similar. People will show up during the months preceding yet another dan-rank promotion because they need to demonstrate it before a national jury. They come, hopefully because they want to learn it as well as possible, although you can't ever be sure that some do not rather come just because they hope that when I have seen them and recognize them we will just let them pass ... Anyhow, I guarantee you that the month after they obtained their new dan-rank, gone they are. So, yes, I get to teach a good deal of nage-no-kata, katame-no-kata, kime-no-kata, and luckily some goshinjutsu due to some high-dan-rank candidates currently seeking my advice, but anything beyond that, no one is interested, and with that comes the risk that our own knowledge and skill start to deteriorate, which is something also not to be underestimated either. The more one knows the more one is at risk for forgetting some stuff, so one is almost force to visit the Kôdôkan or some other places or compete in kata, to find something to force and create an opportunity to practice and keep alive and sharp one's knowledge and skills. Of course, there still is the JudoForum too ... which is an interesting tool, and certainly was, during its heyday when many questions and lively discussions took place and whilst not amounting to practical exercise, the kuchi-waza helped creating enthusiasm (or in some cases hatred too, but that's another story).