GTR Archives 2000-2020

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_“¹‚̐^‘F“¹‚Əp (Judo no Shinzui: Michi to Jutsu) 1965 revised edition, Tokyo: ½•¶“°VŒõŽÐ

By Mifune Kyūzō

(ŽO‘D‹v‘ )

Rev. by Roberto Pedreira

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May 12, 2020

Above. The Gokyō (ŒÜ‹³), being five sets of eight standing techniques. These are organized for teaching purposes but represent only a small fraction of the total techniques of Kodokan Judo, many of which (but far from all), are provided in Mifune 10-dan's book _“¹‚̐^‘F“¹‚Əp (Judo no Shinzui: Michi to Jutsu).

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Note: We will write some of the names and words that are familiar in English and are so written by Kōdōkan (u“¹ŠÙ), without diacritics, such as judo, Kodokan, and a few others. Japanese does not have obligatory number marking on nouns (for example, ashi ‘«@can mean one leg/foot, two legs/feet, or more than two legs/feet, and so on). To avoid confusion, we will write commonly known words (such as kata) with plural markers (but also with Japanese kanji, for precision.)

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According to one of the many legends and stories of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the triangle choke was introduced when one of Rolls Gracie's students, named Sucuri, showed Rolls an old judo book containing the technique. Sucuri may have shown Rolls an old judo book, but the triangle was already known in Rio as early as 1955 and probably a lot earlier, especially in São Paulo. But whenever Rolls learned the triangle, or how he learned, isn't the point. The point is that the book Sucuri showed Rolls might have been one of the several editions and translations of Mifune 10-dan's _“¹‚̐^‘F“¹‚Əp (Judo no Shinzui: Michi to Jutsu). If so, Rolls learned from an excellent source, possibly the best source. Mifune learned directly from Kanō Jigorō, and innovated many of the techniques of Kodokan (Kodokan Judo was eclectic and open-minded from the start. Kanō did not have the mentality of trying to maintain traditions and keeping techniques secret. Exactly the opposite was true, in fact.)

Mifune 10-dan's textbook remains a valuable resource. BJJ stylists would get more out of studying this book than watching a hundred YouTube videos. In fact, it is not unlikely that the latest YouTube techniques originated from Mifune 10-dan's book, or one of the many books that derived from it.

The 1965 revised edition of Judo no Shinzui was published in Tokyo by Seibundo-Shinkousha@(½•¶“°VŒõŽÐ). It was a revision of the original 1958 edition and 1960 editions, partly revised to celebrate the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo whereby Japan demonstrated that it was ready to reenter the community of nations and compete in sports and business rather on battlefields (it was tried, and as Emperor Hirohito put, it didn't necessarily eventuate to Japan's advantage). Mifune's introduction to the first edition was dated April 1953 (º˜a“ñ\‹ã”NŽlŒŽ). The book was obviously not hastily slapped together.

An English translation by Françoise White was published in 2004 as The Canon of Judo by Kodansha International. It omits a great deal of supplementary material and many rare photographs but includes the technical parts. It is out-of-print but second-hand copies can be found on amazon.co.jp.

The title Judo no Shinzui: Michi to Jutsu means "the essence, quintessence, pith, spirit, soul, essentials, core, kernel, and life-blood of judo: the way and the techniques."  (Shinzui ^‘ is a word with many rather vague meanings.)  The book does good job of covering that. It includes a brief historical overview touching on jūjutsu before Kanō (it is mostly a retelling on Kanō's famous April 18, 1988 lecture).  

The 40 Gokyō throws are included along with alternate set-ups and entries, and useful variations to deal with common defenses and attempted counters. Reference techniques (ŽQl‹Æ)1 are also introduced (including techniques that are part of judo but are not generally allowed in competition or free practice, aka —Žæ‚è). Almost all of the ground techniques that are associated with BJJ are included including sweeps, turnovers, "locks" (kansetsu-waza, ŠÖß‹Æ, aka gyaku, ‹t), a few "guard" passes (i.e., methods for circumventing the opponents leg-centric defense on the ground), numerous chokes, and with one partial exception (e.g., joelho na barriga)2 all of the positions. Judo no Shinzui could serve as a good textbook for BJJ. Techniques that have recently shown up on YouTube as innovations are there, and techniques that will probably be on YouTube in the future are also there. This is not to say that there has been no innovation from Brazil. There has been and one reason is that BJJ players like to do things (such as play extensive guard games) that judokas don't do, which opens up new possibilities of attacks, defenses, and counters. (Guard passing is not a big part of judo, to be sure. Escaping is also underdeveloped, just as, and for similar reasons, stand-up is rudimentary or non-existent in BJJ). This is a matter of emphasis. Innovation has always been encouraged in judo. Kanō did it and he encouraged his followers to do the same. But innovation doesn't mean anything goes. It is true that judo has preferences for some things over others. But this is like saying BJJ is tradition-bound because BJJ competition rules don't allow punching, kicking, eye-gouging, and razor-blades. Keeping shit real is a matter of degree.

Roberto will refrain from giving a detailed description of the contents of Judo no Shinzui. Suffice to say that anyone in any martial art, and especially BJJ stylists, will find much to learn. Or at least, they will be impressed with how much was already known and how derivative BJJ is of old school judo (yes, judo, not "jiu-jitsu" or even jūjutsu, contrary or what some academy owners are now trying to persuade gullible YouTube visitors to believe. As George Mehdi said in 1999, "it's all judo."3  

Long story short, BJJ is not, never was, and could not possibly be, either jiu-jitsu or any style, school, or ryū (—¬) of jūjutsu. BJJ is and will remain a substyle (ˆŸ—¬) of Kodokan judo.

Kata (forms, Œ`) are an important part of judo training. At least Kanō thought so. Mifune does not spend much time on katas however. He introduces one, the Nage-waza-ura no Kata (“Š‹Æ— ‚ÌŒ`) which consist of 15 counters  to hand-throws (Žè‹Æ), leg/foot-throws ( ‘«‹Æ), and hip/waist-throws (˜‹Æ). Judo katas are generally done with partners. There is a fixed sequence, and both participants know what the sequence is. Depending on the training objective, the "receiver" (uke, Žó) can vary the degree of resistance (as was originally done in Kitō-ryū training). Speaking of Kitō-ryū, people who lately have been naively claiming that BJJ comes from, or is a form of "jūjutsu" are incorrect. Kanō's early judo was actually Kitō-ryū, a fact that he didn't try to hide. It didn't become Kodokan Judo until after his Kitō-ryū teacher died. The Kodokan Judo that Kanō introduced formally to the general pubic in 1889 was a blend of Kitō-ryū, Tenjinshinyō-ryū, sumo, and Western wrestling. Most of the traditional jūjutsu techniques were and are contained in the kata, which is why most people don't know or practice them. As an educational exercise the reader is advised to read the Kodokan kata instructionals, or even watch the katas being performed (available on YouTube), and then ask, how many of these "jūjutsu" (_p) techniques can we find in BJJ? Hint: the answer will be somewhere between zero and none. 

Kata practice is as often misunderstood as it is neglected. (Roberto confesses that he rarely practices katas.) Katas should be understood as merely one form of practice among various others, indispensably including randori. To add some perspective, boxers skip rope. They listen to their trainers, they watch videos of opponents. They drill. They repeat fundamentals such as bobbing and weaving. They run. They hit pads. They shadow box and spar at appropriate levels with suitable partners with specific objectives in mind, under supervision. To understand kata practice, conceptualize it as the equivalent of shadow boxing or light sparring for a boxer, or a wrestler practicing shots, or pummeling. (Beginners can't acquire skills by trying to execute skills that they haven't learned yet and can't do. Even elite competitors need to maintain the fundamentals.)

Kodokan publishes kata instructional booklets, priced at 700+ sales tax. Below are examples (one booklet includes two katas).  

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ŒÜ‚‚̌`[ŒÃŽ®‚ÌŒ`

_‚ÌŒ`

‹É‚ß‚ÌŒ`

Incidentally, a film was made to accompany the book and is available on (where else?) YouTube. Some versions have captions in various languages. To locate them, use any of the following as search terms:

1._“¹‚̐^‘F“¹‚Əp

2. _“¹‚̐^‘

3. ŽO‘D‹v‘ 

4. ŽO‘D\’i

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To see film of the katas being performed, use the following as search terms:

ŒÜ‚‚̌`    (Itsutsu no Kata)

ŒÃŽ®‚ÌŒ`  (Koshiki no Kata)

‹É‚ß‚ÌŒ`   (Kime no Kata

_‚ÌŒ`     (Jū no Kata)

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Ashi-hishiki

Ashi-garami fusegu

Sankaku-gatame ude-hishiki 

Documents

Notes

1. Reference techniques ( ŽQl‹Æ) are techniques not included in the Gokyō or kata(s). They are kibisu gaeshi ( æù•Ô),  seoi-otoshi (”w•‰—Ž), tawara-gaeshi (•U•Ô), daki-wakare (•ø•ª), ōsoto-otoshi (‘åŠO—Ž), hikikomi-gaeshi (ˆøž•Ô), obi-otoshi (‘Ñ—Ž), uchimaki-komi (“àŠª•Ô), yama-arashi (ŽR—’), ganseki-otoshi (ŠâÎ—Ž). ushiro-guruma (ŒãŽÔ), te-guruma (ŽèŽÔ   ),@hasami-gaeshi (‹²•Ô), tobi-koshi (”ò˜), idaki-sutemi (•øŽÌg), idaki-age (•øã), ude-gaeshi ( ˜r•Ô), tsubame-gaeshi (‰•Ô), and tama-guruma ( ‹ÊŽÔ). Interestingly, ganseki-otoshi was invented by Mifune and later became popular in BJJ as the Batata Loop Choke. It was applied from the ground but otherwise was the same. Idaki-age is known in BJJ as Double Under Pass, or Double Shoulder Pass. So it goes.

2. The partial exception is joelho na barriga, or knee on the belly. Mifune 10-dan uses the posture to enter into several other positions, but does not place his knee on the belly. Why not? Because, for his purpose, he didn't need to and the transition was more efficient without it (see pp. 99 and 102 for examples.)  Note that it is possible to pin an opponent from the knee on belly position without actually having your knee on his (or her) belly. It is a matter of grips and weight placement.

3. About George Mehdi, also see here, here, and here.

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(c) 2020 Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.

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GTR Archives 2000-2020

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