_¹Ì^F¹Æp (Judo no Shinzui: Michi to Jutsu)
1965 revised edition, Tokyo: ½¶°VõÐ
By Mifune Kyūzō
Rev. by Roberto Pedreira
May 12, 2020
Updated April 6,
Above. The Gokyō
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 _¹Ì^F¹Æp
(Judo no Shinzui: Michi to Jutsu).
Note: We will write some of the
names and words that are familiar in English and are so written by Kōdōkan
without diacritics, such as judo,
Kodokan, and a few others.
Japanese does not have obligatory number marking on nouns (for example, ashi
mean one leg/foot, two legs/feet, or more than two legs/feet, and so on).
Another word also pronounced ashi, but written r,
refers to the leg from the pelvis to the ankle. Another (more
technical) word used in anatomy consists of two kanji, one of which is ashi, written
ka + ashi = kashi orº)
and refers to the leg from hip joint to
toe tips (i.e., lower extremity). To
avoid confusion, we will write commonly known words (such as kata)
with plural markers (but also with Japanese kanji, for precision.)
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 _¹Ì^F¹Æp (Judo no Shinzui: Michi to
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
Shinzui was published in Tokyo by Seibundo-Shinkousha@(½¶°VõÐ).
It was a revision of the original 1955, 1958, and 1960 editions, reissued 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 didn't work out). Mifune's introduction
to the first edition was dated April 1953 (ºañ\ãNl).
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
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
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 (QlÆ)1
are also introduced (including
techniques that are part of judo but are not generally allowed in
competition or free practice, aka æè). Almost all of the ground techniques that are
associated with BJJ are included including sweeps, turnovers,
"locks" (kansetsu-waza, ÖßÆ,
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
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
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
BJJ is and will remain a substyle (¬)
of Kodokan judo.
Kata (forms, `) 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
(Æ Ì`) which consist of 15 counters to
( «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, ó) 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.
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
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
(_p) techniques can we find in BJJ? Hint: the answer will be somewhere between
zero and none.
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.)
kata instructional booklets, priced at 700+
sales tax. Below are examples (one booklet includes two katas).
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:
To see film of the katas being performed, use the following
as search terms:
ÜÂÌ` (Itsutsu no Kata)
Ã®Ì` (Koshiki no Kata)
ÉßÌ` (Kime no Kata
_Ì` (Jū no Kata)
1. Reference techniques (
techniques not included
in the Gokyō
or kata(s). They are kibisu gaeshi
( æùÔ), seoi-otoshi
tawara-gaeshi (UÔ), daki-wakare
(åO), hikikomi-gaeshi (øÔ),
ganseki-otoshi (âÎ). ushiro-guruma
tsubame-gaeshi (Ô), and tama-guruma
( ÊÔ). 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
3. About George Mehdi, also see here,
here, and here.
(c) 2020 Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.
Slightly revised April 6, 2022.