Kano Jigoro Biography, Wiki, Age, Career, Death, Google Doodle | Who was ‘Father of Judo’ Kano Jigoro? Bio, Wiki

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Who was Kano Jigoro?

Kano Jigoro, 28 October 1860 – 4 May 1938, was a Japanese educator, athlete, and the founder of Judo. Judo was, for the first time, the Japanese martial art to gain widespread international recognition and the first to become an official Olympic sport. 

Pedagogical innovations attributed to Kanō include the use of black and white belts, and the introduction of dan ranking to show the relative ranking among members of a martial art style. Well-known mottoes attributed to Kanō include “maximum efficiency with minimum effort” (精力善用 seiryoku zen’yō) and “mutual welfare and benefit” (自他共栄 jita kyōei).

Google Doodle celebrates Judo founder Kano Jigoro’s birthday

Google Doodle celebrates Judo founder Kano Jigoro's birthday
Google Doodle celebrates Judo founder Kano Jigoro’s birthday

The Google Doodle on Thursday paid tributes to Professor Kano Jigoro, who is often referred to as Japan’s “Father of Judo”, for formalizing the martial art as a sport that brings together people on principles of justice, courtesy, safety, and modesty, even while throwing opponents to the mat sometimes.

According to Google, the doodle has been illustrated by Los Angeles-based artist Cynthia Yuan Cheng to celebrate Professor Jigoro’s 161st birth anniversary.

The Google Doodle on Professor Kano Jigoro’s birthday on October 28 has multiple slides and is animated to show the Judo progenitor’s life and work in a series of frames where he appears to teach his students the value of humility and hard work when mastering the martial art.

Kano, who was born in 1860 in Mikage (now part of Kobe), moved to Tokyo with his father at the age of 11. Though he was known as a child prodigy in school, he often faced adversity. To build strength, he became determined to study the martial art of Jujutsu. During his time as a student at Tokyo University, he finally found someone who would teach him – Jujutsu master and former samurai Fukuda Hachinosuke.

Judo is, at the end of the day, a result of improvisation. The martial art became distinct from Jujutsu when Kano incorporated a western wrestling move during a Jujutsu sparring match to bring his much larger opponent to the mat. Jujutsu was earlier known to incorporate several “dangerous techniques”; by removing these from the new martial art form, Kano managed to create a safe and cooperative sport in the form of Judo. It was based on Kano’s personal philosophy of Seiryoku-Zenyo (maximum efficient use of energy) and Jita-Kyoei (mutual prosperity of self and others).

Later on, in 1882, Kano opened his own dojo (a martial arts gym), the Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo, where he would go on to develop Judo for years. He also welcomed women into the sport in 1893.

Kano Jigoro Biography, Wiki

Kanō Jigorō was born to a sake-brewing family in the town of Mikage, Japan (now within Higashinada-ku, Kobe). The family sake brands included “Hakushika”, “Hakutsuru”, and “Kiku-Masamune”. But Kanō’s father Kanō Jirōsaku (né Mareshiba Jirōsaku) was an adopted son and he did not go into the family business.

Instead, he worked as a lay priest and as a senior clerk for a shipping line. Kanō’s father was a great believer in the power of education, and he provided Jigorō, his third son, with an excellent education. The boy’s early teachers included the neo-Confucian scholars Yamamoto Chikuun and Akita Shusetsu.

Kanō’s mother died when the boy was nine years old, and his father moved the family to Tokyo. The young Kanō was enrolled in private schools and had his own English language tutor. In 1874 he was sent to a private school run by Europeans to improve his English and German language skills.

At the time Kanō stood 1.57 m (5 feet 2 inches) but weighed only 41 kg (90 pounds). He wished he were stronger. One day, Nakai Baisei (a friend of the family who was a member of the shogun’s guard), mentioned that jūjutsu was an excellent form of physical training. He showed Kanō a few techniques by which a smaller man might overcome a larger and stronger opponent. Kanō decided he wanted to learn the art despite Nakai’s insistence that such training was out of date and somewhat dangerous. Kanō’s father also discouraged him from jūjutsu, telling him to pursue a modern sport instead.

Kano Jigoro Biography
Kano Jigoro
Name Kano Jigora Sihan
Birth28 October 1860
PlaceMikage, Ubara-gun, Japan
Death4 May 1938
Known AsFather of Judo

Kano Jigoro Education

Jigoro entered the Ikuei Gijuku at age 14 to pursue Western Studies, and he lived in the school dormitory. The following year, he entered the Tokyo School of Foreign Languages.

The English Department of this school then became an independent school (Government English School), and Jigoro attended that school. He graduated from the Government English School in 1875, and then entered the Government Kaisei School.

In 1877, the Government Kaisei School became Tokyo University, and he was taken into its first-year class (Faculty of Letters). Following graduation, he entered graduate school as a philosophy major, and graduated in 1882 at the age of 22.

While a student at Tokyo University, Jigoro engaged in several sports, including boating and gymnastics, in order to strengthen his body.

Kano Jigoro Career

Although Kanō promoted judo whenever he could, he earned his living as an educator.

Kanō entered Tokyo Imperial University in June 1877. He majored in political science and economics, which at that time were taught by the Department of Aesthetics and Morals. He graduated in July 1882, and the following month he began work as a professor, fourth class, at the Gakushuin, or Peers School, in Tokyo. In 1883, Kanō was appointed professor of economics at Komaba Agricultural College (now the Faculty of Agriculture at University of Tokyo), but during April 1885, he returned to Gakushuin, with the position of principal.

In January 1891, Kanō was appointed to a position at the Ministry of Education. In August 1891, he gave up this position to become a dean at the Fifth Higher Normal School (present-day Kumamoto University). One of the teachers at Fifth Higher between 1891 and 1893 was Lafcadio Hearn. Around this same time, Kanō married. His wife, Sumako Takezoe, was the daughter of a former Japanese ambassador to Korea. Eventually, the couple had six daughters and three sons.

During the summer of 1892, Kanō went to Shanghai to help establish a program that would allow Chinese students to study in Japan. Kanō revisited Shanghai during 1905, 1915, and 1921.

In January 1898, Kanō was appointed director of primary education at the Ministry of Education, and in August 1899, he received a grant that allowed him to study in Europe. His ship left Yokohama on 13 September 1899, and he arrived in Marseilles on 15 October. He spent about a year in Europe, and during this trip, he visited Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam, and London. He returned to Japan in 1901. Soon after returning to Japan, he resumed his post as president of Tokyo Higher Normal School, and he remained in this position until his retirement on 16 January 1920. He also helped establish Nada Middle High School in 1928 at Kobe, which later became one of highest-ranked private high schools in Japan.

Considering that he majored in political science and economics, Kanō’s family thought that after graduating from university, he would pursue a career in some government ministry. Indeed, through influential friends of his father’s, he was initially offered a position with the Ministry of Finance. However, his love for teaching led him instead to accept a position teaching at Gakushuin. The students of Japan’s elite attended Gakushuin and were of higher social positions than their teachers. The students were allowed to ride in rickshaws (jinrikisha) right to the doors of the classes, whereas teachers were forbidden. The teachers often felt compelled to visit the homes of these students whenever summoned to give instruction or advice. In effect, the teachers were treated as servants.

Kanō believed this to be unacceptable. He refused to play such a subservient role when teaching his students. To Kanō, a teacher must command respect. At the same time, he employed the latest European and American pedagogical methods. The theories of the American educator John Dewey especially influenced him. Kanō’s manner had the desired effect upon the students, but the administration was slower to warm to his methods and it was not until the arrival of a new principal that Kanō’s ideas found acceptance.

When did Jigoro Kano died?

In 1934, Kanō stopped giving public exhibitions. The reason was his failing health, probably compounded by kidney stones. The British judoka Sarah Mayer wrote “People don’t seem to think he will live much longer” to her friends in London. 

Nevertheless, Kanō continued attending important Kodokan events such as kagami-biraki (New Years’ ceremonies) whenever he could, and he continued participating in the Olympics business.

In May 1938, Kano Jigora died at sea, during a voyage that he made as member of the IOC on board the NYK Line motor ship Hikawa Maru. Because the Japanese merchant fleet of the 1930s used Tokyo time wherever it was in the world, the Japanese date of death was 4 May 1938 at about 5:33 am JST, whereas the international date of death was 3 May 1938.

Judo did not die with Kanō. Instead, during the 1950s, judo clubs sprang up throughout the world, and in 1964, judo was introduced as an Olympic sport in the Tokyo Olympics and was reintroduced at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Kanō’s posthumous reputation was therefore assured.

Kano Jigoro FAQ’s

Who was Kano Jigoro?

Kano Jigoro, 28 October 1860 – 4 May 1938, was a Japanese educator, athlete, and the founder of Judo. Judo was, for the first time, the Japanese martial art to gain widespread international recognition and the first to become an official Olympic sport. 

How did Kano Jigoro die?

In May 1938, Kano Jigora died at sea, during a voyage that he made as a member of the IOC on board the NYK Line motor ship Hikawa Maru.

What is Kano Jigoro also known as??

Father of Judo.

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