Excellence in Judo

USJF Teacher Certification Manual

  • History


      In an old Japanese school building in Seattle a group of judokas sit around after a vigorous work out to chat a bit. John, a beginner, is a high school student who came to judo to get tougher after being bullied at school only to find that he gets a thrashing.  Here they are intended to strengthen the body and ultimately the individual.  He is intrigued by the contrasting aggressiveness on the mat to the camaraderie displayed off the mat.

     Today a visiting black belt, although quite a bit older, seemed to dance through most of the participants during randori practice.  Now in his civilian clothes the man looked small and almost grandpa-ish.  He was talking about the "good old days" when judo visitors from Japan would come in and no one could budge them, but everyone went flying.  Wow! and the throwing techniques, not that Yuko stuff they have today.  They were fantastic bone crushing Ippons.  “Back then, judo was different”.  It was an art form; something that Japanese Americans could be proud of,” remarked Yoshida sensei, one of the senior advisors to the club.  “Yes, that's true but today it's an Olympic sport.”  One that everyone in the world can be proud of retorted Ben Murphy the head instructor.  Everyone shook their heads in agreement, smiled and the conversation went on.

     As the conversation went on, each sentence brought up a new question in John's mind.  Was judo really better in the past?  I thought judo was for self-defense or is it a sport?  Then who made it into a sport?  How did it become an Olympic sport?  What is the difference between jujitsu and judo?  Who invented this sport anyway?  Oh, now they are talking about philosophy.  What does that have to do with judo?  John wanted to break in and ask these questions but as a newcomer, he thought he had better wait, and besides the conversation was intriguing.  He would have to find the other pieces of this judo puzzle later.

    Key Points

      Similar to John, there are many who have questions about the historical events that led up to the development of Olympic sport judo.  Following are a few key points anyone in the sport of judo should know about:

    1. What historical events eventually shaped modern sport judo?

    2. What are some of the more important events and dates?

    3. Who was the founder of judo?

    4. What prompted Kano to start up judo rather than jujitsu?

    5. What differentiated judo from jujitsu?

    6. What events were occurring in other parts of the world?

    7. Who was judo's first ambassador to the United States?

    8. What was the first dojo in the United States?

    9. What was the first U.S. National Organization? When did it begin?

    10. When was judo first introduced to the Olympic movement?

    11. When and where was the first World Judo Championship held?

    12. Who was the first World Judo Champion?

    13. Who are the other U.S. World Champions?


    ...excerpts from the manual, Excellence in Judo

  • Philosophy


     Judy: I just don’t get it.  What does judo, a physical activity, have to do with a mental activity like philosophy?

     Philip:   That’s a good question.  We do see some outward manifestations of things like, discipline, hard work, skill, toughness, and respect, but we usually have to dig deeper to find out about the philosophy of judo.

     Jack:  That’s just it.  Everyone seems to talk about the philosophy of judo but where do we find it?  Besides, I certainly didn’t find any judo names in my philosophy book.  I saw figures from Plato to Derrida, and a whole lot of names in between, but no one from judo or any philosophy of judo.  Maybe Judy is right.  What does judo have to do with philosophy?

     Robert:   What does it matter?  Judo is fun and I’d be doing it, philosophy or not.

    Key Points

    1. How do we define philosophy?

    2. What does philosophy have to do with judo?

    3. How did Jigoro Kano come to develop a philosophy for judo?

    4. What are the important issues raised by Kano?

    5. How do some of these principles evolve out of the practice of jujitsu or judo?

    6. What implications can some of Dr. Kano’s ideas have on judoka?


     Philosophy speaks to a number of issues amongst which are: epistemology; the science of knowledge, ethics and morality; the idea of good and evil, logic; how to reason, existentialism, finding meaning of our existence through our free will, metaphysics; God, a supreme plan, the soul, death, and beyond, consciousness.  Philosophy is the love of knowledge.  In the loose sense of the word, it is a well from which ideas about the things we do not know may be molded into subjects, which we then may study.  In some instances philosophy developed into a systemized science laying the foundation for chemistry, physics, astronomy, as well as the basic disciplines like psychology and law.

    Western Philosophers

     Some of the early champions of western philosophy were Plato and Aristotle.  Much of the original methodology of philosophy came from these Greek men.  It was Plato who told us that Socrates was famous for questioning answers rather than answering questions.   Aristotle, a student of Plato, was teacher to Alexander the Great.  The influence of both men was felt far and wide, and helped to continue the practice of a love of knowledge.  In addition, Athens, 470-399 B.C., conditions were just right with a leisure class that had time to reflect on the question why which marked a key point in the development of philosophy.



    The phrase critical mass is often used to illustrate the idea that various conditions are just right or ripe for an event to occur.  Critical mass assumes a causation factor.  In other words, because of certain preceding events, the following event is primed to occur.  Judo philosophy also had events surrounding its development.  Japan had come out of isolation by the 1854 Treaty of Kanagawa with the United States.  In 1868, Emperor Meiji was restored to power and there was a great push to modernize Japan.  Along with the feudal system, all things connected to it were discarded.  This included all of the old martial arts of ancient Japan. Modernization for Japan meant learning from the West; the West that had so traumatically invaded their isolation.  Language became an important tool of advancement and those who possessed the ability to speak foreign languages, especially English, were in demand.  It was necessary to import new ideas and ways of thinking in order to build a nation.  These ideas would eventually knit together the fibers that would make Japan more than a loose collection of islands.  Emperor Meiji called for quick action to modernize.  The result was Japan's first railroad system, postal service, modern military system, constitution, civil codes, and an education system.  Jigoro Kano, who was born in 1860, was only eight at the time when all this began.  Even at this young age, Jigoro's future was being shaped, as he was enrolled in English classes while still in Kobe, Japan.

    Young Jigoro Kano was educated in Confucian classics from the age of ten and continued his studies even after his move to the Tokyo area.  The Confucian classics provided Kano with his first formal introduction into ethics, morality, which provided him with an awareness of social obligation.  Additionally, he studied English even after his arrival in Tokyo under Shuhei Mitsukuri a fellow student of famed educational reformer, Yukichi Fukuzawa.  His father's foresight was in preparation for life in the new Japan.


    ...excerpts from the manual, Excellence in Judo

  • Ethics

    You are viewing brief excerpts from "Instructors Course Manual".


    Chapter III


    Judo Ethics


    Ethics deals with rules of conduct designed by and for a particular group or culture.  It is an attempt by the group or culture to determine what is acceptable and what is not.  This is particularly difficult as many questions arise as to how we come to determine and accept these values.  Do these values arise naturally from our need to survive or are they man made or perhaps edicts from a higher power; God, Buddha, Allah, Brahma.  Other questions arise as to a reward and punishment system.  Who or what takes precedence in meting out justice.  Relativism further clouds the issue as time; place,situations, space, and progression can be added to the mix.


    The taking of life has in general been regarded as a negative but is this a natural supreme being or man made rule?  What are exceptions to this rule?  What of human sacrificial rites, war, self-defense, defense of others?  What of suicide bombers?  Again is it a natural occurrence an edict from a higher source or man made rule that decides what is right and what is wrong?  Can it be that, what we have are man made rules that may be judged in one-way and possibly another way in an afterlife?


    Almost every decision we make carries with it a potential ethical issue.  Examples can be found in the products that we may consume.  The purchasing of shoes made by child labor in third world countries, products made from endangered species, e.g. Ivory, rhinoceros horn, turtle shell, etc., the use of fossil fuel and its effect on the environment.  Even in the acts we choose to engage in or not to engage in may have ethical consequences.  Should one vote?  Should one not vote?  Should I stay neutral?  Should I engage in sex?  Should this be just to satisfy a biological urge or an act of love?  What effects will these choices create?  What is right and what is wrong?  What makes something that is right at moment in time wrong at another moment in time?  Why is it that some prohibited - acts in one culture are acceptable in another culture?  These are some of the questions that make up the subject matter of ethics.


    The Origin of Ethics?

    Some philosophers claim that ethics comes from some force or being.  Yet others claim that ethics comes from man alone.  When we look around, there is no other animal that celebrates the idea of ethics.  Only humans go so far to create elaborate rules placed into symbols called words; which in turn are codified into books; which in turn dictate acceptable behavior.  These symbols and the resulting adherence can result in acceptance or rejection or poverty even life or death.


    Our modern rules in the United States evolve from trying to live within a large social group of people with many divergent views and backgrounds.  The rules are largely influenced by an evolution of philosophy and religion.  The distinction between the two is at times difficult to discern; what is morally called for and what is legally required.  For example, a house is on fire and someone from the second floor calls for help.  You see the person in time to help but rather than risk it you stand and watch the fire.  Morally you may want to help.  Legally unless you have some special relationship to the person you can stand around and do nothing and just watch with impunity.


    You are viewing brief excerpts from "Instructors Course Manual".


  • Bio-Mechanics

    You are viewing brief excerpts from "Instructors Course Manual".


    Chapter IV


    Biomechanics and Judo


    BAMM!! Ughh! “Damn,” thought Sam as Ishizaki repeatedly threw him. How does he do that?  Resist harder this time.  I need to stop his right hand and 00oppsss, THUDD! got caught again. Oh Kay, that's enough, flying time for me.  Thanks for the work out.  By the way, how do you do your throw?  Can you show me?”  Ishizaki somewhat at a loss stops and in his broken English begins to explain, “Ia Putta zhis footo heeya.   Za aza footo zeya, tuwista hippu en putta in fronta ze opponent. Aruso donto foruget to puru za opponent fowado”.  "Oh Kay I got it, You put this foot here, the other foot there, twist your hip in front of the opponent, Also, don't forget to pull the opponent forward, but "why doesn't it happen like when I do it?"


    Physical Movement


    In 1877, Jigoro Kano entered Tokyo University.  That same year he also began his study of jujitsu under Masanori Minamoto-no-Hachinosuke Fukuda.  His first attempts at grappling with the master met with disaster as he was repeatedly tossed aside with ease.  His query as to how this was accomplished was met first with silence then an admonition to keep quiet and just practice and he would eventually get it.  Kano's young, educated, logical mind could not comprehend the magic that had repeatedly turned him upside down and onto his back.  After several years of intensive training, he was finally able to repeatedly throw another master.  The master was so perplexed by this turn of event that he asked Kano, “How did you do that”?  To which Kane replied, “Each time 1 saw you throw someone 1 noticed that you pulled them off balance first before entering into the throw.  I merely did likewise.”


    Although more easily able to execute the throws now, he wondered if it was enough just to verbally explain a throw.  The question, would someone learn just from a verbal explanation?  How strange, to be able to finally answer your own original question and yet later question whether it was sufficient.


    Listed below are a few of the words and concepts found in most basic physics textbooks.   We will have to become familiar with if we, like Kano, are to answer from a cognitive prospective how a throw works: matter, mass, base of support, gravity, line of gravity, center of gravity, friction, inertia, energy, opposite and equal reaction, velocity, force, force couple, centrifugal force, centripetal force, torque, and levers are but a few of the more relevant to judo.  These terms should give the coach an introductory means of understanding how movement occurs.  In this way, the coach may analyze his student's techniques and make suggestions for improvement.  First, we will look at those items that deal with stability, and then proceed to the items dealing with mobility.


    Kuzushi - Stability



    Essentially similar matter and mass are anything that takes up space and has quantifiable properties.  Matter/mass is usually divided into three categories of solids, liquids, and gases.  For our purposes, our bodies and our judo environment make up the mass we are concerned with.


    If we look at the body as a human machine there are three areas of concern: biomechanics, musculoskeletal anatomy, and neuromuscular physiology.  In this section, we will be dealing mainly with the first two areas.  The third area will be covered in-depth in level “D” assistant judo instructor certification.


    In judo, we like to think that with skill and technique a small man can defeat a slow un­skillful big man.  Sometimes this is the case however, at higher levels even the large man is quick and technically sound.

  • Systematize Teaching

    You are viewing brief excerpts from "Instructors Course Manual".


    Chapter VI


    Systematized Teaching for Judo


                Did you ever stop to wonder why we teach judo?  What about how we teach judo?  What would be the best way to maximize what we teach?  What the things we say or not, say, to or not do, that would be the safest way to give instruction?  When are we ready to give instruction?  Is being a black belt good enough to teach judo?  Have we ever as judokas experience a test to qualify us as a certified instructor?


    In past years, the rank of shodan (first-degree black belt) signified a degree of excellence in the ability to execute techniques under stress conditions.  In comparison to “a novice”, the physical movements of shodans were more fluid, graceful and successful.  Undoubtedly, the better judoka were admired, and questioned as to how they were able to execute their moves so gracefully.  Their response to these types of questions gave birth to their teaching experience.  Nonetheless, is this type of teaching experience enough to adequately justify the title of “sensei” or teacher?  Is it enough when we question ourselves as to the best method of instructing and maximizing our contact time with students?  Is being a champion enough to really be an effective instructor, or are there better teaching methods to build judo into a major sport that we all can be proud.  How can we create an industry out of what many consider to be more than a hobby?


    What are some of the concepts we want to convey to our students.  As we make our lesson plans and conduct our classes in a systematized manner.  Here are a few items that need to be kept in mind:


    • That the object of the lesson be a concept or technique, be clear to both teacher and student.
    • That there is a process of the certification ending in a standardized examination which must be signed and cosigned by the candidate and instructor signifying that the candidate passed with a minimum score of 70%.
    • That there are multiple higher levels of search cases to be attained.
    • That ownership of judo equipment and materials; books, CDs, DVD's, judogi charts, etc.  Enhances one's self and judo in general.
    • But these certifications may be credited toward higher rank.
    • That these certifications will ensure quality instruction.
    • That through these programs judo will grow.


    The Lesson Plan and Key Points To Cover


    A lesson plan is a map of what you are going to teach and how you are going to teach it.  It can be elaborate and detailed, but more often than not, it is direct and simple, often using just a few words to remind yourself of key points that you want to cover.


    Included below is a recommended outline to follow, preceded by a brief discussion of the items to be included in your presentation.  This outline is designed to teach judo technique and concepts.  But more than teach a technique, or a concept, it is designed to increase interest, judo knowledge, and membership in judo.  Remember you will be graded and not only in how well you have taught a specific item, but also how many of the key points you were are able to cover.  The items that are to be included are in bold letters, followed by a brief discussion.  These bold letter items will be graded, 1 through 5, 5 being the highest score.


    Introduction: Give a brief introduction of yourself.  If there is a chalkboard, write your name, certification number, and contact number, if necessary.  For some locations, calling cards or pamphlets may be nice.


    Common denominator:  State what will be taught in this lesson then use a common denominator.  A common denominator is a common experience that everyone is likely to understand that can be related to your lesson.  For example, in explaining what a great “taiotoshi throw” feels like, one might say, “Has anyone ever hit a home run or even smash a golf ball 275 feet.”  You know, like when there is this contact point where you can just feel it in your bones that the ball is gone, POP!!!  Well, let me tell you, when you learn and execute a taiotoshi, you'll get that same feeling.


    Control: Control is assumed by merely calling for attention of the students.  “Now I need you to pay attention to this next item----------.”  Or just get the students into the habit of responding to the command “Matte!”


    Demonstration: Demonstrating the specific technique and stating the objective and its value.  When demonstrating a technique, it should be executed in a perfect manner.  It is also a good idea to do the technique several times and changed the angle of view for the students.  Emphasize important aspects of the technique that may make a difference for the student.  Give an instance where you or someone you know was able to you utilize this technique successfully.  Ask students if there are any questions.  Lastly, restate the objective and its value.  (e.g. “The objective is to be able to execute the --------------- technique so that you can easily throw your opponent;”), “the objective is to count in Japanese.  So that when you are called upon to do so, you can.”


    Local experience:  When demonstrating your technique, relate the technique to a local experience.  One that you personally experience.  “Last week at the Parents Fed tournament, I saw John execute the taiotoshi that we are learning today.  He threw his opponent so hard and fast.  I didn't even get a chance to take a picture of it.”  These inclusions bring life to your teaching of techniques.


    Audiovisual aids: Using the visual aids or reference books, magazines, or prior experiences.  The use of visual aids like posters, pictures, charts, videos, DVD's, CDs, and books help to reinforce learning.  Stories also paint a visual image of what is considered by able to the group.  Remember, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  In addition, the more visual aids out there, the more advertising and exposure of judo is occurring.  Help stimulate the judo experience.


    Correcting:  Correcting the technique or concept where needed.  It is always a good idea to start out with a positive note, whenever possible.  “You have very good balance”.  “Here's something that will improve your judo, pull your opponent forward as you step in with the right foot, and as you shift your hips across, bring the left foot in deeper than the right foot as you pivot counterclockwise.  This will allow you to get your hip across better”.  or, “I like your enthusiasm, but, slow down, don't always think that a workout is a National Championship match.”  Encouraging students to locates self-esteem and retention.  Obviously, if the situation warrants quick action in order to avoid a faulty or dangerous situation, there may not be time for niceties, and a terse “Stop!”  Don’t do that!  No! Or Matte!, (Japanese word for wait or halt) would be in order.


    Continuing education:  Encouraging continuing education.  Each contact with students is an opportunity to make judo better.  There are special instances where judo can be improved dramatically.  One of the best places for this is in certification programs.  Certification program standardizes procedure that encourages excellence and assures safe, fun learning to occur.  Nonetheless, unless we promote these programs, they will not occur.


    Ownership:  We want to help those who help us.  Our judo industry helps us, from judogi’s, books, videos, DVD’s, CD’s, posters, T-shirts, judogi bags, they all enhance our judo knowledge and experience.  In your presentations, these items should be promoted.  They not only help the student, they promote judo economy.  Each demonstration, should give interesting details about these items and how they can enhance the judo experience.


    Preview the next lesson: Preview the next lesson.  Letting your students know what they will experience in the next lesson will prepare them in advance.  You may also suggest books, articles, videos, etc. that may prepare them for the next lesson.  Previewing may also include the need for purchasing equipment or materials to be used or submitted.


    Summary:  In the summation, you should review the objective of the lesson.  Preview the important points of the lesson.  Review the value of the lesson.  Promote continuing education.  Promote products and their origination.  Summation should be brief, but cover the key points and say, “Thank you”.


    Proper use of time is important.  Time is a factor; therefore, it is important that you do not waste it.  Most classes last about one to 1 1/2 hours long.  Within that time, there are announcements, warm-ups, uchikomi drills, randori time for Tachiwaza and Newaza, cool downs, and ending ceremonies.  Somewhere in midst of those activities you want to conduct a timely the lesson.  Technique lessons should take about 10 to 15 minutes.


    In addition, the examiners are looking at the quality of the demonstrations, your voice, presence, appropriate time usage, and body language.  The effort is to improve your student, his experience in judo, and the quality of judo overall.


    (You are viewing brief excerpts from "Instructors Course Manual", Systematized Teaching)

  • Teaching Tools

    You are viewing brief excerpts from "Instructors Course Manual".

    Chapter V

    Teaching Tools

    A group of parents from various local judo clubs have joined to form a parent's organization and are discussing instructional styles and the progress of their children.

    Jeff: Well, at our dojo, we have a new instructor from Japan, and while he doesn't speak much English yet, he commands a lot of respect from the kids.  I like the discipline he instills in the kids.  It's amazing how he can take 25 or 30 kids and get them listening and working

    Margaret: Our instructor, Sam, is easygoing and while he doesn't get much discipline, the kids just love him.  He's  knowledgeable and I think he is a "C" class instructor.

    Arlene: I like the fact that we have four or five instructors at our club.  Of course, we have a head instructor but my Brian is in the intermediate junior group with John sensei.  Next month, he moves up to the advance junior group with Michael sensei.  I just hope he's ready.

    John: You know all of you seem to be satisfied with your instructors.  Maybe it's me but my kids just don't seem to like judo.

    Do these comments sound familiar?  These are but a sample of the possible comments that may arise when concerned parents get together and exchange views.  Sometimes we as instructors, are privy to listen to them, often we are not.  Nonetheless, comments provide a cue to whether our students are progressing.  Simply put, there are five components to this equation:

    • Instructor
    • The information he has to offer.
    • The method of conveyance.
    • The audience
    • The result

    How and what an instructor teaches is determined by his previous experience and the effort he may put forth in honing his craft.  If the instructor has a heavy background in kata, for example, his emphasis will be in that area.  If it's competition, then in contesting, self defense, character building, recreation, etc.  The information that he has gained is conveyed to his students in various ways.  We will discuss attitudes, instructor-client relationships, and of course, teaching methods.  The idea here is to increase the number of tools you will have in your toolbox to do the best job possible.


    One of the more difficult tasks to undertake is to do a personal assessment of what your strengths and weaknesses are as an instructor, particularly in judo where there are so many facets to this activity.  Here are a few areas to consider: history, philosophy, etiquette, standing techniques, pinning techniques, choking techniques, aim locks, counter techniques, combination techniques, falling techniques, gripping techniques, kata (prearranged forms), contest rules, and ranking systems.


    (Excerpt from Assistant Judo Instructors, Teaching Tools)


United States Judo Federation

National Teachers Institute

Mitchell Palacio, Chairperson