Shizen Tai

The full commitment within Original Judo (Ju No Michi) starts with Shizen Tai.

As they call themselves, the « judo players” are constantly bent over because they are:

  • Afraid of falling.
  • Afraid of losing.
  • Afraid of not getting a medal.

Do these Judo Players do Judo? My personal opinion is no.

This has the name of Judo but not the form.

The first principle is the Shinzentai position.

Judo is a martial art and not a sport. It means this could be used in extreme situations in order to remain alive. Therefore, the person removes all the possible stress in order to react quickly and be aware of the aggressor’s reactions before it happens (personal and life experiences as well).

If I bent over and use my muscle, I might lose my life quickly.

Now take away the stressful situation. What is left?
A wonderful tool to learn how to know me with the help of a partner.

For this, there are 3 main tools, katas which lead to Randori and then Shiaî.

No loser, no winner but a full commitment to myself.

Dr kano in « Seiryoku zen.yõ kokumin tiiku, August 1930, in KJTK-8

Shizen Hontai is the posture where the individual stands naturally upright., without any intention. Elbows drop naturally, the chest is dropped without forcing it, the gaze is not lowered, heels are about a foot apart between right and left.

Shizen Tai is the stable posture closest to imbalance

The centre of gravity is high, the supports are only about shoulder-width apart. However, it is from an imbalanced posture that we can create movement.

It is therefore the closest posture to movement.

Shizen Tai allows you to move faster, which is essential from a martial point of view. The person can quickly react by perceiving the other person’s reaction, even before they occur (Sen No Sen).

A position such as Jigo Tai, for example, although not leaning to either side, is effective in defence by lowering the centre of gravity, but, does not allow rapid change or direction or intention.

Moreover, this position is the reflection of fear which again indicates that the practice of Sports Judo is not the practice of the martial art.

(A very common sensation in Sports Judo)

Let’s hear what Dr Kano said about Shizen Tai.
Dr Kano : Dojo ni okeru renshu no mokuteki o ron zu (dai-yonkai) July 1930 KJTK-3, p 275, 276

“…I say a word about attitude: I would like practitioners to practice Shizen-Tai ordinarily. In randori, it is certainly not possible to remain permanently in Shizen tai because it is undoubtedly necessary to switch to jigo-tai to protect oneself but, when one does not practice the principle of shizen-tai, it is not only the form of the body which becomes bad one comes to the point of not being able to move the body in a completely free way.

On the other hand, is jigo-tai the most suitable position for defence?

Certainly not!

It is sometimes relevant to defend against certain types of attack but it often happens that it is of no help against others.

When standing in shizen-tai, one seems vulnerable to attacks that can come from all directions but, at the same time, regardless of the direction of the attack, it is possible to dodge the attack easily.

On the other hand, it is easy to attack in Shizen Tai because this is a natural position”

It is essential, to preserve the ability to move, and to always return to the shizen-tai position.

Judo no shugyoja ni tsgu, February 1918, in KJTK-2, P. 205

The body must be in shizen tai posture. It is an attitude that allows you to change your attitude according to the needs. “

Judo, a spiritual research?

Judo, a spiritual research?

This is a question we (judoka) are not pondering.
We believe this is a spiritual research.

Let’s start by defining what spiritual means:
Spirituality involves the recognition of a feeling or sense or belief that there is something greater than ourself, a greater whole of which we are part is cosmic or in nature.”

In that perspective, Judo does not aim to provide a mean to get medals and honour physical strength but it is one of many tools to be engaged into spiritual journey.

Now, here is what the Judo Founder said about Judo.


Principles of Judo and Their Applications
to all
Phases of Human Activity
by By Jigoro Kano founder of judo.

The following is a transcript of a lecture he gave at the Parnassus Society, Athens, Greece, on June 5, 1934.

Ever since I came to work in public, I have been engaged in Education, for some time filling the post of the Director of the Bureau of Primary and Secondary Education in Japan, and for 24 years being the Principal of the Higher Normal College in Tokyo.

As is natural for a man of such a career, I had to answer many questions like the following:

  1. The use of religion as a means of moral culture no one doubts. But as morals are taught in religion not by reason, but by ‘faith’ or belief, there may be different persons having different beliefs. How can one decide which belief is correct and which is not? In this stage of enlightenment we must solve this question in a way to which everybody will agree. How do you solve this question?
  2. Since thousands of years, thinkers of different countries have advanced hundreds of different views regarding morals. Some have arrived at certain conclusions through their own process of reasoning while others came to advocate something different also from their way of thinking. This is the reason why there are so many different ethical systems. They have been contending under different banners from the time of Plato and Aristotle in the West and of Lao-tse and Confucius in the East. There seems to be no end to the disputes. How do you reconcile these different views?
  3. We all respect tradition and nobody would think lightly of the importance of tradition in the teaching of morals. But how can we prove that morals taught by tradition are always correct, and never need alteration? Do not facts prove that some of the teachings of morality deemed most important at a certain stage in the progress of mankind came to diminish in importance at a later stage? Do not different countries differ in their traditions? Is there any reliable test by which to judge the validity of such tradition so that we can keep to those which we deem valid?

Often confronted with questions like these, it occurred to me that the principles of Judo which I have been studying since my young days can best solve such difficult questions. So I tried to apply these principles to the solution of all the different problems I had to encounter, and in no case did I find any difficulty in applying them.

Those principles of Judo are:

1st. ‘Whatever be the object, the best way of attaining it shall be the maximum or the highest efficient use of mental and physical energy directed to that aim.

2nd. ‘The harmony and progress of a body, consisting as it does of different individuals, however few or many the number of those individuals may be, can best be kept and attained by mutual aid and concession.’

If I had time, and the nature of this Parnassus Society were such to allow me to explain the process by which I had arrived at my conclusions, it would be very interesting and easier for you to understand the real import of what I am going to say. However, leaving that part to a Lecture to be given on some other occasion, I shall now proceed to show you how to apply those principles to different phases of Human Activity.

In feudal times in Japan there were many martial exercises such as fencing, archery, the use of spears, etc. Amongst them was one called Jujitsu, which consisted principally of the different ways of fighting without weapons, although occasionally some weapons were used. In my young days I studied two different schools of this art under three eminent masters of the time. I further received instructions from many other masters representing other schools. But Jujitsu originally was not an application to contests of the principles of science but simply a group of different methods of attack and defence devised by different masters, one school representing a group of methods devised by one master and other schools representing the devices of others. Such being the case, there was no fundamental principle by which to test the validity of those methods.

This led me to study this subject very seriously, and I finally came to conceive of one all-pervading principle, that is: ‘Whatever be the object, it can best be achieved by the highest or the maximum efficient use of mental and physical energy directed to that purpose or aim.’

Then I studied anew, as far as my research could reach, all the methods of attack and defence taught by different masters prior to my time. I then found out that there were many methods which could stand this test while many others could not. Preserving those which I deemed valid and adding many others of my own device which I felt confident could stand the test, I organised in 1882 my own system of attack and defence. Judo is the name of this fundamental principle, as well as the name for this principle, together with its application, whereas Jujitsu is the name for a group of different devices not founded on such principle. I named the institution where this principle is studied, and its application taught, Kodokan, which literally means ‘an institution for studying the way.’

This new attempt proved very successful. In Japan to-day almost no one studies the old methods, Judo being taught in almost all schools above middle grade as well as in the army, navy and the police, and the name Jujitsu has almost been superseded by the new name Judo.

This success in the application of the principle of maximum efficiency to the method of contest led me to think it advisable to make a similar attempt in connection with physical education.

In dealing with this matter I must first of all make clear what is the aim of physical education. I believe the aim of physical education should include at least the four following items: Health, Strength, Utility and Spiritual Training, including Intellectual, Moral, and Aesthetic phases.

Nobody would disagree with this statement, but I wish to call your special attention to the fact that nobody, even the specialists in physical education, seems to study the respective importance of those four items. Are not many of the promoters of physical education laying too much strength and skill? Are not teachers of gymnastics paying their attention almost exclusively to the interior organs and the harmonious development of the body.

Into such mistakes people naturally fall because the aim of physical education is not clearly set forth and the inter-relation of these four items is not seriously studied. This happens because the principle of Maximum-Efficiency is not yet universally recognised and but few people seem to study such a subject from the point of view of this principle.

I shall now proceed to speak about the application of this principle to moral and intellectual training.

In a similar way as I have said in connection with the four items of physical education, the inter-relation of intellectual and moral culture as well as these two with physical culture should be a subject of serious study. However, not only people at large but even educators are quite indifferent to this. In intellectual culture, strictly speaking, the acquisition of knowledge and the cultivation of intellectual power are so correlated that they cannot be treated separately. Still, the cultivation of the power of reasoning and judgment and the mere acquisition of knowledge may be looked at in different lights and the respective share they should have in intellectual culture should be specially studied.

Moral culture also includes several items, and the inter-relation and relative importance of those items should be carefully considered.

First of all moral culture must be pursued from the intellectual side, enabling a man to know what is right and what is wrong and also enabling him to reason out and decide this even under complicated circumstances. At the same time cultivation of the emotional and volitional power, as well as the importance of forming good habits, must not be forgotten. But very few people seem to study these things seriously. This, I believe, is also due to the lack of recognition of the Principle of Maximum-Efficency.

Culture, whether it be physical, intellectual or moral, can only be properly acquired when due consideration is given to the relative importance and correlation of different items included in that culture.

I shall now give one very simple example of how most people are in their daily life regardless of this all important principle. Whenever one has to read a book, magazine or newspaper, on should select out of many such as are deemed most profitable to read at the time. But most people are too regardless about those matters.

The same thing can be said in regard to diet, clothing and housing, and the choosing of things we buy, in the transaction of business, in short, in all daily dealings in Life. Only through the right understanding and correct application of this principle can one make one’s body strong, healthy and useful. One can become a person of high moral and intellectual standing. One can accumulate wealth, sufficient not only to make oneself happy but also to be able to help others and spend for the good of society. Only people who are loyal to our principle can become such men.

Thus, if this principle is applicable to all phases of human activity, the same thing must hold true in regard to the activity of a group of men, whether that be small, as in the case of a party of a few persons or large as in the case of a nation having a large population. But for a group of men to act as an individual it must be well organised, so that every member of the group shall act in harmony one with the other. This harmony can only be attained and retained by mutual aid and concession, leading to mutual welfare and benefit. This mutual aid and concession is therefore another fundamental principle of Judo which is very important for the keying-up and perfecting of social life. Cannot, then, this same principle be applied in a similar way to international relations?

I conclude my Lecture by quoting a part of my speech which I made in Madrid last year on the occasion of the Meeting of the Interparliamentary Union. ‘Fortunately the ideal of international life does not differ greatly among civilised peoples, but when one is asked what lies in the background to make different people have a similar ideal, one may perhaps be puzzled. The moral ideal of religion having belief as its background cannot explain it, since there is no reason why all beliefs should coincide. Then can different systems of philosophy be regarded as the determining force of such coincidence? It cannot be sought in philosophy, because those philosophical systems stand aloof from each other and can never be reconciled.

‘Then what is the real determining force of such a coincidence?

‘The determining force lies in this. Civilised people, living in society, do not even dream of quitting the social life and living entirely secluded from other people. As long as a person wishes to be a member of the community, he must deem it his duty to keep society in being and do his part to prevent its disintegration. Again, so long as a man lives in society he himself is benefited by its progress, while on the other hand, if society deteriorates he loses what he might otherwise get. When any member of society is made conscious of these facts he will be led automatically to endeavour to maintain and improve our social life. To maintain social life every individual member of it must know how to refrain from egoistic conduct and must concede to and help others whenever that is necessary to that end. At the same time one must endeavour to the best of one’s ability to serve society, remembering also to care for oneself so long as that does not conflict with the interests of others and of society at large. This benefiting of society as well as of himself can best be achieved by the highest or the maximum-efficient use of mental and physical energy in that direction. In short, the highest or the maximum-efficient use of mental and physical energy for attaining one’s aim on the one hand, and the mutual aid and concession aiming at mutual welfare and benefit on the other, are the two great determining factors of social harmony and progress. Whether consciously or not, civilised people are being led by these factors. The fact that people now speak so much of efficiency and scientific management, the fact that the League of Nations was formed, and that security and disarmament have nowadays become outstanding subjects, all these show that those factors should be thoroughly studied and their true spirit proclaimed to the whole world.

Seiryoku-Zenyo

Jigoro Kano explained this principle during 2 conferences :”The Best Use of Energy” in1922 and in 1936

“Seiryoku-Zenyo (maximum efficient use of energy) applies to all types of endeavours, and it is to fully utilise one’s spiritual and physical energies to realise an intended purpose.

Seiryoku-Zenyo is the most effective use of the power of the mind and body. In the case of Judo, this is the principle upon which attack and defence are based, and what guides the process of teaching as well. Simply, the most effective use of mind and body may be described as the maximum efficient utilisation of energy. In summary, this can be described as “maximum efficiency”.

This idea of the best use of energy is one of the central tenets in Judo, but it is also important for achieving various aims in one’s life.”

“This concept of the best use of energy is the fundamental teaching of Judo. In other words, it is most effectively using one’s energy for a good purpose. So, what is ‘good’? Assisting in the continued development of one’s community can be classified as good, but counteracting such advancement is bad… Ongoing advancement of community and society is achieved through the concepts of ‘Sojo-Sojo’ (help one another; yield to one another) or ‘Jita-Kyoei’ (mutual benefit). In this sense, Sojo-Sojo and Jita-Kyoei are also part of the greater good. This is the fundamental wisdom of Judo.

Kata and Randori are possible when this fundamental wisdom is applied to techniques of attack and defence. If directed at improving the body, it becomes a form of physical education; if applied to gaining knowledge, it will become a method of self-improvement; and, if applied to many things in society such as the necessities of life, social interaction, one’s duties, and administration, it becomes a way of life…

In this way, Judo today is not simply the practice of fighting in a dojo, but rather it is appropriately recognised as a guiding principle in the myriad facets of human society. The practice of Kata and Randori in the dojo, is no more than the application of Judo principles to combat and physical training… From the study of traditional Jujutsu Kata and Randori, I came to the realisation of this greater meaning. Accordingly, the process of teaching also follows the same path. Furthermore, I recognised the value of teaching Kata and Randori to many people as a fighting art and as a form of physical training. This not only serves the aims of the individual, but by mastery of the fundamental wisdom of Judo, and in turn applying it to many pursuits in life, all people will be able to live their lives in a judicious manner.

This is how one should undertake the study of Judo that I founded. However, in actuality there are many people throughout the world living their lives on the basis of Judo principles without knowing that this is the real essence of Judo. If the Judo that I espouse is propagated to society at large, the actions people undertake will become Judo without even thinking about it. I believe that if more people gain an understanding of the guiding principles of Judo, this philosophy will also help guide their lives. Thus, I implore you all to make great efforts, and initiate this trend in society.”

Jita-Kyoei

In 1925 Kano Jigoro explained why it is necessary to advocate the principles of mutual prosperity and help in human society 1925.

As long as we coexist, each member of society and the groups organised within must function in harmony and cooperation with the others. Nothing is more important than living prosperously together. If everyone acts with the spirit of mutual cooperation, each person’s work benefits not only himself, but also others, and attaining this together will bring mutual happiness. Activities should not engaged in simply for self-interest. Once started, it is only a matter of course that a person will find goodness in harmony and cooperation upon realising that his efforts will increase the prosperity of all. This great principle of harmony and cooperation is, in other words, the concept of Jita-Kyoei, or mutual prosperity for self and others.
Where should one seek the rationale for acting for the sake of others? Further, if one acts out of concern for his own wellbeing, there will inevitably be a collision of interests with others. Acts for the sake of self-interest will ultimately become a great inconvenience. In this way, sacrificing oneself without any purpose or reasoning runs counter to the greater good of humanity. If one merely enforces his own selfish claims, not only will he become hindered by opposition from others, but such selfishness will lead to self-destruction. When considered in this light, there is no other way forward but Jita-Kyoei in which all people play their part in society to prosper mutually.
For example, if three people join together in travel, one person may wish to go to the mountains, one to the sea, and one may want to stop and rest. The three eventually come to a point where they all wish to separate. Assuming that they wanted to enjoy the benefits of travelling together at the start, they must cooperate and accede to each other’s wishes. In truth, there is no choice other than to select a common destination to satisfy everyone.

Looking at the ways of the world, we find that all things great and small interrelate in this manner… If one acts in accordance with his own interests while refusing to recognise the needs of others, this will lead to mutual destruction, and nothing is more disadvantageous or calamitous to society than this…

When we observe at the actual lives of people, it seems that there is a great deal of wasted energy. Even if it appears that people are utilising their energies effectively, it cannot be denied that there is still much room for improvement. We should cease meaningless conflict, and instead abide by the principle of Jita-Kyoei. If we proceed by maximising the efficient use of energy, this will result in the vitality of the country increasing dual-fold. Thus, culture will advance in leaps and bounds, and we will all be enriched and strengthened as a matter of course. Moreover, I believe that if we follow the ideal of Jita-Kyoei, international relations will become more amicable, and it will promote wellbeing for the entire human race.

For this reason, I beseech you all to integrate and embrace all these teachings and proclamations, raise the flag of Seiryoku-Zenyo and Jita-Kyoei, notions that are based on the immovable principles of truth, and move forward together with all the people of the world.