Friday, September 25, 2009

Mifune Sensei & the True Spirit of Judo

First off, I apologize for my recent absence in the blogosphere. I started a new full-time job that has been keeping me very busy.

In following with my last post about the new Judo rule that was conceived to prevent cross-fertilization with other styles, I want to show you a video that, to me, gives you a little sample of the ultimate goal of the Judo that Jigoro Kano (founder of Judo) had intended when he created the style. For those of you who don't know, Judo was conceived of using a subsection of Jiu-jitsu techniques.

The tiny, frail old featured in this video, is Kyozo Mifune Sensei, 10th degree black belt, who is considered by many to be the greatest judo technician ever, after Kano.

I've seen a more complete version of the part where Mifune Sensei goes through 5-6 high ranking Dans (5th-8th), taking each one on individually and finishing each with a clean 'ippon' (in Judo terms, a solid throw that finishes the match). Every time any one of his younger, stronger opponents tries to throw him it's like he's not even there. It's like trying to throw a wispy feather. His body goes up then sails around them, landing perfectly on his feet, even after throws like ippon seoi nage (shoulder throw) and tomoe nage (stomach throw).

Judo was never intended to have weight classes, which is why the open category is still widely considered to be the only place where true Judo can occur. That being said, these days it is largely populated by the heavier weight categories. The idea was that if you had truly grasped the concept of Judo, you don't have to use any energy or strength. It all comes from your opponent, as Mifune Sensei so skillfully demonstrates.

To me, this is the highest form of martial arts, effortless, beautiful and you better believe it's got practical applications. Sigh. Where are masters like these nowadays?


Patrick Parker said...

You have to move to Southwest Mississippi tofind masters like this nowadays!

HA! ;-)

I agree. The rules changes and the pre-occupation with Olympic judo and weight classes, etc... have been detrimental to judo in the extreme.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Pat. Rule changes to Judo competition means that most Judo ka train very differently to old school judo ka.

Hopefully one day, some of these new stupid rules are abolished and we get back to how it used to be.

Just to let you know, you can find the full version of this video by Quest (1hr 30 mins or so) on google video. It is fantastic if you have not seen it.

Nostradamus said...

Hi Lori. Great Blog !!! I have a question. How can I do a tomoe-nage? where must i put my foot? And with both legs? Thank you very much

Lori O'Connell said...

There are a couple of different ways to do tomoe-nage. You can place your foot on the front of the hip. Alternatively, you can hook your foot on the underside of the hip. My preference is the first method. Hope this helps!