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JUDO-Ron 87-Teaching the judo curriculum

So, just what do we teach in judo? The teaching curriculum of any given
activity is represented by a global picture generally describing the ensemble
of activities that will follow. We can see at a glance, like a book summary,
the whole content and the general points or subject matters associated with
a series of connected activities or subject matters that will be taught or
planned for different groups of interested persons. The curriculum is
normally complemented by the planned delivery of a syllabus which follow
an order of presentation of the different elements.
It is important for judo teachers and coaches to recognize that professor
Jigoro Kano was foremost an educationalist and a scholar. He based his
Kodokan Judo on his educational philosophy which emphasized the need to
provide the students with sufficient skills and knowledge to prepare them for
a greater participation within the society. In his view, Kodokan Judo was
greater than the many old martial arts, including the popular ju-jitsu being
taught in the Meiji period of Japan. He insisted in the delivery of a total
system comprising physical, mental and social elements.

This photo and all the others are abstracted from the Internet public site about Jigoro Kano

His preliminary concepts evolved in the course of many years through new
discoveries and analysis. Professor Kano never stopped his researches to
include parts or whole systems within his judo curriculum. Under the
influence of major or developing events within the Japanese society and the
guidance of the Butokukai as an overseer of martial teaching confirmed his
views that there should be a difference in the pedagogical method for
teaching judo in school or colleges as opposed to the methods of delivery
associated with a private dojo.
As we have seen over the years, while attending normal schooling, the
student must gain sufficient educational values from subject matters and be
able to make the link with other cross curricular opportunities for practical
use in real life.


In the private or public dojo, members normally pay for their lessons and
they should expect to receive the maximum returns on investments for the
usage they intend to place towards their selected orientation, be it: physical
fitness, recreation, competition or administration etc. The format adopted for
the delivery of the special instructions will likely be subject centered.
The first attempts at making a judo curriculum
Ever wondered what was the teaching curriculum at the beginning of the
Kodokan? Several sources have reported that Professor Jigoro Kano
introduced two main ideas in his philosophy of judo: First, Seiryoku Zenyo
or "make good or intelligent use of your strength". The second:
Jita Kyoei "translated as seek mutual support and benefit for
yourself and others"

Hereunder are the two first versions of the Gokyo curriculum:i

Kyu (Former) Go Kyo no waza stipulated in 1895. (42 techniques)
Dai-ikkyo (group1) Hiza-guruma, Sasae-turikomi-ashi, Uki-goshi,Tai-Otoshi, Osotogari, Deashi-harai,Yoko-Otoshi (7 techniques)
Dai-nikyo (group 2) Sumi-gaeshi, O-goshi, Kosoto-gari, Koshi-guruma, Seoinage,Tomoe-nage, Tani-Otoshi (7 techniques)
Dai-sankyo (group 3) Okuri-ashi-harai, Harai-goshi, Ushiro-goshi, Ura-nage, Uchimata, Obi-Otoshi, Hane-goshi (7 techniques)
Dai-yonkyo (group 4) Uki-Otoshi, Uki-waza, Daki-wakare, Kata-guruma, Hikikomigaeshi, Soto-makikomi, Tsuri-goshi, Utsuri-goshi, Osoto-Otoshi, Tawara-gaeshi (10
Dai-gokyo (group 5) Yoko-guruma, Yoko-wakare, Uchi-makikomi, Kouchi-gari,
Ashi-guruma, Seoi-Otoshi, Yoko-gake, Harai-tsurikomi-ashi, Yama-arashi, Osotoguruma, Tsurikomi-goshi (11 techniques)Note:* "Tsurikomi-goshi" was not
included in the Go Kyo no waza at the time of stipulation in 1895. It seems to be
included in at the end of Meiji era, around 1911.



Go Kyo no waza revised in 1920 (40 techniques)
Dai-ikkyo(group1) De-ashi-harai, Hiza-guruma, Sasae-tsurikomi-ashi, Uki-goshi,
Osoto-gari, O-goshi, Ouchi-gari, Seoi-nage (8 techniques)
Dai-nikyo (group 2) Kosoto-gari, Kouchi-gari, Koshi-guruma, Tsurikomi-goshi,
Okuri-ashi-harai, Tai-Otoshi, Harai-goshi, Uchi-mata (8 techniques)
Dai-sankyo(group 3) Kosoto-gake, Tsuri-goshi, Yoko-Otoshi, Ashi-guruma, Hanegoshi, Harai-tsurikomi-ashi, Tomoe-nage, Kata-guruma (8 techniques)
Dai-yonkyo(group 4) Sumi-gaeshi, Tani-Otoshi, Hane-makikomi, Sukui-nage,
Utsuri-goshi, O-guruma, Soto-makikomi, Uki-Otoshi (8 techniques)
Dai-gokyo (group 5) Osoto-guruma, Uki-waza, Yoko-wakare, Yoko-guruma,
Ushiro-goshi, Ura-nage, Sumi-Otoshi, Yoko-gake (8 techniques)

Teaching preferences
Kodokan historical documents have revealed that Professor Jigoro Kano did
have some favorite subject lectures which included:
1. The judo theory and concepts
2. The development of judo
3. Purposes of kata and randori
4. Judo viewed as a self-defense system
5. Judo as a method of physical education
6. Judo as a method of spiritual training
7. Judo as a method of recreation
8. The objectives of judo as subject matter for middle school instruction
9. Importance of the flexibility contained in the principle of j
10. All about the posture
11. The essential eight directional kuzushi
12. The companion to kuzushi that are the tsukuri / kake phases
13. The evaluations and methods of teaching judo in the middle school.



Teaching the Gokyo
The first curriculum of 1882 exposed the five basic doctrines or "Gokyo (Five
elements)". This proposed division can be found as the five teachings within the
Confucianism approach. At its origin, the word is said to be from Buddha's lifetime
doctrines classified into five divisions. Professor Kano thought that it was
necessary to learn in sequence not only the technical skills but also include the
metaphysical and spiritual concepts linked with building the character of the
individual through intellectual tutorials addressing the basic principles associated
with each technique. For this reason he decided that the background and the
reasons for the techniques be learned in progressive stages building upon each
other that coincided with the progress of skill level made by the student.
The Gokyo-no-Waza drawn in 1882 and later presented before the Butokukai
authorities was first confirmed as containing 42 techniques in 1895 and revised by
a Kodokan senior review committee under the guide of Jiro Nango, the acting 2nd
president (both in 1918 and 1920) to better harmonize it with key elements of
kendo and aiki-jitsu that were incorporated in the Kata format. The new
curriculum supervised by MM Yamashita, Nagaoka and Murakami sensei in 1924
contained as we listed above, 40 techniques and a greater number of defences
against boxers. At that time, the Kime-no-kata and Seiryoku-Zenyo were
perfected to add striking, kicking and atemi manoeuvres. Other studies were
made on how to simplify and rearrange the Gokyo, a late attempt to introduce
doing judo at a far greater distance was proposed by Sensei Kenji Tomiki 1941
based upon more Aikido techniques and Kendo strikes but the board of directors
of the Kodokan resisted the idea and it was only in 1968 that some additional
defences were proposed and introduced in the Kata to offer better protection
from attacks to the face or with a knife.



Today, most federations make use of the syllabus containing the order of
techniques contained in the 1-5 serials. These Gokyo elements correspond with
the essentials techniques needed for grading of the Mudansha ranks. However,
we note that the presentation somewhat differ in some corners of Japan and in
Europe where the emphasis is more oriented with the development of selected
technical perfection more useful and better oriented towards competitive and
sport judo. For this reason, a good understanding of the "Gokyo-no-Waza" and its
importance as a basic judo structure must be reemphasized.
"On-ko-chi-shin (Learning lessons from the past)".
According to the current Kodokan president Sensei Uemura sensei contained in
his 2015 message, It is now desirable that "Gokyo-no-Waza" should be
researched in depth, verified, and properly understood. If necessary a revision
done based on the present situation, the meaning, Riai (the principle of using
correct, sufficient motion to perform each technique properly with maximum
efficiency), and the method of learning must be properly transmitted.
Originally, Professor Kano left the responsibility to teach most of the
technical skills to Sensei Yoshitsugo Yamashita who was one of the four
pillars of the Kodokan.

Prof Kano-Yamashita kata demo

From internet public photos of Judo-Kano



Professor Yamashitas responsibilities were to include:

1.The detailed explanation of all Waza (techniques)
2.Teaching and demonstration of Tachi waza program contained in the 1kyo
2kyo- 3kyo
3. The introduction to Katame no kata
4. Responsible for the extracurricular teaching (one on one) at the dojo for
the more advanced students.
5. Composition of the essentials contained in the Koshiki no kata. His tasks
also included the demonstration and explanation of the esoteric portions of
Itsutsu no kata.
Other responsible teachers
Under the general supervision of the renown sensei Shiro Saigo who was
made the first head of the Kodokan during the absence of professor Kano
other teaching activities were delegated to renown teachers and combatants
For the more aggressive and powerful sensei that was the ex-samurai
Sakujiro Yokoyama sensei's Professor Kano had given him the responsibility
to look after the competition training and the supervision of the RandoriShiai practices to include:
1. The explanation and demonstration of combinations and counters
associated with Tachi waza
2. The detailed works and skills performance contained in the 4kyo-5kyo
(completing the Gokyo no waza)
3. Oversee the performance of the Nage no kata and coaching competitors
as needed.



Drawings obtained from Pinterest and freely available at E judo forum 2014



Progression and changes
To keep up with the progression of Kodokan judo in schools systems and
private associated dojo, the teaching cadre was reinforced with other senseiteachers who had joined in from other specialized schools.

Prof Kano with some of his associates teachers at the Kodokan picture taken from the public domain of Internet.

This team of experts were essentially assigned to research and elaborate

new concepts for use by the Kodokan. Additional pedagogical subjects such
1. Judo teaching and practice methods
2. The extension of the national spirit and the future of the judo world
3. Judos evaluations of objectives and their effectiveness
4. The necessity of researching teaching methods in other martial arts
5. The extent and scope of 'Ju' principle that should be taught
6. Judo and the development of the right spirit
7. The mutual relationship between Shin-Gi-Tai
8. Judo as a system of physical education
9. The significance of physical education program for the nation
10. Judo, as an enjoyable exercise for play / recreation
11. Physiological requirements for best performance in judo
12. Past judo teaching methods and their evolutions
13. Judo seen as a human discipline
14. Judo qualities of determination and courage
15. Judo and the control of emotions
16. The position and strength of judo teaching as a middle school
subject matter.


17. Judo teaching materials and organization of teaching materials
18. The curriculum and teaching times
19. The approach: teach the basics, review, adjust, teach again
20. Technique analysis and grouping
21. The necessity of analysis of techniques and methods from other
martial arts including katame waza and Kosen style judo
22. Methods of improving the performance in Randori through mental
dispositions and added freer movements in tachi waza
23. The essentials teaching expected from judo kata
24. The revised standards of officiating judo matches

As remarked above, today many dojos and schools thrilled by the appeal of the
Olympic sport of judo place a greater emphasis in the preparation of competition
and the need to win contests at different levels in the hope of being part of the
chosen few to make it to the National and International levels.
A majority of students are thus receiving lesser attention because they aim
towards greater satisfaction in their personal accomplishments while pursuing
more low level goals. Those listed in this category will require additional
encouragement and support from the teaching staff. Through the use of technical
drills and a variation of exercises including the practice of light Randori they can
have fun and still develop the necessary physical and mental skills that will serve
them well outside the dojo.

If appropriate attention is not given to accurately demonstrate the values

associated with each performance of the Gokyo techniques and the practices of
Kata, there are a greater risk of losing the students interests and foment
discouragement that will lead to dropping out the judo courses for enrolments in
more enjoyable and profitable activities.



The kata being the grammar of judo techniques must also be studied in parallel in
order to better understand the principles of Kuzushi, Tsukuri and Kake contained
in each technique and manoeuvre. The connecting displacements are important
to identify the right moments of decision by both Tori and Uke, to understand the
rhythm and the transitional moves most effective to secure the kuzushi on time
and with accuracy. If for no other reason, Kata should be studied for the
etiquette, spirit and their historical values.
Judo pedagogy
Most judo instructors, teachers and coaches learned their skills from past Sensei
and there is a tendency to follow in similar footsteps which proved to be working
in the majority of situations. The international judo federation and national
federations frequently supplement this oral tradition from teacher to student
with the appropriate specialized courses and diploma in coaching specific aspects
of judo. In Canada, we have the National Coaching Certificate Program (NCCP)
formula where individuals can attend subject-matter seminars given by scholastic
authorities and by experienced senior judo coaches or follow modules through
correspondence and selected lectures.
Teaching judo or coaching a judoka does not simply mean that the specific skills
are transferred from one to another; it involves preparation of the course
content, the appropriate transmission of the savoir-faire to suit the students
needs, the selection of teaching methods and styles most fitting for the age group
and level of physical awareness of the students.
The direct style involving an imposed and strict instruction cadre that is the sole
instructions given by the authoritative person; the guided approach whereby
students are given more time or opportunities for input as to choices; the search
and discovery for the truth through identification of personalized solutions; the
problem solving tasks or exercise and the use of creative situations-options are
common teaching approaches employed by judo instructors and teachers.

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Whatever the mechanisms used to pass on the knowledge and the acquisition of
selected skills, they must be complemented with the appropriate
experimentation, evaluation and mutual feedback between teachers and
The responsible content delivery person must be both confident and proficient
enough to know what needs to be passed-along and how best to demonstrate the
key points in order to ensure students comprehension and satisfaction in their
subsequent and safe practices. Proper time management is paramount to ensure
adequate periods of theory transmission, exercises and play time as well as
periods assigned towards the explanations of the aim and purpose, observation,
demonstration of key points, evaluation of global performance, monitoring
progress and maximum use of the allotted safety spaces.
Judo teachers and coaches are neither problem solvers nor therapists; they are
the facilitators, the instruments of knowledge and experience sharing. Both
partake in the individual students goals of getting better through the attainment
of judo mental and physical skills. The former provide the initiation and the
consolidation while the second facilitate the attainment of superior goals to move
forward. We must not forget that the entire responsibility to succeed or not, rest
with the student-judoka.
It is understood that anyone with some experience in judo can declare himself or
herself as a trainer, coach or instructor as long as they show some interest and
knowledge of the activities, can communicate effectively with all groups and
individuals, are creative and interested in developing an honest rapport with the
students. To make it work, there is one condition: providing that their clientsjudoka accept their intervention and are ready to build the necessary mutual trust
and confidence needed in the partnership. With a few national exceptions where
these functions are regulated by law such as in France, most national federations
offer a diploma and certificate to affiliated members thus controlling the
management and delivery of judo courses.
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Coaches are no longer a fad; they form part of selected group at the employ of
federations to prepare athletes and ensure competitors development and
safeguard the potential replacements for the national teams.
Coaches and athletes cannot act alone, they need the qualified teachers or Sensei
who can introduce the judoka to the finer technical details of judo and build the
necessary mental practices to unlock the potentials in everyone and which will
prepare the judoka for either the competition circle or the daily social life outside
the tatami. There is no doubt that the proper teaching of the Gokyo, the Kata and
the practice of Randori and the lessons learned through them will open up these
avenues of success.
The judo cadre of assigned teachers and coaches is made up of dedicated persons
ready to dispense their knowledge and partake in their technical success. We all
have a responsibility to choose our course of action and the right support team
that will guide us towards our individual goals. Let us focus on our plan of action
and begin our journey with the basic curriculum offered by the Gokyo.
May your chosen path provide you with the benefits you seek.
Ronald Desormeaux, Rokudan, Judo Teacher, University of Toronto,
Hart House Dojo, February, 2015
Note: This document has registered copyrights with the National Library of Canada Electronic Data
Bank. Commercial reproduction is not permitted without the permission of the author. Please contact:


Judo Electronic Forum, 2014, Articles about the Gokyo

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