Judo as a physical, intellectual and moral education

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These words were spoken by Jigoro Kano, when aged 29, on 11 May 1889, at a conference ‘The All-Japan Education Meet’, from within his paper ‘The Contribution of Judo to Education’. David Waterhouse (Waterhouse, 1982) discusses Kano’s three-pronged approach to education, as the acquisition of knowledge, the teaching of morality, and the training of one’s body by physical education. This san iku shugi, or Principle of the Three Educations, was originally proposed by Herbert Spencer, the English Victorian political theorist and philosopher. Spencer coined the term ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and is known as a pioneer of Social Darwinism. It is generally accepted that Kano would have read Spencer’s 1861 text, ‘Education, Intellectual, Moral and Physical (Spencer, 1861). The Principle of the Three Educations was known within intellectual circles during the Meiji era, and Kano was capable of reading Spencer in English. There is also a mention of Spencer in the 14-volume collected works of Kano (Waterhouse, 1982). It is also relevant that, in 1883, the Japanese government published the Imperial Rescript on Education, which emphasised the importance of moral (toku-iku) and intellectual (chi-iku) training. Much later in his life, during a lecture at the Parnassus Society, Athens, Greece, on 5 June 1934, Kano expanded the concept, explaining his belief that the aim of physical education should include at least the four following items: Health, Strength, Utility and Spiritual Training, the latter including Intellectual, Moral, and Aesthetic phases. He went on to argue that the interrelation of intellectual and moral culture, as well as those two concepts with physical culture, should be a subject of serious study. In modern times, judo is described as a wonderful system of physical, intellectual and moral education, which gives its students a code of ethics, a way of living and a way of being (Brousse & Matsumoto, 1999). It could be argued that the role of the sensei, is to guide students along the path of judo, in order that they might become versed in methods of combat and also nurture their intellect and morality. It could also be argued that the sensei should aim to teach the three objectives of a physical, intellectual and moral education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Science of Judo
EditorsMike Callan
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)978-0-8153-4913-6
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Sport and Exercise Science


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