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The Lost Art of Judo Buyo 柔道舞踊 の歴史

Unveiling the Lost Art of Judo Buyo: Beyond the Olympic Frame

In the intricate tapestry of martial arts, Judo Buyo emerges as a hidden gem, often overshadowed by the mainstream popularity of its parent discipline, Judo. This captivating tradition, meaning "Judo dance," originated in the 1960s, with its roots deeply embedded in traditional Japanese dance, particularly Nihon Buyo. As we explore the evolution of Judo Buyo, we unearth a fascinating journey that intertwines gender dynamics, historical shifts, and a steadfast commitment to the essence of Judo.

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The Samurai Connection

Nihon Buyo, a form of entertainment for the Samurai class from the 17th to the 20th century, laid the groundwork for what would later become Judo Buyo. The dance was not merely a display of physical prowess but a celebration of cultural heritage, reflecting the grace and discipline inherent in the Samurai code.

Breaking Gender Barriers

Before 1978, the international stage of Judo was an exclusive domain for male practitioners. In this era, women, barred from competing in Judo at the highest level, found expression through Judo Buyo. Much like Kata, a precursor to competitive Judo in the Olympic Games before 1964, Judo Buyo became a means for female judokas to showcase their skills and dedication to the art.

The Revival Effort

The turning point came in 1978 when women were finally allowed to compete internationally in Judo. Judo Buyo, having served its purpose, faced the risk of fading into obscurity. However, Keiko Nagasaki, a Judo Buyo veteran, took it upon herself to revive this captivating tradition. Nagasaki infused new life into Judo Buyo by incorporating elements from traditional Kata, transforming it into a more technique-driven dance.

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Hiroyuki Akimoto's Artistic Vision

Former world champion Hiroyuki Akimoto drew inspiration from Judo Buyo to embark on his artistic project. The fluidity and precision of Judo Buyo resonated with Akimoto, influencing the development of his unique approach to the art. This convergence of competitive Judo and the artistic expression of Judo Buyo highlights the diverse dimensions within the broader spectrum of Judo.

Judo Beyond Randori

Judo's essence extends beyond the rigours of randori, encompassing various facets such as leg grabs, Kata, self-defence training, and academic studies. The narrow focus imposed by the International Judo Federation (IJF) and the Olympic framework should not limit the richness and diversity inherent in Judo. As practitioners, we should have the freedom to explore and specialize in aspects that align with our individual preferences.

A Message from Keiko Fukudo

The words of the legendary Keiko Fukudo echo through the corridors of Judo history: "There are two types of Judo that can be learned. The first is narrow and emphasizes Judo techniques...The second approach is much broader and deals with the development of a human being." Fukudo's wisdom serves as a poignant reminder that Judo is not merely a sport but a path to human development, societal betterment, and education.

In the realm of Judo, the dance of Judo Buyo stands as a testament to the art's adaptability and resilience. As we honour the historical roots and evolution of Judo Buyo, let us also celebrate the diverse expressions of Judo beyond the confines of competition. Judo, at its core, is a multi-faceted journey that transcends boundaries, inviting practitioners to explore the expansive landscape of human development.

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