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Jigoro Kano: Beyond May the 4th - Judo's Everlasting Legacy

May the 4th, The day Jigoro Kano Died

I am a bit of a Star Wars fan. You’d probably call me a fan with a little “f”. It is not my favourite science fiction but it is up there. Star Wars Day, May the 4th, is one of my favourite days of the year if for no other reason than I just love saying “May the 4th be with you”. It is even more fun to say it to my daughter-in-law on that date, as it is her actual birthday. Just another reason why she is one of my favourite ladies. Also, a number of my students are fans which leads to some vigorous, non-Judo discussions when we are putting away the mats. Sadly it relates to Jugoro Kano as well.

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"May the 4th be with you," has a dark side to Judoka. Whilst it is a phrase familiar to fans of a galaxy far, far away, for Judokas, this expression holds a deeper significance. Reaching beyond the realms of science fiction. May 4th marks a poignant date in the world of Judo. It commemorates the passing of Jigoro Kano. The visionary founder of Kodokan Judo. His departure from this world, on a fateful voyage with the International Olympic Committee, signified the end of an era. Yet, Kano Shihan's teachings and legacy, like the Force, live on, transcending physical boundaries and inspiring Judokas worldwide.

The Final Journey

Jigoro Kano's last voyage, undertaken as a member of the International Olympic Committee, turned out to be a journey into eternity. Little did he know that this would be his final odyssey, as his health, worn down by old age and kidney stones, finally gave way. On May 4th, 1938, at 5:33 AM (Japanese time), Jigoro Kano was pronounced dead on the ship at the age of 77. There has always been conspiracy surrounding it but his official cause of death was pneumonia.

Legacy Lives On

Fortunately, Judo did not die with Kano Shihan. His physical demise pales in comparison to the enduring legacy he left behind. Kano Shihan's teachings echo through generations of Judokas. Reminding every Padawan that regardless of their size or stature, they can dream big and navigate the ever-changing world with confidence.

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The Principle of Maximum Efficient Use

One of Kano's key principles was the "Maximum efficient use of physical and mental energy." This principle became the guiding light for Judokas like Kyuzo Mifune, who embodied its essence, achieving a divine status in the world of Judo. Mifune's life exemplified the ebb and flow dictated by this principle, leaving an indelible mark on the sport.

Mutual Welfare for Self and Others

Kano Shihan aimed to change lives through the principle of "mutual welfare for self and others." Inoue Kosei, a judoka who lived and died by his powerful "Uchi Mata," epitomized this philosophy. His love for Judo and dedication to his family drove him to excel in the sport, showcasing the transformative power of Kano's vision.

Kings Never Die

As the saying goes, "Kings never die," but their immortality is contingent upon the legacy they leave behind. Jigoro Kano, the king of Judo, lives on through the countless Judokas who continue to carry his teachings forward. His belief that anyone, regardless of their size, can make a significant impact in the world resonates in the stories of Judokas like Tokio Hirano and Inoue Kosei.

Beyond the popular culture reference of "May the 4th be with you," Judokas commemorate this date with a profound acknowledgment of Jigoro Kano's enduring impact. His teachings transcend time, inspiring Judokas to dream big, make efficient use of their physical and mental energy, and embrace the principle of mutual welfare for self and others. In the world of Judo, Kano Shihan's legacy is not just a memory but a living force that continues to shape the lives of those who follow in his footsteps.

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