Judo

Jigoro KanoJudo – gentle ways – has enjoyed years of public exposure since its inclusion in the Olympics in 1964. Unfortunately, this ‘sporting association’ has resulted in Judo being viewed as merely a ‘sport’ rather than a martial art in it’s own right.

Just as there are clubs placing major emphasis on the competition side of Judo there are many other clubs which place just as much focus of Judo’s martial elements. Like Aikido, Judo has strong ties with ju-jitsu. Many of the throwing techniques used in Judo can still be found in many jujitsu curriculums, while the ground work common to both disciplines is separated only by Jujitsu’s more ‘brutal’ elements.


Jigoro KanoThe founder of Judo, Jigoro Kano, was born in 1860. Apart from being the founder of judo, Kano was also a leading educationalist, pacifist and a prominent figure in the Japanese Olympic movement. When he began his study of ju-jitsu as a young man, the jujutsu masters were struggling to earn a living. Although they were keen to teach and pass on the skills handed down to them over many generations, there was little interest and with the demise of the samurai warrior class the need for martial instruction was even less desirable.

At the age of 18, Kano studied the ju-jitsu of the Tenshin Shinyo Ryu under Fukudo and Iso, Following Fukuda’s death, Kano remained briefly with master Iso before finishing his training with master Ilkubo. In 1883 Kano began teaching his newly formed art of judo. Although the techniques of Judo resembled the original techniques of Jujitsu, Kano concluded that the ultimate purpose of practice and training in Judo should be different from that of Ju-jitsu. Kano’s Judo held as its goal the training of body and spirit.

Judo techniques can be basically classified into three categories – throwing, grappling and striking. In 1885 the throwing techniques were categorized as Go Kyou No Waza. The striking techniques involving striking and kicking, were restricted in the form of Kata and Kano’s objective to keep the practice of Judo safe, thus highlighting the difference goals and overall philosophy of Kodokan Judo and the traditional more brutal aspects of Ju-jitsu.

Although judo is viewed by the general public as a sport, Kano never intended for this to happen and felt strongly that it was a personal art to train the body foremost with sport applications relegated to matters of less importance.

During the Japanese military build up of the thirties, Kano resisted attempts for Judo to be utilised for military purposes, this made him unpopular with the forces re-shaping Japanese society and ambitions. In the face of strenuous objections, Kano sought to have the Olympic Games held in Tokyo in 1940 – “Sportsmanship is above war,” he told one press conference.

He was successful. That he was so, during a period when Japanese colonization was at its zenith, is a tribute to the great respect held for Kano by the rest of the world. Even the US and the UK who were resolutely opposed Japanese policies in the far east supported Kano’s controversial bid.

In 1938, while travelling home aboard the Japanese ship Hikawa Maru he died, officially of pneumonia. Speculation has surrounded Kano’s demise ever since, undoubtedly his western and pacifist sympathies were an irritation to the imperialist aspirations of the Japanese military. Interestingly. Within weeks of his death, Japan cancelled the games and invaded China.

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ACS MAGFA … the beginning

Back in 2008 I was contemplating, with some trepidation, the dawning of my 35th year career with Dixons. Over the many years I’d worked for them, first as Currys then as Dixons Stores Group, I’d had a vast array of jobs: shop floor, relief manager, window dresser, admin processor, delivery driver, eventually moving on, by way of fortuitous resignation of one individual and me, unknowingly, impressing someone of importance – I must have had an off day!

This impression lead to head office in Ealing and another array of jobs and responsibilities eventually culminating in my role in e-commerce – Oh, in the meantime, we’d relocated to the chav capital known as Hemel Hempstead famous for Jarmin Park and it’s roaming groups of feral 16 year old mothers.

I could regale you with all the fascinating shenanigans that drives a large electrical retailer and how I hated Christmas ‘cos I’d been living it since bloody July! But I won’t, maybe one day, but not now. I will however say that I’d met some complete f***tards over the years, snotty little marketing oiks I couldn’t stand the sight of (they probably felt the same about me, but I could care less) and some great individuals who I liked and thought worthy of my respect.

But the one over riding thought at the back of mind as I ploughed on through the monotonous drudgery or marketing plan after marking plan, where spring creeps into summer followed by autumn and the inevitable yuletide boredom, was that one day I would retire and be gifted the watch, spoon or whatever the f*** they give out these (or those) days as retirement gifts.

It filled me with dread until 2009 … In 2009 the angel of career death, an obnoxious little female asian thing, came in under the remit of providing a restructure for the department I was in.

And please, don’t get uptight about the ‘female Asian thing’ it’s not meant to be derogatory, unless you see yourself as an obnoxious little female Asian thing, in which case you probably couldn’t give a s***! That’s good ‘cos neither do I!

They started by trying to find dirt and inappropriate activity on everyone and dismissing them on the spot. Some of these dismissals were ‘weak’ to say the least, some attempts for breach of company rules down right pathetic: the Irish joke sent by one irish director to another irish director, springs to mind.

Anyway my nose was clean, although I did replace the Teri Hatcher garbed in Superman cape I’d been using as my desktop, just in case. Upshot was I could apply for a down speced version of my job, (go screw yourself) a job further up the pay scale (really, in my frame of mind?) or seek redundancy.

I chose redundancy after a brief flirtation with a higher salaried position. My overriding thought was that this now gave me the opportunity to escape the inevitable train ride to gold watch oblivion.

I took the money and ran.

The next year was spent trying to find re-employment firstly in the area I was already familiar with, e-commerce and later at anything I could possibly find!

I was treated to the joys of the job seeker / job / unemployment center, or Dante’s Inferno as I liked to call it. I have never in my life seen so many ill mannered individuals. Smelly, poorly dressed, gaunt, disinterested – and that was just the staff!

Seriously they were sycophantic, derogatory and useless – prerequisites for local government employment I believe.

RANTMODE INITIATED

If you work in local government, and I have caused offense – good, my work here is done! I’ve met too many of you pen pushing no-marks. The day you remember that you’re role is to serve the tax payer and not the other way round, is the day you may gain some respect.

RANTMODE END

I was unemployable! Too highly paid for a call center job – I didn’t expect the same salary for gods sake! Too set in my ways in others – being loyal to one company over so many years reeks of poor self fulfillment and ambition – apparently!

I could train for new skills but would have to pay to be trained, unlike those that could hardly speak English or hadn’t worked before, their training was free – how the f*** does that work?

I couldn’t face the monotone: “have you worked this month?” “have you looked for work this month?” anymore! I’d already opened a modest martial arts club in 2008 and in late 2009 decided to try and change the modesty into something more substantial and money making.

It wasn’t going well …

Struggling and on the verge of being penniless I was rescued by Giles Delafeld, a man I had worked for at Dixons who, for some inexplicable reason, held me in high regard. He offered me a short term contract with Blacks and then later at Alexon which gave me the financial security to live and progress my coaching aspirations.

I got to train with Geoff Thompson, a man I had admired for many years and, as a result, I met some amazing martial artists and coaches, Al Peasland, Tony Preston, Wayne Poulter, Andy Holmes, Alan Butcher, Steve Timperly, Bromley Darren Rob Poynton, Luccio Delgaddo, Rory Miller, Gary Smith, there’s loads more, but this isn’t an episode of, ‘This is Your Life’ besides, remembering them all is a challenge in itself. These weren’t people associated with my brand of martial arts, but had a vast array or martial skills and influences. I learned from them – and still am.

Along the way I also got divorced after a long marriage. I was changing, metamorphosing my lifestyle so it was inevitable that any relationship was bound to be affected and so, with regret, I had to decide what was most important to me and move on.

I could go on, but boredom beckons.. Suffice to say that the next part of my journey which began with that redundancy back in 2009 had a first major terminus at a place called ACS MAGFA.

A venue we’ve been trying to secure ever since the madman called Geoff Thompson planted the seed of achievement in my confused and battered skull. A seed kept watered by the woman who entered my life after the divorce and who even now keeps telling me ‘its all a job well done and worth doing’

ACS MAGFA opened in October 2014. It’s an old Victorian building. Damp, cold, in need of loving care and the occasional hug by way of leak fixing. It’s our venue. A place where the kids who train there will be nurtured, hugged (metaphorically speaking) and taught that they are kings and queens of their own domain. That they matter, that they count and that they can make a difference to their lives and the lives of others. As for the adults, well I just let them hit and throw each other.

I have come a long way but feel the journey, to use a modern over used expression, has just re-booted.

I would like to thank: my children, Giles Delefeld, Geoff Thompson, Kiran Sharma, all my students and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (of course Joss Whedon’s timeless cult classic is irrelevant in the scheme of things, but I thank him anyway because Buffy rocks!)

“To dream by night is to escape your life. To dream by day is to make it happen.”

Stephen Richards

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