Zen Judo comes to the Koi Dojo.

Zen Judo comes to the Koi Dojo.

Classes starting September 2017.

Zen Judo, the beginning.

The Zen Judo Family was founded in 1974 by Sensei Dominick McCarthy, (8th Dan) and has had students both in Britain and the U.S.A.  Unfortunately Sensei Mac passed away in 1995, but he had been able to practice his style of Judo to within weeks of his death and had taken a class at his Petersfield Dojo the day before he passed away.

After the death of Shihan Dominick (Mac) McCarthy, it was decided that there was no one person who could replace him.  Therefore it was decided that the ZJF would be run by a group of custodians, at the time these where mostly 6th Dan rank.

Since the original setting up of the ZJF’s Custodian system there have been a number of changes to the Zen Judo organization and in the summer of 2010 it was decided that it was time to change to a Yudansha (Black Belt) Panel under the leadership of the present Head of The Zen Judo Family, allowing the main Club Sensei and active Black Belts more control over the running of the organisation.

The Zen Judo family continues to prosper and offers a more technical style of Judo, less competitive and more suited to those looking for an alternative to the rough and tumble, competition focused schools of Judo we see today.  Making Zen Judo non-competitive makes it an art that can be studied by students of all ages, men and women equally.  Very much a case of “back to the roots”.

The birth of Judo.

Jigoro Kano; (1860 – 1938)
Japanese founder of Kodokan Judo.

Due to a weak constitution, Kano began practicing the Japanese martial art jujitsu at the age of 20.  He soon incorporated his philosophy of mental and physical training with aspects of Ju Jutsu and other martial arts to develop what he called Judo (Japanese for “gentle way”).  In 1882 in Shitaya, Tokyo, he founded Kodokan, his first dojo with only nine pupils.  In 1885 Kano went to Great Britain to popularise Judo in the West.  By the time of his death in 1938, Judo had over 100,000 black belt practitioners.

After watching a Judo tournament, Kano reportedly gathered the participants together and told them;
“You fought like young bulls locking horns; there was nothing refined or dignified about any of the techniques I witnessed today.  I never taught anyone to do Kodokan Judo like that.  If all you can think about is winning through brute, strength that will be the end of Kodokan Judo”.

Ninpo Tai Jutsu and Zen Judo, a connection.

I was already deeply immersed in Zen Judo when I first started studying Ninpo Tai Jutsu and Koryu Bujutsu.  What I found was that the Tachi Waza of Ninpo Tai Jutsu and Koryu Bujutsu remarkably similar to those of Zen Judo.  It was only when I started to research the history of the Kukishinden Ryu and Shindenfudo Ryu in particular that a surprising connection appeared.

From the history of Kukishinden Ryu;

In Kumano province, the homeland of the Kukishinden Ryu, there is a document preserved in a temple, known as the “Amatsu Tatar Hibin”.  In the Edo area there were two martial artists called Fuku no Shichiro Uemon Masakatsu and Ibaragi Mata Zaemon.  They were members of the Ryoi Shinto Ryu.  They changed this to Kito Ryu Jujutsu.  The Kito Ryu in later years was to become the foundation school, from which Jigoro Kano would create Kodokan Judo.

From the history of Shindenfudo Ryu;

Takenaka Tetsunoke, senior student of Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, was at one time a student at the Shindenfudo Ryu Dojo.

Now, if my understanding of Sensei Mac’s study of Judo is correct, I believe he studied under Abbe, who was himself a senior student of Jigoro Kano.  Could it be that Abbe and Tetsunoke shared ideas and techniques, some of which struck a chord with Abbe, and those were the principles of technique he shared with Sensei Mac?

This could explain why the Tachi Waza of Zen Judo, Shindenfudo Ryu and Kukishinden Ryu are so similar.  Unfortunately, there is no-one around who could add substance to the theory, so for now it’s nothing more than a theory.