Jigoro Kano: May Badass of the Month - May 2009
I read an interesting bit of thought on the subject of Badassery just the other day, by Neal Stephenson in the book Snow Crash:
"Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest ************ in the world. No doubt there's a bit of badass in everyone, but it's a combination of circumstance and character that determine whether the rest of the world will ever get to see it, and then to what degree it manifests.
If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad."
If there were an "International Scale of Badassery", the following man would rank pretty goddamn well given that, it would be extremely easy to argue that he was the Grandfather of Aliveness, and the Great-Uncle of Mixed Martial Arts.
Jigoro Kano was born to parents who made Sake for a living. That's an instant +100 Badass Points, like being dealt 2 aces in a game of 5 card stud. At the age of 9, his mother died, which by the rules of Shounen, is worth another +100 Badass points.
He then loses 20 BP for attending a private school, but quickly earns them back by learning some Jiujitsu techniques from a member of the Shogun's personal guard.
This would set him on the course that would forever reshape how practical fighting skills were taught.
Against his father's wishes (+50 BP, Shounen Rules), Kano sought out a Jiujitsu master while away at university. But instead of just bumbling into the first 19th century Japanese equivalent of a strip mall dojo, Kano decided that the best way to find really good Jiujitsu guys was to follow the trail of broken bones. So he sought out local bone doctors until finally he was refered to one who taught the skills by repeatedly throwing his students until they idea of what the techniques should look (and feel) like, before setting them loose to do it on each other.
This approach was undoubtedly good for the doctor's main business given that they trained on hardwood floors covered in thin straw mats (+25 BP, Western Standard Rules).
After settling into the class, Kano designated himself a rival (+10 BP SR, WSR) in senior student Fukushima Kanekichi. Kanekichi handled the young Kano repeatedly, so being the proto-badass he was, Kano used his brain-katana to deftly slice through and move out of "the box", from which he incorporated techniques from Sumo and western Wrestling. Finally, using a Fireman's Carry he picked up in a book (SHUT UP MATT FUREY), he defeated his rival.
At some point afterward he was one of the participants in a Jiujitsu demonstration for US President Ulysses S. Grant. We only mention this because including Americans in a story geared at an American audience is always a good strategy. Plus, Grant was probably drunk out of his goddamn mind which would explain why Jiujitsu didn't really catch on in the US until many years later.
Eventually the moment would come when Kano's students would challenge other Jiujitsu schools, proving the worth of real alive training. Everyone knows this story, and if you don't GTFO because I'm not writing any more about it.
Ok fine, I'm still not wrting this. I'm just going to swipe it from a site that apparently can't spell "Tokyo".
The Tokio city police had developed an interest in Judo and thus for the different Schools this art was taught. In 1886, under the supervision of the Police Dept, a tournament was organized between the various Schools, in particular between the Schools of Jigoro Kano and Hikosuke Totsuka. It would be a decisive battle. The system that best suited the wishes of the Ministry would be officially recognized by the Ministry and would be taught on all Schools. Defeat would mean the end of the Kodokan. Both Jigoro Kano and Hikosuke Totsuka send their fifteen best pupils to the tournament. The Kodokan turned out to be the undisputed victor with thirteen matches won and two undecided. The tournament once and for all made clear that Kodokan, also concerning its practical use, was number one in the world of Judo.Jigoro Kano, or Kano Jigoro if you have a kanji tattoo, was doing in the 1800's what Bruce Lee is credited for having "discovered" or "pioneered" in the 1970's. Put that in your pipe and smoke it in your designated state-approved smoking areas.
To date policemen in Tokio practice every day on Jigoro Kano’s mat. In 1887, at the age of 27, Jigoro Kano finalized his technical manual. It would take until he was 62 however, before he deemed the ideal of Judo to have grown far enough that he dared to put his thoughts to paper.
And for this, among many other reasons, Jigoro Kano is our Badass of the Month with a combined total of 5,432,980 Badass Points.