Games associated with gentlemen
Traditionally in Britain there have been two sorts of games: cricket, golf and fencing, which were associated with gentlemen,
In the so-called gentlemanly games, there was very little applause. At a cricket match 50 years ago, there would be only some occasional discreet clapping when a batsman scored a fine stroke. As the game became internationalized, there were audiences in foreign countries who did not have this tradition of self-control, and the behaviour of the onlookers became wilder. To this day, fencing is strict in its control of audience behaviour: anyone who attempted to barrack would be ejected. In golf, the foreign professionals comment on the good behaviour of British onlookers. They do not crowd the players, as they do in some tournaments abroad.
In 19391 watched and took part in contests at the Kodokan and elsewhere; there was no cheering or clapping from the spectators. (It must also be said that the conduct of the contestants is often a good deal rougher today.) Judo was still regarded as no mere sport but a character training; the whole atmosphere was correspondingly serious and dignified. All foreigners who saw it were most impressed. I find it disappointing and regrettable to see how today the attitude has changed into a sporting event. It is not even a dignified and self-controlled sporting event, because the ideal of the sportsman itself has also degenerated.
I believe that if Japan readopted its own traditional standards of behaviour at contests within Japan itself, it would have an effect on the world attitudes to Judo.
© Trevor Leggett
Previously called ‘Spectators’