We teach techniques which people can acquire. After perhaps eight years a man who’s very keen and has a good teacher, can get an extraordinary skill in one or two moves. He then identifies himself with that skill he’s got, and when he comes up to a contest he thinks, ‘This is how I’m going to win – by this special technique I’ve developed.’

Of course, the first aim is usually to find out what special technique the other man has developed so that one can guard against it. Well, you generally get confusing and conflicting reports about a prospective opponent. Some people tell you ‘Oh he goes off like a bomb at the beginning, but if you can survive that, he’s got nothing. He’s just got one terrific throw.’ And then somebody says ‘Oh no. He’s given that up altogether! He hangs on now until the fourth minute, then he explodes.’

After you’ve had a certain amount of experience, you wipe all that aside and conclude, ‘I’ll just fight the man as he is.’

But for ourselves, we develop a speciality and we think we’ll fight with that. We feel we can win with that. However, there’s a limit to it. The speciality is something that is, so-to-speak, like a block of ice. It can’t go through a sieve. As the standard goes up and the opponents are able to defend against our favourite techniques, we know we have to throw away that reliance on those special techniques and take the small and tiny opportunities as they occur. It’s very difficult to do this, just as it’s very difficult to give up one’s particular technique which one’s good at for handling life.

People come to the judo hall and they say ‘Oh, I’m not very good at judo, but I am good at accounts and organising. I’ll take over all the accounts and organising – do it for nothing. You’ll all be free to practise.’ Well, that’s a very bad thing for a dojo.

Another man, he’s a skilled carpenter; he’s terrified of judo but wants to be associated with it, so he says, ‘I’ll do all the repairs.’ And you have new benches and you have new racks and the dojo is transformed. But the members are doing nothing towards it, and that’s very bad.

And you get another man. He’ll clean out the showers and the lavatory and do it beautifully; they are spotless, but he’s not doing much practice. That’s bad for him and it’s bad for judo enthusiasts. So in judo clubs we should try to prevent this happening. The team members, however good and skilful they may be, should take their turn to go on their knees scrubbing out the showers along with the others. This makes a difference to the whole atmosphere of the place; it brings a unity into it.


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