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    Hanon

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    Athlete or artist

    Post by Hanon on Mon May 20, 2013 3:03 am

    Interesting and I thought I would share.

    I was listening to Denis Matsuev play Rachmaninov 3rd piano concerto. Mr Matsuev is a past winner of the most prestigious piano competition in the world, the Tchaikovsky comp' in Moscow, to this end he is considered one of worlds elite piano virtuosi.

    Prior to listening to his rendition I was reading some comments regarding another pianist and noted the term 'Musical athlete'. This struck a cord with me. In hearing Mr Matsuevs rendition I understood the term musical athlete. For any person to write that Mr Matsuev cannot play the piano would be absurd. The point would be can Mr Matsuev make music when he hit the notes?
    I was taken aback by his mastery of the key board in equal proportion to how poorly he appeared to connect to the piano and make music.

    You see this is the point of the higher ranks in judo, those who hold Ku and ju dan. Its some thing other than performing the gokyo in a stunning manner and being a master of the physical. Those last ranks transcend such parameters and show in both a physical mastery a certain something that I am unsure if it can be verbalised but it can be clearly seen, heard and felt.

    I once asked my sensei what he meant by saying that the ju no kata was one movement and not 15! Taken me over 50 years to grasp what he was saying and understanding it. Sure I can teach and could perform the ju no kata to a decent degree but in my present day teaching of it I can clearly see all that is judo. To master this kata I guess would make one a judo athlete but to master it and show through its execution the meaning of ju in judo would take an exceptional judoka of very high skill and deep understanding of what our judo is all about. This is one indicator to me how I know I have reached my ceiling in passing through any further ranks. One has to know ones limits.

    Jonesy is correct when he write about the first two groups of rank namely; sho to go and rokyu to hachi. Those ultimate two ranks are the reserve of those who may not even be in a federation or hold any office in judo. Be non political and may never have won an Olympic medal. Rather than that they will hold the key to unlock what it is we should all be looking for in our pursuit of judo.

    Understand judo is not a sport its an art, an education that cant be studied part time 4 hours per week. No one would expect Denis Matsuev to have gained his position in the world of music by learning and practicing the piano 4 hours per week (nor maintaining it!). The very idea is ridiculous beyond belief.

    There are a number of young men like Mr Matsuev who can play the piano but when you hear in comparison the masters of the piano that number maybe 30 in the history of the piano one can understand why there are so few people who qualify for ku and Ju dan who are worthy to hold that rank. When does a painter become an artist? I think at this level it is communication, to speak to us without saying a word. To teach us without opening their mouth. I saw my sensei perform judo many times and to watch him he looked so 'natural' he need not speak a word. Numerous kohaku ranks where with him and non of us could even hope to perform judo like him. That is how rare these 'masters' are.

    I am unsure if one can quantify what attributes a Ku or Ju dan has I would suggest we simply know them when we see them.

    I am equally sure such a rank is not given for time in rank, services to judo or having a successful championship record. Not even all those contributions together. There is a 'spark' in those who are truly gifted to a degree they are what they do and do what they are, they become one and the same. Daigo sensei IS judo and judo IS Daigo sensei.

    Mike

    Heck, I meant to post this in the promotion and grading section. Sorry, can an admin move it for me please? Embarassed



    Last edited by Hanon on Mon May 20, 2013 3:15 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Posted in wrong thread.)


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    Udon

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by Udon on Mon May 20, 2013 3:51 am

    Mike Hanon, that was masterful.

    Your analogy,and description of those ethereal qualities (regarding judo) that Ku and Ju-dan seem to possess was excellent. I have only met one ku-dan and he was a true gentleman and warrior. He did have that "spark".

    Thank you for that post.
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    genetic judoka

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by genetic judoka on Tue May 21, 2013 2:43 am

    I have nothing to contribute other than to say that was an enjoyable read. in fact very enjoyable. it reminds me what my goals are. I will probably never reach the point where I'd be considered "an artist" but it's nice to have a destination in mind.

    actually I take that back, I have a question to add. I am unfamiliar with Mr. Matsuev (I am not a piano aficionado by even the loosest definitions), but my question would be where does one draw the line between musical athlete and artist? is he merely one who plays masterfully, but does not write any music of his own? that, to me is where one stops being a performer, and starts being an artist. one can perform music written by another and be very masterful at it, but it's creating music that makes one an artist, at least in my uneducated opinion.

    the fun part is how that relates to judo. at what point, under my previously stated definition; does one become an artist? when one creates their own kata? if one develops new teaching devices? if one comes up with new and innovative techniques not found in the gokyo? these are all of course questions, not answers.

    the unfair part of that definition is that in many other genres (like rock, where playing others' music is far from the height of skill) one need not be all that advanced to begin writing their own music, many teenagers do it in their own garages. but really the measuring stick, I imagine, is how well that music is received.

    also, I will happily move this to any section you wish, but is the promotion and gradings forum the most appropriate place for it? I feel it belongs right where it is, as it is general judo discussion.


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    rjohnston411

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by rjohnston411 on Tue May 21, 2013 4:20 am

    Off topic: There are plenty of highly technical rock bands. Tool and Opeth spring to mind.
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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Tue May 21, 2013 4:27 am

    genetic judoka wrote:I have nothing to contribute other than to say that was an enjoyable read. in fact very enjoyable. it reminds me what my goals are. I will probably never reach the point where I'd be considered "an artist" but it's nice to have a destination in mind.

    actually I take that back, I have a question to add. I am unfamiliar with Mr. Matsuev (I am not a piano aficionado by even the loosest definitions), but my question would be where does one draw the line between musical athlete and artist? is he merely one who plays masterfully, but does not write any music of his own? that, to me is where one stops being a performer, and starts being an artist. one can perform music written by another and be very masterful at it, but it's creating music that makes one an artist, at least in my uneducated opinion.

    the fun part is how that relates to judo. at what point, under my previously stated definition; does one become an artist? when one creates their own kata? if one develops new teaching devices? if one comes up with new and innovative techniques not found in the gokyo? these are all of course questions, not answers.

    the unfair part of that definition is that in many other genres (like rock, where playing others' music is far from the height of skill) one need not be all that advanced to begin writing their own music, many teenagers do it in their own garages. but really the measuring stick, I imagine, is how well that music is received.

    also, I will happily move this to any section you wish, but is the promotion and gradings forum the most appropriate place for it? I feel it belongs right where it is, as it is general judo discussion.

    In most cases the difference between a musical athlete and an artist is quite obvious if one knows what one is talking about. The separation is usually absolutely, that is to say, the musical athlete is like that because that's all he has, although there exist rare cases where one is both although one could argue that in those cases the person often exhibits certain mental issues. Vladmir Horowitz was such a case. There is no doubt he was also a true artist even though he could often not resist acting rather as a musical athlete. However, this isn't what Hanon-sensei is talking about. It is really about the majority who belongs to one of the categories even though some of the musical athletes could become artists if they would be willing to choose the difficult way and continue to study and learn rather than cut corners and be more focused on the prompt material outcomes.


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    NittyRanks

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by NittyRanks on Tue May 21, 2013 5:41 am

    Being a piano player and doing Judo after laying off for a few years there is a connection. Mike what you are talking about are almost Zen like concepts. Classical musicians are really doing someone else’s music. It’ s just how they play it. A lot of musicians slack off classical musicians because they are from different worlds and could not fit in with a Rock or Reggae group even.

    Anyway as far as Judo you would know more than me as I am a green belt in Judo. When I got my 3rd BB and 4th Degree BB in TKD 18 years ago I can tell you things felt differently. I will tell you once you learn your throws it takes a ton more time to master them. Colored belts were steps to get someplace I always thought. The advanced or cool stuff happened at the BB levels and I imagine with Judo it’s the same. Things are harder to learn in the colored belt ranks. In your BB ranks I think it’s easier to learn the techniques but much harder to master them.

    Scales and Arpeggios were steps to learn the keyboard and practice your fingering. Guys at the level of Horowitz. or Glenn Gould had something special that set them apart so I don’t put them in the average category. They could see a keyboard and it made sense to them and came easy. I have seen Judoka also like that. There is a kid that comes into class once in a while, very talented athlete but he “gets it” more than I do because it takes me awhile and I practice 4 times a week. Aptitude comes into play. Sometimes masters are people that just worked hard also, it’s rare but it happens. There are parallels to each other but most people here are not Horowitz or Koga for that matter.

    Hanon

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by Hanon on Tue May 21, 2013 7:18 am

    Firstly We 'could' write there is a piano AND the pianist. Judo gokyo AND the judoka.

    Secondly 'perhaps' we could write that on rare occasions the two become one?

    Learning and passing through the ranks doesn't automatically bring more knowledge in judo. To me it has bought more questions than answers and the mountain we climb is a pig as at some point, without us even knowing, we start to pass down the other side. The going down that other side is not automatically a case of gaining greater knowledge but more a case of self realisation, an ability to reflect inwardly what we don't know about judo and what, at my time of life, simply can no longer perform! Age is a major factor in judo and no one gets younger.

    Judo is a pig, a real pig. When we are young and have the physical athletic capabilities to practice the theory we cannot understand it. As we age, in combination with continuous learning and study, we reach a physical point where we are no longer able to perform the physical aspects but start to understand what it is we cannot perform! That is why I refer to judo as a pig. It is a cruel activity.

    There was a time when my mind was razor sharp and I could write on judo like it was breathing. Now I get so brain tide I often cant make sense of my own post. I hope this is another phase to my growth?

    There is zero mystical regarding judo. Judo is very much a science, we can see it and feel it. That is obvious just as we can hear music.

    My point in referencing judo to the classical piano is I find them so similar.

    There are hundreds in this world who can 'play' a rendition of Rachmaninoff's 2 or 3. I have about 35 CD's and many more recordings. EVERY single one is different. EVERY single pianist at virtuosi level stamps his own mark on the composition.
    Some listeners will prefer one rendition to another it even gets to the point where numerous listeners insist that Richter, Gilels or Horowitz is THE best. This is, of course, nonsense. ALL those I have mentioned where one in many million and never to be reproduced, unique is the term.
    many listeners write that maestro X is better at playing Chopin than maestro Y and so forth. This may have some seeds of truth BUT the point is give a score of any music from any composer and all of those maestros could play it, give them a week and they could play it without the score AND interpret it giving an exceptional rendition.
    We are talking virtuosi here who started playing young and then spend the rest of their lives in a rook with a great big black machine trying to understand not only that machine but what each composer wrote in between those staves and how each note could sound.
    There are many who can play Rachmaninov, List, Tchaikovsky, chopin, That other chap I hate and refuse to name also Bach (I threw in Bach just to upset CK Sensei as he always names that other chap).

    In relation to judo. From 8th kyu to 8th dan we could look for technical achievements, service to judoka, character and all that Kano wrote about. Many should and deserve to reach those high ranks.

    It is the ultimate two that I would like to debate and try to reach an understanding of what such ranks those people would posses. They can do so much more than play the piano technically brilliantly, they can do much more than play all and ever score presented to them, they can do more that understand an orchestra and how to play within one and with one making their virtuosity only a part of a much bigger symphony.
    As I have written those maestros have become music they are one with a piano, sure they make mistakes, hit wrong notes, some times don't play as well as they can, sometimes miss the plot all together. Point is these top judoka understand what the plot is.

    Itsutsu no kata.....'Oh yes, its that kata with ONLY five throws in it. How hard can that be to copy and remember'?
    When ever I hear that I know at once that person hasn't a clue about kata and-or has a very basic understanding of judo. Those Five actions are as near impossible to achieve as the man in the street playing Rachmaninoff's 3 at the London proms.

    The vast majority of us will never reach the knowledge base needed to wear those two ranks. We can all play music, practice judo. I am unsure if certain abilities can be taught. For sure we now know that genes play a major role in our abilities. How we are raised, the environment, our parents, our sensei, our own desires and attitudes.

    I am always delighted when I read of a person reaching a new step in their judo life, its some thing nice. I tend to look very carefully at those who accept the Ku and Ju dan and question why some of them would accept it as in doing so it, in some cases, is a clear indicator they do not know what such an honour is awarded for.

    Much like the saying, if a club accepts my membership I wouldn't want to be a member!

    Touch more brain storming. Thank you all for the feed back

    Mike


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    DougNZ

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by DougNZ on Tue May 21, 2013 9:36 am

    I write from a world of ju-jitsu - apologies - though the essence is the same as judo. Most ju-jitsu is kata-based; your uke attacks with this and tori replies with that. We liken that to classical music, where the music is written. In our style, we aim to make jazz ju-jitsuka. We use the same notes as everyone else but our performance reflects the situation and our response to it. We choose to take this approach because no two fights are ever the same and we think that using 'written notes' in a spontaneous event is inappropriate. It's an interesting approach but it seems to work.

    The trick is becoming an exceptional jazz ju-jitsuka who is both technically brilliant and wonderfully expressive, and therefore both effective and efficient.

    Does that make sense and does it fit with the conversation?
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    Steve Leadbeater

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by Steve Leadbeater on Tue May 21, 2013 10:19 am

    Perhaps if Mike Sensei would learn to appreciate the "other" chaps music and occasionally write his name without fear and loathing, he may just start to understand Judo a little better too !! Very Happy

    Most respectful **REI**
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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Tue May 21, 2013 11:31 am

    Steve Leadbeater wrote:Perhaps if Mike Sensei would learn to appreciate the "other" chaps music and occasionally write his name without fear and loathing, he may just start to understand Judo a little better too !! Very Happy

    Most respectful **REI**

    Steve,

    This is your best post ever !



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    NittyRanks

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by NittyRanks on Tue May 21, 2013 11:23 pm

    A musical prodigy that will probably bottom out at 16. It happens unfortunately.

    Hanon

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by Hanon on Wed May 22, 2013 1:07 am

    NittyRanks wrote:A musical prodigy that will probably bottom out at 16. It happens unfortunately.

    You raise a significant point. How is it we see highly capable young children in so many of the arts and crafts yet I have never ever, in all my years and with extensive world wide travel, known a gifted child in judo? Karatedo, Kendo even wrestling, yes. Judo not even close?
    Are there such gifted youngsters in judo? I am off topic but it is interesting.

    Mike



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    JudoSensei

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by JudoSensei on Wed May 22, 2013 1:49 am

    Mike,

    I don't pretend to understand what qualities a 9th or 10th dan should have, and I tend to look at them as life achievement awards, but I think there are many lower ranks who are artists. I don't know anything about his rank, knowledge, or life, but Koga displays a creativity and physical beauty in his judo that most people could never achieve. Artistry can be attained by much younger people who may never go through the steps to attain high ranks. Even in music you don't have to look at 70 and 80 year olds to find true artists.

    None of the classical piano artists you mention could display the same kind of performance with other musical styles or other instruments. Likewise, most of us can only hope to attain mastery of a small part of judo, but we can hope to have moments of clarity when we can be considered to have entered the realm of art. It is much more achievable than 10th dan.

    The transcendent qualities you describe are hard to recognize (at least for me), even harder to judge without knowing everything about the person, and are not related to rank as far as I can tell. You are probably laying out an ideal, rather than a real, description of these high ranks. I doubt that you would argue that all the IJF 9th and 10th dan, or even all the Kodokan 9th and 10th dan, are the kind of artists we would like them to be. I can't imagine a more qualified kudan than Daigo, an excellent example for all of us, but in general I see very few people promoted for their artistry. It might even be true that the real artists care nothing about rank and tend to get overlooked.

    Those who are driven by the love of judo may not have the ambition necessary to attain high rank. High rank usually involves paying your dues through contributions in all aspects of judo such as leading organizations, refereeing, and administrative duties. Some judo artists are more like monks who avoid all that and focus instead on improving themselves through training, introspection, and study. I'm moving more in that direction these days.

    Neil
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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Wed May 22, 2013 2:06 am

    JudoSensei wrote:I can't imagine a more qualified kudan than Daigo, an excellent example for all of us, but in general I see very few people promoted for their artistry.

    Probably, just a slip of the tongue, but Daigo is a jûdân rather than a kudan, although being a jûdan in this case (and all other cases so far) also implies that he is a kudan, since no one has ever been jump-promoted from 8th dan to 10th dan hence skipping 9th dan, though even if this were so, making it to 10th dan, I guess, still means you also are somehow a 9th dan even if you never held that rank ... Sorry for the philosophical excursion ...


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    "Nothing is as approved as mediocrity, the majority has established it and it fixes it fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way." (Blaise Pascal)
    "Quand on essaie, c'est difficile. Quand on n'essaie pas, c'est impossible" (Guess Who ?)
    "I am never wrong. Once I thought I was, and that was a mistake."
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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Wed May 22, 2013 2:13 am

    JudoSensei wrote:Mike,

    I don't pretend to understand what qualities a 9th or 10th dan should have, and I tend to look at them as life achievement awards, but I think there are many lower ranks who are artists.

    JudoSensei,

    I am not Mike, but you might find this a fun read:

    http://www.judoamerica.com/coachingcorner/criteria.shtml

    JudoSensei wrote:I don't know anything about his rank, knowledge, or life, but Koga displays a creativity and physical beauty in his judo that most people could never achieve.

    Koga holds the rank of Kôdôkan 7th dan.

    He runs a personal website with information about himself he has freely chosen to make available to the world, but it is in Japanese-only:

    http://www.kogatoshihiko.jp/


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    "The world is a republic of mediocrities, and always was." (Thomas Carlyle)
    "Nothing is as approved as mediocrity, the majority has established it and it fixes it fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way." (Blaise Pascal)
    "Quand on essaie, c'est difficile. Quand on n'essaie pas, c'est impossible" (Guess Who ?)
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    Jonesy

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by Jonesy on Wed May 22, 2013 2:37 am

    Hanon wrote:
    NittyRanks wrote:A musical prodigy that will probably bottom out at 16. It happens unfortunately.

    You raise a significant point. How is it we see highly capable young children in so many of the arts and crafts yet I have never ever, in all my years and with extensive world wide travel, known a gifted child in judo? Karatedo, Kendo even wrestling, yes. Judo not even close?
    Are there such gifted youngsters in judo? I am off topic but it is interesting.

    Mike

    Fumiko Ezaki was medalling on the World Stage aged 15 and Ryoko Tamura was at 16.

    Hanon

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by Hanon on Wed May 22, 2013 3:06 am

    JudoSensei wrote:Mike,

    I don't pretend to understand what qualities a 9th or 10th dan should have, and I tend to look at them as life achievement awards, but I think there are many lower ranks who are artists. I don't know anything about his rank, knowledge, or life, but Koga displays a creativity and physical beauty in his judo that most people could never achieve. Artistry can be attained by much younger people who may never go through the steps to attain high ranks. Even in music you don't have to look at 70 and 80 year olds to find true artists.

    None of the classical piano artists you mention could display the same kind of performance with other musical styles or other instruments. Likewise, most of us can only hope to attain mastery of a small part of judo, but we can hope to have moments of clarity when we can be considered to have entered the realm of art. It is much more achievable than 10th dan.

    The transcendent qualities you describe are hard to recognize (at least for me), even harder to judge without knowing everything about the person, and are not related to rank as far as I can tell. You are probably laying out an ideal, rather than a real, description of these high ranks. I doubt that you would argue that all the IJF 9th and 10th dan, or even all the Kodokan 9th and 10th dan, are the kind of artists we would like them to be. I can't imagine a more qualified kudan than Daigo, an excellent example for all of us, but in general I see very few people promoted for their artistry. It might even be true that the real artists care nothing about rank and tend to get overlooked.

    Those who are driven by the love of judo may not have the ambition necessary to attain high rank. High rank usually involves paying your dues through contributions in all aspects of judo such as leading organizations, refereeing, and administrative duties. Some judo artists are more like monks who avoid all that and focus instead on improving themselves through training, introspection, and study. I'm moving more in that direction these days.

    Neil

    Your initial perspective is a very Western perspective, vis: "And I tend to look at them as life achievement awards". This is a mistake in fact a grave and serious error that is seeing the dilution of these two ranks.
    To this very day I know of a lady in the UK who has been a secretary of several judo associations from when I was a kid. The work this lady has performed on behalf of judoka is incalculable, it has been exactly as you describe a dedicated service to judo. She holds no rank at all however.

    It would be dangerous to rank a judoka on time alone and assuming due to time a given judoka has by some mystic manner gained the knowledge to wear such a rank. Those from the kodokan who hold such rank have spent their lives living judo, never missing practice and achieving many goals along the way. Add to that the impact each of them have had on judo not just in Japan but world wide. Look who taught them and what their pedigree was. Again its not all about who they are but who they have taught and what those pupils have become and the pupils of their pupils.
    There is a certain quality a certain polish and flow to the genius of those who hold the rank of Ku and Ju dan. It is there but cant always be explained yet it is physical and does manifest itself when that sensei enters a tatami.

    May I also assure you that EVERY single one of the piano virtuosi I mentioned and all those I have not can play any music score you place in front of them. It is much easier for them to play happy birthday on the piano than it is for me to play a concerto. No these rather unique human beings are so diverse in there understanding of music that it becomes them and they can play whatever is given to them. Actually some of them have been members of other sorts and played different types and styles of music.

    There is no application process for Ku and Ju dan at the kodokan. Those who attain it do not seek it and some decline it.
    Are there those who wear that rank who are not worthy? Not for me to judge. Are there those who wear high rank who perhaps need to reflect a little more prior to accepting such a rank? I would think so looking at some of the IJF ku dan holders.

    Your ultimate sentence vis; "Some judo artists are more like monks who avoid all that and focus instead on improving themselves through training, introspection, and study. I'm moving more in that direction these days". We obviously move in different circles. I only know of a handful of judoka who are that under ranked and at present can only name one that being Okano sensei. I doubt we would find in the West a practicing judoka with the knowledge and ability of a ku or ju dan that holds a kuro obi?

    Hope you are well?

    Regards,

    Mike


    _________________
    WARNING. I write as a pupil of judo. what I write should be researched by the reader and not accepted as in any way factual or correct.

    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge" S Hawking.

    Hanon

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by Hanon on Wed May 22, 2013 3:20 am

    Jonesy wrote:
    Hanon wrote:
    NittyRanks wrote:A musical prodigy that will probably bottom out at 16. It happens unfortunately.

    You raise a significant point. How is it we see highly capable young children in so many of the arts and crafts yet I have never ever, in all my years and with extensive world wide travel, known a gifted child in judo? Karatedo, Kendo even wrestling, yes. Judo not even close?
    Are there such gifted youngsters in judo? I am off topic but it is interesting.

    Mike

    Fumiko Ezaki was medalling on the World Stage aged 15 and Ryoko Tamura was at 16.

    Ya undoubtedly. I am speaking though of genius or prodigy. A well rounded ability. These children who play various instruments to an incredible degree are only masters of their scales plus they are producing immature music.

    There are a few physically gifted young judoka, you have named two. Is winning in a championships the criteria to use to asses such a gift though? If this be the case then yamashita would have been Ju dan 15 years ago?

    I have related in previous threads going back over the years how stunned I was at watching a child perform karate kata also kumite. I think perhaps at orange or green obi, I cant recall. I can recall the obvious mastery, that spark, that determination and skill oozing from his practice. Same with a kendoka I observed while in japan many years ago. I could not believe what I was seeing. Not been taken a back like this with judo?

    Mike


    Last edited by Hanon on Wed May 22, 2013 4:12 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : mistakes)


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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Athlete or artist

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Wed May 22, 2013 5:05 am

    Perhaps even more interesting would be what the criteria would be for ranks above 10th dan. I mean this seriously. I find that important since it would give an insight towards the even further removed objectives of judo.

    Kanô was very clear that there was no maximum in dan-ranks and literally wrote that if ever there were such a person whose knowledge would clearly be beyond the knowledge for 10th dan that nothing should prevent this person from being promoted to 11th or even 12th dan.

    Kanô himself only promoted three people to 10th dan, and there are some interesting things about this. Why did Kanô not promote Yamashita to 10th dan while he was still alive ? Likely because he must have felt that the time was not ripe for this. When I say the "time was not ripe for this", it probably wasn't a mere matter of time. That Kanô did promote Yamashita after his death and ante-dated the promotion, likely was also given in by emotional reasons.

    When one sees some of the ... admittedly relatively poor footage ... one could argue having present-day knowledge, that perhaps we might have seen far greater technical wizards in judo. Unfortunately, we do not have significant judo footage of all these historic high-dan rank olders, but few seem to exhibit the kind of smooth movements we know from Mifune, or the obvious technical insight of someone like Koga or Okano. If one is historically versed in jûdô, one can find some clues as these high-ranks having been bestowed for considerable other things than just technical skills. Yamashita in terms of judo was Kanô's right hand. Pretty much these people seem to have built out their careers to serve Kanô. They seem to have been some kind of permanent deshi, with really only Mifune growing out to a significant independent and long-established authority; this probably also had to do with Mifune's very young age at which he became 10th dan (62 years) and the fact that was still active and held this rank for near 20 years. Though Nagaoka was even younger (61 years), Nagaoka died younger, and several years of his life as a 10th dan coincided with the Second World War, which are years that could be regarded perhaps as years lost to the judo community.

    Over time, there does seem to be some kind of 'edification' of many of these top-ranks in the sense, that if today we look at some of the film footage of masters who have accumulated legendary fame, not all of them really appear that smooth that their skills are really out of this world. The ones I have known or know personally actually have some considerable differences among themselves, and only one of the current 10th dan-holders has some deep historic knowledge in a sense that he has studied things beyond simply practising the mechanics, and has actually read himself most of Kanô's writings. I would imagine that many of these significant interindividual differences are not known among many Western jûdôka, but it is my perception that they are rather well known among most senior Japanese jûdôka. In the light of those differences though, it is perhaps even more difficult to grasp precisely what these superior ranks entail.

    This brings me back to my initial question though. Realizing the considerable differences among these superior ranks this means that some individuals have skills and knowledge that others with the same superior rank do not have. Since the ones who do not have this were still considered sufficient to merit such a high rank, it is not hard to imagine what if they could add the knowledge that they do not have now but which some of the others with such superior ranks have. Clearly their knowledge would be increased, and clearly this also means they now still have room to grow. In other words, it is an issue of where does the knowledge for 10th dan start, but also ... where does it end ?

    Years after the death of Kanô the ranks above 10th dan were abolished by the Kôdôkan, but was that a good thing to do or the right thing to do ? As much as jûdô on the inernational scene and within the IJF may be disappointing, as much it has become a lot easier to get access to certain knowledge (due to modern media, and modern ways of travel) despite the fact that Kanô himself has long disappeared. So should the ranks really have been capped only because Kanô himself during his life did not think anyone at that time merited a higher rank ?

    Last year not less than 13 people were promoted en mass to 9th dan by the Kôdôkan. With the exception of a few, if one objectively lists the achievements and knowledge of most of these, one can't argue that Okano-sensei should ONLY be at that level. I am not talking merely about competitive achievements. Let's not forget that Okano in addition to being a successful coach and international dissemination of judo knowledge through his books and videos and clinics, in particular has devised a whole bunch of techniques which you will not find in judo books. In other words, what is so unique about him is not the techniques that existed and how he might have mastered them to a higher level than most, but that what he newly developed. It is this which exhibits the creative judo genius factor.

    What else would there be more to appreciate and reward ? The philosophical aspect of jûdô in the sense of making the world into a better place and bringing peace to the world ? Even if one is willing to accept that, the question that then arises is who among all the other 9th and 10th dan-holders succeeded in bringing peace to the world and making the world into a better place ? It is there that Kanô's philosophy moves away from mere goal-setting towards something that is utopian and lacks realism ? From there on it is only a small step to wonder whether the utopian should be the standard of measurement.


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    Re: Athlete or artist

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