The life of Jigoro Kano

3. Jigoro, educator of the mind

Jigoro's teaching period at Gakushuin

Jigoro's teaching period at Gakushuin

In addition to founding Kodokan Judo, Jigoro also left an impressive legacy as both the "father of physical education" and the "father of education".

At the age of 23, while a teacher at Gakushuin, he also opened (in addition to the Kodokan dojo) the Kano Juku tutoring school and the "Kobun Gakuin" school, for the purpose of providing a well-rounded education in which the physical, mental, and moral aspects are well balanced.

A year later, with an eye toward the coming age of globalization, he founded the "Kobunkan" school for the study of English.

The head of Gakushuin was fond of Jigoro, making him a Gakushuin administrator at the young age of 26. Jigoro thus became both a professor and deputy head. In this capacity, he began to look into the educational systems of other countries for the purpose of further developing Japan's educational system.

Jigoro's period as Counselor to the Minister of Education

In 1891, the 31-year-old Jigoro was appointed Counselor to the Minister of Education, whereupon he retired from Gakushuin. Shortly thereafter, he married Sumako, the daughter of the prominent Chinese scholar, Dr. Shinichiro Takezoe. He was subsequently appointed to a position as headmaster of the Daigo Koto Chugakko Preparatory School in the city of Kumamoto (in Kyushu). To fill that post, he moved to Kumamoto alone, leaving his wife in Tokyo.

Jigoro and Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo)

Always the fervent advocate of physical, mental, and moral education, Jigoro converted the storeroom of his residence into a dojo where he taught the students Judo, thus sowing the seeds of Kodokan Judo in Kumamoto as well. Keen to attract superior teachers, Jigoro invited Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo), of British descent, to teach English at his school. Jigoro had an even larger dream of founding a university in Kyushu, but he was recalled to Tokyo before he could pursue it.

Back in Tokyo at age 34, Jigoro took a position as a department director in the Ministry of Education, and while assiduously performing his many duties there, Jigoro also accepted a post as headmaster of the Daiichi Koto Chugakko (College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo) Preparatory School. He also served as headmaster of the Advanced Teachers Training School, thus taking on the responsibilities of three posts simultaneously. Such was his dedication to enriching the field of education.

Jigoro's support of education in China

Jigoro's support of education in China

With an eye toward the maintenance of global peace and improving society in general, Jigoro was eager to promote education in other countries.

At the age of 36 (1896), Jigoro received his first Chinese students from Shinkoku (China under the Manchus), and taught them Japanese. Subsequently, for the purpose of providing a foundation for education in China, he received other Chinese students from Guandong, Nanjing, Yunnan, and Gansu, etc.

To accommodate these foreign students, Jigoro founded the Kobungakuin School where approximately 8000 foreign students were taught. These students then returned to China to build the foundation of education in that country.

Jigoro paid a visit to Shinkoku (China under the Manchus) when he was 43, and was warmly welcomed by many of those whom he had taught.

Jigoro's period at Tokyo's Advanced Teachers Training School

Jigoro was appointed to the post of headmaster at the Advanced Teachers Training School when he was 37 years old (1897). Given that the students at this school would be Japan's future educators, Jigoro strove to bring in the best teachers in order to provide the highest quality education. In addition, he invited top instructors of Judo and Kendo to the school as a means of improving the student's physical education. Swimming was also encouraged.

A full dormitory system was also implemented based on the philosophy of polishing oneself within a group, and Jigoro ceaselessly looked for other ways to improve the methods of education. As part of his effort to produce the highest quality teachers, Jigoro petitioned the highest authority-the Ministry of Education-to extend the education period for teacher's certification from 3 years to 4 years.