Judo Blog: What is Seiryoku Zenyo

Judo Blog: What is Seiryoku Zenyo

2022 Hyundai Ioniq - 58 MPG

In 1922 Jigoro Kano wrote this essay which I wanted to share this week in my Black Belt blog.

Seiryoku-Zenyo (maximum efficient use of energy) applies to all types of endeavors, and it is to fully utilize one's spiritual and physical energies to realize an intended purpose.

Seiryoku-Zenyo is the most effective use of the power of the mind and body. In the case of Judo, this is the principle upon which attack and defense are based, and what guides the process of teaching as well. Simply, the most effective use of mind and body may be described as the maximum efficient utilization of energy. In summary, this can be described as maximum efficiency. This idea of the best use of energy is one of the central tenets in Judo, but it is also important for achieving various aims in one's life. *1

This concept of the best use of energy is the fundamental teaching of Judo. In other words, it is most effectively using one's energy for a good purpose. So, what is good? Assisting in the continued development of one's community can be classified as good, but counteracting such advancement is bad... Ongoing advancement of community and society is achieved through the concepts of 'Sojo-Sojo' (help one another; yield to one another) or Jita-Kyoei (mutual benefit). In this sense, Sojo-Sojo and Jita-Kyoei are also part of the greater good. This is the fundamental wisdom of Judo.

Kata and Randori are possible when this fundamental wisdom is applied to techniques of attack and defense. If directed at improving the body, it becomes a form of physical education; if applied to gaining knowledge, it will become a method of self-improvement; and, if applied to many things in society such as the necessities of life, social interaction, one's duties, and administration, it becomes a way of life...

In this way, Judo today is not simply the practice of fighting in a dojo, but rather it is appropriately recognized as a guiding principle in the myriad facets of human society. The practice of Kata and Randori in the dojo, is no more than the application of Judo principles to combat and physical training... From the study of traditional Jujutsu Kata and Randori, I came to the realization of this greater meaning. Accordingly, the process of teaching also follows the same path. Furthermore, I recognized the value of teaching Kata and Randori to many people as a fighting art and as a form of physical training. This not only serves the aims of the individual, but by mastery of the fundamental wisdom of Judo, and in turn applying it to many pursuits in life, all people will be able to live their lives in a judicious manner.

This is how one should undertake the study of Judo that I founded. However, in actuality there are many people throughout the world living their lives on the basis of Judo principles without knowing that this is the real essence of Judo. If the Judo that I espouse is propagated to society at large, the actions people undertake will become Judo without even thinking about it. I believe that if more people gain an understanding of the guiding principles of Judo, this philosophy will also help guide their lives. Thus, I implore you all to make great efforts, and initiate this trend in society. *2

* 1 Kano Jigoro, The Best Use of Energy, Taisei, Vol.1, No.1, 1922.

* 2 Kano Jigoro, Jujutsu and Judo, Recognizing the Distinction of Judo, Judo, Vol.7, No.2, 1936.

Source: Kodokan Judo Institute Website: Words of Kano Shihan

Kano at 1936 Olympics in background as Jesse Owens accepts his gold medal


My friend Richard Riehle shared this story in other judo forums and thought it might be of interest here.

In our daily lives as civilian adults, there are few occasions where we need to use our Judo to defend ourselves. Usually, those occasions involve someone who has had too much alcohol or is acting out some prank. We deal with such incidents without causing any injury.

Many years ago, I was doing my laundry in the evening at a little strip-mall where there was a bowling alley, a Dairy Queen, and a few other shops. As I left the laundromat with my basket of dryer-warmed clothes, I noticed a group of young men who were behaving abnormally. One of them was either high on some kind of drugs or angry under the influence of alcohol. He was raging, punching car windows, and his friends were clearly afraid of him due to his size, strength, and uncontrollable anger.

He was between me and my car, an obstacle I did not want to confront.

I set my laundry basket down and walked to the Dairy Queen where I bought the biggest one they had. Then I walked toward him with the white-topped ice cream cone in my outstretched hand, ready, of course, in case I might have to rely on my Judo.

He took the cone of ice cream, put it to his mouth and began slurping it, some of it consumed and much of it spilling all over his shirt. He began to laugh. With his change of mood, his friends got him into a car and they drove away.

I call this, The Dairy Queen waza, or the Dairy Queen defense. We don’t always need to grapple or throw someone when we feel threatened. Distraction is often useful.

Westbrook and Ratti, in their book, “Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere,” describe the Unified Power of Attack: 1 the will to attack, 2 the proximity for attack, 3 the means for attack. Neutralize either of the first two elements of the UPA, and there will no need for the third — no need for physical Judo.

I believe this is a lesson we need our students to learn early in their training.

January - 2023

28th Saturday - Veterans Judo Open, Plano, TX

February - 2023

5th Sunday - New Year's Annual Kohaku Shiai, San Fernando, CA

25th Saturday - Las Vegas Judo Championships, Henderson, NV

March - 2023

12th Sunday - Taishi's 13th Anniversary Tournament, Westminster, CA

18th Saturday & 19th Sunday - Youth National Championships, Lubbock, TX

25th Saturday - Shoshinkan's Annual Kosen Tournament, Las Vegas, NV

26th Sunday - Shoshinkan's Shintaro Higashi Clinic, Las Vegas, NV

April - 2023

15th Saturday - Couchigian Memorial Tournament, Las Vegas, NV

May - 2023

20th Saturday & 21st Sunday - Senior National Championships, Spokane, WA

June - 2023

16th Friday to 18th Sunday - USA Judo Junior Olympics, Shreveport, LA

24th Saturday – Sensei Gary’s Birthday Scrimmage, Claremont, CA

July - 2023

7th Friday to 9th Sunday - USJF Summer Nationals, New York, NY

October - 2023

1st Sunday - Capitol Open Judo Championships, Sacramento, CA

22nd Sunday - Fresno Invitational Tournament, Fresno, CA

November - 2023

5th Sunday to 8th Wednesday - IJF World Veterans Championships, Abu Dhabi, UAE

19th Sunday - National Presidents Cup Championships, Irving, TX

December - 2023

1st Friday to 3rd Sunday - Grassroots Judo Winter Nationals & Clinics, Azusa, CA

I’m always looking for new subjects to write about regarding judo as well as contributions from my readers. Please send them to gary@garygoltz.com, thanks.

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