Meaning ‘the gentle way,’ Judo was born when Kano removed the more dangerous techniques of jiujitsu.
“The principle of maximum efficiency and the principle of mutual welfare and benefit, that’s the spirit of judo.
“Think and do, think and do.”
“Before a fight, you give a bow to your opponent. Then you fight like you want to eat each other, but at the end of the fight, you shake hands and bow again. Other sports could learn from that.”
In the early 20th century, the International Olympic Committee wished to bring Japan and Korea into the Olympic fold and — as one of the country’s highest authorities on sports and fitness — in 1909 Kano was sent by Japan to officially represent the nation on the IOC.
As a result, he became the first Asian member of the IOC.
According to the IOC leader of the time, Henri de Baillet-Latour of Belgium, Kano told those in the room that holding the Games in Japan would extend the vision of the movement’s founder, Pierre de Coubertin, and bridge the gap that existed between the East and the West.
Kano died in 1938 aged 77, but his legacy had long been preserved and has since blossomed into a martial art with global popularity.
In 1960, Judo was approved as an official Olympic sport, debuting four years later at the 1964 Games — fittingly, at its spiritual home of Tokyo.
Murata’s hero, Isao Inokuma, would become a heavyweight gold medalist at the Tokyo Games, and in the last half century, the sport has gone from strength to strength.
A record 389 competitors from 136 countries qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, while figures from 2014 claim there are 28 millions judo practitioners around the world with eight million in Japan alone.
Judo’s explosion has not come without a tinge of sadness for Murata though, who does not want to see Kano’s core values overridden by the pursuit of medals.
“This is not bad,” Murata insisted. “But I think Jigoro Kano would be feeling very sad if all Japanese think of judo as a sport only.”