Founder of KODOKAN


with minimum effort

Jigoro Kan, (28 October 1860 – 4 May 1938) is founder of Kodokan-Judo.


Judo was the first Japanese martial art to gain widespread international recognition, and the first to become an official Olympic sport. 

Pedagogical innovations attributed to Kan include the use of black and white belts, and the introduction of dan ranking to show the relative ranking between members of a martial art style. Well-known mottoes attributed to Kan include "Maximum Efficiency with Minimum Effort" and "Mutual Welfare and Benefit."

In his professional life Kano was an educator. Important postings included serving as director of primary education for the Ministry of Education from 1898–1901, and as president of Tokyo Higher Normal School from 1901 until 1920. He played a key role in making Judo and Kendo part of the Japanese public school programs of the 1910s.

Kano was also a pioneer of international sports. Accomplishments included being the first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) (he served from 1909 until 1938); officially representing Japan at most Olympic Games held between 1912 and 1936; and serving as a leading spokesman for Japan's bid for the 1940 Olympic Games.

His official honors and decorations included the First Order of Merit and Grand Order of the Rising Sun and the Third Imperial Degree. 

Kan was inducted into the IJF Hall of Fame on 14 May 1999.

Who was Jigoro Kan?

He was born on October 28th, 1860 as a descendant of a samurai family, in the city of Mikage, in the prefecture of Hyogo. His mother died when he was 10 years. Later his family moved to Tokyo in 1871. Kan showed himself to be gifted for foreign languages. 

In 1877 Kan began to study at the Tokyo Daigaku. There he met the German professor of Medicine, Erwin von Bälz. Bälz gave him the hint to deal with Jiu-Jitsu and later to develop „his“ judo. 

From his youth, it is written, that Jigoro Kan had a poor physical constitution, which also meant that he was often beaten up by teenagers his age. He decided to strengthen himself as much as possible. 

At the age of 17 years, Kan began to study Jiu-Jitsu…


Jigoro Kano made a comprehensive study of ancient self-defence forms and integrated some of the best forms into an educational system or sport which he named KODOKAN