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Where We Came From

The Zen Family Tree

The Butokukai

Most Judokas (judo practioners) are familiar with Dr. Jigoro Kano, the founder of modern Judo and the Kodokan, the organization he created to spread his art around the world. What is not common knowledge, however, is that for most of the first half of the 20th Century there were two major Martial Arts organizations in Japan who trained Judokas and awarded Judo ranks. One was Kano''s Kodokan. The other was the Butokukai.
The Butokukai was established in 1895 by the Japanese government to train Martial Arts teachers. In 1911 the organization opened its martial arts training school, the Bujutsu Semmon Gakko, largely known as the Busen. Its aim and purpose was to promote and cultivate Budo in a true Samurai spirit, and to produce teachers to go out and propagate the Japanese Martial Arts throughout the world. Zen Judo''s origins are closely connected to the Butokukai through one of its leading graduates, Sensei (teacher) Kenshiro Abbe.

Dr Jjigoro Kano

Kanō Jigorō was born 28th October 1860 to a sake brewing family in the town of Mikage, Japan (now within Higashinada-ku, Kobe). However, Kanō's father—Kanō Jirosaku Kireshiba—was an adopted son who did not go into the family business. Instead he worked as a lay priest and as a senior clerk for a shipping line. Kanō's father was a great believer in the power of education, and he provided Jigorō, his third son, with an excellent education. Kanō's mother died when the boy was nine years old, and his father moved the family to Tokyo. The young Kanō was enrolled in private schools, and had his own English language tutor. In 1874 he was sent to a private school run by Europeans to improve his English and German skills.