Sunday, June 3, 2012

What is Humanity ?

The movie Sanshiro Sugata – by Akira Korisawa – describes the beginings of Judo in Japan at the end of the 19th century.

The hero of the movie, Sanshiro, has spent a good part of the night fighting quite a few people in the red light quarter of the town. In the morning, Sanshiro comes back to the Dojo, his clothes are damaged... His master Yano has been waiting for him...

This is a transcript of a discussion between Yano Sensei (Jigoro Kano) and his disciple Shanshiro Sugata (Shiro Saigo).

Pay attention to what Yano defines as “humanity”. Try to keep that in mind when practicing your art.

Y : Well – You must have enjoyed fighting...
S : I'm sorry
Y : I should have been there to watch you fight.
You're strong, very strong. Maybe even stronger than me. But...Your Judo and my Judo are world apart. And do you know why ?
Because you don't understand humanity. Teaching Judo to such a man is like giving a knife to a lunatic.

S : Sensei ! I understand humanity

Y : You don't – You live without reason or purpose. Where is your humanity ? Humanity is nature's rule by which we live and die. Only according to this principle can you die in peace. It is the true essence of life... And of Judo as well.
Sugata ! You have not realized this !

S : But Sensei, I am willing to die if you tell me to :
Y : Liar !
S : No ! I am !
Y : Shut up ! You are a reckless bully, your words mean nothing to me !
S : I'm willing to die !

To demonstrate to Yano Sensei his willingness to die, Sanshiro threw himself in the pond adjacent to the house. This did not at all impress Yano Sensei, as it was just another show of bravado on part of his student... So he let him stand in the pond for as long as necessary to realize the futility of his action... The rest of the movie is about the way Sanshiro - through very hard fights - was able to actually realize what Humanity was in the eyes of Yano Sensei.

Notes :

  1. Jigoro Kano was the founder of Modern Judo – I believe this man was some sort of genius and/or a Boddhisatva...
  1. Jigoro Kano invented the system of Kyu and Dan belts used in most modern Japanese Martial Arts. Before that, in traditional Japanese Martial Arts, there were no grades formalized by a belt color, or levels in black belt. Shiro Saigo was the second student in the world to obtain the grade of Black Belt in Judo.
  1. After he threw himself in the pond to convince Yano that he was willing to die, Yano told him to die. Sanshiro held on a post that was sticking out of the water. Finally he saw the moon raise and had a vision of a lotus flower growing our of the muddy water. He then decided to come out of the pond and apologize to Master Yano. From then on, Sanshiro slowly becomes more “human”. In reality, it seems that Kano Sensei threw Saigo into the pond – the result was the same...

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