This past spring semester, before the pandemic turned things upside down, Professor Brad Art introduced a brand-new Philosophy class to the curriculum: The Art of Judo. It filled up immediately with students from different disciplines. He opened the course with this story.
The creator of Judo, Jigoro Kano, introduced the discipline in 1882 by accepting a challenge from a Russian merchant sailor who in his travels of the world bet $500 he could defeat all comers. Kano, one hundred pounds lighter and a foot shorter than the Russian, defeated the sailor repeatedly. Of course, otherwise, they would not tell the story. But this is not the end of the story. Kano approached the defeated man, and quietly offered to teach him how to improve his wrestling skill. The sailor accepted, and worked his way through years of practice to become a fourth-degree black belt. But that is not the end of the story. Encouraged by his experience in Judo, the former brawling, merchant sailor became a doctor and spent the remainder of his life in service to his community. That is the point of Judo.
Hearing the ending of the story at the beginning of the first class, one of the students in The Art of Judo said, “I love this course!” That defines the attitude and dedication of every student in the course! Each practiced the credo of Judo, “mutual welfare and benefit.” Each strove to embody the principle, "It is not important to be better than someone else, but to be better than yesterday." ~ Kano Jigoro. An extraordinary group of students!