Rizal and Judo

It is possible that Rizal could be the very first Filipino practitioner of Judo. The kodokan style-Judo was introduced to him by the father of his Japanese female friend, the fabled Japanese lady in his brief Japanese visit.

Being a practitioner of an offshoot of jiu jitsu (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) I was very much impressed with Rizal showing interest, for this is a very physical sport. His well known for his small stature and weak physical constitution. Though I’m quite sure that he did not progress as he might’ve wanted to in the sport because of the constraints present at that time, I give him all the credit in the world for giving it a try.

Here Rizal displayed yet again how his mind works. Everyone who understands Judo & Jiu Jitsu knows that it utilizes leverage not strength which Rizal lacks. He probably learned about this and embraced the concept, the beauty and art in its motion. For the very tenet of the discipline is to submit, not to kill. This however, is not his first martial art discipline – for he fell in love with fencing first, the made shooting a hobby later on.

Judo was a modification of Kano’s, his creation based on the concept of the deadly art of Japanese Jiu Jitsu. His deep study started in 1882 after researching the different styles of Jiu Jitsu. The father of Osei San was a well known Judoka, a samurai descendant, proponent of the Kadoka style. It is unknown how much exposure Rizal had with this man. Jaylo, the former Judo head, attested that Rizal learned the rudiments of the sport from this man.

Being passionate about teaching, he imparted the concepts of Judo to his students in Dapitan. Taking advantage of the soft sand by the beach, his student probably had a grand time wrestling with each other – the first ever sparring of in a no-gi form. How interesting it was to see, unfortunately due the lack of written accounts of how he taught the subject, the practitioner in me can only imagine.

In Dapitan, the hero provided the country with its first unofficial Judoka’s, grappler’s in our modern times – there was no continuation however, since he was not a sensei of the discipline, he does not possess the technical knowledge, not a belter but definitely a true admirer. He only provided key concepts to his students. No one is even sure if he educated his student what it was, that it was Judo – he probably referred to it as lucha libre, a free form of wrestling now popular in Latin nations.

In the history of the sport of Judo in our country, John Baylon is considered the greatest of all time, the winningest of all competitors. He was an Olympian three times, and currently one of our instructors – he share’s technique and humility. A great guy, who probably would be grateful for the hero’s effort.

He hails from Zamboanga, the province where Rizal first taught the celebrated sport!


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