Fun fact: The real life action movie behind judo

There's a weird history to the sport that involves a gentleman named Jigoro Kano


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The life of the founder of Judo is every bit as insane as you might imagine.

For those who don't know, judo is a martial art that involves grappling, choking and above all else throwing opponents. It's what you see spies doing (usually poorly) in thrillers. It's the basis for martial arts taught in the real world armed services and police academies. It's what John Wick does to the baddies.

Take note, ladies and gentlemen. Keanu Reeves didn't have to get that good at judo for this movie, but he did it anyway. The result is that you are seeing what good judo looks like.

All of this butt-kickery came from the efforts of one man. His name was Kano Jigoro (we might say "Jigoro Kano" in America) and his life was pretty much an action movie.

We have things to do so here's just a few facts about the man:

He learned how to fight from a bone setter

Judo is Kano Jigoro's invention, but more specifically it's his version of an older martial art that samurai used, called jujutsu. Per the classic story, Kano was a small boy who was being bullied, so he learned how to fight and in the process maybe learned a little something about himself. Play (18)80's music, roll credits.

Not so fast.

Kano's story is one of extremes. He wasn't just small, he was 90 pounds at age 17. He didn't just learn how to fight, he learned the fighting style samurai used when they didn't have weapons. That's... crazy, right?

Yep! And it gets crazier.

His first and primary teacher was a bone setter. As in, a man who's profession was to take broken bones and put them back in place. In the 1800's that was a thing, and I cannot think of someone more appropriate from which to learn a joint-bending martial art.

He may have invented the first mixed martial art

These days pretty much everyone who enters the octagon has some form of grappling training. At the very least, they know how to recognize judo techniques so they can avoid them. It may seem like a product of our modern times that a Japanese fighting system is so prevalent in a western sport, but judo has always been a combination of teachings.

Kano went to a private school run by Europeans, and he picked up several western fighting techniques while he was there. The most recognizable is kata guruma- or the fireman's carry- from western wrestling.

He gave a US President fighting tips

It is hard to overstate what a success story this martial artist has. Kano went from being a small, bullied schoolboy to a world-famous fighting legend. Judo was the first eastern fighting style to become popular world wide. It was the first to appear in the Olympics. It got so popular, Ulysses S. Grant- US president and proud dismantler of the KKK- requested a demonstration from it's inventor.

Did you guess that they both know a martial art invented by Kano Jigoro? No? You poor fool.
Also follow us on social media so I can call you a fool more often.

For a decade Kano's life was basically "Street Fighter"

Before you write this off as an exaggeration, consider the elements of a good "Street Fighter" game. I name three. 


Now consider this; Kano Jigoro traveled the world promoting judo. He once fought a giant Russian wrestler on a steam boat. He climbed pyramids to show off his endurance. He flipped a dude onto his back on the lawn of the White House.

The man's life was a video game. No, wait, we were saying it was an action movie! It was an action movie based off of a fighting game! Okay, so apparently Kano Jigoro's life was the 1994 Jean Claude Van Damme film "Street Fighter".

Darn it, I made myself sad.