Sunday, February 05, 2012

Principles of Kodokan

HANAPEPE — Hanapepe Judo Club has been offering free judo classes for decades, said Bill Wilcox, one of four teachers at the Hanapepe dojo, or place where training takes place, Thursday night.
Wilcox said Bill Honjiyo, a head teacher at the Hanapepe Judo Club, just donated $10,000 of his own money for new mats for the dojo.
“Bill Honjiyo said the club gives back to the community with free judo lessons,” Wilcox said. “This guy has been teaching for free to the community for decades and now, just donated money for new mats from his own money.”
As students filtered into the twice-weekly practice, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m., a shy youngster clung to his grandfather’s leg.
“Do you just want to watch?” Clayton Ueno, another of the stable of four teachers, asked the youngster who peered from behind the security of the leg with eyes as big as saucers. “It’s okay. You can watch and see how much fun the other kids have with judo, and if you want to join in, that’s okay, too.”
He was not alone as another youngster appeared with his father to join the watchers, which included parents of young judo practitioners on a bench off the mat covering most of the floor of the dojo.
Ueno said there are four sensei, or instructors, who work with the judo students, usually numbering about 22.
“Tonight, we’ve got a little less than usual,” Ueno said. “I think there are about 16, or 17 students, but that gives the instructors more time with each student.”
Wilcox said Thursday night’s activities involved calisthenics and some basic judo kata, all packaged in a form not resembling the strict discipline of a martial art form.
“We’re doing ‘Shrimp and Sharks,’” Wilcox announced, the exercise involving more than half of the dojo doing a judo crawl mimicking a shrimp while ‘sharks’ strategically placed on the mat, tried to prevent the shrimp from reaching the other side. “We need some ‘sharks.’”
Jigoro Kano, the founder of Kodokan Judo in Japan, transformed the traditional jujustsu, or close-quarter fighting systems, principle of “defeating strength through flexibility” into a new principle of “maximum efficient use of physical and mental energy,” states the Kodokan Judo website.
The result was a new theoretical and technical system which Kano felt better matched the needs of modern people.
Ueno said the style of judo at the Hanapepe Judo Club is Kodokan Judo, the Hanapepe Judo Club being launched when Honjiyo was in the sixth grade.
“That must have been in the early 50s,” Ueno, who joined the program in 1959 when he was an eighth grade student, said. “The original location was the old recreation center located behind the backstop at the Hanapepe Ball Park. Do you remember that old white building?”
Bill Ching, Yutaka Doi and Takeo Muraoka were the original teachers.
From the ball park, the Hanapepe Judo Club moved into the quonset huts — there were four of them — near the beach when the Kaua‘i Technical School welding class moved out of the quonset huts into Lihu‘e, Ueno said.
“When Bill Honjiyo was a senior in high school, he earned his Black Belt,” he said. “I remember he had to go to Honolulu to accept the belt. It was a pretty big thing.”
When Hurricane Iwa hit Kaua‘i, the quonset huts were destroyed, forcing the Hanapepe Judo Club to practice on the sand on the beach where the former Hanapepe Armory was located.
“We were in Kaumakani until the current building was completed,” Ueno said. “We’ve been here ever since.”
Following high school, Bill Honjiyo went to the University of Hawai‘i and then into the military and during a stop in Idaho, started a judo club at one of the universities there.
“We were sponsors for that club,” Ueno said. “Bill had to talk to Sensei Doi, and recently, we had a visitor from Idaho who said the club formed by Bill is still in existence.”
Following his tour with the military, which took him to Viet Nam, Honjiyo returned to become the head teacher at the Hanapepe Judo Club, his tutelage earning several Hanapepe judo students honors at the state level.
“He’ll do anything for the kids,” Ueno said. “Kodomo no tame, or for the kids’ sake. That’s Bill. His gift to the club will mean new mats for the kids.”
Kano, after years of practicing jujutsu as a means to strengthen his frail body, founded the judo form with the essence of his system expressed in the axiom “maximum efficient use of energy,” the Kodokan website states.
This concept is both a cornerstone of martial arts and a principle useful in many aspects of life and practical application of this principle, Kano felt, could contribute to human and social development.
To reflect this, Kano replaced “jutsu,” or technique, in the word “jujutsu” with the suffix “do,” or path, to create a new name for his art — judo. His training hall was named “Ko-do-kan,” or “a place to teach the path.”
As the students worked through their respective exercises, one student warmed up to Ueno who pulled out a new “gi,” or workout outfit from one of the drawers, the youngster cautiously donning the gi for fit.
“This is unreal,” one parent said. “Clayton is still here. His kids are all gone (from the dojo) and he still comes to help the kids.”
Joining Ueno and Wilcox, the teaching stable at the Hanapepe Judo Club includes David Garcia and William Knewell.
Visit for more information on Kodokan Judo, or call Ueno at 652-7696 for more information on the Hanapepe Judo Club.

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