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Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Last night, I attended an Izu Conference dinner and the guest speaker was Yasuhiro Yamashita. Yamashita is the former Japanese judoka Olympic gold medalist and he is currently teaching at Tokai University and is on the board of the International Judo Federation. He's quite a star in Japan and he talked about Judo and globalization.

He started off the talk by showing an interview with Vladimir Putin on Japanese TV. Putin talked about his love of Judo and how he had been a street urchin looking for a way to be tougher when he started Judo, but that Judo taught him "the way" and helped make him what he is today. Putin also mentioned how the art of using the strength of the opponent against themselves was an important method even in politics. There was footage of Putin at his Judo dojo at his home in Russia. Both of Putin's daughters are studying Judo as well.

Yamashita talked about how Putin's love of Judo was what helped break the ice for Koizumi's relationship with Putin and how they had met at the dojo before Koizumi's meeting with Putin in Japan.

Yamashita also mentioned that Chairman Okuda of Toyota was also a Judo enthusiast.

Yamashita urged people to support Judo. He said he was also a poorly behaved young man and that Judo helped him learn values and discipline. He jokingly said that although many of the young Judo students may look like misbehaved youths, just imagine how much worse it would be if they were in the streets.

The Izu Conference is an annual IBM Japan sponsored meeting/retreat. This dinner was kind of an alumni meeting. Here are some of my notes from last year's annual meeting where the topic was the US.


The same kind of story goes around in boxing, karate, and any other martial arts. Put a troubled youngster in a martial arts dojo that has a good sensei and soon he'll straighten up. They actually made an entire tv-series around this concept. I believe it was called "gachinko" and featured a former highschool dropout and troubled dude who became a boxing champion. He'd accept a few young thugs and tries to not only train them but also discipline them. Doesn't run anymore, I think, but from what I saw, it was quite a good series.

Hey cool. I actually sat next to Yamashita-san on a plane ride to NYC last x-mas. Big guy.

I love judo! I learned it for 4 years with the Japanese police.

Judo Kyoushitsu is one of the key mainstays of the National Police Agency's juvenile crime prevention program. Makes sense right?

I think Putin isn't the very best example for the idea behind Judo. For me his political and military strategy f. e. towards Chechenya isn't Judo-inspired at all - it is just brute power!

I think judo is a great sport. The gentle way. Both my 8 year old son and my 5 year old daughter are taking classes. I can see the positive effect it has on my son already. Confident but not agressive. I even setup a blog for his dojo.

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Joi Ito talks about Yasuhiro Yamashita, well known judoka and head of the International Judo Federation. The comment made about personal growth and martial arts feels very true to me - a lot of young men (myself included) initially get involved in s... Read More