Friday, January 29, 2010

what does 'ju' mean?

As I continue the process of defining the art judo that I pursue, I wish to look deeper into the name itself. Judo is often translated as gentle way, of soft way. My blog sparring partner Pat Parker claimed 'soft' gave it a weak connotation. He choose 'flexible' as his defining idea to translate the idea of the mysterious 'ju'. So armed with my arsenal of dictionaries we dig deeper.

The main listing in the kodansha dictionary is 'soft'.

pronounciations - JU, NYU, yawa(raka), yawa(rakai), yawa(ra)

The main ideas associated with words constructed from this kanji are - supple and yeilding, soft, tender, plaint, softhearted, gentle, mild, gently, mildly,

Some compounds made from the character 'ju' - touch of softness, gentle breeze, soft blanket and gentle-mannered.

So it appears the dictionary definition for 'ju' indeed is soft.

C'mon Pat, man up! It is ok to wear that pink shirt and still be manly! Softness is the new tough!


  1. Ha, good one ;-) score one for you.

    But "supple and pliant" doesn't sound too far off of "flexible"

    And you can ask my students - I actually practice in a pink gi sometimes (just like LeBell's story, my wife faded a red thing onto my gi some time back)

  2. LOL..
    A bunch of folks I know have played up to this "soft = Weak" Image
    Marty Voss is the last wearer of the old Ray Williams "Aiki Wimps" shirts I had seen... It was a teddy bear on the front with the writing on the teddy bear's shirt


  3. Yep, back in the day, Chuck Caldwell had a pink gi with a black tassled scarf as a belt. He flitted around the mat demonstrating as the "Aikido Fairy". It was awesome.

    Hey, Eric, ever use this site for Japanese? S'not bad...