Jigoro Kano

Biographical information

Full nameJigoro•Kano
Used nameJigoro•Kano
Original name嘉納•治五郎
Born18 October 1860 in Mikage, Hyogo (JPN)
Died4 May 1938 in Indian Ocean (UNK)
NOC Japan


Jigoro Kano is considered the father of judo. He was the first Asian member of the IOC, serving from 1909-38, and was instrumental in having the 1940 Olympic Games awarded to Tokyo. Kano attended Tokyo Imperial University, and looked for jujitsu trainers to build his somewhat small body. He trained assiduously in jujitsu and combined elements from several different schools of the martial art to form his style, which he called judo, meaning “gentle way.” In June 1882 he started the Kodokan dojo, the first judo school. He was later responsible for the belt system of ranking judoka, and the dan ranking to show the relative rankings of the practitioners.

Academically Kano majored in political science and economics at university, and later became an educator. He started as a professor of economics at Komaba Agricultural College, but in 1885 returned to Gakushuin where he became the principal. In 1891 he was appointed to the Ministry of Education with the government and in 1898 was appointed director of primary education at the Ministry of Education.

In sports administration, Kano established the Japan Amateur Athletic Association (Dai Nippon Tai-iku Kyokai) in 1912. He first represented Japan at the 1912 Olympic Games and was involved in the organization of the 1917 Far Eastern Games held in Osaka. In the 1920s Kano served on the Japanese Council of Physical Education. Kano was later given the First Order of Merit and Grand Order of the Rising Sun and the Third Imperial Degree. He was inducted into the IJF Hall of Fame on 14 May 1999. Kano died at sea, returning from an IOC Session.

Organization roles

Role Organization Tenure NOC As
Member International Olympic Committee 1909—1938 JPN Jigoro Kano
President Japanese Olympic Committee 1911—1921 JPN Jigoro Kano

Olympic family relations

Special Notes