The Importance of Putin's Remarks on Judo to Understanding The Man and His Goals

Putin: “A world where the primary value is not physical force, but human qualities.  The Judo school is a school of mutual assistance and cooperation.  Self-confidence, vigor, purposefulness, respect for elders, teammates and opponents are highly valued there... This sport makes our life more humane; brings people together; and gives us powerful, positive emotions.”

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On the eve of his 56th birthday on October 7, 2008, Vladimir Putin put out an instructional Judo video for beginners, entitled, Let's Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin, with introductory remarks by himself, as seen at the end of this article--clad in black shirt and pants, his thumbs pressed tightly together, a bust of Judo's founder, Kanō Jigorō (family name first in Japanese), beside him.

Judo Master Vladimir Putin Speaking to a boy with an injured hand

Of course, CNN had to mock Putin's "almost-Ninja-like" attire. From there it went on to trash all those macho campaign images of Putin the likes of which CNN had so admired in all those fake-brush-clearing, sock-in-flight-suit photos of Bush. Never mind that Putin is an 8th degree, red-and-white-belt dan in Judo--one of the few in the world and the highest Judo-ranked politician on the planet. Whereas Bush sold his movie-set cowboy ranch and moved back to a gated-community suburb of Dallas within a month after leaving the Presidency, the cowboy show now over.

Putin, by contrast, is like the ruble--backed by solid gold.

In his Introductory Remarks, Putin states that in his childhood (at age 13, to be exact) he was "lucky enough" to find the world of Judo:

[A] world of courage, sincerity and generosity. A world where the primary value is not physical force, but human qualities. The Judo school is a school of mutual assistance and cooperation. Self-confidence, vigor, purposefulness, respect for elders, teammates and opponents are highly valued there... This sport makes our life more humane; brings people together; and gives us powerful, positive emotions.

Not that we would know these things from the remaining 1 hour and 20 minutes of the video: which consists of various high-ranked Judoka (Judo Martial Artists), including Putin himself, demonstrating the fine art of grabbing, throwing, falling, pinning, and the like--with what Kanō calls Seiryoku Zenyo: Maximum Efficiency.

And maximally efficient they are! To watch these Judoka throw one another and fall and rebound to their feet with such grace and speed and ease in what seems like one swift seamless movement makes us realize that they truly are artists--martial artists--who have mastered the improvisational martial art of using an opponent's own force against him in a way (or "dō" in Japanese) that requires the least expenditure of energy on one's own part.

But how does grabbing, throwing, falling, pinning, and the like--if done with Seiryoku Zenyo--in any way--in any "dō"--lead one to greater "gentleness" of character? I think Kanō would say: "Because the mind and body are truly one such that training the body also trains the mind, as in yoga. Indeed I know Indian yoga masters who would argue that Judo is a form of yoga. It is all about learning to direct the flow of energy though instruction of a yoga/Judo Master. It is a form of both physical and moral education".

Judo Training with Seiryoku Zenyo, in turn, requires the elimination of all energy-consuming feelings, such as anger, shame, guilt, regret, and disappointment, from both the body and mind or the body-mind." As Kanō explains:

Becoming angry consumes mental energy... The results of anger are invariably a depletion of mental energy and being looked down on or disliked by others... Being disappointed or troubled by failures or setbacks, or harboring grievances are also ways in which mental energy is consumed.

Thus the elimination of these negative feelings in the body through various exercises that involve going-with-the-flow and then redirecting-that-flow-toward-one's-own-goals-with-the-minimum-effective-effort represents the very essence of Seiryoku Zenyo or Maximum Efficiency: which gives gentleness and gracefulness (or grace-fullness) to both body and mind or the body-mind. Whence the praxis of Ju + dō or Judo: the "Gentle Way."

But what is to prevent this individualized education from producing the kind of isolating individualism that inevitably leads to compensatory Satanic self-aggrandizement, as seen in Hillary Clinton's gleeful "We came. We saw. HE DIED!" response to the news of Gaddafi's bayonet rape?

Kanō's answer to hubristic individualism is to balance Judo's individualized education with the sense of community that comes from belonging to a Judo school, where Judoka are taught that:

"If one student improves, then all improve."

To the point that the winner of a Judo match is expected to instruct the loser of the contest as to what techniques the latter needs to work on to win next time. If the loser then wins, he is expected to instruct the new loser how to win the following match and so on such that each Judoka is involved in the perfection of skills in the other. And the same holds true for each pairing of possible opponents within the school and between schools in ascending gyres of "mutual assistance and cooperation," as Putin puts it in his Introductory Remarks to his instructional video. Thus the end goal is the praxis of what Kanō calls Jita Kyoei (or "Mutual Welfare and Benefit") at every level of human interaction.

We see Putin's praxis of Jita Kyoei most importantly in virtually everything he says and does at the geopolitical level to avert World War III. His recent interview with Fareed Zakaria is a case in point. Despite Zakaria's repeated baiting, Putin makes clear again and again that neither the United States nor Russia must seek to win a unilateral victory over the other in any area, be it Syria or Ukraine; but must always everywhere work together cooperatively for the "welfare and benefit" of all parties involved. That is Jita Kyoei at the very center of Russian foreign policy.

As for how Putin would assess a Hell-bent Hillary (in both the literal and figurative sense of the term) as a possible President--given her likening him to Hitler (which would seem to preclude any negotiations between them)--Putin stated that it is his general observation that once elected, leaders tend to change in response to the responsibilities of the office; and that no office carries greater responsibilities than the US Presidency. It is therefore his hope that whoever is elected President (including that warmongering witch, it was left unsaid) would come to work constructively towards "greater world security" which would benefit us all. That is the praxis of Jita Kyoei, once again.

The problem with a Hillary Presidency, of course, is that she needs to show herself and the world that she has real cojones. Which she doesn't have and will never have, anatomically speaking. Not even if she launches a First Strike in the Satanic delusion that she can win a nuclear war. All she will do is initiate a 10-year-long, global Russian winter that will kill 90% of all species on this planet--including humanity. And she shall return unto dust--still without cojones.

But who will have the cojones to tell her that?

She is past redemption in my opinion.

The future looks quite ominous to me.

If Hillary is elected President and proceeds to appoint General Breedlove as her Secretary of War (aka "Defense") and Victoria Nuland as her Secretary of State, then I truly believe that our survival as a species will largely depend on the gentle Judo arts and grace-full values of this one man, Vladimir Putin, as nurtured within him by his longtime trainer and mentor, Anatoly Rakhlin.

sitting in front of a silver samovar and Russian teapot doll

Can you imagine someone so transformed as Vladimir Putin?

It was Anatoly Rakhlin--a poor Jewish Judo trainer who couldn't even afford a rundown room in a gym at times and had to hold classes in the street--who miraculously turned sickly little Vova on the left at age 12 into strapping Volodya on the right at age 19. With a little help from hormones, to be sure. But still...

Look how easily Volodya throws his hulking Judo partner and future Duma member, Vasily Shestakov. Vasily is a success story in his own right and one of the many enduring friends Volodya developed at Rakhlin's Judo club.

But the story of how Rakhlin created a spirit-building Judo school in answer to the horrific Nazi Siege of Leningrad that he and Putin's parents endured is for another photo essay coming soon.

Here I'd like to close by offering Russia Insider readers a clip of Putin's Introductory Remarks to his free YouTube video, Let's Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin-now with English subtitles I've had added as a gift to RI. A transcript of the translation follows.

Hopefully, this subtitled clip, together with the transcript, will give RI readers who do not know Russian an opportunity to appreciate this important statement of the significance of Judo for Putin and how it may, in turn, help him protect us all from a possible nuclear Holocaust.


More than half a century ago, Japanese educator, Jigorō Kanō, combined the best traditions of Japanese wrestling and created Judo, a new kind of fighting without weapons. The name of this kind of fighting, Judo, or "Gentle Way," is the foundation of its basic philosophy. In particular, the ability to get the best result with small but effective efforts. This form of fighting allows for compromises and concessions, but only in one case: if it is a path to victory. Success is achieved not only by intense physical exercises, but also by intense moral training.

Since its origin, Judo was much in demand and very popular. In 1964 this most spectacular and exciting sport entered the program of Olympic Games. Today approximately 6 million people in different countries practice Judo. Judo's history in Russia is almost 45 years old. Judo has a lot in common with martial arts techniques that were traditionally popular in our country.

In my childhood I was lucky enough to get into this world of courage, sincerity, and ennoblement. A world where the primary value is not physical force, but human qualities. The Judo school is a school of mutual assistance and cooperation. Self-confidence, vigor, purposefulness, respect for elders, teammates and opponents are highly valued there. In general, this sport has a tremendous positive impact on the modern world. This sport makes our life more humane; brings people together; and gives us powerful, positive emotions.

The Judo video tutorial which you are about to see will not show you the drama or the passion of the fight. Rather the value of this video is that it shows the fight techniques of real recognized Judo masters.

To everyone who loves martial arts and prefers them, I wish you success and good luck on such a complex but interesting path of learning the art of Judo.

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