Jita Kyoei (mutual welfare and benefit) is one of the governing principles of Judo. It acknowledges the innate interconnectedness of our lives and the consequences of our actions on others. Failure to understand this principle is the source of many problems both in the dojo and in our everyday lives. We live in an individualistic society, and without fail bring many of these values onto the mat. If we are unable to temper these values with the principles of Jita Kyoei we lose much of the value in our training. Some examples are obvious, such as the need to train without injury. Others are more subtle but just as important, for example, offering the proper amount of resistance to your training partner. When this principle is embodied in our everyday lives, we find that people are friendlier and more apt to help us. When utilized on the mat people enjoy training with us, offer their advice, and most importantly make significantly more progress. The simple truth is that we cannot make an effort to improve our environment without having a positive influence on ourselves. Those of a more utilitarian mindset, however, may be critical of this method. It has been my experience that these types, while many times highly motivated, do not last. Often, lacking the same respect for their bodies as they do their training partners, they injure themselves. In addition, they do not play on the mat and as such do not have fun on the mat. Training with the principle of Jita Kyoei in mind will not only facilitate a safer training environment, but, as the proverbial tortoise beats the hare, will train superior fighters.
Robert Burge, MA
Contributor Bio – Robert is a judo nidan, Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt, and has a master’s in mental health counseling. He is the head instructor of the University of Kentucky judo club and a member of the Valhalla Grappling Academy.