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Kyushindo is a philosophy developed by budō master Kenshiro Abbe in the mid-20th century and which became his central statement for his personal approach to Judo.[1]


Several interpretations of the Japanese term kyu shin do have been proposed. Tomio Otani, a long-term student of Abbe, translated it thus:

  • Kyu: Sphere or Circle
  • Shin: Heart or Nexus point
  • Do: Way[2]

At its most basic level, kyushindo can be equated with centripetal force.[3] Tomio Otani defined it as "the accumulation of effort in a steady motion about the radius and centre of gravity".[2] Abbe had discovered the efficiency of using centripetal force to throw much larger opponents while a student at Dai Nippon Butoku Kai in the 1930s, and it is likely that this discovery led to his further development of kyushindo as a philosophy.[3]

As well as 'Sphere'/'Circle', Kyu can also mean 'Desire', 'Yearn', 'Search' or 'Study'. Likewise, Shin can also mean 'Spirit' or 'Truth'.[4] This ambiguity allows kyushindo to be interpreted on a number of levels, and it can also have the meaning of The Seeker's Way to the Essence of Things, or the Truth.[1]


Kyushindo was the central statement for Abbe's personal approach to martial arts. He felt that there were three fundamental principles within Kyushindo which should be reflected in the Martial arts and in his outside life.

  • All things in the Universe are in a constant state of motion (Banbutsu Ruten).[5]
  • This motion is rhythmic and flowing (Ritsu Do).
  • All things work and flow in perfect harmony (Chowa).[1]

Because of Abbe's fame as a Budo master people have very naturally assumed Kyushindo to be a theory of martial discipline but in fact martial discipline is only one application of Kyushindo. The very limited field of martial disciplines is too narrow an application to make the principle of Kyushindo clear and can be no more than the means employed to attain a far higher goal. The theory of Kyushindo has application in any study, or activity that can be named simply because it does not deal with the form and technique of anything, but with the fundamental principles which such forms and techniques represent.

The principle may be likened to the hub of a wheel from which an infinite number of spokes or forms radiate. The task of perfecting an art by the laborious process of studying each 'form' is doomed to failure because the possible variations are endless. By discovering the central principle it can then be applied in any direction at will.

Kyushindo states that the accumulation of efforts is a steady motion about the radius and center of gravity and that all things resign to this basic cyclic pattern. The normal perception and focus of awareness in the human being, flies along the outer periphery of existence, events flash past too rapidly for the mind to grasp. By re-discovering the original center of things, events turn more slowly in perception and the general scheme is more easily viewed.[2]


Today there are a number of organisations throughout the world who claim to teach martial arts based on Abbe's theories of Kyushindo. Several of these can trace their heritage to George Mayo, a French Judoka who had developed his own system of non-competitive judo, which incorporated elements of yoga and which he named Ju-judo (the gentle, gentle way).

Mayo was not in any way connected to Abbe's British Judo Council, but he found Kyu-Shin-Do an appealing concept. Mayo controversially reinvented Kyu-Shin-Do as his own spiritual philosophy and renamed his organisation the Kyushindo International Judo Association. The claim that Abbe was involved in the creation of Mayo's system has been strongly refuted by Abbe's students.[6] The Kyushindo International Judo Association later fragmented, giving rise to various splinter groups including the Zen Judo organisations[7] and the Mayoshindo Karate organisation.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Fromm, Alan; Soames, Nicolas (1982), Judo - The Gentle Way, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd 
  2. ^ a b c Otani, Tomio (1967), Goodbody, J., ed., "Kendo", The Japanese Fighting Arts (abridged version) (Arlington Books): 35–64 
  3. ^ a b Hoare, Syd, Kenshiro Abe (translation from Japanese article), retrieved April 16, 2010 
  4. ^ Ellis, Henry, The Theory of Kyu-Shin-Do, retrieved April 16, 2010 
  5. ^ Banbutsu-ryūten (万物流転:ばんぶつりゅうてん?) is the Japanese translation of Heraclitus' famous aphorism "Panta Rhei".
  6. ^ Ellis, Henry, Mr George Mayo 10th Dan of MayoShinDo, retrieved March 6, 2010 
  7. ^ "Zen Judo", Judo Forum, 2008, retrieved March 6, 2010 
  8. ^ Mayo, George, An Open Letter to All Students of Kyushindo..., retrieved March 6, 2010 

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