From 1940 to 1944, Paris was occupied by the German army. The “Vichy” government began to reform sports activities for French citizens, and under the new Vichy policy, many sports saw an expansion of popularity. The expansion of judo in France during this period was particularly dramatic. This article examines how judo was practiced in German-occupied Paris, and how it acquired the status of a sport in France, with reference to the activities of the Jiu-Jitsu Club de France and its historical context in Paris at that time.
In occupied Paris, the Jiu-Jitsu Club and its judoka, especially Paul Bonét-Maury, president of the club, and Mikinosuke Kawaishi, who provided technical guidance, promoted judo as a sport. In the first half of the Occupation, the club held low-key public demonstrations. Also, practitioners in clubs were trained on the basis of teaching methods devised by Kawaishi, which included aspects such as the color belt system, and the establishment of expensive membership fees despite the Occupation situation. As a result, many intellectual professionals and industrial capitalists with economic resources played a principal role as judoka. Furthermore, by encouraging students to open new clubs, the number of judoka practicing Kawaishi judo increased. These factors remained characteristic of French judo after the Second World War.
In the latter half of the Occupation Period, the Jiu-Jitsu Club de France joined the French Wrestling Federation, so that judo became better known publicly, and in late May 1943, the First French Judo Championship was held. The Championship was held continuously in subsequent years, and received recognition of being “worthy to be aligned with other sports”.
The German army was not directly involved with judo in Paris, but the fact that the Jiu-Jitsu Club de France expanded its activities while adapting to the circumstances of the Occupation encouraged the official recognition of judo in Paris.