The Foundations of Judo

Cover texts:

Judo is, in fact, the discovery by the human body of a spiritual space.
Yves Klein May 1958

In 1952 the 24-year-old Yves Klein left Paris for Japan, to pursue his first love; not art but judo. After becoming one of very few Europeans to receive a coveted 4th dan black belt from the Kodokan in Tokyo, Klein returned to France and opened the Judo Académie de Paris. In 1954 the prestigious firm of Grasset published his book Les Fondements du Judo, illustrated with hundreds of photographs of Klein and the leading Japanese teachers demonstrating the six major Kata of judo.

Now this extraordinary work has finally been translated into English.

My interest in Judo, what fascinates me, is Movement, and while the end of Movement is always abstract and purely spiritual, it can be combined with the passion and emotion of the moment.
Yves Klein September 1952

The author of this book, Mr Yves Klein, currently a Ko-do-kan 4th dan Black Belt, is a young man and full of enthusiasm. It was necessary for him to study at the home of Judo, to see first-hand the great Japanese masters. So he has recently spent a year and a half in Japan. He has spent this time solely studying Judo, mainly at the Ko-do-kan and with the Municipal Police of Tokyo, under Master Oda, 9th dan. Morning and night he has been practising randori and kata, making innumerable notes, photographing and filming. He gives us part of this rich documentation in his book The Foundations of Judo. This book fills a great gap in the European literature of Judo: the explanation of the Katas.
from the original preface by Ichiro Abe May 1954

Translated and typeset by Ian Whittlesea


The artist and judoka Yves Klein was born in Nice in 1928 and died in Paris of a heart attack in 1962 at the age of 34.

He produced a revolutionary body of work, including the Monotone Symphony, monochrome paintings in International Klein Blue, the Anthropometry paintings using naked female models as living brushes and the influential photograph Leap into the Void.

Less well known is Klein’s devotion to judo. He gained his 1st dan black belt in France, before travelling to Japan in 1952. There he trained at the home of judo, the Kodokan, and was eventually awarded a 4th dan. On his return to Europe Klein was appointed technical advisor to the Spanish Judo Federation and opened his own judo club in Paris. The influence of judo on Klein’s life and work was profound. He continued teaching until 1959, and practised judo until the end of his life.

Ian Whittlesea is an artist. He was born in 1967 and lives in London. His work, often using the words of other artists and writers, has been widely exhibited. The publication of this book completes a five-year project to gain his 1st dan black belt at judo and then translate Les Fondements du Judo into English. He is a member of Europe's oldest judo club, the Budokwai in London.

The Everyday Press was founded in 2007 by artist Arnaud Desjardin to publish the work of visual artists as printed matter. More information can be found at:


A series of events and ephemera related to the book have been produced. Some of them can be seen by following the links below:

BOOK LAUNCH, The Narrows, Melbourne

THE FOUNDATIONS OF JUDO, Cokkie Snoei, Rotterdam



BOOK LAUNCH, Donlon Books, London


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