Zenyo Jiu Jitsu Historical Photo

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu: The One Idea That Gave Us Our Name

Zenyo means best use. Best use of our physical and mental energy. The ultimate goal of Zenyo is efficient use of strength. When you focus on being efficient, there is no limit to improvement.  Zenyo is the method we use to achieve great results for our students at Zenyo Jiu Jitsu Baltimore. 

Zenyo Is Efficiency

Zenyo comes to us through Judo founder Jigoro Kano. Kano might be the most influential martial artist of all time. He believed in the principle of Zenyo above all others. 

Zenyo (pronounced zen-u) means “best use” in thinking, learning and doing — the way of maximum efficiency and minimal effort. Zenyo is the ultimate goal of martial arts. 

“Whatever it is that you do,” Kano said of Zenyo, “envision the best purpose for it, and use the energy of your body and mind in the most efficient way to achieve that purpose.”

Zenyo Is Awareness

Moshe Feldenkrais was one of the first Judo black belts in Europe. He was a student of Kano who created a unique way to teach Zenyo. He called his teachings the “method to improve ability.”

Elements of Kano’s Judo, Feldenkrais’ method and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are all part of the curriculum at Zenyo Jiu Jitsu Baltimore. 

“To understand movement we must feel, not strain,” Feldenkrais wrote in his book Awareness Through Movement. “To learn we need time, attention and discrimination; to discriminate we must sense. This means that in order to learn we must sharpen our powers of sensing, and if we try to do most things by sheer force we shall achieve precisely the opposite of what we need.”

Zenyo Is Ease

Feldenkrais believed the path to greater learning, efficiency and performance begins in the nervous system. Change happens there first, which helps us to improve our habits of thinking and moving. 

“The more an individual advances his development the greater will be his ease of action,” Feldenkrais wrote. 

“When activity is freed of tension and superfluous effort the resulting ease makes for greater sensitivity and better discrimination, which make for still greater ease in action. We will now be able to identify unnecessary effort even in actions that formerly seemed easy to us.”

Zenyo Is Play

Play is an important method in how the brain learns.  Research suggests that play might be the brain’s favorite way to learn. 

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct,” writes renowned psychologist Carl Jung. 

Training should not always be serious. Too much stress and effort — always striving for perfection — can lead to frustration and stagnation. It is paradoxical, but students who stop trying so hard to improve actually improve the fastest. 

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.”

“We have no muscles which, when contracted, render our thought processes more productive,” writes German philosopher and educator Heinrich Jacoby. 

“If you are . . . entirely given over to something, more can happen in a shorter time — and what happens can be very productive — than many hours of brooding over and exerting oneself may yield.”

Zenyo Is Change

The way of Zenyo is change through letting go. To create the best use of physical and mental energy, we need to learn how to change our usual habits and methods to seek efficiency as the ultimate aim. 

Effort, strain, and force interfere with the brain’s way of learning new skills. Students who focus on relaxation in learning are able to change their normal pattern of reaction and see things in a new way. 

This is the essence of change through Zenyo. Improvement then becomes true change, a change that will build a lasting foundation on and off the mats.

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu Baltimore

“There is no limit to improvement. Make the impossible possible, the possible easy and the easy elegant.”

– Moshe Feldenkrais

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