The following quote:

It is not important to be better than someone else, but to be better than yesterday.

is frequently attributed to the founder of Judo, Kanō Jigorō, but I can find no evidence to support this claim.

What is the origin of this quote?

1 Answer 1


It is very similar to, and I suspect based on, another quote:

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.

This version is frequently attributed to Ernest Hemingway, after appearing in a posthumous Playboy article of dubious authenticity in 1963, however its earliest appearance in this form is from a sermon in 1897:

Remember that there is nothing noble in being superior to some other man. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.

  • Fun fact illustrating the opposite....at a press conference during last year's world championship match, when asked who his favorite chess player was, Magnus Carlsen (who was not exactly playing as well as he once did during this match) said "myself, 3 or 4 years ago". (He must have been embarrassed into working harder, as his performances since then have returned to form.)
    – C Monsour
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 11:39

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