What Is Judo?

Modern judo originated from the Japanese fighting art of jujitsu. While jujitsu’s history can be traced as far back into the history as late 17th century Japan, judo itself is relatively new in comparison. Judo in its known form today owes its current existence to a man by the name of Dr. Jigoro Kano. Many people consider Jigoro Kano to have been a genius in his development of judo techniques and methods.

When his family moved to Tokyo in 1871, Mr. Kano attended Tokyo Imperial University where he studied politics and literature. He became an instructor of the Gakushuin in 1882, and appointed as headmaster at the teachers’ training school Koto Shihan. 1909 brought around the honor of being the first Japanese member of the Olympic Committee, followed by the Japanese Athletic Association’s founding president. He is considered the “Father of Physical Education and Sport” in Japan.

Although quite different from other styles of martial arts, judo still has rules which ensure the safety of those participating. Judo students willing to test their skills may find great enjoyment from the various levels of competition available to them. These can go from individual club meets to possibly even the Olympic Games.

Judo is best known for its throw techniques. However, there is so much more behind this style of martial art. There is also the involvement of controlling holds, arm and leg locks and choking techniques - to name a few. Those who study judo learn all aspects of self-defense, and the sport is available for anyone to take part. Even those with disabilities or the elderly find an appeal in the teachings provided. This inexpensive activity is easily practised daily, while each person learns their own personal amount of self-discipline and respect, as well as that of the art itself.

Self-confidence, flexibility, and leadership skills are just a few of the other skills which are emphasized during the study of judo. There have been a great many changes to judo over the years, making it more a sport of competitiveness than a fight. The ranks have now been separated for children, women and men as well as classes for those who wish to compete in the sport or simply practise it for fitness.

The equipment required to practise judo is appropriate clothing. Each participant (Judokas) needs to wear what is called a ‘Judogi’. The pants of the Judogi are the ‘zubon’ while the jacket is a ‘uwagi’. The belt worn by each participant indicates the skill level of the competitor. The black belt is indicative of the highest level of skill.

Judo, which means “gentle way”, can teach you the various applications needed not only for self-defense but for competition as well. Judo is quite unlike other martial arts, in the sense of it combining the best of grappling with throw techniques which require little to no strength. They do require the correct positioning of your body, however. This is an excellent martial art – which can be enjoyed by anyone. And we have Dr. Jigaro Kano to thank for it.