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What is Judo?

Introduction to Judo

Martial arts or combat sports generally divide into three main types namely the punching and kicking ones such as boxing and Karate, the close quarter grappling ones such as wrestling and judo and the weapon ones such as fencing and Kendo.

Judo was ‘invented’ in 1882 by a Japanese by the name of Jigoro Kano.  However it was formed from a synthesis of Ju-jitsu styles, in particular the Kito and Tenjinshinyo styles.  Jujitsu is the name for Japanese unarmed close-quarter fighting systems of which there were many in the late 1800s.  The Japanese Samurai were trained to fight using a variety of weapons such as the sword and the spear but when it became close-quarter fighting the techniques of Ju-jitsu were used. For the most part the Ju-jitsu systems were grappling systems practised in pre-arranged sequences for safety.

It could be said that Jigoro Kano created yet another Ju-jitsu style but his genius lay in recognizing that many of the Ju-jitsu techniques could be practised fairly safely.  So in his system he created a competitive form of Ju-jitsu where the dangerous moves were banned (such as eye-poking) but retaining these dangerous techniques in the Kata or pre-arranged sequences of which there are seven. He called his system Judo to distinguish it from Ju-jitsu.

Modern judo is mostly done in the competitive form (Randori) but the Kata are still taught and the individual can learn them if he wishes.  In the competitive form the practitioner seeks to throw his opponent crisply on his back, gain a submission from an elbow lock or strangle, or pin the opponent on his back for 25 seconds.  It is this competitive form that has become the Olympic sport of Judo.  Despite the fact that Judo has excluded many of Ju-jitsu’s dangerous techniques it must be said that it is highly affective method of self-defence.  Judo fighters become very skilful at throwing etc and the Randori makes them very fit and strong.

Judo is done barefoot wearing a loose cotton jacket and trousers and a coloured belt which denotes the grade of the judo person (Judoka).  It retains many of its Japanese features such as its Japanese terminology,  strict etiquette and technical principles as laid down by the Founder.

KATAME-NO-KATA (Forms of Grappling or Holding)
Five model techniques are chosen from each of three Katamewazas.

KIME-NO-KATA (Forms of Decision)
This is to learn the most valuable techniques in an actual fight. They consist of the techniques in a kneeling position and in a standing position.

JU-NO-KATA (Forms of Gentleness)
The ways of attack and defense are arranged in very gentle and expressive movements.

THE KODOKAN GOSHIN-JUTSU (Forms of Self-Defense)
The modern technique of Self-Defense consists of empty-handed techniques and techniques with weapons.

ITSUTSU-NO-KATA (Forms of "Five")
These forms are incomplete though they should have been included in the parts of the great Judo system by Prof. Kano.

KOSHIKI-NO-KATA (Antique forms)
Prof. Kano revised and adopted these forms so as to show the substance of Judo.

SEIRYOKU-ZEN 'YO-KOKUMIN-TAIIKU-NO-KATA
This is the form of National Physical Education.

Judo was developed by Professor Jigoro Kano in 1882. The Kodokan was the main teaching base for Judo which was known as ‘Kodokan Judo’ for some time. Judo was derived from Jujitsu which had many names and schools. Jujitsu is an art for either attacking others or defending oneself with nothing but one's own body.  Prof. Kano utilised and adapted the best techniques of the Jujitsu schools and eliminated dangerous techniques to formulate Kodokan Judo based on his own ideas and vision.

It started with only nine disciples and a twelve-mat dojo. After a short while Kodokan Judo was recognized as the superior form when its students beat Jujitsu athletes at the Police Bujitsu Contest. This first step put Judo – and particularly Kodokan Judo – on the map and established Judo as a recognised martial art.

Prof. Kano promoted judo as a physical exercise and encouraged it’s development as a national sport – this ideal being aided by the fact that Prof Kano also taught the Emperor’s children.He continued to formulate a set of rules and regulations and went on to become the first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee in 1909 and worked towards the propagation of Judo world-wide.

Judo became an official event in the Olympic Games of 1964, backed by Judo fans and sport promoters all over the world. It is now a very popular sport almost anywhere in the world.

Judo means "the gentle way" in Japanese. derived in part from jujitsu, the hand-to-hand combat technique of ancient samurai warriors, and everything is relative. While throwing opponents to the floor wins most matches, it is the only Olympic sport where submission holds allow choking an opponent or breaking an arm. Developed by Dr. Jigoro Kano in the 1880s, the sport broke into the Olympic Games in 1964 at Tokyo. The host country could add one sport, and Japan chose judo. Four weight classes were established, and Japanese entries promptly won three. However, in the fourth, the open class, a 1.98-metre Dutchman named Anton Geesink defeated three-time All-Japan champion Kaminaga Akio before 15,000 people at Nippon Budokan Hall. And then he beat him again. It followed victories earlier in the year over other top Japanese opponents, deeply bruising the theory that a skilled judoka could defeat any opponent of any size. Women's judo was added to the Olympic program in 1992. Men and women now compete in seven weight classes each.