Judo is a combat and Olympic martial art. It’s a highly popular sport that uses throws and take downs to immobilize opponents-normally with a pin, joint lock, or choke. It also uses strikes and thrusts. Judo Is said to have been created using techniques drawn from Jiu-Jitsu.
History and Founding
The educator Jigoro Kano founded Judo in the late nineteenth century. Kano was raised around academics-receiving training in English, Japanese calligraphy, and the Four Confucian Texts. During his early schooling Kano was the recipient of an epidemic of bullying. It’s what caused him to seek out a Jujutsu dojo. Because Jujutsu was becoming increasingly out of style in the modernizing Japan, it took young Kano a while before he finally met Fukuda Hachinosuke. Kano become one of his most adept students, and while at Fukuda’s death bed-he was given Fukuda’s densho (the scrolls of his dojo.)
The word judo means “a gentle way.” Don’t let this confuse you though. Cause judo is both gentle and deadly. It means “to give way”, or not to meet force head on. It means winning with a practical defense. It means being able to get thrown around without getting hurt, and being able to come back with a decisive counter.
With this knowledge comes great patience and tolerance for hostile situations. An expert in judo doesn’t act rashly when he or she encounters a potential attacker causing trouble-even if that trouble is directed at him. The years of training have ingrained the judo expert with a sense of self-assuredness. His or her ego doesn’t need inflating, because it is perfectly balanced.
Judo Waza (Techniques)
There are different kinds of waza in judo:
- nage-waza (throwing)
The nage-waza breaks down into three stages:
- Kuzushi (the balance breaker)
- Tsukuri (turning in and fitting into the throw)
- Kake (throw completion)
Students are drilled by constantly turning in and taking the throw.
- katame-waza (grappling)
The katame-waza breaks down into these three groups:
- Osaekomi-waza (holding and pinning)
- Shime-waza (strangulation)
- Kansetsu-waza (joint locks)
A Judo Free for All
Judo puts an emphasis on randori, which means “taking chaos.” During randori, or free practice, a broad array of forms are used, and the intensity depends upon intent and the expertise of the practitioners. On one end of the spectrum you have a prearranged practice style called Yakusoku geiko. In this style neither opponent offers any resistance while being thrown.
Uniform and Ranking
Like many other martial arts, judo practitioners wear a white keikogi-a heavy white coat. In more modern times a blue keikogi is used during competitions to distinguish between the two fighters.
Judo uses the kyu and dan grading system. Interestingly, this system was first developed by Jigoro Kano based on a board game called “Go.” Early students must make it through kyu grades before reaching dan grades. A beginner wears a white belt, progressing through an assortment of colors until they reach black.