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Judo's History

What is Judo?

Prof. Jigoro Kano, Sensei' Founder of Kodokan Judo

Judo was founded by Prof. Jigoro Kano in 1882. The school he founded was called the Kodokan. The word Kodokan, translates to "Place of Learning the Way".

Kodokan Crest Kodokan Judo comes to us from the fighting system of Feudal Japan. Judo is a refinement of the ancient martial art of Ju-jitsu. Dr. Kano, President of the University of Education, Tokyo, studied these ancient forms in his younger years. He took note that many people got hurt during the practice of Ju-jitsu so he took what he learned from the Ju-jitsu schools and integrated what he considered to be the best (and some what safer) of their techniques into what is now the modern art of Judo.

Kano Teach

The word JUDO is really made up of two Japanese words JU - Gentle, and DO - Way. Judo literally means "Gentle Way". Judo takes from Ju-jitsu ("Gentle Art") the principle of using one's opponent's strength against him. Kano saw ju-jitsu as a disconnected bag of tricks, and sought to unify it according to some principle. He found it in the notion of "Maximum Efficiency". With that, he renamed his art "Judo", to indicate his view of it as a means of physical and spiritual development, as well as self-defense.

Kano's 1st Principal of Judo
Seiryoku Zen’yo - Maximum Efficiency, Minimum Effort
Kano's 2nd Principal of Judo
Jita-Kyoei - Mutual Welfare and Benefit
Kano's Goal of Judo
Jika no Kansei - Strive for Perfection (as a whole person)

Judo was introduced into the Olympic Games in 1964 and is practiced by millions of people throughout the world today. People practice Judo to excel in competition, to stay in shape, to develop self-confidence, and for many other reasons.

Judo is an art for all…

KidsThe word Judo is translated as the "Gentle Way", but don't let this fool you. Along with other arts, judo is one of the most taught martial arts to Military, Special Forces and Police around the world. Judo is also taught in many Japanese schools as a form of Phys-Ed.

Judo teaches the principle of flexibility in the application of technique. This is the flexible or efficient use of balance, leverage, and movement in the performance of judo throws and other skills. Skill, technique and timing, rather than the use of brute strength, are the essential ingredients for success in judo. For example, in judo classes you may learn how to give way, rather than use force, to overcome a stronger opponent.

The principles of judo, such as "Maximum Efficiency with Minimal Effort" and "Mutual Welfare and Benefit", can also be used in our dealings with others in life. The ultimate goal in judo is to develop oneself to the maximum extent possible, always striving for perfection, so that you can contribute something of value to the world.

I did say judo is for every one, even Presidents!
  • US President Theodore Roosevelt became a Brown Belt in judo during his administration and built a small dojo in the White House. A very noteworthy achievement at the time.
  • Ulysses S. Grant was the first American President to observe a Ju-jitsu demonstration with Jigoro Kano in 1879.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, is a 6th Degree Black Belt in judo. Some of his favorite judo techniques are Tsuri-Komi-Goshi (Lifting Pulling Hip Throw), Harai-Goshi (Sweeping Hip) and Tai-Otoshi (Body Drop). Though he is not the first world leader to practice judo, Putin is the first leader to move forward in the most advanced levels.

Judo's Techniques

Judo Throw

The focus in judo is on throwing techniques (Nage-Waza), with groundwork (Katame-Waza) also a major component. A kind of sparring is practiced in judo, known as "Randori", meaning "Free Practice". In randori, players (known as Judoka) may attack each other with any judo throw or grappling technique. Striking techniques (called Atemi-Waza) such as kicking and punching, along with knife and sword techniques are retained in the katas taught to higher ranking judoka (for instance, in the (Kime-no-Kata: Ancient Forms of Self-Defense), but are forbidden in randori, and tournaments for reasons of safety.

Judo Ranking and Grading

Students are ranked according to skill and knowledge of judo, that grade being reflected in the color of his belt. There are two divisions of grades, the student grades (Kyu), and the master grades (Dan). In the west, the kyu colors run from white (a rank beginner) then through yellow, orange, green, blue, purple for juniors under 17. The colors change slightly for seniors of 18 years old or older, in that blue and purple are replaced by brown. In Japan, all kyu grades wear white for ranks 6 to 4 and brown for 3 to 1st kyu. That's right folks, student ranks go backwards from 6th kyu to 1st kyu; black bells of course go forward from 1 to 10. (Alternatively, some clubs also promote in 1/2 ranks, know as Mon Stripes, in between solid color belt.)

Judo Kata, Note the Red and White Belt, mark of a 6th or higher Dan Rank

All dan grades may wear the Black Belt; sixth, seventh and eighth dans may alternately wear a red-and-white belt (see photo), while ninth dans may wear a solid red belt, 10th dans may wear a wider then normal white or black belt. Wearing a white belt as a beginner and again as a tenth dan you have completed the 'circle'. Jigaro Kano was the inventor of the kyu - dan grading system, that soon got adapted by other martial arts such as karate.

If you still want more information about judo we recommend you check out the fallowing book: "Kodokan Judo: By, Jigoro Kano" ISBN#: 4770017995 … We also recommend you check out the Judo Information Site , one of the largest judo web sites on the internet, as well as the Kodokan Judo Institute's own web site.

Hey and stop by Pottstown Judo and see us, while your at it!

Judo Historical Dates

  • 1882: The Kodokan opens (founded by Dr. Kano) ... The Master School of Judo
  • 1886: The Kodokan and the Totsuka, the biggest Ju-jitsu school, take part in a competition. Each school fields a 15-man team; The Kodokan wins 13 contests, the other two are drawn.
  • 1889: Kano visits Europe taking the leading Judo exponent Yukio Tani, who gives the first display in Britain.
  • 1893: The first woman to attend the Kodokan was, Miss Sueko Ashiya
  • 1900's: Yamashita, another Kano pupil, starts giving instruction in the United States. He even teaches the art to President Roosevelt.
  • 1918: Europe's first Judo club formed by Gunji
  • 1930's: Koizumi in Westminster, London, many European experts travel to Japan to learn judo techniques
  • 1938: Trevor Leggett, the first Briton makes the trip to Japan to learn judo.
  • 1938: Dr. Kano died aboard the SS Hikawa Maru after attending an IOC conference, promoting Judo as an Olympic sport. The Japanese Government awarded him the rank of 12th Dan after his death as founder of his art. A rank he refused in life. Kano was the only holder of the 11th and 12th dan ranks.
  • 1948: The European Judo Union (EJU) founded
  • 1951: The International Judo Federation (IJF) founded
  • 1951: European Championship first major international event, held at Royal Albert Hall
  • 1953: Shufu Judo Yudanshakai, "Shufu" (Capitol Area Black Belt Federation) founded, Concentrated largely in the mid-Atlantic region, Shufu has member clubs as far away as Texas and up in New York.
  • 1964: Tokyo hosts the Olympics; The IOC include the sport in the program for the first time.
  • 1969: Armed Forces Judo Association (AFJA) officially withdrew from the USJF, changing its name to United States Judo Association (USJA).
  • 1980: Women's World Judo Championship introduced
  • 1988: Judo was added as a Paralympic event for the blind.
  • 1988: Women's Judo included as a demonstration sport at Seoul Olympics.
  • 1992: Women compete for the first time in Judo at the Barcelona Olympics.
  • 2001: The United States Judo Federation (USJF) awards Mrs. Keiko Fukuda her 9th Dan at the age of 88, making her the highest ranked and oldest woman in judo alive today. (Born, April 12, 1913) She teaches at the Soko Joshi Judo Club in the Noe Valley District of San Francisco, CA.

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