Japanese Name
Japanese 柔道
Kana spelling じゅうどう
Modified Hepburn Jūdō
Kunrei-shiki Jd
Nihon-shiki Jūdō

Judo practitioner Kosei Inoue throws his opponent.

Judo (Template:Ll: 柔道 Jūdō) is a martial art, a sport and a philosophy which originated in Japan. Judo was developed from Jujutsu, and was founded by Jigoro Kano (嘉納治五郎) in 1882. The sport became the model of the modern Japanese martial arts, gendai budo, developed from old koryu schools.


History and philosophy

The early history of Judo and that of its founder, Japanese polymath and educator Kano Jigoro (surname first in Japanese) (1860-1938), are inseparable. Kano was born into a well-to-do Japanese family. His grandfather was a self-made man, a sake brewer from Shiga prefecture in central Japan; however, Kano's father was not the eldest son and did not inherit the business, but instead became a Shinto priest and government official, with enough influence for his son to enter the second incoming class of Tokyo Imperial University.

Kano was a small, frail boy, who, even in his twenties, did not weigh more than a hundred pounds, and was often picked on by bullies. He first started pursuing jujitsu (柔術), at that time a flourishing art, at the age of 17, but met with little success---in part due to difficulties finding a teacher who would take him on as a serious student. When he went off to the University to study literature at the age of 18, he continued his martial efforts, eventually gaining a referral to Hachinosuke Fukuda, a master of the Tenjin Shinyo Ryu (天神真楊流) and ancestor of noted Japanese/American judoka Keiko Fukuda, who is one of Kano's oldest surviving students. Fukuda is said to have emphasized technique over formal exercise, sowing the seeds of Kano's emphasis of randori (乱取り), or free practice, in Judo.

Little more than a year after Kano joined Fukuda's school, Fukuda took ill and died. Kano then became a student in another Tenjin Shinyo school, that of Masatomo Iso, who put more emphasis on formal kata than did Fukuda. Through dedication, Kano quickly earned the title "shihan", or master, and became assistant instructor to Iso at the age of 21. Iso, too, took ill, and Kano, feeling that he still had much to learn, took up another style, becoming a student of Tsunetoshi Iikubo of Kito Ryu. Like Fukuda, Iikubo placed much emphasis on free practice; on the other hand, Kito Ryu emphasized ground techniques (matwork) to a much greater degree than Tenjin Shinyo Ryu.

By this time, Kano was devising new techniques, such as the kata guruma (fireman's carry) and uki goshi (floating hip toss). His thoughts were already on doing more than expanding the canons of Kito and Tenjin Shinyo Ryu; full of new ideas, in part as a result of his education, Kano had in mind a major reformation of jujutsu, with techniques based on sound scientific principles, and with focus on development of the body, mind, and character of young men in addition to development of martial prowess. At the age of 22, just about to finish his degree at the University, Kano took 9 students from Iikubo's school to study jujitsu under him at the Eishoji Temple. Although two years would pass before it would be called by that name, and Kano had not yet been accorded the title of "master" in the Kito ryu (起倒流) -- Iikubo would come to the temple to help teach three days per week, this was the founding of the Kodokan (講道館) or "place for learning the way."

The word Judo is composed of two kanji: "jūū" (柔), which means gentleness or giving way, and "dō" (道), meaning way of life (the same character as the Chinese "tao"). Thus Judo literally means "the gentle way" or "the way of giving way". Judo takes from jujutsu ("gentle art") the principle of using one's opponent's strength against him, for example if the attacker was to push against his opponent he would find his opponent stepping to the side and allowing (usually with the aid of a foot to trip him up) his momentum to throw him forwards (the inverse being true for pulling). Kano saw jujutsu as a disconnected bag of tricks, and sought to unify it according to some principle: he found it in the notion of "maximum efficiency". Jujitsu techniques which relied solely on superior strength were discarded or adapted in favour of those which involved redirecting the opponent's force, off-balancing the opponent, or making use of superior leverage.


Judoka (Judo practitioners) wear white cotton uniforms called Judogi (which means Judo uniform in Japanese) for practicing Judo. The judogi consists of cotton drawstring slacks and a quilted cotton jacket fastened by a belt indicative of kyu or dan rank. The jacket is intended to withstand the stresses of throwing and grappling, and is as a result much thicker than that of a karategi. Before competition, a blue judogi is assigned to one judoka per match for ease of distinction by judges and referee.


The focus in judo is on throwing techniques (nage-waza, 投げ技), with groundwork (ne-waza, 固技) also a major component. Nage-waza is divided in two groups of techniques, standing techniques (tachi-waza, 立技) and sacrifice techniques (sutemi-waza, 捨身技). Standing techniques are divided in hand techniques (te-waza, 手技), hip techniques (koshi-waza, 腰技) and foot/leg techniques (ashi-waza, 足技). Sacrifice techniques are divided into those in which the thrower falls directly backwards (ma-sutemi-waza, 真捨身技) and those in which he falls onto his side (yoko-sutemi-waza, 橫捨身技).

The groundwork techniques are divided into: attacks against the joints (kansetsu-waza, 関節技) known in English-speaking countries as "leg-" and "arm-locks", stranglehold (shime-waza, 絞技), and holding techniques (osaekomi-waza, 押込技).

A kind of sparring is practiced in judo, known as randori (乱取り), 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), but are forbidden in contest (and usually prohibited in randori), for reasons of safety. Also for reasons of safety, chokeholds, jointlocking - and the sacrifice (sutemi) techniques, which can be very spectacular, are often subject to age and/or rank restrictions; in the United States, one must be 13 or older to use chokeholds and 17 to use arm bars.

In randori and shiai (tournament) practice, when an opponent successfully executes a chokehold or joint lock, one "taps out" by tapping the mat or one's opponent at least twice in a manner that clearly indicates the submission. When this occurs, the match is over, and the tapping player has lost, but the chokehold or joint lock ceases. Because this allows a merciful exit to the match, injuries related to these holds are quite rare.


Judoka are ranked according to skill and knowledge of judo, that grade being reflected in the colour of his belt: There are two divisions of grades, the student grades (kyu, 級), and the master grades (dan, 段). In the west, the kyu colours run from white through yellow, orange, green, blue, and brown. Some European countries additionally use a red belt to signify a complete beginner. In Japan, all adult kyu grades wear either white or brown belts. All dan grades may wear the black belt; sixth- through eighth- dans may alternately wear a red-and-white belt, while those ranked ninth- dan and above may wear a solid red belt. Protocol provides for a double-width white belt to be worn by someone who achieves the twelfth-"dan" but so far no one has been promoted beyond the tenth-"dan." A women's belt still has a white stripe at its centre in some countries, while in most of them this habit has been recently discontinued. Jigoro Kano was the inventor of the kyu - dan grading system, that soon got adapted by other martial arts such as karate.

In competition one judoka wears a blue suit while the other wears white. In some competitions the older system whereby one competitor wears a white sash and the other a blue sash remains in place. In both cases this does not indicate their rank, but is to enable the judges and spectators to tell the opponents apart during a fight. Points are also awarded to white or blue. Assistant judges on the corners of the mat also have a white and blue flag to indicate to which competitor a point should go when it is unclear whom it should be awarded to.

In most Western countries, grades up to the brown belt are awarded by the dojo where the student trains, while the first dan (black belt) is awarded after doing an exam supervised by independent judges of the national judo association. Second to fifth dan can be achieved by taking similar exams.


Jigoro Kano's Kodokan Judo (講道館) is the most widespread style of judo. A sub-style of Kodokan Judo that developed in Japanese inter-scholastic competition is known as Kosen judo (高專柔道), with the same range of techniques but greater latitude permitted for Ne-waza (ground techniques).

Teaching in France, Mikonosuke Kawaishi developed an alternative approach to instruction that included many techniques banned in modern competition. In Austria, Julius Fleck and others developed a system of throwing intended to extend Judo that they called Judo-do.


Although a fully featured martial art, judo has also developed as a sport. Judo became an Olympic sport for men in 1964 and, with the persistence of a woman by the name of Rusty Kanokogi, a sport for women as well in 1992. In the west, the sport aspect of judo probably is the most commonly taught. Men and women compete separately (although they often train together), and there are several weight divisions including an open-weight category, which anyone may enter.

Collegiate competition in the United States, especially between UC Berkeley and San Jose State, refined judo into the sport seen at the Olympic Games and World Championships. In the 1940s Henry Stone and Yosh Uchida, the head coaches at Cal and SJSC, developed a weight class system for use in the frequent competitions between the schools. In 1953, Stone and Uchida sucessfully petitioned the Amateur Athletic Union to accecpt judo as a sport, with their weight class system as an official component. In 1961, Uchida represented the United States at the International Judo Federation meetings in Paris, where the IJF adopted using weight classes for all future championships.

The object in a judo-match is to throw your opponent to the ground. This will score an ippon (一本), a full point that wins the match. Anything else, such as landing your opponent on the hip or shoulder, will be waza-ari (技有), yuko (有効) or koka (効果) (waza-ari being the highest of the 3, koka the lowest) or even no score. Technically speaking, a waza-ari is a half-point, two of which will earn the match. Yukos and kokas are not fractional points in that they do not accumulate to equal a waza-ari or ippon-- in fact a waza-ari beats any number of yukos and a yuko beats any number of kokas. Rather, they are used as tiebreakers if the match ends before an ippon is scored. At match end, if one player has scored a waza-ari and the other has not, the player with the waza-ari wins, but if they are equal in that regard (both with zero or one) yukos are used to break the tie. If they are also equal in yukos, kokas break the tie. Finally, if both players have identical scores, the match is resolved by the decision (majority vote) of the referee and two corner judges.

After the throw occurs and is scored, combat may continue on the ground. Pinning an opponent, with both shoulders on the mat, for 25 seconds (20 if you previously scored a waza-ari, since two half-points will complete your whole) results in an ippon. An automatic ippon is also granted when one's opponent submits (which frequently occurs when choke holds / arm locks are used), another (rarely used) rule allows any player who lifts his/her opponent overhead to gain an automatic ippon. If there is no ippon or submission, the one with the most points wins. Ground fights are of relatively short duration in most high-level competition. The referee normally stops it when no clear progress is being made. Penalties may be given by the judges for being inactive during the match or using illegal techniques and fighting must be stopped if both of the participants are outside the designated area on the mat (tatami).

Sport and beyond

Despite the literal meaning of judo being "the gentle way", competition judo is one the roughest and most demanding of sports. A World Championship or Olympic match lasts only 5 minutes, but will leave participants exhausted.

Without the kicking and punching so common to other martial arts, judo is often portrayed as friendlier than, for instance, karate. Proponents believe this contributes to judo being underrated as a method of self-defense. For instance, while throws executed with proper break falls on soft mats can seem light and graceful, their more practical application on a hard surface (and potentially with greater intent to harm) could be very dangerous. Even in the controlled environments of a match or dojo training session, injuries can easily occur due to a lapse in focus or overzealous application of a technique.

Related topics

External links

bs:Judo ca:Judo da:Judo de:Jūdō et:Judo es:Judo eo:Ĵudo fr:Judo hr:Judo id:Yudo it:Judo he:ג'ודו la:Ziudo nl:Judo ja:柔道 no:Judo pl:Judo pt:Judo ro:Judo ru:Дзюдо sl:Judo sr:Џудо fi:Judo sv:Judo tr:Judo zh:柔道


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