What is Judo?

“It is not important to be better than someone else,

but to be better than yesterday.”    Jigoro Kano

Judo is many things to different people.

It is a sport, an art, a discipline, a fitness programme, a means of self-defense or combat, a philosophy, and a way of life. But most of all, people do Judo for the fun of it. Judo emphasizes safety, is learned on special mats or tatami, and is practiced by millions of people throughout the world today. Judo helps to develop self-discipline and respect for oneself and others; and can promote self-confidence, concentration, and leadership skills, as well as physical coordination, power, and flexibility.

Kodokan Judo comes to us from the fighting systems of feudal Japan. Dr. Jigoro Kano (right), President of the University of Education, Tokyo studied these ancient forms and in 1882 distilled what he considered to be the best of their non-lethal techniques into what is now the modern sport of Judo.

Judo offers the opportunity for competition at all skill levels, from club to national tournaments and was introduced into the Olympic Games in 1964. It is perhaps best known for its spectacular throwing techniques, but also involves grappling on the ground using specialized pins, holds, locks, and choking techniques.

Judo is unique in that all age groups, both sexes, and most people with disabilities can participate together in learning and practicing the sport. It is an inexpensive, year-round activity, that appeals to people from all walks of life. Many people over sixty years of age enjoy the sport, as well as very young boys and girls.

Judo, which translates as the “gentle -” or “flexible – way”, teaches the principle of flexibility in  balance, leverage, and movement. For example, in Judo classes you may learn how to give way, rather than use force, to overcome a stronger opponent. Skill, technique, and timing, rather than strength, are essential for success in Judo. It develops a complete sharp-reacting mind and body coordination. Above all, Judo training gives a person an effective self-defense system if the need arises.

Kano wrote: “Judo in reality is not a mere sport or game. I regard it as a principle of life, art, and science. In fact, it is a means for personal cultural attainment.”

The ultimate goal in Judo is to develop oneself, so that one can contribute something of value to the world.