The following article is reprinted from the USA Judo Media Guideand serves as a good introduction to the sport.
What is Judo?
Judo is a system of self defense, a physical and mental discipline, and an Olympic Sport. Judo was founded in 1882, in Japan, by Professor Jigoro Kano, who envisioned it as a way of becoming physically and mentally fit through disciplined training. It is designed so that it can be practiced by all ages, both male and female. Judo is safe and does not involve any kicking or striking techniques. It is an excellent activity to increase physical fitness, self-esteem and self-defense.
The popularity of Judo increased dramatically after a famous contest hosted by the Tokyo police in 1886 where the Judo team defeated the most well-known jujutsu school of the time. It then became a part of the Japanese physical education system and began its spread around the world. In 1964 men’s Judo competition became a part of the Olympics, the only eastern martial art that is an official medal sport. In 1992 Judo competition for women was added to the Olympics.
The Way of Judo
Judo is sometimes called “The Gentle Way.” This means that sometimes victory can be obtained by giving way, rather than by pitting force against force. An example is sometimes given that a small flexible tree will bend and survive in a hurricane, whereas a much stronger, stiffer tree will snap in two. Similarly, in Judo, a person who can’t possibly be as strong as his opponent because of a difference in size can still come out ahead by using quickness, cunning, and superior technique to get the opponent off balance and then immediately taking the advantage and applying a throwing technique. Of course, the smaller player must train diligently in order to be as quick, fast, strong and smart as possible for his or her size. In Judo, we learn that nobody can be perfect at everything, but through training, you can discover your weaknesses and overcome them, and also realize your limitations and devise ways of being successful, in spite of these. These kind of lessons can be applied in all aspects of life including school, work, and in personal relationships.
A Brief History of Judo Competition
In 1956, the first World Championships for men were held. Currently, World Championships for Men and Women are held in odd-numbered years; Junior World Championships for men and women under 20 years of age are held in even-numbered years. In 1964, Men’s Judo was included in the Olympic Games. In 1988 Women’s Judo was a demonstration event and in 1992 became a full medal event in the Olympics. Every year, USA Judo holds National Championships for Adults (Minimum of 15 years old), Youth (under 20 years old), and Masters (30 years old and above.)