More About Judo

Shihan Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo
Shihan Jigoro Kano

Judo is both a Martial Art and an olympic contact sport. Judo is the Japanese for “the gentle way”.

It was founded by Jigoro Kano in 1882, who developed it from the Samurai’s martial art called Jujutsu, eliminating some highly dangerous techniques and perfecting and creating others.

Judo is a highly effective martial art from which disciplines like Brasilian Jiu Jistsu (BJJ) have been created. Judo techniques, if applied properly, allow a person to multiply its strength to throw his opponent, choke him or apply armlocks, even if he’s stronger and bigger.

On the other hand, the person who practices Judo learns how to safely land when being thrown. That’s why practicing breakfalls and even somersaults it’s part or the regular Judo practice. A Judoka can apply a technique to another trained Judoka with full strength without fear of injure him. That’s why Judo fights are so intense and the practice is so real.

The Judo Philosophy

Kano defined two core principles that rule Judo:

Seiryoku zenyo (maximum efficiency in using your energy) Kano was a rather small man and he developed Judo so a person can effectively apply the techniques on a much stronger opponent.

Jita kyoei (mutual prosperity through mutual selfless assistance) Kano created this principle as an extension of the first one for groups (and even the society). It is naturally manifested in Judo classes and ultimately Judokas learn to apply it outside of the Dojo.

Kano also defined the Judo Moral code which is followed by Judokas all around the world.:

Judoka helping injured opponent after winning a fight at an international tournament
Judoka helping injured opponent after winning a fight at an international tournament
  • Courage (Yuki in Japanese, which gives the name to our Dojo)
  • Courtesy
  • Honesty
  • Honour
  • Modesty
  • Respect
  • Self Control
  • Friendship

All those values are learned, practised and lived inside a Judo class and can also be seen in Judo tournaments and competitions, even at elite international level.

Judo techniques and training

Broadly speaking Judo techniques are divided in:

Kid throwing another kid
  • Ukemis: it’s the art of learning to land when thrown and is practiced on every class by everybody
  • Nage Waza: this group of techniques are performed while standing and include foot sweeps and projections
  • Ne Waza: this group of techniques are performed on the ground and include holdings, arm locks and chokes (these last two are only taught to adults) and how to escape from them.

There are many ways of training Judo and they can be grouped in:

  • Games (mainly for kids training) most of the concepts above are taught by engaging in games, making the training fun and enjoyable while effectively developing kids’ motor, mental and basic Judo skills
  • Breakfalls is the way of practicing ukemis by landing in different ways and intensities
  • Uchi Komi is the repetition of a technique on an opponent without resistance which help Judokas incorporate the movement and ultimately becoming a sort of reflect to be used instantly when needed.
  • Randori is the Judo fight practiced in class, where usually participants try to apply the techniques they’ve learned in a controlled, but still intense fight. Can be standing, on the ground or start from standing and continue to the ground.
  • Shiai are the fights in competitions, where we apply all techniques as precise as possible and at full strength in order to defeat an adversary.
  • Kata is a set of predefined movements and techniques executed to perfection by one or two Judokas. Basic katas include the Judo foundational movements. More advanced katas preserve all the traditional techniques that Jigoro Kano removed from daily practice, including some dangerous locks and defense against knives, swords and guns.