About judo

The gentle way



About Judo

The word judo is made up of two Japanese words.  

Do means way, as in way of life or method.

Ju means gentleflexible, or giving way

You can think of judo as the flexible way of life


What is judo?

Judo is:

  • Fitness
  • Self-defense
  • Art
  • Philosophy
  • An Olympic sport

Judo is sort of like:

  • Yoga, but more energetic
  • Tumbling, but with a partner
  • Exercise, but more fun

Judo is great for almost all body types and practically every level of fitness.  You will get better at it as you go along.  As with any sport, your should check with your doctor before beginning.   Read how we do judo at Sakura Judo Club.


Judo’s benefits

Jigoro Kano taught that the ultimate purpose of judo is to work toward self-perfection, and, by doing that, to create something of value to offer to society.  


Practicing judo can help build:

  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Cardio endurance
  • Confidence
  • Friendships
  • Community 

Judo’s philosophy

The founder of judo, Jigoro Kano traveled the world teaching judo and promoting world peace. He taught that the ultimate purpose of judo was to make yourself a better person. By being a better person, you have something of value to offer to society. 

There are two main principles in judo philosophy:

Best use of effort ~ If you focus on your goal and don’t waste effort on things you don’t want, it doesn’t take so much strength to reach your goal

Mutual welfare and benefit ~ What is good for one person is good for the group. We all do better when we help each other.

Judo teaches us to apply these principles on the mat and in daily life. They are true for both the mental and physical aspects of judo.

Judo uniforms and belts

All of the uniforms and belts used in karate, aikido, tae kwon do, jiu jitsu, and other martial arts owe their existence to the judo uniform designed in the late 19th century by Dr. Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo.  

Uniforms (Judo-gi)

Dr. Kano's judo gi

Dr. Kano’s judo-gi hangs in the library of Kodokan, the judo school he founded in Japan.

The traditional kimono and wide belt worn by Japanese men in the 1800s weren’t well-suited for judo.  Kano wanted a uniform that would enable his students easily grab and throw each other. The uniform had to be thick enough so that the fabric wouldn’t rip, it had to be tight enough to give freedom of movement but it had to be loose enough so that students could grab each other by their sleeves instead of their arms.  So he set out to adapt the kimono to his purposes.  

He experimented with a longer robe, and with short sleeves, and he tried shorter pants.  The long sleeves that he ended up with give players a way to grip each other without holding their actual arms.  The long pants protect legs from mat burns.  

Anyone familiar with karate uniforms will notice how heavy-duty judo-gi fabric is.  It is equipment as much as clothing.  The jacket needs to be sturdy enough to hoist your body into the air.  The collar needs to be super-thick, so that it is comfortable when your partner pulls on it.  The pants have a special drawstring so that they won’t come down during mat work.

Traditional judo-gi are white.  Recently, blue judo-gi were introduced to distinguish one player from another in tournament play.  Blue judo-gi are less traditional.


When Dr. Kano first designed the judo-gi, he used only white and black belts.  White belts were worn by beginners, and black belts were awarded to experts.  He soon found that students need some encouragement along their journey from beginner to expert, so he created belts of different colors to mark their progress.  

Today, judo students start out with a white belt and progress through yellow, orange, blue, green, purple, and brown. A black belt indicates a certain level of mastery, and is a big step.

Learn about earning belts at Sakura Judo Club.

Judo’s history

Judo is the second most widely practiced sport in the world (soccer is first). It is a part of the Olympic Games, for both men and women.  The Kodokan continues to make judo affordable to visitors from around the world.

  • 1100’s to 1800’s — Samurai Warriors used methods similar to today’s jiu-jitsu
  • 1800’s — When Samurai were no longer hired as professional soldiers, they used jiu-jitsu techniques to fight in tournaments – often to the death.
  • 1868 — Meiji Restoration  The Meiji Emperor replaced Shoguns and Samurai as leader of Japan.  Japan began a period of rapid modernization, industrialization, and Westernization
  • 1882 —  Jigoro Kano created judo. He used the best parts of many types of jiu-jitsu, left out the dangerous parts, emphasized efficiency.
    • The Kodokan was the main training dojo. It offered free lessons, including the use of a judo-gi
    • Kano travelled often to Europe and North America, teaching judo and working for world peace.
  • 1964 — Judo added as an Olympic sport.

The ultimate purpose of judo is to work towards self-perfection, and, by doing that, create something of value to offer to society.

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