What is Judo?
Judo is the second most popular sport in the world, just behind soccer. And yet, many people in the United States don’t know about judo. Judo is many different things, and different people do it different ways.
Judo was developed in 1882 as a new version of Samurai jiu-jitsu. Both jiu-jitsu and judo are useful for self-defense, but judo is unique in that you can practice it full-strength while keeping both participants safe. Judo is different from karate in that judo has no punching or kicking – just grappling. Judo’s main feature is efficiency, which means that you don’t need to be particularly big or strong in order to be effective. With judo, you use your opponent’s strength.
Judo is an Olympic sport, first introduced the 1964 Tokyo games. The sport aspect of judo is the most commonly known type of judo. Most judo clubs in the US and in Europe focus on training for tournament competition. Their techniques and mindsets are also focused on winning matches rather than on the other aspects of judo.
Kata is a formal, pre-arranged sequence of techniques that is performed as a demonstration. It is a precise and meticulous art, and it demonstrates the core principles of each technique, and also the principles of judo as a whole. The concepts of efficiency and of mutual benefit are showcased through the use of balance, flexibility, and coordination.
The ultimate purpose of judo, according to its founder, Jigoro Kano, is to perfect the individual, so that each person will have something of value to contribute to society. Bringing out the best of each person makes for strong individuals, who can then come together to make a strong group. Likewise, a strong group will help individuals become their best selves. As you learn to use efficiency instead of brute force, you begin to see how it is not just better for the person doing the technique, but for the other person as well, and also for the sport in general. As you reach the higher levels of judo training, philosophy becomes a larger part of the experience.
Judo is a wonderful method of fitness training. It builds core strength, cardio strength, balance, flexibility, and coordination. If you are already in great shape, judo will provide a vigorous work-out. However, if you are starting from a more modest point, maybe need to lose some weight, judo is a great way to get into shape.
Most of all, judo is fun! It is playful and creative, involves strategy and technical skill, makes your body feel great, and is a friendly social activity.