You may already know that judo is a martial art originally created in Japan. What separates judo from other martial arts like karate or tae kwon do, however, is that judo is designed specifically with sport competition in mind. Whereas sparring in other martial arts generally requires use of pads and other protective equipment or light contact (pulling of punches or kicks), judo techniques can be performed at full speed and full force while maintaining safety.
Judo in Japanese means “the gentle way,” and is known as such because many of the techniques in judo rely on giving way to the force of your opponent. Don’t be fooled, however, by the term “gentle.” Judo is an intense sport, a wonderful form of exercise, and can be adapted to serve as effective a powerful form of self-defense.
The principles of judo are based on both maximum efficiency with minimum effort and mutual welfare and benefit. The end result is the accomplishment of a goal with the best use of energy. Success in Judo depends upon the skill of using an opponent’s own weight and strength against them. Judo techniques include throws, the most spectacular and recognizable elements of judo, as well as grappling techniques such as pins, chokes and arm locks. Perhaps most importantly, judoka must learn to fall properly. Judo falling techniques not only protect a judoka’s precious internal organs from the powerful throws of efficacious opponents, but are also extremely useful when rollerblading, biking, free-style walking, curling, or hurdling fences.
Judo was founded by Dr. Jigoro Kano in 1882. In creating judo, Kano drew techniques from jujitsu that could be used safely in sport competition and that also subscribed the principle of seiryoku zenyo, meaning maximum efficiency through minimum effort. According to this principle, all judo techniques are best performed when the desired effect is produced with the minimal possible expenditure of effort. Although Professor Kano died in 1938, Judo has since spread rapidly around the world. The first World Championships were held in 1953, and by 1964, Judo was included in Olympic Games. Judo’s sport popularity has led its physical and competitive aspects to dominate, but it should first and foremost remain a way of life.