What is Judo?

Judo is a sport which calls for perfect physical fitness, stamina and sharp reflexes. It even sharpens mental activity and leads to alertness. It is one of the most scientific games which can be practiced by men and women, young as well as old. The basic principle is maximum efficiency with minimum effort. Judo is an art which can effectively be used for self-defence. Practice of Judo gives confidence to be self-reliant.

Judo is derived from the ancient art of Ju-Jitsu, a method of self-defence. Ju-Jitsu was practiced by Dr. Jigoro Kano, who welded the outstanding principles of it into a system he called Judo, literally “Gentle way”, but something Dr. Kano preferred to interpret as “Maximum Efficiency”. Dr. Kano brought three features into it:-

  • Competitive element which encouraged it to become a full-fledged sport.
  • Philosophy that Judo was a preparation for life and solely a sport.
  • As a technical aspect, the principal of “Kuzushi”-getting the opponent off balance in order to throw him.

To understand the nature of Judo, it is the shortest and the simplest way to known the meaning of the Judo. In Japanese “Ju” means “Gentle” and “Do” means “Why”. Thus Judo means Gentle Way. The way which leads to a well-balanced life, using a method of physical and mental education based on the discipline of bare handed combat. The principle of Gentleness is explained in brief as follows: one gains victory over an opponent by giving way, that is, without resisting the strength of the opponent, adapting himself to it, and taking advantage of it, turns it in the end to his own advantage.

Here is an example. When a stronger man pushes you with all his might, you shall be beaten if you go simply against him. If instead of opposing his pushing you retreat more than he pushes or turn aside from the direction of his pushing, he naturally leans forward by his own pushing, and loses his balance. If utilizing his pushing strength, you apply a certain technique on him, it is quite easy to make him fall as he is losing his balance. Sometimes, he will fall simply, if you turn skilfully your body. This is one simple instance of how by giving way one may overcome his opponent. The principle of gentleness lies here. Nevertheless, by this alone the whole principle of Judo cannot be explained. From all the phases of judo, we can find a general principle that is in brief, to employ body and mind most efficiently.

History of Judo

In every country of the world, we can find some primitive method of fighting from the ancient times. That is a common matter of instinct; only its forms differ. It was the same in Japan. In ancient times, we had a simple method of fighting- which was named Empty-Handed-Trick. Influenced by the particular surroundings, it developed into a special from of Jujutsu, as was boxing in Europe.

In 1882, the late prof. Kano founded the Kodokan Judo. He learned Jujutsu when he was 18 years old and made a thorough study of the subject, including grappling tricks and all the joint tricks of the Tenshin Shinryo School.

Thus, his meritorious aggregation of these Jujutsu school accomplished, he began to teach his new ways of attack and defence to the people under the new name of Judo instead of old Jujutsu. The word Judo means at present the Judo of the Kodokan Judo Institute which was founded by Prof. Kano.

Thus the Jujutsu of old times was reborn technically and spiritually by the hands of Prof. Kano. This Judo is now recognized as the best way to use one’s mental as well as physical energy.

At present more than one-hundred countries are affiliated members of the International Judo Federation. The World Judo Championship were first held in Tokyo in 1956 and 1958. Judo was introduced as a demonstration game in 1964 in Tokyo (Japan) Olympic games and accepted as a full-fledged sport in 1972 at the Munich (West Germany) Olympics. Judo has now become a regular Olympic Sport.