What is Judo?
Welcome to the world of Judo! Judo is practiced by more than 100 million people in more than 200 countries worldwide. There are many reasons why Judo is such a popular sport and activity. Here are a few:
- Judo is an activity that is enjoyed by both males and females of all ages
- Judo develops athletic qualities and skills from basic physical literacy to complex movement patterns and tactics
- Judo offers avenues of philosophical exploration for it is rooted in Japanese culture
- Judo is an excellent form of self defense; it also develops conflict management skills
- Judo is a sport which can be pursued towards Olympic glory
- Judo programs offer a safe and challenging environment in which each Judoka can achieve his or her potential
The Japanese word “Judo” literally means the “gentle way”. Balance, timing, strategy and tactics, are essential characteristics of this sport and art. The objective in Judo is to apply these principles to the many throwing and grappling techniques. Judo is both a fun and high-energy activity as well as a relaxing and calming exercise. The various movements and techniques can be learned with games and are perfected through practice with a partner.
In short, Judo has a wide range of appeal as a sport, an art, a discipline, a recreational pastime, a social activity, a fitness program, a means of self-defense, and a way of life.
The Values of Judo
One of the distinguishing aspects of Judo is how its basic values and principles translate into a way of life. What is learned on the mat through hard Judo training transfers at home, at school, at work or at play. These values include:
- Playing by the rules
- Co-operating with others
- Respecting self and others
- Self-discipline and humility
- Self-confidence and commitment
- Perseverance and determination
- Concentrating and controlling emotions
The bow, seeded in Japanese tradition, is a symbol of respect and trust. As a contact and impact activity in which partners need each other to learn and progress, partners are responsible for each other’s safety and well being. Therefore, when we bow on the Judo mat before the exercise, we entrust our partner. After the exercise, we bow in thanks for not violating that trust.
Judo was founded in 1882 in Japan by a young scholar named Jigoro Kano (1860-1938). Kano wanted to develop a system of physical education suitable for the newly emerging Japanese public educational system. He derived Judo from the ancient art of jiu-jitsu. The system he developed is based on two key principles: maximum efficiency, and mutual welfare. It aimed to teach how to subdue without injuring the opponent. According to Kano, “Judo is a teaching for life itself and with it we learn to overcome the pitfalls and obstacles of everyday living”. The school where he taught his first students in Tokyo, called Kodokan, is regarded as the world centre of Judo. Every year it attracts thousands of Judokas of all ages and skill levels. The first dojo (Judo school or club) in Canada was opened in Vancouver in 1924. Judo Canada, the official national governing body for the sport, was incorporated in 1956. Today an estimated 30,000 Canadians participate in Judo programs in approximately 400 clubs across Canada.
For those interested in competitive Judo, there are many opportunities to develop as an athlete from the club right up to the Olympic level. Within Canada, there are various club, regional, provincial and national competitions for all ages. In 1964, Judo was included in the Summer Olympic Games program. Since that time, Canadian Judo athletes have won two silver and two bronze medals at the Olympics and many more medals at the World Championships and other international competitions.
Jiu-Jitsu is designed around ground fighting and is used very effectively as self defense. Judo also teaches a person the art of throwing and fighting on the ground. Judo was later derived from Jiu-Jitsu when the founder of Judo was looking for a safe martial art that could be taught to children as well as adults as a sport.
Judo has since evolved into a martial art that can be safely practiced at any age and physical ability. Judo is also a recognized Olympic sport and is practiced by well over two hundred million people worldwide, you can travel anywhere in the world and train, and Judo is still called the “safe martial art”.