Judo has something for everybody. For kids, it is a natural form of activity, being a disciplined form of playground rough and tumble. For adults, it is a physically demanding sport perfect as a combat form, fitness training, and character-building.
Founded in 1882 in Tokyo, Japan by Jigoro Kano, Judo is often translated as the “Gentle Art.” There is nothing gentle about the sport, implying that force is never resisted but given way to and used upon itself.
Technically, Judo consists of three main branches:
- groundwork (strangles, joint-locks, chokes)
- striking techniques (kicking and punching)
In Judo, you have to learn to beat anyone, no matter how big or small. The feel of the throw varies considerably depending on the body size of the opponent. This means you must practice throwing with as many various size of people possible.
The only gear required for Judo is a Gi and and a belt. A Judo-gi is a strong, loosefitting garment that can withstand a lot of pushing and pulling.
When joining a club, you will be first shown how to fall properly, and then gradually introduced to the techniques of randori. Not necessary to be super-fit, the limited amount of relaxed Judo you will do in the beginning will gradually condition you for more intense free-fighting.
Personal hygiene is important in Judo. The gi must be washed and kept white all the time. fingers and toe nails must be kept short to prevent scratches and deep cuts against another person. Feet must be kept clean, and jewelry must be taken off.
Stubbed toes, bruised shins, mat-burns, and raw neck are common complaints among beginners. Carry on training and they will disappear for good.
How to Fall Properly
- Let your back take the fall.
- Tuck your chin in, keeping your head off the mat, preventing it from whiplashing into the mat.
- Beat the mat hard with your free arm the moment your back touches the mat.
A method of practicing the fall is the forward rolling breakfall. This is like the gymnastic forward roll, except that it is done not squarely to the front but diagonally across the back.
How to Grip
Most Judo throws are done by holding the opponent’s jacket. In the standard hold, one hand grips one side of the jacket above the belt and the other hand the other side of the jacket above the belt.
How to Move Around the Mat
The correct Judo stance is upright, with your feet about shoulder width apart from one another. This stance should be maintained as much as possible when moving around the mat. Crouching and spreading the legs reduces mobility. It is better to keep the back straight, head up, and move in a relaxed manner.
In Judo, one best helps oneself by helping others. Care is taken not to injure the other party and similar care is expected in return.
The Essence of Judo
Kyuzo Mifune and his students demonstrate Judo.