The Sport of JudoMaximum efficiency with minimum effort.

Jigoro Kano

  • Founded: February, 1882 in Tokyo, Japan
  • Founder: Professor Jigoro Kano, 1860 – 1938
  • Photo credit: Kodokan

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Sport of Judo

Judo means the “Gentle Way” in Japanese. “Maximum Efficiency with Minimum Effort,” and “Mutual Welfare and Benefit for All” are important components of the judo philosophy.

Judo was developed in Japan from the Martial Art of Ju-Jitsu about 125 years ago and emphasizes controlling your opponent without injuring them, through throws, pins and—for advanced competitors —the submission techniques of chokes and arm-bars. In creating judo, the dangerous techniques of Ju-Jitsu were avoided, creating a system that is extremely safe yet, still extremely effective.

One of the key principals of judo is using the strength of your opponent against them. This allows a smaller person to control a much larger opponent. To demonstrate this principal, we often have a 75-pound player toss a 180-pound teammate over his shoulder

Judo is both a Martial Art and an International Sport. Unlike many martial arts judo is standardized internationally. The techniques, the rules and the ranks that one uses with us will be the same ones used in Tokyo or in Rio de Janeiro or in Moscow. You can’t just make up judo techniques nor can you open a judo club without being a certified black belt.

The national governing body of American Judo is USA Judo, which is under the auspices of the International Judo Federation, which in turn is recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Judo has been an Olympic Sport since 1964.

Judo for Everyone!

As in all sports, Judo has a strict set of rules that governs competition and ensures safety. For those who want to test their skills, Judo offers the opportunity for competition at all skill levels, from club to national tournaments, to the Olympic Games. There are separate weight divisions for men and women, and boys and girls.

Judo is best known for it’s spectacular throwing techniques but also involves considerable grappling on the ground utilizing specialized pins, control holds, arm locks, and Judo choking techniques. Judo emphasizes safety, and full physical activity for top conditioning. Judo is learned on special mats for comfort and safety.

Judo is unique in that all age groups, both sexes, and most disabled persons can participate together in learning and practicing the sport. Judo is an inexpensive, year-round activity, that appeals to people from all walks of life. Many people over sixty years of age enjoy the sport, as well as very young boys and girls.

Judo develops self-discipline and respect for oneself and others. Judo provides the means for learning self-confidence, concentration, and leadership skills, as well as physical coordination, power, and flexibility. As a sport that has evolved from a fighting art, it develops complete body control, fine balance, and fast reflexive action. Above all, it develops a sharp reacting mind well-coordinated with the same kind of body. Judo training gives a person an effective self-defense system if the need arises. Judo is often a part of the training done by athletes preparing for MMA matches.

The Judo Rank System


Judo created the system of ranks, now used in most other martial arts, that recognize a person’s degree of knowledge, ability, and leadership. There are separate ranks for juniors (under 17) and seniors. Judo ranks are identified by colored belts, and ten degrees of advanced grades for black belts. Regular advancement encourages students to achieve more.

Excerpts written by Neil Ohlenkamp (6th Dan), head instructor at Encino Judo Club and founder of

Redistributed with permission

More information about Kodokan Judo can be found at, the “Judo Information Site.”

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