Judo is a martial art sports for both men and women in the Olympics. Though the word “judo” translates to “gentle way,” it is still considered a combat sport. Judo focuses on using an opponent’s force and energy against them.
A judoka is someone who practices judo.
Are Martial Arts the Right Sport for My Child?
Though many parents are hesitant to begin their child in martial arts because of the level of violence or because of their child’s lack of impulse control, judo, taekwondo and karate are actually wonderful sports for children.
Contrary to what many parents think, martial arts actually is a sport often recommended for children with impulse control problems or overly-aggressive children. The underlying principles of martial arts are to teach self-control and respect, and they do so in a way that builds self-control and fitness.
Your child may benefit from martial arts training if s/he:
• needs to learn concentration and impulse control.
• would like to build balance and flexibility.
• has or is building a healthy self-esteem.
• is attempting to build an internal focus of control and rely less on external praise.
• is well coordinated.
• can take a “hit and not quit.”
In its simplest form, character building in judo comes from the ability to be thrown on the mat, and then to get back up and keep fighting. This determination and toughness should never be under valued.
The first step towards success, in any endeavour, is to learn the lesson taught by Kyuzo Mifune – “seven times down, eight times up.” Or as John Wayne would have put it, “You need to dust yourself off, Pilgrim, and get back on that horse.”
Junior judoka also learn the lesson of responsibility, or more specifically, taking responsibility for one’s own success or failure. They learn that if they want to succeed in grading, promotion or competition, they must turn up for class, pay attention to Sensei, learn their techniques, and then apply them in randori. Failure, on the other hand, can be directly attributed to how little effort they put into their lessons and training.
And since children like to have fun, they also learn how much fun it is to succeed in games, pass a belt promotion, or win in shiai. In time they learn that the medals and trophies are just the icing on the cake. It is the peer acceptance and respect in the dojo that is more important. Recognition and a pat on the back from stern-faced Sensei are more valued and last much longer than a coloured ribbon.
There is also the self defense aspect of judo. With all the weirdoes, stalkers, crazies, and bullies out there, parents constantly worry about their children. But through judo, children gain fitness, strength, stamina, balance, agility, and awareness. Randori and competition also develop a rough and tumble level of self-confidence that allows even junior judoka to identify a threat and react appropriately (provided the judo training has been supplemented with sage parental advice).
Judo teaches many of life’s lessons and develops strong character traits that will serve children through their difficult teen years and into adulthood. These virtues may seem to go well beyond what is practiced in the dojo, but in reality, this is exactly what Professor Jigoro Kano intended when he created Kodokan Judo. Jita-kyoei, mutual welfare and benefit, is one of the most important maxims in judo, and exemplifies the greater value of judo training. Jika no kansei, strive for perfection, is another significant motto, provided one understands that we strive for personal perfection so that we may better help others.
The History of Judo
The history of judo starts with Japanese jujutsu. Japanese jujutsu was practiced and continually improved upon by the Samurai. They utilized the throws and joint locks common within the art as a means to defend against attackers with armor and weapons. Jujutsu at one time was so popular in the area that it is believed during the 1800’s more than 700 different jujitsu styles or systems were being taught.
But in the 1850’s Commodore Perry led the west into Japan. The guns and different ideas these foreigners brought to the area changed Japan forever and led to the Meiji Restoration in the latter half of the 19th century, a time when the emperor challenged the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and eventually overcame it.
The result was the loss of the Samurai class and many traditional Japanese values. Further, capitalism and industrialization flourished, and guns were shown superior to swords in battle.
Since the state became all-important at this time, highly individualized activities like martial arts and jujutsu declined. In fact, during this time many jujutsu schools disappeared and some martial ideas and practices were lost.
Which led the world to judo.
Dr. Jigori Kano : The Inventor of Judo
Jigori Kano was born in the town of Mikage, Japan in 1860. As a child, Kano was small and often sickly, which led to his study of jujutsu at the Tenjin Shinyo ryu school under Fukuda Hachinosuke at the age of 18. Kano eventually transferred to the Kito ryu school in order to study under Tsunetoshi Iikubo.
While training, Kano, whom eventually earned the name Dr. Jigori Kano, started to formulate his own opinions regarding martial arts. This eventually led him to develop a martial arts style all his own. In principle, this style sought to utilize an opponent’s energy against them and eliminated some of the jujutsu techniques he deemed dangerous. By doing the latter, he hoped that the fighting style he was refining would eventually gain acceptance as a sport.
At the age of 22, Kano’s art came to be known as Kodokan Judo.
His ideas were perfect for the times he lived in. By changing martial arts in Japan so that they could be sports and teamwork friendly, society accepted judo.
Kano’s school, called the Kodokan, was established in the Eishoji Buddhist temple in Tokyo. In 1886, a contest was held in order to determine which was superior, jujutsu (the art Kano once studied) or judo (the art that he had in essence invented). Kano’s students of judo won this competition easily.
In 1910 judo became a recognized sport; in 1911 it was adopted as a part of Japan’s educational system; and in 1964 it became an Olympic sport, giving credence to Kano’s long ago dreams. Today, millions of people visit the historic
Kodokan Dojo every year.
Like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo doesn’t have as many substyles as karate or kung fu. Still, there are some splinter groups of judo like judo-do (Austria) and Kosen Judo (similar to Kodokan but more grappling techniques are utilized).