History of Judo

Judo as a martial art came into existence in 1882 being derived from the much older

techniques of attack and defence called ju-jitsu. Before the advent of judo or more properly

Kodokan Judo there existed some twenty independent ju-jitsu schools. A young Japanese man

Jigoro Kano, wanting to be able to handle some bigger bullying companions, decided to join one

of the ju-jitsu schools.

He studied the techniques of various schools for several years. Finally in 1882 he

established his own which he called the Kodokan and instead of using the word ju-jitsu used judo

instead. One of the reasons for choosing a different name for his school was that with the

ordinance of 1871 forbidding Samurai to carry swords the martial arts fell into decline and then

disrepute. Some ju-jitsu experts of Kano’s time were rogues and bullies and ju-jitsu acquired a

low reputation. Kano, not wishing to inherit this, began his school with a new name.

Kodokan judo was not just a rehash of ju-jitsu techniques. Kano selected the good points

of each ju-jitsu school and with his own fresh ideas and innovations turned an old martial art into

a new system of physical culture and mental training. There was much rivalry between the new

Kodokan school and the ju-jitsu men and four years after its foundation the Kodokan had a

public match with the top ju-jitsu school. It was an overwhelming victory for judo with the

Kodokan winning nearly every match.

The techniques of judo have slowly been streamlined and modified over the years with

some new ones being added and old ones on account of their inefficiency or danger being

eliminated. With judo becoming an international sport during the last ten years rules governing

contests have been formulated to make it safe for competition. Nevertheless, the essence of judo –

throws, strangles, joint-locks and hold-downs – makes it an excellent system of self-defence and


What is Judo?

Modern Judo techniques consists of four main divisions. They are throws, strangles,

armlocks and hold-downs. Any one of these scores a point in competition. One point only is

required to win. This is because in the early Samurai days it was thought that one of these

techniques would finish off the enemy or at least put him at a serious disadvantage.

A successful throw is obvious. The man is whirled up and over and thrown with impetus

on his back. The thrower must show that he has control and could increase the force of the


With the armlocks and strangles the opponent must signal defeat or else he suffers injury.

A hold-down must be maintained for thirty seconds. The inter-play of all these techniques

with defensive moves, continuation attacks, counter-throws, styles of fighting and so on makes

judo a fascinating sport.

The Sport of Judo

From the early days of the Kodokan, Japan has held Judo Championships. However, it

is only in recent years in the West since judo gained popularity that national and international

matches have been held. World championships have been held regularly in recent years. In 1964

Judo was included in the Olympic Games for the first time. It is now recognized as a fully

fledged sport and takes its place in many other games including the Pan-American Games and

the Maccabiah Games.

Judo is not just a knack learnt after a few minutes. It takes just as much training to throw

a good man as it takes to become a top boxer or high jumper. International judo players include

running and weight-training routines plus several hours daily practice in perfecting their actual

judo technique. Judo is an exacting combat sport making great demands on the body and is an

all-round strength and fitness builder.

History of Judo