Kodokan Judo 柔道

Founded by Dr. Jigoro Kano (嘉納 治五郎)at the Kodokan (讲道馆), judo (柔道) is a martial art and an Olympic sport. Ju (柔) Do (道)means the principle or way of the gentleness or yielding, it was created by distilling the best of various old Samurai jujutsu (some call it jiujitsu) techniques which can be effectively used and applied in combat as well as in training against a fully resisting opponent. To quote Dr. Kano: "In my youth I studied jujutsu under many eminent masters. Their vast knowledge, the fruit of years of diligent research and rich experience, was of great value to me. At that time, each man presented his art as a collection of techniques. None perceived the guiding principle behind jujutsu.”

Jujutsu (柔术) was not just one martial art style but a blanket name for the thousands of school (ryu 流) practicing all types of combat arts from weapon to striking to grappling. Most of the techniques had to be practiced only in kata (forms), or pre-arranged movement, to not injure the partner, and often there are many conflicting methods. Dr. Kano wrote, "This led me to look for an underlying principle in jujutsu, one that applied when one hit an opponent as well as when one threw him. After a thorough study of the subject, I discerned an all-pervasive principle: to make the most efficient use of mental and physical energy... The resulting body of technique, which I named judo to distinguish it from its predecessor, is what is taught at the Kodokan."

When Japanese educator Dr. Jigoro Kano developed Judo in 1882, his main goal was to create a comprehensive method of physical education based on a martial that can be practiced in a realistic way without causing injury to the training partner. In judo, the concept of randori (乱斗), free practice sets it apart from most other martial arts. In randori, one could safely practice throws, holds, and permitted submission techniques as in a real match; but the striking and dangerous techniques are practiced in kata only. Kodokan had many matches against as many ryu (schools) of jujutsu and emerged the dominant style, and within two decades, displaced jujutsu as the primary grappling art in Japan. Its effectiveness is no doubt established in this period. There are still some styles of jujutsu being practiced today, but not nearly as many as they once were.

From Kodokan judo, many strong judokas (judo players) were sent around the world to teach and spread judo. Judo masters went around and tested their skill against many challengers and became known as an effective art. One of such ambassador was Mitsuyo Maeda (前田 光世) who went to Brazil along with others such as Sashiro Satake to teach Kodokan judo. An branch of style based on judo evolved to be known later outside Brazil as "Brazilian Jiujitsu" or simply "Jiujitsu" as most call it in Brazil. At the time, many still had no yet adopted to the name judo, and called it jujutsu or jiujitsu.

After decades of international expansion, Judo became an Olympic sport in 1964. Today judo is the most participated Olympic sport after soccer and has truly grown into an international sport. As a martial art, one could find a club that practices judo in just about every major city in the world. 

What set judo apart from many other martial arts is the realistic sparring and its philosophy. In order to have judo as an effective martial art in training, it must be safe to apply in a realistic setting without injuring one’s partner. When one becomes proficient in judo, one can be confident that what works against a fully resisting opponent in class will also work outside the class.

But judo is not just about fighting. It is also a philosophy which emphasizes “mutual benefit and welfare” and respect for each other inside and outside the class. More than just a collection of techniques, judo emphasizes the learning of the underlying principles so one could apply them fluidly in any situations. While kicks and punches are part of the kata, most of judo’s training is focused on throws and ground grappling.

With judo one could develop an effective and comprehensive self-defense skill set. In addition, judo is a dynamic physical activity that can build a very high level of fitness. Judo will strengthen a person’s balance, situational awareness, spatial awareness, agility, strength and functional endurance. Furthermore, it is an activity that is suitable for all ages.

Apart from the physical aspect, it also emphasizes using physical education as a mean to educate the mind: "In randori we learn to employ the principle of maximum efficiency even when we could easily overpower an opponent. Indeed, it is much more impressive to beat an opponent with proper technique than with brute force. This lesson is equally applicable in daily life: the student realizes that persuaion backed up by sound logic is ultimately more effective than coercion" (Jigoro Kano, P. 23 Kodokan Judo)

Dr. Kano continues to write, "The principles of maximum efficiency, whether applied to the art of attack and defense or refining and perfecting daily life, demands above all that there be order and harmony among people. This can be realized only through mutual aid and concession. The result is mutual welfare and benefit. The final aim of judo practice is to inculcate respect for the principles of maximum efficiency and mutual welfare and benefit. Through judo, persons individually and collectively attain their highest spiritual state while at the same time developing their bodies and learning the art of attack and defense."

To cultivate a strong body and mind through the martial art education of judo, is something that could benefit everyone.


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