Judo is a fighting sport originally from Japan.
Judo means 'The Gentle Way'. A person practising Judo is called Judoka. It is a sport for anyone because technique will always conquer brute strength. It provides a very good all-round physical conditioning.
Other important qualities you learn in Judo are patience, balance, swiftness and agility, to name a few. Discipline is also a very important part of Judo. Discipline is shown by bowing when you enter the dojo (Judo practice hall), when you face your Sensei (teacher), and when you meet your opponent. It helps the Judoka both at the training and in real-life.
The whole sport teaches you how to face situations with a cool mind, a humble attitude and with a great deal of self-confidence.
The first thing a new Judoka must learn is the ukemi or break-fall. It is very important to master this before competing; no-one will go far in the sport who cannot do so. Break-falls are vital for reducing injury. There are very few injuries in Judo and this is thanks to the amount of effort put into the perfection of break-falls.
The sport consists of different types of throws (koshi- and sutemi-waza), foot sweeps (ashiwaza) and ground techniques (newaza). There is no such thing as 'deadly Judo-chops' or 'Judo-kicks' no matter what the Hollywood producers want you to believe. This means that it is no sport to practise if you want to learn self-defence. It is a great sport for having fun or getting into shape but if you want to learn how to face a villain then Jujitsu is more likely the sport for you.
When competing in Judo you are usually divided into different groups depending on your weight. The ultimate goal is getting your opponent out of balance and then making him (or her) fall. You can also win by holding your opponent immobile on his back for 25 to 30 seconds or making him surrender due to an arm-lock or strangulation. You meet the other members of your group and try to throw them out of your way to the medal. The throws give you certain points depending on how efficient they appear to the referee. The scores are:
- Koka: 1 point
- Yoko: 5 points
- Waza-ari: 7 points
- Ippon: 10 points
Scoring an Ippon immediately makes you the winner. Scoring two Waza-ari also means that you win; this is called Waza-ari-azete-Ippon. If none of these two conditions are met when the time is up (after 3, 4 or 5 minutes depending on age and sex), the Judoka with the most points wins. If it is a draw then an event called Hantei occurs. This means that the referees pick up one red and one white flag each. They hold them in front of themselves and at the main referee's command, "Hantei!", they raise the flag with the colour of the Judoka they think should be appointed the winner. The one who gets the most votes is appointed the winner. If a group is the subject of draw, meaning that the contestants all have the same score, the contestants are weighed. The Judoka who weighs the least is appointed the winner.
There are five student-degrees(kyu) in Judo; they are numbered 5 to 1, where 1 is the best. The Kyu-degrees are:
- 5th: Yellow
- 4th: Orange
- 3rd: Green
- 2nd: Blue
- 1st: Brown
When all these have been attained you may proceed to the master-degrees (DAN):
- 1st through 5th: Black
- 6th through 8th: Red and white
- 9th through 11th: Red
- 12th: White
The first five are awarded for your knowledge and skillfulness; the last seven are awarded by the Kodokan (the first Judo school of Japan) for your dedication to the sport. This means that most of the best international fighters usually have degrees around 4th or 5th DAN. (An interesting fact is that no-one has ever been awarded a higher degree than 10th, not even Dr. Jigoro Kano himself).
Judo was developed out of Jujitsu in the late 19th century. Its creator, Dr. Jigoro Kano, removed all use of kicking and punching and made a sport with no violence. His goal was to make a sport which would give you training not only for the sport but for life as well. Dr. Kano put a lot of effort into making it a popular sport. It rapidly spread to the west and it was the first martial art to be practised all over the globe. In 1964 Judo was appointed an Olympic sport. It is practised in 111 countries and has over 13 million participants. This makes it the most popular martial art and the eighth biggest sport in the world.