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An Introduction Into Judo

Judo bowJudo is a Japanese martial art, introduced to the world by Jigoro Kano in 1882. Judo meaning the “gentle way” incorporates a wide range of throwing techniques, aimed at bringing your opponent down to the ground, where you can attempt to pin them, or submit them, using a joint lock or choke technique.

Judo isn’t a striking art, there are no punches or kicks thrown, it is purely grappling, both when standing up, or on the ground.

There is a more controlled form of Judo practice, Kata (preplanned moves, most often seen in Karate schools) can be performed, but the vast majority of your time is going to be spent learning techniques and sparring (sparring is known as Randori and as a Judo practitioner, you will be known as a Judoka).

Judo has spread to all parts of the world, and many of its techniques became the foundation for some other well known martial arts, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the Russian martial art of Sambo.

Judo Training & Techniques

Judo throwJudo can be broken down into three separate parts. The first are its throwing techniques, called Nage Waza these throwing techniques are used to bring your opponent down onto the mat.

The second part are its grappling techniques, known as Katame Waza, this part covers all of Judo’s submission techniques.

Finally there are the striking techniques called Atemi Waza. Atemi Waza is only performed when practicing kata, and isn’t done during normal randori practice.

Judo, as the “gentle art” follows the philosophy that during normal training practice one should practice in a free and open way. The term to describe this lighter form of training is Yakusoku Geiko.

When you are discussing Judo techniques remember the two names Tori and Uke. You are Tori, and your opponent is called Uke. You as Tori for example, could throw Uke, or submit Uke.

One of the first things you may notice when starting Judo is how fit you have to be. On television it can look quite slow-paced when the two Judoka first begin to square off, but after one or two throw attempts, or your two attempts to counter, you’ll quickly find your heart rate increasing.

Nage Waza

Judo competition kidsNage Waza play a central role in Judo. Judo’s throwing and tripping techniques can be used to aggressively throw your opponent from a standing position onto his or her back, or can be used as a sacrifice technique, allowing you to bring the fight down onto the ground, using Ma-Sutemi-Waza a rear sacrificing technique, or Yoko-Sutemi-Waza, a side sacrificing technique.

As you start to learn the techniques remember that they are broken down to three specific stages. The first part Kuzushi involves the initial attempt to break your partners balance. The second Tsukuri is where you turn your body in, getting your body into the correct position to execute the throw, and thirdly Kake, where you finally apply the technique to your opponent.

Katame Waza

Katame Waza covers Judo’s grappling techniques.

There are three ways which you can win in a Judo match when on the ground.

Jiu Jitsu training for childrenYou can either hold down, or pin your opponent, onto the mat , known as a Osae-Komi-Waza. The second is by using some form of choke, or strangulation technique, called Shime-Waza. The third is by submission, called Kansetsu-Waza which includes Judo’s joint-lock techniques, which one applied force your opponent surrender.

A subcategory of Katame Waza is Suwari-Waza, still classed as grappling techniques these are moves applied when in a kneeling position, especially during free Randori practice, where beginning on the knees is called the Seiza position.

Atemi Waza

The Atemi Waza techniques originate from feudal times, taught to Japanese soldiers for use during times of war. They cover all of the striking techniques taught in Judo, which includes finger strikes, punches and kicks. Atemi Waza techniques though are never used during normal free practice, and only used when practicing kata.

Few regular Judo clubs practice Atemi Waza today, it is more the reserve of those who hold a high rank in the sport, and as a way of understanding the history of Judo, seeing how its use has changed throughout the ages, from one of military to civilian and sport.

Judo Training & Equipment

Of all the various types of martial art there are, Judo is one of the cheapest to practice. Similar in cost to Karate all that the Judo practitioner needs is their Judo gi. Other often purchased items include a mouth-guard and groin-protector, but at a minimum it is only a gi that is needed to start training.

Starting a Judo club however can be more expensive. The main cost is the padded mats which must cover the floor, and be thick enough to absorb the high-energy throws which make up Judo.

Other costs include crash mats and any forms of resistance training equipment, used to develop the Judokas physical strength and all around explosiveness.

Judo yellow belt young girl

Famous Judo Practitioners

Jigoro Kano Born in 1860, Jigoro Kano was the founder of Judo, establishing the Kodokan in the late 1800s. Kano was a pioneer in the development of international sports and went on to become the first Asian member of the IOC (the International Olympic Committee).

The Kodokan is the headquarters of the global Judo community. Notable is it’s ever increasing physical size, now standing at eight floors it contains over one thousand training mats laid out across five of the main dojo’s.

Mitsuyo Maeda – Kodokan 7th Dan Mitsuyo Maeda is the man responsible for taking Judo to many other parts of the world. Most notably he is the man who took the techniques to Brazil where they were passed on to the Gracie family, famous for it’s creation of Brazilian jujitsu.

As a famous no-holds-barred fighter, Maeda had over two thousand professional fights throughout his career, leaving him with the nickname the “toughest man who ever lived”.

Famous Heads of State – Here are three other names that may be more surprising to you. Did you know that US President Theodore Roosevelt was the first American to achieve a brown belt, and was in fact the first non-Japanese world leader to study Judo.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has often been seen carrying out randori practice on national TV, being the first Russian ever to achieve 8th Dan status.

Prince Albert the Second of Monaco holds a 1st Dan black belt.

Judo Organizations

International Judo Federation The IJF is the main international governing body. It is responsible for the organizing of international competitions and plays host to the Judo World Championships. It also plays a central role in assisting the Olympic Judo committee during events. Federation is made up of five judo organizations from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

World Judo Federation The World Judo Federation is another of the sport’s international governing bodies. Conducting a number of international tournaments each year it’s rankings can be found on it’s website as well as information about many other forthcoming tournaments and events.

Kodokan Judo Institute The Kodokan Judo Institute is the traditional home of Judo, where it’s philosophy and techniques are born and developed. It is the Kodokan that also maintains the historical record of Judo throughout the ages, as well as dictating how the art should be taught today.

Judo punch child

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