The takenouchi-ryu martial art system founded in 1532 is considered the beginning of Japan’s Jujitsu forms. Judo was derived from Jujitsu, the art for either attacking others or defending oneself with nothing but one’s own body.
Judo, meaning "gentle way" is a modern martial art, an Olympic sport, created in Japan in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. A judo practitioner is called a judoka.
Te-waza (手技) Hand throwing techniques by Budo Academy Penang. Master: Atsuto Hari (Judoka, Black Belt, Japan).
Ippon seoinage (本背負い投げ, or 本背負投): Single back throw
Kata guruma (肩車): Shoulder wheel
Kibisu gaeshi (踵返): One-hand reversal
Morote gari (双手刈): Two-hand reap
Obi otoshi (帯落): Belt drop
Seoi nage (背負い投げ, or 背負投): Back throw
Seoi otoshi (背負落): Back drop
Sukui nage (掬投): Scoop throw
Sumi otoshi (隅落): Corner drop
Tai otoshi (體落): Body drop
Uchi mata sukashi (内股透): Inner thigh void throw
Uki otoshi (浮落): Floating drop
Yama arashi (山嵐): Mountain storm
Kouchi gaeshi (小内返): Small inner reap reversal
Kuchiki taoshi (朽木倒): Single leg takedown
History of Judo:
The evolution of fighting arts was first documented in Japan, with the first samurai battles recorded around the mid-800s. At this time in history, forms of combat were designed for the purpose of maiming and killing, both with weapons and without.
Fighting arts used by the samurai were practiced and developed over various types of terrain and weather conditions. For example, in a prolonged fight in heavy armor, an advantage could be gained if one’s opponent was made to advance uphill facing the sun. As the fight descended, possibly to swampy terrain below, the ability to grapple and hold the opponent to drown him on his back was important. This can be represented symbolically by techniques still used today. Takenouchi jujitsu originated around 1532 and evolved from the techniques and fighting methods used by the samurai, which form the basis for many jujitsu styles and systems of attack. The art of jujitsu reached its height in the 16th century, and numerous styles emerged with masters and teachers eager to promote their versions. Many of these styles were good methods of combat and selfdefense but offered little else. The role of the samurai began to decline within Japanese society during the Tokugawa period. The decline accelerated with the arrival of Admiral Perry in Tokyo in 1853, and the Tokugawa period and the samurai finally ended in 1868. Professor Jigoro Kano, the creator of judo, noticed the inconsistency in the jiu-jitsu masters’ teachings and realized no guiding principle could be found among the vast array of jujitsu techniques. Jujitsu was unsafe to practice with its kicks, punches, stabs, slashes, and twists of the limbs, and the fighting form was abused by those having ill will toward society (for example, thieves, ruffians, and prison guards fighting for money). As a result, people thought negatively of jujitsu, and it gained a poor reputation.
The evolution of fighting arts was first documented in Japan, with the first samurai battles recorded around the mid-800s. At this time in history, forms of combat were designed for the purpose of maiming and killing, both with weapons and without. Fighting arts used by the samurai were practiced and developed over various types of terrain and weather conditions. For example, in a prolonged fight in heavy armor, an advantage could be gained if one’s opponent was made to advance uphill facing the sun. As the fight descended, possibly to swampy terrain below, the ability to grapple and hold the opponent to drown him on his back was important. This can be represented symbolically by techniques still used today.
Takenouchi jujitsu originated around 1532 and evolved from the techniques and fighting methods used by the samurai, which form the basis for many jujitsu styles and systems of attack. The art of jujitsu reached its height in the 16th century, and numerous styles emerged with masters and teachers eager to promote their versions. Many of these styles were good methods of combat and selfdefense but offered little else. The role of the samurai began to decline within Japanese society during the Tokugawa period. The decline accelerated with the arrival of Admiral Perry in Tokyo in 1853, and the Tokugawa period and the samurai finally ended in 1868.
Professor Jigoro Kano, the creator of judo, noticed the inconsistency in the jujitsu masters’ teachings and realized no guiding principle could be found among the vast array of jujitsu techniques. Jujitsu was unsafe to practice with its kicks, punches, stabs, slashes, and twists of the limbs, and the fighting form was abused by those having ill will toward society (for example, thieves, ruffians, and prison guards fighting for money). As a result, people thought
negatively of jujitsu, and it gained a poor reputation.application. In sport, such as football, the objective is to win the game by scoring more touchdowns than the opposing team.
Players attempt their best to win the game. The best players are those who are able to perfect the skills of football and perform them within a competitive environment. Such perfection can be considered an art—the ability to perform a variety of complex skills and techniques. The purpose would be to obtain the result of a win or to better one’s statistics such as yards per run. This is where the sport definition of judo falls short and is not a
“way,” just as jujitsu differentiates itself from judo by only having the objective of defeating one’s opponent by its application of techniques and holds.
To understand and pursue the “way,” consider both the judo athlete and the noncompetitor.
Both can train for perfection and compete to their fullest (that is, to win). Yet, a difference exists in what a win means to them. The noncompetitor still tries his hardest to win, although he may not really care if he does actually win. The desired result in both cases is ultimately to achieve personal satisfaction and learn from the process of striving to do one’s best. The noncompetitor as well as the judo athlete can follow the way through understanding the many life lessons that can be learned from both winning and losing. It is refreshing to see a champion like Yasuhiro Yamashita (Olympic gold medalist, 1984) following the way through winning and doing his best to display the utmost respect and humbleness in his many victories. Similarly, upon Dutch athlete Anton Geesink’s gold medal win at the 1964 Olympics over Akio Kaminaga (of Japan), a Dutch supporter rushed toward the mat to celebrate. Geesink waved the fan back to prevent an overt display of victory and to allow Kaminaga the dignity he deserved upon his defeat.
With a guiding philosophy and a firm establishment of kata (prearranged forms)
and techniques later to be modified and known as the gokyo (1895), a range of people found judo appealing. Jujitsu gave way to judo, and Professor Kano took full advantage of this evolution, always taking the opportunity to promote his new art. Professor Kano was successful ultimately in planting the seeds of judo worldwide.
How Judo becomes a sport:
The first dojo of judo, or practice hall, called the Kodokan, was established in
1882 at Eishoji, a Buddhist temple in Tokyo. As membership grew, Professor Kano, the creator of Kodokan judo, moved the dojo nine times to larger quarters to accommodate the growth of judo. The word “Kodokan” is derived from the following: “Ko” means “lecture” or “practice.” “Do” means “the way,” and “kan” means “a hall.”
The Kodokan was relocated to its final location in the Bunkyo-ku district in Tokyo in 1958 and is now a modern building distinguished by a statue of Professor Kano at its entrance. With more than 500 mats in the main dojo, which was rebuilt to commemorate its 100th
anniversary and dedicated in 1984, the Kodokan has lodging, study and research areas, a library, and a museum. Students from all over the world can practice at the Kodokan, as it is open to all judoka. The Kodokan is an educational facility and important symbol for acknowledging what judo is and why it was created.
An analogy to describe the relationship of the Kodokan to judo is the relationship
of Mecca to the Muslim religion. The International Judo Federation (IJF) recognizes judo as the fighting form created by Jigoro Kano. Unlike some martial arts where different federations and styles are accepted, Kodokan judo is the recognized form that allows for standardization worldwide. The Kodokan ensures judo is promoted as Professor Kano created it and upholds its traditions, customs, and etiquette. Kodokan judo teachers stress the preservation of techniques. Grading is regulated so that every yudansha (black-belt
holder) who is approved is recognized through the standards of the Kodokan. The Kodokan upholds the traditions of judo as it modernizes in time. Many people who practice judo are looking for more than just a sport experience. People are increasingly turning to judo for training in self-defense, physical education, and sport. But they are also yearning for the old-fashioned traditions and high standards of etiquette and respect set by the study of Kodokan judo.
As mentioned in the introduction to the book, Professor Kano was tireless in his desire to see judo accepted in the martial arts community. As a scholar, Professor Kano was educated, bright, and visionary. He understood that establishing judo asan Olympic sport would provide the impetus for judo to flourish not only in Japan but also throughout the world.
The practice of judo as a sport enabled it to gain more public attention outside of Japan. Contests were being held as early as the 1920s when some European countries, such as England and Germany, held team competitions. Rules were established to highlight the spectacular throwing over groundwork so that judo would be appealing to the spectator. The ability for competitors to engage fully without holding back out of fear of injury made judo appealing to many people. Many other martial arts could not replicate dynamic fighting because of their dangerous techniques, and practitioners of these other forms could only resort to kata-style practice.
Professor Kano became the first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1909. The professor’s persistence over decades paid off, and in 1938 the IOC decided that judo would be included in the 1940 Games scheduled for Tokyo. Around this time, judo was firmly entrenched in Japan and its practice was spreading quickly across the continents. Sadly, however, Professor Kano was unable to witness the fruits of his labor. He died of pneumonia at age 78 during his return voyage from the IOC meeting in Cairo, and the 1940 Games were cancelled because of World War II.
The proliferation of judo suffered a further setback in 1945 when its practice was prohibited by the postwar Allied occupation in Japan. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur believed judo and its followers threatened the Allied movement so he banned all judo and closed down all martial arts dojos (selfdefense schools). MacArthur saw judo as being too militaristic, and he decreed that judo was not to be practiced and taught in schools. As far away as the United States and Canada many dojos were closed. As a result of societal paranoia, 110,000 persons of Japanese origin were relocated away from the U.S. west coast and 22,000 were evacuated outside the 100-mile protected zone along the west coast of Canada and many placed in internment camps. Judo was in jeopardy of losing much of what it had gained over the years in terms of development and progress.
In both Canada and the United States there was discrimination against people of Japanese decent, many of whom were born on North American soil. In the United States, judo instructors were rounded up and sent to internment camps. Although judo was practiced within the confines of the internment camps, it virtually came to a halt in Canada and the United States.
Interestingly, no internee was ever charged with a crime by the FBI or Royal Canadian
Mounted Police (RCMP) during the internment period. And, ironically, many nissei (second-generation Japanese) fought for the United States while their families were confined in internment camps for no reason except racism. U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye won medals for bravery fighting for the United States during World War II in Italy. He was wounded many times, including losing an arm in battle. Despite these setbacks, the practice of judo continued to evolve, albeit slowly, just as Professor Kano would have wished. In 1948 the first postwar All-Japan Judo
Championships were held, and the following year the All-Japan Judo Federation was established. After the war, judo teachers focused on teaching judo as a sport with an educational basis, in part to deemphasize the martial art for self-defense aspect and to ultimately regain inclusion in the Olympic Games.
Judo was also taking hold in many countries in Europe, and in 1951 the International Judo Federation (IJF) was established. By this time, regular international competitions were being held in Europe and spreading elsewhere. The first World Judo Championships were held in Tokyo in 1956 with 21 countries in attendance. A turning point to the acceptance of judo into the Olympic Games was the successful hosting of the 1958 Asian Games in Japan. The Japanese quickly focused their efforts to get judo into the 1964 Games. Their efforts were helped by the IJF, who asked each member country to appeal to its own Olympic Committee to lobby for the inclusion of judo in the 1964 program.
The teaching of judo as a sport was growing rapidly, and its inception in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo was a significant event. The 1964 Games were the first to be televised and offered a chance for Japan to show judo to the world and to highlight Japanese dominance in the sport. After considerable debate on what weight classes to use, four divisions were contested: light (under 68 kilograms [150 pounds]); middle (under 80 kilograms [175 pounds]); heavy (over 80 kilograms [175 pounds]); and the open weight class, where any competitor of any weight could enter. Japan took all weight divisions that year except the open division, which was won by Anton
Geesink of Holland. The bigger and stronger Geesink beat Japan’s Akio Kaminaga
with a smothering kesa-gatame (hold-down). Anton Geesink’s victory for Holland at the 1964 Games prevented a sweep by Japan and was important for the further progress of judo. Geesink, who trained in Japan, was highly respected and did much to promote the sport. His win symbolized the ability of non-Japanese to excel in judo and provided inspiration for others to follow suit. The success of other nations in judo, despite the dissatisfaction of the Japanese, was good for the sport. A Japanese-dominated martial art created by the Japanese would have more difficulty being accepted by other nations if others believed that their success was improbable. The fast growth of judo outside of Japan was in large part a result of judo being accepted as an Olympic event. Many sport federations sought to gain prestige and international recognition for their home countries as a result. Although judo was excluded from the 1968 Games in Mexico, the sport was again included in the Munich Games of 1972 and has been a part of every Olympics since. Another key moment in the evolution of judo was the inclusion of women in the sport. The first World Championships for women were held in 1980 in New York City.
Women’s judo gained Olympic status in Seoul as a demonstration sport in 1988. Women competed in judo officially in the Barcelona Games of 1992. Ingrid Berghmans, Olympic champion from Belgium is considered among the best female competitors ever, while Tina Takahashi, Olympic coach for Canada in 1988, did much to further promote women’s judo, particularly in Canada.
Some of the biggest changes to judo have occurred as a result of its inclusion in the Olympics. In fact, judo as an Olympic event now has to contend with conditions such as spectator appeal, and the IJF has been continually modifying judo rules as a result. The differentiation between judo as sport and judo as martial art became more prevalent as a
Physical Training in Judo:
Judo is a demanding sport because it utilizes a variety of physical components.
You must be strong, have good aerobic endurance, and be quick in your attack
and defense. It is difficult to quantify the exact contribution of a physical component
in a match, partly because of individual differences among fighters and the
various strategies that a match creates. In no particular order, the following physical
components are important:
• Strength. Strength is important for moving your body quickly and against a resisting
opponent in numerous positions, such as gripping, attacking, and defending.
Strength is important in both standing (tachi-waza) and ground fighting (ne-waza).
• Aerobic conditioning (with oxygen). Matches are five minutes in length, so aerobic
endurance is necessary. Aerobic conditioning aids in recovery between matches, especially
when you have to fight in numerous matches over the tournament day.
• Anaerobic conditioning (without oxygen). Explosive movements in attack and defense
require short powerful bursts of activity that may last a few seconds. Sustained highintensity
activity, such as gripping, taxes the lactic-acid energy system in the arms.
• Flexibility. Judo techniques such as uchi-mata demand flexibility as do the numerous
movements in judo that involve rotation and twisting actions.
• Agility. Agility is required for both attack and defense and for moving quickly
and gracefully in different directions: forward and back, side to side, and in circular
• Balance. The key to judo tachi-waza lies in breaking the uke’s balance. But also,
it is important to develop specific balance for varying judo movements and actions,
such as attacking, defending, and countering that may involve balancing on one leg
and sweeping with the other.
It is rare for a judoka to have all these physical components at high levels. Physical
components are only one factor in the makeup of a judo competitor. Psychological
factors, such as toughness, confidence, and commitment, are also important. And
match tactics play a significant role because they relate to what is likely the most
Ranking System in Judo:
Achievement in Judo is recognized by a series of ranks. The student ranks are called kyu and are usually differentiated by colored belts (obi). Different colors may be used around the world and in some countries there are more than 6 kyu ranks. The ten black belt, or expert, ranks are called dan. The traditional Judo ranks are:
English Japanese 6th grade rokyu 5th grade gokyu 4th grade yonkyu 3rd grade sankyu 2nd grade nikyu 1st grade ikkyu 1st degree shodan 2nd degree nidan 3rd degree sandan 4th degree yodan 5th degree godan 6th degree rokudan 7th degree shichidan 8th degree hachidan 9th degree kudan 10th degree judan In the days before Kano created Judo, there was no kyu/dan ranking system in the martial arts. A more traditional method of recognizing achievement wasuchi mata the presentation of certificates or scrolls, often with the secrets of the school inscribed. Kano started the modern rank system when he awarded shodan to two of his senior students (Shiro Saigo and Tsunejiro Tomita) in 1883. Even then, there was no external differentiation between yudansha (black belt ranks) and mudansha (those who hadn't yet attained black belt ranking). Kano apparently began the custom of having his yudansha wear black obi (belts) in 1886. These obi weren't the belts karateka and judoka wear today — Kano hadn't invented the judogi (Judo uniform) yet, and his students were still practicing in kimono. They were the wide obi still worn with formal kimono. In 1907, Kano introduced the modern judogi and its modern obi, but he still only used white and black belt ranks. The white uniform represented the values of purity, avoidance of ego, and simplicity. It gave no outward indication of social class so that all students began as equals. The black belt with the white gi represents the polarity of opposites, or In and Yo. The student begins empty, but fills up with knowledge.
Professor Kano was an educator and used a hierarchy in setting learning objectives for Judo students, just as students typically pass from one grade to another in the public school system. The Judo rank system represents a progression of learning with a syllabus and a corresponding grade indicating an individual's level of proficiency. Earning a black belt is like graduating from high school or college. It indicates you have achieved a basic level of proficiency, learned the fundamental skills and can perform them in a functional manner, and you are now ready to pursue Judo on a more serious and advanced level as a professional or a person seeking an advanced degree would. Of course, the rankings also represent progress towards the ultimate objective of judo which is to improve the self not just physically, but morally as well.
Around 1930 the Kodokan created a new belt to recognize the special achievements of high ranking black belts. Jigoro Kano chose to recognize sixth, seventh, and eighth degree black belts with a special obi made of alternating red and white panels (kohaku obi). The white color was chosen for purity, and red for the intense desire to train and the sacrifices made. The colors red and white are an enduring symbol of Japan, and they have been used in Judo since Jigoro Kano started the first Red and White Tournament in 1884. The kohaku obi is often worn for special occasions, but it is not required to be worn at any time and the black belt remains the standard for all the yudansha ranks. In 1943 the Kodokan created the optional red belt to recognize 9th and 10th degree yudansha.
Theoretically the Judo rank system is not limited to 10 degrees of black belt. The original english language copy (1955) of Illustrated Kodokan Judo, by Jigoro Kano, says: "There is no limit…on the grade one can receive. Therefore if one does reach a stage above 10th dan… there is no reason why he should not be promoted to 11th dan." However, since there has never been any promotion to a rank above 10th dan, the Kodokan Judo promotion system effectively has only 10 dans. There have only been 15 10th dans awarded by the Kodokan in the history of Judo.
Other colored belts for students who had not yet achieved black belt originated later, when Judo began being practiced outside of Japan. Mikonosuke Kawaishi is generally regarded as the first to introduce various colored belts in Europe in 1935 when he started to teach Judo in Paris. He felt that western students would show greater progress if they had a visible system of many colored belts recognizing achievement and providing regular incentives. This system included white, yellow, orange, green, blue, and purple belts before the traditional brown and black belts.
The Judo practice uniform and belt system eventually spread to many of the other modern martial arts, such as aikido and karate, which adapted them for their purpose. Karateka in Okinawa didn't use any sort of special uniform at all in the old days. The kyu/dan ranking system, and the modern karategi (modified judogi) were first adopted by Funakoshi in an effort to encourage karate's acceptance by the Japanese. He awarded the first shodan ranks given in karate to Tokuda, Otsuka, Akiba, Shimizu, Hirose, Gima, and Kasuya on April 10, 1924. The adoption of the kyu/dan system and the adoption of a standard uniform based on the judogi were 2 of the 4 conditions which the Dai-Nippon Butokukai required before recognizing karate as a "real" martial art. If you look at photographs of Okinawan karateka training in the early part of this century, you'll see that they were training in their everyday clothes.
Promotion requirements for each rank vary according to the sensei and the national organization that you are affiliated with. There is no worldwide standard for each rank, although it is generally accepted that a blackbelt has had many years of practice and can perform at least the nage-no-kata, the gokyo-no-waza and the newaza techniques. For further information about promotion requirements see your sensei.