Judo, which means “The Gentle Way”, is a Japanese martial art based upon the ancient techniques of jujutsu. Dr. Jigoro Kano, President of the University of Education in Tokyo, developed judo in 1882. Dr. Kano, who had studied jujutsu in his youth, incorporated the best of these ancient techniques into the new art of Judo. Dr. Kano subsequently founded the Kodokan in Tokyo, Japan as an place to teach his new art.
Judo is known for its spectacular throwing techniques but also includes numerous techniques for controlling an opponent while on the ground. Judo is often compared to freestyle wrestling and while the two share many techniques, Judo retains many dangerous self-defense maneuvers. A good judoka, one who practices Judo, will first use timing and leverage to bring his opponent off balance and execute a throw. Once the judoka has thrown his opponent to the ground, he will use painful hold-down techniques, chokes, strangleholds, and armlocks to control and subdue the opponent. If the opponent does not surrender, he will either have his elbow joint dislocated by means of an armlock or will be rendered unconscious with a chokehold. A judoka first learns “ukemi”, the art of falling properly to avoid injury. All Judo practitioners wear a judogi and a belt. Judo is practiced on mats for safety.
The main principles of Judo are “Maximum Efficiency” and “Mutual Welfare and Benefit.” The goal of maximum efficiency teaches the judoka to use the least amount of physical strength necessary to throw an opponent. This is accomplished by proper use of technique and timing. The goal of mutual welfare and benefit was an extension of Dr. Kano’s belief that Judo could help the individual become a better member of society. Dr. Kano felt that the personal discipline that Judo taught would extend beyond the dojo into daily life and could allow the judoka to become a more productive member of society.