Judo is a Japanese form of martial arts that has its origins in Jujutsu. The word “judo” means “gentle way”. Its Japanese creator, Jigoro Kano, was a master in many different Jujutsu styles before he went on to develop his own school of martial arts in the late 19th century. The result was an effective self-defense system, a great way to get fit and build up strength, and a martial art that develops many useful life skills.
The Benefits of Judo
Regular practice over time develops balance, control, reaction skills, flexibility, concentration and coordination. It also builds self-confidence, discipline and trust. It is an effective self-defense system, too. Jigoro Kano was interested in sports, but he also wanted to create a method that was available for everyone and that could benefit people as a way of life. He removed some of the techniques used in Jujutsu to create a system that would not cause injury even when used with full physical force.
Techniques and Principles
Of all techniques used in Judo, the throwing techniques are the most famous. Other techniques include arm locks, pins, choking techniques and control holds. This system uses a lot of grappling movements, but there are no punches or kicks. Safety is always an important principle.
Technique and skill are often more important than pure physical force. A student will learn to use movement, timing, leverage and balance when facing an opponent. For example when facing a strong opponent, giving way could be more effective than using physical strength.
Who Can Learn?
Millions of people in the world practice Judo today. This martial art welcomes both men and women, as well as children and even the elderly. All age groups can learn the art and benefit from the techniques and skills learned in class.
Students come to classes for a variety of reasons. Some are simply looking for a fun sport and want to enjoy a physical activity that builds fitness, flexibility and strength. Some students want to add a martial art to their existing exercise routine. Some want to learn self-defense skills that could be useful in everyday life, and some students are more interested in progressing through the system of ranks and testing their skills in competitions.
Rules and Ranks
All martial arts have a set of rules, and Judo also has its own rules too. Like many other martial arts, it uses colored belts as symbols of the different ranks. Those with a black belt are also graded in ten different degrees. Competitions are arranged at different levels, from local competitions to national level and even up to Olympic level.
Judo is a great choice for anyone interested in getting fit, learning self-defense or developing balance, strength, flexibility and coordination. As most martial arts, it is a method that involves the mind as well as the body. The movements have sometimes been called a moving meditation. Together with concentration and breathing, the movements can help to reduce stress levels and increase peace of mind, too.