A Japanese martial art emphasizing grappling techniques based on the notion that softness overcomes hardness. Although the term had been in limited use during the Tokugawa era, Judo in its modern form was founded by Professor Jigoro Kano in 1882, during the Meiji period. Both an art of self-defence and a sport which has enjoyed Olympic recognition since 1964, judo is practiced in almost every country in the world. Judo, which derives from jujutsu, rests upon the principal of turning an opponent’s strength to one’s own advantage and overcoming by skill rather than by strength alone. Although not the only strategic element, a primary principal of judo is that of taking of advantage of aggressive force by giving way rather than resisting it–hence the terminology “soft” or “yielding” way.
In developing the judo curriculum, Professor Kano sought to achieve several goals. First, he sought to preserve both the technical and philosophical lessons he had learned from his life-long study of jujutsu at a time when traditions associated with the samurai were deeply unpopular. Second, he wished to create a synthesis between this tradition and two elements he admired in Western culture: rational/scientific analysis on the one hand and the ideal of sport as moral education on the other. Finally, he wished to use his Judo as a vehicle for the widespread cultivation of moral excellence and social responsibility within the Japanese educational system.
Teaching Structure of Judo
One of the prominent features of judo was the structure of its curriculum. Since this curriculum is a major influence in the structure of the Yoseikan system (see Techniques page), it is perhaps worth reviewing briefly. Judo techniques are divided broadly into three categories: tachi-waza (standing techniques), ne-waza (ground techniques) and atemi waza (striking techniques).
The standing techniques (tachi-waza), also referred to as nage-waza (throwing techniques) are further divided into te waza (hand techniques), koshi-waza (hip techniques), ashi-waza (foot techniques), ma sutemi waza (rear fall “sacrifice” techniques) and yoko sutemi waza (side fall “sacrifice techniques). The ground techniques are divided into osaekomi waza (pinning techniques), shime waza (strangling techniques) and kansetsu waza (joint locking techniques). The striking techniques (atemi waza), which are prohibited in competition, include various methods of hitting or kicking vital anatomical targets.
Practice time is distributed among four major activities: uchikomi (repetitive drills), kata (formal exercises), randori (free practice in the application of techniques) and shiai (contest).
Innovation Developed Judo
Another interesting contribution of Kano’s judo to the martial arts is the introduction of colored belts as a means of recognizing advancement in skill, a system which has been widely adopted by other styles. There are two categories of judo rank, kyu and dan. The judo novice starts at 6th kyu, wearing a white belt, and gradually advances to 1st kyu, where s/he wears a brown belt. From there, the student may advance to 1st dan, or 1st degree black belt. There are 10 degrees of black belt, although 6th through 8th degree have the option of wearing a red-and-white belt and 9th and 10th dan may wear a red belt.