Judo (which translates as “gentle way”) is an amazing sport, and is now practiced my millions of people around the world.
I’ve practised this martial art for a number of years and have gained a huge number of benefits from it. It’s also very cheap to practice and compete in this martial art requiring very little equipment.
History of Judo
It was Jigoro Kano, who in 1882, created this martial art by distilling elements of jiu jitsu, the battlefield fighting style of the samurai.
Many of the deadly techniques were removed. Instead, of trying to inflict a lethal blow, the aim of Judo was to try and throw or pin your opponent to the ground.
Spread of Judo
The modified style allowed two opponents to “fight” each other in a controlled and safe manner.
One famous contest was hosted by the Tokyo police in 1886 and took place between a Judo team and a well-known Jiu Jitsu school.
The Judo team won convincingly and the popularity of this new fighting style skyrocketed. Japanese judoka (a proponent of Judo) started to travel overseas to set up schools overseas.
Judo proved to be amazingly popular and became an Olympic event in 1964.
According to the IJF (International Judo Federation), there are over 40 million people who practice Judo.
What do you do in judo?
As I discovered, there are two main categories of techniques in Judo:
Nage-waza (throwing techniques) – we spent a considerable amount of time learning how to break the balance of your opponent so that you could quickly manoeuvre into position to execute the throw.
There is a whole myriad of throws to master: hip throws, shoulder throws, leg sweeps, sacrifice techniques, to name but a few.
I also soon discovered, that almost every throw has more than one counter to it: techniques you could employ to resist being thrown. Those counters also had their own counters making it a highly complex system. In many ways it was like a game of chess. You had to think ahead to plan your attack based on how you believed your opponent would react to your technique.
I also spent a considerable amount of time practicing Ukemi (break-falls), so that I could be thrown without being injured. I soon learned how to fall forwards, backwards, and sideways without hurting myself. Indeed, I took almost as much satisfaction from breakfalling correctly when thrown as I did when executing a throw.
Katame-waza (grappling techniques) – if you’d managed to throw your opponent onto the floor, but had failed to land them on their back, you’d then try a number of ground techniques. These included pinning moves to force them onto their back, or submission moves, such as choking, strangle holds or joint locks, in an attempt to get them to ‘tap out’.
Rules of Judo
The primary aim of Judo is to throw your opponent cleanly onto their back. To do so will earn the thrower an ippon which will mean they will win the contest.
A throw where the opponent lands, say on their side, will score a waza-ari. Two waza-ari’s equals one ippon.
An ippon may also be scored if you pin your opponent on their back for 20 seconds or cause them to submit in choking/stragulation techniques or by way of joint lock.
If you don’t quite pin them onto their back for the full 20 seconds but you keep them there for at least 10 seconds will score a waza-ari.
The match length is usually three minutes for children and five minutes for teenagers and younger adults. The match will last three minutes for those over thirty.
If the scores are identical at the end of a match then the ‘Golden Score’ rule kicks in. The clock is reset and the first person to score any point wins.
If there is still no winner at the end of this period then the referee and two corner judges will vote on who they think the victor is.
Benefits of Judo
By practicing Judo, I’ve gained a knowledge of a martial art that adapts extremely well to the street environment. I’ve written previously about this here. I think it would serve me extremely well if I ever had no option but to try and defend myself. (My first option would always be to run – I’ve explained why here)
Fighting against a resisting opponent has done wonders for my strength gains. Fighting with some of the higher belts can be like trying to fight an immovable object. In some ways it’s like a massive isometric workout.
When I started to notice my body becoming increasingly toned, I started to really look into isometrics – you can see some of my thoughts on this topic here.
Judo requires you to use the strength and position of your whole body in order for you to destabilise and throw your opponent. With regular practice you can’t but help gain greater control over how your body moves.
I certainly found that as I improved my movements seems to flow into one another and my body acted as a complete unit.
I don’t know whether it’s been the improvement in my own physical conditioning or the knowledge that I can defend myself if needs be, but I’ve definitely become more confident since I took up Judo. In fact, I would say that this has been the best benefit of practicing this sport, since this aspect spills over into so many other areas of my life.
What equipment do you need for Judo?
Judo is a very cheap sport to participate in and doesn’t require a load of fancy and expensive equipment.
When I first started, I just wore an old tracksuit to train in. It wasn’t long before I realised that this would be ripped to shreds in no time at all.
Judoka practice and compete in a Gi – a jacket and pants that are made from a thick cotton material. These are highly durable and a good quality one (such as the one here on Amazon) will last you several years.
You’ll need to look after you Gi and importantly wash it on a regular basis so that you’re not called ‘the smelly Gi guy’ at your dojo.
How do you wash a judo uniform?
You should wash your Gi on its own so that the colors from other fabrics don’t run and discolor your Judo gear.
I wash mine on a cool, cotton setting and avoid tumble drying it. Gi’s have a tendency to shrink by up to a size when you wash them so it’s worth bearing this in mind when you make your purchase.
How often should I wash my judo gi?
You should wash it after every training session. Try not to do what I’ve done – leave it in your training bag and forget about it until your next training session. You’ll be greeted by an aroma which will make the strongest of stomachs turn.
Judo is an amazing sport and I wish you many years of fun!