Judo: Sport and Martial Art

Judo means “the gentle way” in Japanese. It is both a contact sport and a type of martial art. When competing, the main goal is to force the opponent to the ground with the use of various techniques which include throwing, grappling, and pinning with a strangle hold.

“Judoka,” or those who practice judo, must learn to optimize their skills in leverage, balance, and movement to perform well in the various techniques. What is essentially taught in judo is how to give way, rather than to use brute force, to overpower a stronger opponent.


Kano Jigoro, founder of judo

Judo was founded in 1882 in Japan by Jigoro Kano, a Japanese educator. It was derived from jujutsu (also known as “jujitsu”), an ancient form of martial art. Kano combined the best of the jujutsu techniques into judo. In 1964, judo was introduced as an official sport for men in the Olympics held in Tokyo.

Judo is a discipline and an art in itself, which has made it quite popular.  It has brought new forms of martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Russia’s Sambo.
Today, people around the world practice judo, including women and children. Although it is a competitive sport, it can also be a recreational and fitness activity. It is also an excellent method of self-defense.

Children practicing judo | s.schmitz


Like every sport, judo has a set of rules. It has several skill levels and weight divisions in competition. Examples of traditional judo moves are grappling while on the ground, pinning, holding, locking arms, choking, and throwing. Thrusts and strikes of the hands and feet, and the use of weapons, are not allowed in competition and during sparring practice. However, they are still part of judo and can be used with kata, or pre-arranged forms of judo technique.

Fighting stance | Rodrigo Favera


Ranks depend on one’s skill and knowledge of judo and are categorized into two grades: the kyu and the dan. Judoka who hold dan grades are highly skilled and wear black belts, while those who have kyu grades are not yet competent enough and wear colored belts that vary depending on their level.


The judo uniform is called “judogi” and was created in 1907 by Kano. It is a set of white or blue cotton jacket and drawstring pants. The jacket is tied with an obi, or a colored belt that indicates the wearer’s rank.

Judo competition |
Fotos Gov/Ba