The history of judo

The origins of judo

Judo is a Japanese martial art created by Jigoro Kano at the end of the 19th century. The word “judo” means “the way of suppleness” in Japanese. This reflects the idea that this martial art can help individuals develop their physical and mental flexibility.

The history of judo is inextricably linked with other traditional Japanese martial arts such as jujitsu. Jujitsu is a set of fighting techniques taught to samurai from the Edo period ( 1600-1868 ). The aim of this discipline was to train them to defend themselves with their bare hands, when they found themselves unarmed.

Jigoro Kano studied several styles of jujitsu before creating judo. He realized that the techniques of jujitsu had become inadequate for modern times. Some of them were dangerous to learn and most of the masters were not pedagogical or taught in an archaic way.

Thus, inspired by Western gymnastics, Kanō decided to remove the dangerous movements from ju-jitsu and to codify the remaining techniques in the form of kata in order to facilitate their teaching. The goal was to create a new educational martial way, rid of its warlike vocation, which would no longer be ju-jitsu but would be called judo.

Jigoro Kano’s first classes were given in the Kodokan in Tokyo. This hall became mythical and inspired great champions throughout the world.

Democratization of judo in the world

Judo was first introduced to Europe in the early 20th century and quickly became popular throughout the world. Japanese masters went to the West to share their knowledge. Jigoro Kano always had the wish to see his martial art in big international competitions.

In 1964, judo became an Olympic sport at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Thanks to this event, judo is developing more rapidly and all over the world. Although it was initially reserved for men in international competitions, in 1980 the first female world judo champion was crowned in New York, Jane Bridge, now 8th dan.

Finally, judo has become an essential sport of the Olympic Games, practiced in almost all countries of the world. This martial art has become for some a way of life beyond a simple physical activity.

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