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Judo : The Gentle, Yet Powerful, Martial Art

Judo is a Japanese martial art, derived by Jigoro Kano in 1882, from ancient Samurai fighting techniques. It is more than a combat technique, but is a physical, mental and moral way of life. Over the years, it has evolved and today is recognized as a popular Olympics-level combat sport, with followers around the world.

History And Philosophy

Jigoro Kano was who was inspired to combine the practical fighting techniques of jujitsu – a Japanese form of wrestling – with the thoughtfulness of one’s opponent. This is one of the main difference between Judo and other martial arts. Although derived from martial arts designed to hurt, the techniques of judo were evolved to be practiced without hurting the opponent. The word “Judo” comes from the Japanese characters ‘ju’ which means ‘gentle’ and ‘do’ which means ‘the way of’. So, literally, the meaning of “judo” is ‘the way of gentleness’, which indicates the peaceful and considerate nature of Judo.

Alessandro Judoさん(@judoitalia)がシェアした投稿

Judo Basics

As a combat sport, Judo is an extremely powerful sport that requires immense physical strength and great mental discipline. The objective is to throw or take down the opponent, by immobilizing them with a variety of moves. Unlike many other forms of martial arts, judo does not primarily focus on kicking, punching or striking. Nor does it involve the use of weapons or equipment. Judo involves lifting and throwing your opponent on their backs, and pinning them down using various chokeholds or joint locks. Thus, balance, power and movement are more important in judo than brute force or power. Using a combination of all three, people of a smaller stature can bring down an opponent twice their size.

Primary Moves

The three primary techniques in judo are : nage-waza (throwing), katame-waza (grappling) or atemi-waza (striking). The Atemi-waza (striking techniques using hands, fingers, elbows, knees, or the feet) is considered dangerous in nature. As a result, it is not allowed in judo competitions or in routine practice sessions.

Why People Practice Judo

Judo is an active lifestyle and philosophy that aims to harness the power of the body, mind and spirit. It is a way for students to gain physical and mental discipline, through the practice of attack and defence. Judo is not about using force to subdue an opponent, but to practice techniques to develop basic strength, agility and endurance. The techniques of active attack and defence used in Judo help the judoka – a person who practices judo – to improve their reaction time and co-ordination, making them more efficient in life.

But, for most judokas, the benefits of  judo go beyond development of the physical prowess and skill. The principles of judo also helps them control explosive impulses and emotions. Judo teaches students the importance of being mindful of actions as well as building meaningful relationships with others. This further helps people to become active and helpful members of the society they live in. The founder of Judo, Jigoro Kano, explained this nature of Judo using the words, “Maximum efficiency, Mutual Benefit”.

However one chooses to look at Judo – as a sport, a philosophy or a way of life – one thing is undeniable.  Judo has the ability to improve the lives of its students in many different ways than one can imagine.

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