What is Judo?

Judo is a modern Olympic combat sport, a martial art and a form of self-defence. It is a full contact fighting sport that involves throwing and grappling techniques.

What is the History of Judo?

The first Judo school, the Kodokan, opened in Tokyo in 1882. Professor Jigoro Kano adapted his skills and knowledge gained from Ju-jitsu and Ju-jutsu, which were originally developed by Japanese Samurai. Judo made its first appearance at the Olympic games in Tokyo in 1964, and today Judo is the second most participated sport globally with millions of people practising worldwide.

Why do Judo?

People Practise Judo for all sorts of reasons, from competition to social and fitness, there are many benefits to regular participation.

Some of the outcomes and improvements: co-ordination, agility, timing, balance, speed, strength, increased bone density, stamina, cardiovascular, power, skill, technique, posture, core strength, determination, concentration, assertiveness, confidence, self control, discipline, respect, self-defence, mental toughness, emotional control and communication.

Who is Judo for?

Judo is suitable for all. Training can begin from the age of 5 upwards and is excellent for boys and girls, men and women, all shapes and sizes.

The Principles of Judo

Judo, which is translated as the ‘gentle way’, teaches the principle of flexibility in the application of technique. This is the flexible or efficient use of balance, leverage, and movement in the performance of Judo throws and other skills. Skill, the application of technique and timing, rather than the use of brute strength, are the essential ingredients for success in Judo. For example, in Judo classes you may learn to give way, rather than use force, to overcome a stronger opponent. The principles of Judo, Maximum Efficiency and Mutual Welfare and Benefit can also be used in our dealings with others in life. The ultimate goal in Judo is to develop oneself to the maximum extent possible, always striving for perfection, so that you can contribute something of value to the world.

Warm Ups

As Judo is a full contact sport it is important to warm up properly. Warm-ups generally include sport specific movements such as bridges, footwork and games, pulse raisers, joint mobility, gymnastics, breakfalls and stretching.

Breakfalls and Avoidance of Throws

A breakfall is how to receive a throw correctly, although these are important skills to learn they are rarely seen in competition judo, a player being thrown and breakfalling will result in an ippon (maximum score) being awarded and the contest ended. It is therefore important that a judo player learns how to read the attacks and develop the ability to spin out of the attacks to avoid a score.

Throwing Techniques

The power of Judo is in the throwing, and with proficient training the throws can be developed and delivered with speed, power and impact. A high impact throw will stun an opponent for a few seconds and fast transference into newaza can result in submission.

There are three main components of a throw, disturbing the balance (kuzushi), the entry (tsukuri) and the completion (kake). Other important factors are skill, the choice of technique, the speed, distance, timing, direction, action and reaction.

Grappling Techniques

  • Holds/Pinning techniques to have you partner completely under your control for 20 seconds.
  • Strangulation techniques attack the carotid artery to inhibit blood supply to the brain and force a submission.
  • Choking techniques attack the airway to inhibit breathing and get a submission.
  • Arm locking techniques attack the elbow joint to force a submission.


The skill in Judo is to apply a scoring technique in a competition or sparring situation. Skill development is very important and techniques should be adapted to suit the individual player. Size, height, weight, speed, suppleness and strength are all considerations, and rarely does a competition technique example of a throw match the text book.

Skills are developed through many years of training and are individual to the player applying them. Although each player’s techniques will be different, the components will remain the same: speed, timing, distance, body contact, balance breaking, action, reaction.


Junior gradings are broken down into 18 steps. These are called mon grades, and go from white belt to brown belt. The senior grades are broken down into 6 learning steps which are called kyu grades and take the player from white belt to brown belt. After achieving 1st kyu a senior player is able to attempt to gain their black belt or Dan grade. There are 10 Dan grades going from 1st Dan to 10th Dan.


Competition is a very important part of Judo training, it provides the opportunity to test the skills that have been developed, both physically and mentally. There are judo competitions in the UK most weekends, catering for all levels from beginner up to black belts.

Scoring Points

  • Yuko: Half score for throwing an opponent to their side or pinning them on the back for 10 seconds.
  • Wazari: Three quarter score for throwing an opponent largely on to their back or pinning them on their back for 15 seconds.
  • Ippon: Maximum score for throwing an opponent flat on their back with speed, power and control, pinning them on their back for 20 seconds, or forcing a submission through an armlock or strangle from which they have tapped out.

The Judo Code

  1. Fair Play
  2. Respect
  3. Discipline
  4. Hygiene
  5. Friendship