What Is Judo?

Judo is a tremendous and dynamic combat sport that demands both physical prowess and great mental discipline. From a standing position, it involves techniques that allow you to lift and throw your opponents onto their backs. On the ground, it includes techniques that allow you to pin your opponent’s down to the ground, control them, and apply various chokeholds or joint locks until submission.

The practice of judo promotes teamwork, leadership and self confidence; it can also help prevent issues such as bullying, harassment, aggression and discrimination. Judo develops discipline, manners, punctuality, strength, stamina, perseverance, tenacity, and toughness. Judo builds healthy and strong muscles and improves cardio.

The Judo Moral Code is a set of ethics created by the sport’s founder Jigoro Kano. He believed they were vital in the development of judo players and individuals both on and off the mat.

The code itself is made up of 8 parts:

Courtesy, Courage, Friendship, Honesty, Honor, Modesty, Respect, Self-Control

Judo in Schools Overview (Photo by USA Judo)

1. Belts and Ranking:

Belts are a great way to help children track their progress and motivate them to strive higher. Belts and ranking may help build the child’s confidence and their desire to succeed. In many cases the first belt promotion can be attained in few weeks and when children obtain that first belt, it shows them that with the right motivation, they can succeed.

2. Self-Confidence:
As children become more skillful their confidence gets increased significantly. They become more self-assured and confident.

3. Exercise:
Class will often be comprised of warm-up calisthenics, teaching and practicing of moves. The warm up and practice include the bulk of the time, and for that time your child will be constantly on the go. The workout each child gets will not only assist in the natural development of his/her muscles, but also help them build stronger Cardio-Vascular systems.

4. Emphasis on Individual Achievement within a positive peer group setting:
In judo, each child’s success is based on his or her own individual qualities. Knowing that their own ambition and hard work will drive them to succeed, they will be motivated to follow their dreams. Also, judo is one of the few sports that individuals can only improve through the positive interaction and training with others.

5. Discipline:
There is constant repetition in drills and practices with emphasis on details and rhythm. Moves are practiced and repeatedly. This instruction instills the benefits of frequent practice, and the patience in self- development to achieve a goal. Through this process, children are taught to respect one another, their opponents and colleagues, and how to play games fair and square.

6. Gender Equity:
Many parents consider martial arts for their sons, not nearly as many would consider it for their daughters. However, judo is one of the few sports where both boys and girls can play together. In fact, female judo players in the United States tend to have greater competitive success internationally than their male counterparts.

7. Respect for Strength:
A question parents often have when they send their kids to judo class is: “Is my child going to use this to hurt others?” Although this is a legitimate concern, it is always addressed early by instructors who remind students that the techniques they learn in the dojo stay in the dojo and should not be used to intimidate people. As children learn the ropes, they will learn to respect their newfound strength and techniques.

The word judo consists of two Japanese characters, ju, which means "gentle," and do, which means "the way." Judo, therefore, literally means the way of gentleness.

But, beyond the development of physical prowess and athletic ability, judo students learn much more. They learn how to control their feelings, emotions, and impulses though the judo moral code. They learn about values of perseverance, respect, loyalty, and discipline. Through their experience, they learn about politeness, modesty, and many other wonderful values that contribute to their development as successful citizens of society.