What is Judo?
Judo’s a great sport — and it’s a sport for everyone. Young, old, male, female. those with health conditions or impairments — everyone is welcome and can take part. It can help with fitness, focus and discipline. It can build confidence and boost your well-being.
Judo is not about who’s the strongest or the toughest. Skill, technique and timing are what makes a great judo player. Translated as the yielding (or pliant) way, judo uses balance, leverage and movement rather than brute force.
It was founded in 1882 in Japan by Jigorō Kanō, an educator and athlete. He adapted the more dangerous techniques of ju-jitsu and developed judo. When he was creating it, there were two principles Kanō believed to be very important. He called these seiryoku zen’yō (maximum efficiency, minimum effort) and jita kyōei (mutual welfare and benefit). He described how to apply seiryoku zen’yō with the idea of jū yoku gō o seisu (softness controls hardness).
Explaining it, he said:
In short, resisting a more powerful opponent will result in your defeat, whilst adjusting to and evading your opponent’s attack will cause him to lose his balance, his power will be reduced, and you will defeat him. This can apply whatever the relative values of power, thus making it possible for weaker opponents to beat significantly stronger ones.
Judo became an Olympic sport at the Tokyo games of 1964. Japan dominated three of the four weight categories, but Dutchman Anton Geesink — the first non-Japanese judo world champion in 1961 — took gold in the Openweight category.
Judo has since grown in popularity, with countries such as France, South Korea, Georgia, Russia and many others challenging Japanese dominance at international level.
Many British judokas have enjoyed success on the world stage, including most recently the likes of Ashley McKenzie and Sally Conway, who won bronze at the 2019 World Championships, and Ben Quilter and Sam Ingram, both Paralympic medallists.
Globally, the sport is administered by the International Judo Federation. The UK national governing body is the British Judo Association. When you join Canterbury Judokwai you will need to become a member of the BJA — but you will also be part of a worldwide family of 40 million people who participate in our great sport.
You can come just for a workout and some fun, or you can set yourself goals and maybe compete — judo really is for everyone.