History of Judo


The man responsible for the "invention" of judo was Dr Jigoro Kano (pictured above) who combined the styles and techniques of ju-jutsu to create the new mode. He achieved this by the time he was 20 and founded the first Kodokan (judo training hall) in 1882 at Shitaya. He became a distinguished schoolmaster and his philosophy of judo was that it should be a mental and physical training which should produce a mind, brain, and body in a state of harmony and balance (a fundamental concept in most martial arts). He introduced the principle of tskuri-komi. By the end of the 1880s judo had caught on in Japan and rapidly became very popular. The Japanese Ministry of Education adopted it as a sport and the police included it in training programmes. The Paris police adopted it in 1905. Kano visited Britain in 1885 and devoted much of his life to advancing judo. His pupils did likewise. The first club in Europe, the Budokwai, was established in London in 1918 by Gunji Koizumi (1885-1965) who did an immeasurable amount to popularize judo in Britain and Europe, and was still teaching at the Budokwai the day before he died, aged 80. The first international match was between the Budokwai and the German national team in 1926. This made a considerable impact and between the World Wars judo was established in Europe. In 1949 the British Judo Association was founded, and also the European Judo Union. The International Judo Federation was created in 1951, and in that year the first European Championships were staged in London. In Japan the first All-Japan championships were held in 1930 and by the start of World War II judo had become a national sport in Japan. In 1949 the Japanese Judo Federation was founded. The first World Championships were staged in Tokyo in 1956 and since 1965 have been held every two years. World Championships for women began in 1980 and this event reflected the greatly increased interest among women. When the Olympic Games were held in Tokyo in 1964 judo was added to the programme. From 1972 it has been included in all Games. Women's demonstration events were introduced at Seoul in 1988 and it became a medal sport in 1992. In the men's events at Olympic and World Championship level there has been an overall Japanese superiority, but there have been many champions from European countries and from the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In women's events at the Olympics and in the World Championships Japanese judoka have had minimal success. British women have excelled in the lighter weights. For efficiency, classes in judo are divided into Kyu (pupil) and Dan (master) grades. The highest possible grade is 12th Dan, awarded only to Jigoro Kano-the only Shihan (doctor). Apart from him the highest is the red belt awarded for 10th Dan to 13 men. Belt colours for Dan grades are 1st-5th Dan-black; 6th-8th Dan-red and white; 9th-11th Dan-red; 12th Dan-white.