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Judo, which means "gentle way" is a modern Japanese martial art and combat sport. It is comprised of throwing your opponent to the ground and subduing him. It is a very fun hobby to learn and is high recommended.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other Judo resources. We have a Judo forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with Judo how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Judo books and products.

To learn about other martial arts styles, go to these individual hobby pages; Aikido, Capoeira, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Karate, Kung Fu, Mixed Martial Arts -MMA, and Taekwondo.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis



Judo is a Japanese martial art that stresses the development of the practitioner’s mental and physical abilities in equal measure. It teaches that the best course of action is to exert the least amount of force to achieve the maximum result. The second most important element taught is the idea of mutual benefit.

The philosophy behind mutual benefit is that, nothing can be gained at the expense of others. All parties must work together to prosper. Judo shows that all people have value. This involves a high degree of respect for others, especially the place in which you train and your instructor.

Like many forms of martial arts, Judo ranks its practitioners with a colored belt system. There are two categories to this ranking structure, the student kyu and the master dan. Dan is reached upon receiving a black belt. From then on, a master can obtain ten further degrees of status. In more traditional setting, only when reaching a fifth degree black belt is a master referred to as a sensei. But no matter what your rank all of the practitioners of Judo are called jūdōka.

In the early part of the 20th century, several Judo masters left Japan to spread the art style across the world. By 1964, the popularity of Judo was recognized by adding it as a competitive event in the Olympics for men. It wasn’t until 1992 that a woman’s division was added as well.

Even to this day the art form is being revised. In 1982, the moves of Judo were revised and updated to fit today’s modern standards. The creations of new moves are also being instituted. 1997 saw the implementation of two new throws recognized by the Judo community.

Principles of Judo

There are five major principles that encompass Judo. These rules both guide the training of the body and the mind. Some of these principles are broken up into more specific concepts.

In doing this, the sensei may stress subtle but necessary aspects in the lesson. Many of these distinctions are made to show the difference between a mental versus physical approach to the student.

Seiryoku Zenyo

Put simply this is the idea of maximum efficiency. It is wasteful to use more force than what is necessary. Nor should you use your own force if it is supplied by someone else.

For the art itself, this meant that moves that relied solely on force were discarded from the two schools of jujutsu. Moves that remained focused on a wide variety of more defensive type actions. That’s why throws play a major role in Judo.

If one were to apply this principle to ones life, it may be summarized like this. A bolder is in the middle of the path. The most efficient way to deal with this problem would involve walking around it.

Mutual Benefit

The second founding principle had little to do with the martial art and more to do with moral behavior. In this ideology it is believed that no one prospers through selfish acts. Instead everyone must work to help everyone else to gain prosperity.

This gives guidance to practitioners to tell them when Judo is most appropriate. Will subduing this individual help all the people involved? If the answer is, this will only help me, then this rule guides the person not to use physical force. In situations where only you benefit, Judo may advocate talking through the problem rather than resorting to a physical exchange.


There are three levels to this principle. The first and most straight forward is Sen itself. The rough translation means initiative. Utilizing this aspect of the principle means you will act first in order to disrupt your opponent’s actions. This is also the most basic form of Sen.

The next form is known as ato no-sen. This teaches the student to react to their opponent’s body language. It is a skill of observation and timing which adds the increased difficulty to learning it.

The most advanced level of Sen is sen-sen-no-sen. To master this principle one must anticipate and understand the mindset of their opponent. The end result will appear something like mind reading. Where the Judo master acts against their opponent before the opponent even knows what they’re going to do. Lessons that teach this are reserved for the highest levels of Judo.


All combat must come to an end. In Judo the principle that concludes all actions is Kuzushi. This states that to defeat a person, their balance must be broken. Breaking the balance can be achieved in one of two ways.

The opponent whose balance is compromised can either lose it through their own actions or be made vulnerable by another’s actions. Both of these outcomes can be reached by two different means.

The first of these styles is kake. This is an aggressive attack action which presses the issue to resolve itself. This compliments the ideas of sen and sen-sen-no-sen extremely well. Your attack comes first thereby disrupting the other person.

The other method is tsukuri. Tsukuri is often explained as a preparatory attack. Either you prepare yourself, jibon-no-tsukuri, or preparing your opponent, aite-no-tsukuri. To prepare yourself you must stay relaxed and flexible. To prepare others you must throw the person off balance making them vulnerable. This compliments ato-no-sen, as a reactive response.


Ju-no-ri is often referred to as the principle of gentleness. It states that you must remain both flexible and adaptable. Force expended is not as important as how you might direct the force.

In practice, if an opponent were to push you, you don’t push back. Rather, you pull them, thus creating less effort for yourself and putting you in control of their force. Likewise, if they were to pull you, you can take control of the force by directing your push.

Ju-no-ri is what ties the other principles together. It provides a transitory phase between initiating and finishing an action, while at the same time reminding the practitioner of their moral responsibilities.

What you need

Like many martial arts , casual clothes are not suitable for practicing the art form of Judo. In Judo a white uniform called a judogi, or simply gi, is used. The uniform involves three parts the top, which closes much like a robe, and pants. Ties and draw strings are used to fasten these pieces securely. The final piece is the belt, which is colored to denote your respective level of the art.

The uniform is durable while still allowing a full range of movement. It is also important to note that there is a right and wrong way to tie your belt. The outfit itself will range anywhere between $20 to $60 depending on your size and its availability.

As for a place to learn, the accessibility and price can range dramatically. Some schools provide basic classes on Judo. However, if you are serious about the art you might want to seek out a local martial arts studio that teaches it.

The price you pay will cover the facility, training, and all the accessories needed to learn. Things like mats and other pads for practicing will be provided. And never underestimate the need for a qualified instructor.

Mind you, this is not a solo hobby. Given the potentially lethal elements of any martial art, it’s recommended you don’t try teaching yourself. Once you get started in a Dojo, martial arts studio, they will instruct you on ways to practice inside and outside their approved environment.

To find these places, it’s as simple as using a local phone book, or for the more technically savy, doing a search on your favorite search engine. Many times these facilities will have a special introductory price for beginners. This makes it easier to see whether or not Judo is right for you.

Taking it Further

For some the idea that this is either a self-defense option or a way to live my life is not enough. Many people need a bit more structure and a goal to orientate themselves on. For these people you can look to the more competitive side of Judo.

These events stress the mastery of the form by allowing those with the desire to test themselves against others for comparison. The environment is made as safe as possible while at the same time supportive.

Since Judo itself is not structured to be judged and measured, rules were laid out by the world organizations. With these rules and scoring mechanisms, it’s possible to add a robust and competitive edge to this physical pursuit.


On the other hand, people who choose Judo do so for reasons all their own. The best example of this is self-defense. This has nothing to do with competition. Those who seek this reason may want to feel safer or perhaps it is work related.

Many armed forces and police officers will utilize Judo training in their work environment. Subduing an individual while trying to maintain that person’s safety is a tall order for many martial artists. In contrast, Judo is designed specifically with this in mind.

Courses that teach self-defense will more likely favor the idea of Judo over more violent approaches for a number of reasons. If the person defending themselves injures the attacker, the attacker may have legal grounds to seek revenge. Also, serious injury to an attacker may instigate a more violent response by that person.

Those interested in a more self-defense application of Judo should ask about being trained in a particular Kata form. Some of these forms include Kime No Kata, Joshi Judo Goshinho, and Kodokan Goshin Jutsu. However, it may be better to find a self-defense course that isn’t martial art specific. Many times these classes will have already incorporated the most useful elements in their curriculum.


For those seeking a way to balance their life, Judo makes an excellent option. Having no restriction to joining, it opens itself to nearly any type of person. Young or old, man or woman, even those with disabilities are all welcome.

Going back to the principles of Judo, it desires to spread the idea of mutual benefit to everyone. As for the physical aspect, it favors skill over size and strength unlike other martial arts. This further reduces any limitations or preconceived worries anyone might have on joining.

Furthermore, it can promote a healthier life style. By increasing your level of awareness and boosting your initiative, you’ll find you have more confidence in yourself. Coupled with the principle to help others, you’ll find you’ll spread your mood and prosperity to others around you.