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Learn More About Judo


What is the history of judo?

Judo originated in the late 1800s in Japan. Creator Jigoro Kano had sought a jujitsu instructor for years to defend himself against bullies in school; this proved difficult for two reasons: the westernization of Japan and the Meiji Restoration of 1968. Jujitsu practice fell out of common practice and became unfashionable. Kano was able to find a teacher in the late 1870s and became his finest student, and began teaching what is known as judo in 1882.

Kano developed three basic techniques for judo: throwing, grappling and striking; however, striking is not a technique used in competition. The first contest took place in 1899, with Kano presiding as a chair committee member. Judges awarded points called ippons to participants who held their opponent to the mat for at least 20 seconds or managed to successfully threw them onto their back.

More rules and penalties, including a weight class system, entered competitions to prevent injury. And while Kodokan judo is the most popular, there are other forms practices in specific regions, such as Russian judo, Sambo (also a Russian creation) and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Judo at the Olympic Games

Jigoro Kano hosted an informal demonstration event at the 1932 Olympics. However, he felt indifferent about it becoming an official sport. It eventually entered the competition in 1964 for men. It was protested and removed in 1968 but returned in 1972. Women were allowed to compete in 1988. Unsurprisingly, Japan has won more medals than any other country.

What are the current Olympic judo events?

There are specific weight classes for each gender, which are currently: men's heavyweight (100+ kg), men's half-heavyweight (90-100 kg), men's middleweight (81-90 kg), men's half middleweight (73-81 kg), men's lightweight (63-72 kg), men's half lightweight (60-66 kg) and men's extra lightweight (under 60 kg).

Women's weight classes include: women's heavyweight (78+ kg), women's half-heavyweight (70-78 kg), women's middleweight (63-70 kg), women's half middleweight (57-63 kg), women's lightweight (52-57 kg), women's half lightweight (48-52 kg) and women's extra lightweight (under 48 kg).

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