By the mid 19th Century more than 700 different styles of ju-jutsu were being taught throughout Japan.
As a youth Kano Jigori studied many of these systems of unarmed combat. A peaceful man by nature, Kano formulated a plan for the founding of a reformed method to turn the deadly techniques of jujitsu into a sport that would help practitioners to develop a strong mind, body and spirit.
By 1882 Kano was teaching a new discipline, he called it ju-do, “the way of flexibility”. Kano recognized that the roots of ju-jutsu lay in the soft, internal arts of China and sought to develop this soft aspect of the combat art in his new martial way.
Kano opened his first dojo, the Kodokan, in 1882. The formulation of the Kodokan style was completed by 1887 when Kanoís new style was accepted by the Japanese Ministry of Education, which adopted judo as a sport within the school system.
By the early 1900ís judo was gaining popularity in Europe and the United States. At the 1964 Olympic Games held in Tokyo Japan Judo was included for the first time. Today judo is one of the worldís most popular sports.
The central principle behind judo lies in using the opponentís strength and momentum against him. After breaking the attackerís balance a variety of throws (naga-waza) may be used to score on your opponent.
Before learning to throw, judo students must learn to fall (ukemi) without injuring themselves. Practitioners learn how to use their arms and legs as shock absorbers to absorb the shock of a fall. Judo is practiced on a tatami (straw mat) or a foam mat.
The throwing techniques are broken down into three parts: kuzushi, or breaking the opponentís balance; tsukuri, entering and positioning for the throw; and kake, the actual execution of the throw. These movements should be performed in one swift action for maximum effect.
Ne-waza (ground techniques) is also used in judo. They are divided into holding techniques and strangling or choking techniques and armlock techniques.