Monday, 17 Jun 2024

Judo: A Gentle Way to Master the Martial Arts

Judo, a modern martial art developed by Professor Jigoro Kano, has its roots in Japan. Born in Kikage near Kobe on October 28th, 1860, Kano built upon the techniques of the older martial art jujitsu, which emerged in 1532. After studying under esteemed practitioners, Kano established his own school and exercises, which he named judo. He began teaching this new martial art in 1882, with just nine students in his first year, using a 12-foot by 18-foot mat in a hall.

Since then, judo, translating to “gentle way,” has transcended its Japanese origins to become one of the most popular martial arts worldwide. Notably, even Vladimir Putin is a dedicated practitioner. While it took time for judo to gain recognition as a competitive sport, the All-Japan Judo Championships in 1930 propelled its popularity further. In 1964, when Tokyo hosted the Olympics, judo became an official Olympic sport for men, and in 1992, it achieved the same status for women in Barcelona.

The Essence of Judo

Although judo has deep roots in Eastern philosophy, the sport’s competitive aspect revolves around simply beating one’s opponent with honor and grace. To secure victory, a player must score more points than their adversary. Points are awarded for throws or holds, while penalties are given for various rule infringements.

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Players & Equipment

Judo matches take place on a 14m x 14m mat, known as a tatami, with a 10m x 10m contest area marked within it. Competitors, called judokas, wear gis, traditional uniforms derived from the kimono and other Japanese garments. The gi must be durable enough to resist tearing, with the arms and legs extending no more than 5cm above the wrists and ankles, respectively. A belt is wrapped around the jacket and tied with a traditional knot.

Scoring in Judo

Judo offers three scoring options for athletes during a match. The highest score is called an ippon, which guarantees an immediate victory. Achieving an ippon involves throwing the opponent onto their back. Alternatively, ippon can be earned by immobilizing the opponent on the floor for at least 25 seconds or trapping them in an armhold or stranglehold until they submit.

A waza-ari is the next scoring level, equivalent to half an ippon. If two waza-ari scores are secured during a bout, the match is won. Waza-ari points are awarded for lesser throws or immobilizing the opponent for a duration shorter than required for ippon.

The lowest score is yuko, awarded for short immobilizing holds, less effective throws, or locks. Several yuko scores cannot surpass a single waza-ari score. Furthermore, even if an athlete has multiple yuko scores and one waza-ari, an opponent’s ippon supersedes them all.

Winning a Judo Match

To win a match, judokas must achieve an ippon, attain two waza-ari scores (which leads to ippon), or accumulate more points than their opponent by the end of the bout. If the scores are tied at the end, a period of Golden Score will determine the winner. In this overtime period, the first scorer wins the match. If the scores are still level after the period, the referee and two corner judges decide the winner through Hantei, a majority decision.

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Rules of Judo

To ensure fair competition, specific rules govern judo matches:

  • Matches occur on a 14m x 14m tatami, with a 10m x 10m combat area marked.
  • Judokas must bow before stepping onto the mat and must bow to each other before and after practice or competition.
  • The appropriate gi must be worn, with specific guidelines for length and belt style.
  • Bouts last five minutes in international competition. Victory is obtained through ippon or by having the highest score at the end. If the scores are tied, a period of Golden Score is initiated, and if still unresolved, the decision is determined by the referee and corner judges.
  • Penalties, known as shido, are given for minor rule infringements. Accumulating four shidos results in an automatic ippon for the opponent. Major rule breaches or the accumulation of four shidos lead to hansoku make, which not only awards the match to the opponent but also results in expulsion from the tournament.

It’s essential for judokas to adhere to the rules and avoid prohibited techniques, such as attacking joints (except the elbow), punching or kicking opponents, touching their faces, or intentionally causing harm.

FAQs

Q: How did judo originate?
A: Judo was developed in Japan by Professor Jigoro Kano, who drew inspiration from the older martial art jujitsu.

Q: How does one win a judo match?
A: Victory can be achieved by scoring an ippon, gaining two waza-ari scores, or accumulating more points than the opponent by the end of the bout.

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Q: What are the penalties in judo?
A: Penalties for rule infringements include shido for minor offenses and hansoku make for major infractions or the accumulation of four shidos.

Summary

Judo, the “gentle way,” is a modern martial art that originated in Japan. Professor Jigoro Kano developed judo based on the techniques of jujitsu. Over time, it gained popularity as a competitive sport, becoming an official Olympic event. Judo matches take place on a designated tatami, and athletes wear gis that adhere to specific guidelines. Scoring in judo involves achieving ippon or accumulating waza-ari and yuko points. The winner is determined based on the highest score or the first scorer during the Golden Score period. Following the rules and avoiding prohibited techniques is crucial for fair play. Discover the power of judo and embark on a journey of discipline, skill, and respect.

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