What is judo?

Today judo is an Olympic combat sport but it has its roots in jujitsu, a centuries-old method of Japanese self-defence and unarmed combat, which was brutal and often lethal.

Judo was established as a sport by Professor Jigoro Kano who founded his Kodokan Judo School in 1882 in a bid to improve physical education facilities in Japan.  However, jujitsu masters questioned the new system so in 1886 a tournament was arranged between the judo and jujitsu students.

The result was a resounding victory for the Kodokan Judo School. Japanese police officials had been watching the tournament and they were so impressed that judo has been used in police training in Japan ever since. Since then judo schools have been established in many countries and in 1964 judo was included in the Olympic Games. 

How do I start judo?

It is very important to start with a qualified judo coach.  Tonbridge Judo Club is registered with the British Judo Association – External link opens in new tab or windowwww.britishjudo.org.uk -, the official governing body for judo in the UK, which ensures that qualified coaches deliver safe, quality judo instruction.  All BJA member clubs must have at least one qualified BJA coach who must obtain a First Aid Certificate and meet strict child protection requirements.

Beginners are always welcome at Tonbridge Judo Club. See Contact Information for more details.  No suit is required, just wear jogging bottoms and a long-sleeved top. 

How old do I have to be?

Judo training can start at any age – the BJA has on record a man who started judo at the age of 54 and achieved his 1st Dan black belt within eight years. BJA members range from five to 85.  

Do women do judo?

Very successfully. Britain has produced a number of female judo champions.  The current crop includes Kate Howey, the Sydney Olympic Silver medallist, who also won an Olympic Bronze in Barcelona, Karina Bryant, Senior European Champion, Double Junior World and Junior European Champion and Georgina Singleton the current Commonwealth Champion. 

What do the coloured belts mean?

The colour of the belt denotes the player’s level of skill and experience. For players aged from 8 to 15 there are 18 different grades known as Mon (or junior) grades. The first six grades can be obtained within a players own club and from 6th Mon onwards, players must be examined by BJA qualified examiners.

Novices start with a white belt and then progress onto a red belt followed by yellow, orange, green, blue and brown before reaching the 1st Dan Grade . This entitles the player to wear the famous black belt. There are then higher Dan levels for the very dedicated.

A coloured band denotes different skill levels within the belts. From 16 years Kyu (senior) skill grades apply. 

 Why do I need a licence?

Judo is a contact sport and can be tough, although the accident rate is lower than some other sports.  It is therefore advisable to have a BJA licence, which gives insurance cover. For more information see the BJA website.

Does judo get you fit? 

Judo is an ideal form of physical education. Beginners must concentrate on getting the technique right and this process improves general fitness, strength and stamina.

Can people with disabilities do judo? 

Judo is the ideal sport for blind or visually impaired players but judo can be enjoyed by people with a wide variety of disabilities.  Simon Jackson MBE is the BJA’s most decorated athlete who has won three Paralympics Gold medals, Three World titles and seven European Championships.

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