By Cathy Richey, the Cathy Factor
Judo is many things to different people: martial art, sport and way of life
are just a few. Judo is one of the best forms of physical education. When
Japanese educator Jigoro Kano developed Judo in 1882, his main goal was to
create a comprehensive method of physical education for an evolving, modern
Japan. After decades of international expansion, Judo became an Olympic sport in
Martial arts can be grouped into three categories: the striking arts
(taekwondo, karate, kung fu), the weapon arts (kendo, iaido, escrima), and the
grappling arts like Judo and jujitsu. Judo involves wrestling-like moves. It has
no strikes and uses no weapons.
Today, Judo is practiced for fun, fitness, recreation, self-defense and
competition throughout the world by millions of people. Judo has found its way
into the school systems of many European and Asian countries. At the Olympic
level, Judo's popularity is so great that it's usually the first sport to
completely sell out.
Judo is a better form of physical education, especially for children. Judo
training is tougher, so your body is better prepared mentally and physically to
withstand the rigors of an assault. It's more complete because it has standing
and ground fighting skills. It provides a better sense of true accomplishments
because there is no "make believe" in its training. It's an excellent sport to
cross-train in because it offers great development in balance, kinesthetic
awareness, coordination and ruggedness.
Is Judo appropriate for girls or women?
Yes, females need Judo more than males do. According to many statistics, as
many as one in three females will be subjected to an assault, mugging or rape in
her lifetime. Judo training will give females the physical strength, mental
toughness and self-defense tools to better handle an assault. Judo will also
help females develop assertiveness and confidence to face the day to day hurdles
in today's society.
Will Judo help me defend myself?
Some people will tell you that Judo isn't effective for self-defense because
it's a sport. On the other hand, the same people will tell you that boxing,
which is another Olympic sport, is effective for self-defense. The bottom line
is that Judo is effective for self-defense because it is a combative sport. The
competitive element in Judo training gives you a much more realistic preparation
for self-defense situations, especially since Judo involves both standing and
ground fighting skills. There are no forms or "air bashing" in Judo, only real
interaction with a real partner who fights back.
Will Judo help me in other sports?
Judo is one of the best sports to cross-train in, especially if you play a
contact sport. It's a natural complement to wrestling. Judo will improve your
balance, coordination, kinesthetic awareness, strength, physical and mental
toughness, and self-confidence, and will make you a better athlete.
Is judo practice physically challenging enough to substitute for time in
Yes. Judo offers anaerobic, aerobic, strength and flexibility training in
addition to the technical and self-defense benefits.
Will judo help me be a better high school wrestler?
Yes. Wrestlers will benefit from being a Judo player. Wrestlers who do Judo
become better wrestlers. Wrestlers will benefit from Judo's emphasis on leverage
and finesse, and will learn a different set of combative techniques to
complement their wrestling skills.
What is the best age to start Judo?
A good starting age would be 6 or 7 for most children. The starting age will
depend on a child's maturity level, attention span, interest, and sports
Am I too old to start Judo?
That really depends on how old you think you are, and what kind of physical
and medical condition you are in. There are people who begin Judo well into
their forties. Judo is a sport that you can practice beyond your sixties
provided you start early enough in your life.
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