Judo ("gentle way") is generally categorized as a modern Japanese martial art, which has since evolved into an Olympic event. The sport was founded in 1882 by Jigoro Kano as a physical, mental, and moral pedagogy in Japan.

Judo (“gentle way”) is generally categorized as a modern Japanese martial art, which has since evolved into an Olympic event.

The sport was founded in 1882 by Jigoro Kano as a physical, mental, and moral pedagogy in Japan. With its origins coming from jujutsu, judo’s most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the objective is to either throw or take down an opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue an opponent with a pin, or force an opponent to submit with a joint lock or a choke.

Strikes and thrusts by hands and feet as well as weapons defences are a part of judo, but only in pre-arranged forms (kata) and are not allowed in judo competition or free practice. It was also referred to as Kanō Jiu-Jitsu until the introduction to the Olympic event. A judo practitioner is called a “judoka,” and the judo uniform is called “judogi.”

The philosophy and subsequent pedagogy developed for judo became the model for other modern Japanese martial arts that developed from traditional schools. Judo also spawned a number of derivative martial arts across the world, such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Krav Maga, and Sambo. Judo also influenced other combat styles such as close-quarters combat (CQC), mixed martial arts (MMA), shoot wrestling and submission wrestling.

Judo consists primarily of nage-waza (throws), along with katame-waza (grappling), which includes osaekomi-waza (pins), shime-waza (chokes), and kansetsu-waza (joint locks). Additional techniques, including atemi-waza (striking), various joint locks, self defense and weapons are found in the Judo katas. Judo is generally compared to wrestling, but it retains its unique combat forms.

As a daughter to Jujutsu these techniques are also often taught in Judo classes. Because the founder was involved in education (President of Tokyo University) Judo training emphasizes mental, moral and character development as much as physical training. Most instructors stress the principles of Judo such as the principle of yielding to overcome greater strength or size, as well as the scientific principles of leverage, balance, efficiency, momentum and control.

Seiryoku zenyo (maximum efficiency) and Jita kyoei (mutual welfare and benefit) are the best known of the principles of Judo. Judo is a good choice for children to learn because it is safe and fun, and because it emphasizes education and proper development of the body, mind, and character.

Mitsuyo Maeda, one of five Kodokan’s top groundwork experts trained by judo’s founder Kano Jigoro was sent overseas to demonstrate and spread Judo to the world. He left Japan in 1904 and visited a number of countries giving “jiu-do” demonstrations and accepting challenges from wrestlers, boxers, savate fighters, and various other martial artists, and arrived in Brazil on 14 November 1914.

Gastão Gracie was a business partner of the American Circus in Belém. In 1916, Italian-Argentine circus Queirolo Brothers staged shows there and presented Maeda and his troupe of “jiu-do” fighters. In 1917, Carlos Gracie, the 14‑year-old son of Gastão Gracie, watched a demonstration by Maeda at the Da Paz Theatre. Carlos Gracie became a great exponent of the art and, with his younger brother Hélio Gracie, founded Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Gastão Gracie and his family moved to Rio de Janeiro. Carlos, then 17 years old, taught what he had learned to his brothers Osvaldo, Gastão, and Jorge. Carlos and Hélio as well as Luiz Franca are considered the founders of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

A separate branch of Judo was developed in the universities of Japan called Kosen Judo that allows more time in ne-waza and evolved many characteristics that are also seen in BJJ. The development of Kosen Judo in Japan ran parallel to the development of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil throughout the 19th century.

On October 23, 1951, Kosen Judo Champion Masahiko Kimura had a famous match with Helio Gracie at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janerio Brazil that lasted 13 minutes. The match ended with Helio’s corner throwing in the towel after Kimura broke Helio’s arm with a reverse ude-garami. After that, the shoulder lock was made famous and renamed the “Kimura” in BJJ circles.

Certain changes were made to the rules of sport judo after judo was introduced to Brazil. Some of these rule changes sought to enhance it as a spectator sport, and others aimed to improve safety. Several of these rule changes de-emphasized the groundwork aspects of judo, and others have reduced the range of joint locks application. Brazilian jiu-jitsu did not follow these changes to judo rules, and this divergence gave BJJ a distinct identity as a ground focused grappling art, this difference was later consolidated with the creation of a new set of rules that guide BJJ practice today.

Even though BJJ permits the same techniques as judo, especially when taking the combat to the ground, they are not scored in the same way. In Judo, throwing techniques are scored higher and can give a direct victory if executed correctly, the emphasis of the fight is to sweep or throw the opponent to the ground to win. In BJJ, ground fighting positions such as the rear mount receive higher scores and the focus of the fight is to establish a dominant position against the adversary on the ground and submit him using chokeholds or joint locks.

Many top level BJJ and Judo competitors compete in both rule sets.

Some of the top BJJ players that also hold Judo black belts:

  • Saulo Ribiero
  • Andre Galvao
  • Travis Stevens
  • David Camarillo
  • Wellington “Megaton” Dias
  • Alexander “Jacare” Souza
  • Leonardo Leite
  • Satoshi Ishii
  • Moacir Mendes Jr
  • Yacinta Nguyen
  • Maria Malyjasiak
  • Marco Barbosa
  • Felipe Bezerra
  • Eduardo Lopes
  • Rhadi Ferguson

Our classes are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30-8:30PM, and Saturdays from 12:00-2:00PM, and we welcome practitioners of all levels to join us.

On a quarterly basis, we  also offer a 5-week Intro course. The objectives of this course are to provide an introduction to Judo fundamentals, provide insight into the culture of Judo, and prepare students to participate in the regular classes. A terminology glossary for Intro course students is available here.

Interested in training with us? Contact us here!