Translated as “The Gentle Way”, judo is a martial art that emphasizes using your opponent’s balance and momentum against them in order to achieve powerful throws with a minimum of effort. Also, unlike many martial arts, the techniques of judo have been developed such that they can be used with full speed and force without injury. Because of this, judo has become the world’s most widely practiced martial art, practiced in well over 100 nations. In fact, the only sport that is more widespread worldwide than judo is soccer.
The origin of judo dates back to 1882 when Dr. Jigoro Kano mastered classical jujitsu. Kano, a small man, felt that size should be no obstacle for a fight, and worked to develop a style where a small man could easily defeat a larger man through skill and technique. Throw by throw, Kano developed what is now judo. Kano started with 9 students and 12 mats, and 125 years later, judo is practiced around the world and has been an Olympic event since 1964.
All kinds of people, both male and female, practice judo. At ISU the club is coeducational, with sizes from 100 to 300 pounds and everywhere in between. Some people come in order to learn self-defense, some compete at the local and national level, and others just come for the fun of it. No grappling or martial arts background is needed to succeed, though people who have participated in wrestling or jujitsu in the past tend to have a good base from which to build their judo skills.