What is Judo?
Judo is a tremendous and dynamic Olympic sport that demands both physical prowess and great mental discipline. From a standing position, it involves techniques that allow you to lift and throw your opponents onto their backs. On the ground, it includes techniques that allow you to pin your opponents down to the ground. Unlike karate, judo does not involve kicking, punching, or striking techniques of any kind. Instead, judo simply involves two individuals who, by gripping the judo uniform, use the forces of balance, power, and movement to attempt to subdue each other.
The word judo consists of two Japanese characters, Ju, which means "gentle", and Do, which means "the way". Judo, therefore, literally means the way of gentleness (although the gentleness may not be immediately apparent to newcomers who see bodies flying through the air and people pinned to the ground!).
Judo is much more than the mere learning and application of martial art techniques, however, in its totality, it is a wonderful system of physical, intellectual, and moral education. Judo has its own culture, systems, heritage, customs, and traditions. Moreover, the principles of gentleness are carried from the practice mats and into most students' lives, in their interactions with their friends, family, work colleagues, and even strangers. Judo gives its students a code of ethics, a way of living, and a way of being.
Judo was developed in Japan by Dr Jigoro Kano towards the end of the 19th century and has evolved from being a martial art into one of the world’s most popular sports. Since its inclusion in the 1964 Olympic Games judo has progressed rapidly and is without doubt the world’s most popular combat sport. Judo is however much more than a sport, it is also seen to be effective as an educational system in both physical and moral spheres. In the UK and more recently in Ireland many primary schools are introducing judo after-school clubs because of the positive qualities that can be gained from children participating.
It is clear to see that judo and anti-bullying policies go hand in hand. This would add a great positive to any school policy and evidence of a proactive approach to eradicating it. Judo has been seen to actively reduce bullying. Bullies can only get away with their reigns of terror in relatively uncontrolled environments and the disciplined training hall removes them from their position of power.
Judo is an ideal sport for all ages, male or female and attracts very many disability groups. Confidence and self-esteem are enhanced as a player progresses through the ranks and the very nature of the grading system ensures that the next goal is always realistic and achievable with effort. The grading system also ensures that regardless of their skill level all judo players can actively compete with players of similar ability and hence they have a reasonable chance of emerging victorious.
Practiced today by over 200 million individuals, judo is undoubtedly the most popular martial arts sport in the world. In terms of sheer numbers of participants, judo is the second most popular sport of any sport, soccer being number one. In terms of national organizations worldwide, judo is the largest sport in the world, with the greatest number of member nations in the International Judo Federation, or IJF. It is a part of the physical education systems of many countries, and practiced in local clubs, primary & secondary schools, colleges, regional and national training centres, and in many other areas in this country and across the world. Millions have discovered the spectacular enriching sport, and way of life, we know of as judo.
Judo develops into a rigorous and demanding physical activity. The practice of judo techniques helps people develop basic and fundamental physical fitness in a number of ways, such as the development of strength, flexibility, agility, speed, dynamic and static balance, explosive power, and endurance. This fantastic sport is ideal for children & adults of all ages, with its easy to learn techniques, fast pace progression, great fitness qualities and fun approach to learning.
Judo is taught utilising basic Judo techniques as well as Judo games as a fun way to encourage development of movement and athletic skills at this important stage of a child’s physical development. The judo games are used as a fun way to develop running, jumping, agility, balance and coordination skills.
Judo is a tremendous and dynamic Olympic Sport that demands both physical prowess and great mental discipline.
Many sports include Judo in their off season training plan as Judo improves core stability, strength, stamina, agility, footwork, coordination and overall general fitness.
The All Blacks use Judo as their off season sport of choice for contact conditioning, helping soft tissues condition against impact/contact/falls. England Rugby use Judo training to enable the tackler to place the tackled player on the ground on his back leaving the ball available to the opposition. They also use it to train the tackled player to maintain his balance for one or two extra seconds to enable better passing out of the tackle. The aim of Judo and Rugby is to stay on your feet. Judo is not a ‘quick fix’ for rugby players; it’s an effective cross training option.
A number of other sports such as soccer, athletics and basketball use judo in their pre season training as judo teaches you balance, falling, advantage, recognizing the shift in advantage in an instant, inventiveness as well as building strength, agility, explosive power and general fitness.
Special Needs Judo
The program is designed to introduce the fantastic Olympic Sport of Judo to a wide variety of disability groups across Ireland. Judo is one of the main martial art type sports that is suitable for a wide spectrum of disabilities covering, intellectual & physical disability, sensory impairments, Downs syndrome and Autism but to name a few.
This is due the pure nature and culture of judo with its standing techniques (throws) and ground techniques (grappling, holds) ensuring there is something for everyone. Coaching techniques are modified, with a clear focus on individual ability, and physical, social and emotional benefits to participants. The aim is to concentrate on what the student CAN do, not on what they cannot. Special Needs Judo is now huge in Europe with thanks to forward thinking Associations/Federations who embrace the JUDO/SPORT FOR ALL concept.
There are many levels for students to achieve depending on what aspect of the sport they choose to pursue. Some athletes like to train just for fun, others like the social aspects of the sport and some like to study the form of Judo for demonstration purposes. A large number of SN Athletes are attracted to the competitive side of Judo and this aspect is now huge in Europe and around the world. Judo is a Special Olympic Sport as well as a Paralympics Sport, for this reason there is a program to suit the elite judo athlete as well as the regional competitor.
Judo in Ireland
Judo was first practiced in Ireland in 1952, when a Dublin man, who had reached the rank of yellow belt in England, established a club near Phoenix Park, because it was situated in the attic of a small garage it came to be called ‘The Loft’. A class of about a dozen people practiced there, and soon a Black Belt instructor was brought over from England to grade the members. During this embryonic stage the British Judo Association (BJA) regularly sent instructors and examiners to Dublin.
In 1956 a second club was formed, on the other side of Dublin, and friendly competition commenced between the two. In 1957 The Loft moved to much larger premises, was renamed Dublin Judo Club, and began in earnest to promote judo in Ireland. Over the next five years, clubs opened in Cork, Limerick, Galway, Belfast, and Derry, and in 1962 the first Dublin practitioner, Mr S Kavanagh earned his black belt 1st Dan. The Irish Association (IJA) was formed in 1963 as the national governing body; it joined the EJU and IJF. The Irish Judo Association’s Executive Committee is made up of 12 volunteers & is exclusively an amateur organisation at present, there is one staff member & the Association receives funding from the Irish Sports Council.
In 1964, when judo was admitted to the Olympics, Ireland was represented in Tokyo by one man, Mr John Ryan, a Mayo-born black belt living in London, England. Ryan fought to the quarter-finales in the middleweight division, losing to Ted Boronoskis of Australia. Since then, Ireland had competed nearly every year, either in the European Championships, the World Championships, or in various international opens. The Olympic results for each continent can be found at this link: http://www.olympic.org/medallists-results
Today, there are 46 clubs & just under 1700 members affiliated to the Irish Judo Association, judo in Northern Ireland is affiliated to the Northern Ireland Judo Federation which is part of the British Judo Association (BJA).