Since Judo became an Olympic sport, it would be hard to find someone that has not heard of it.

Judo is one of the most popular martial arts in the world today. What many people don’t realize is Judo is not an ancient martial art but came about through one man’s efforts and vision.

Judo is a synthesis of several styles of Jujitsu brought together by the founder Jigoro Kano in 1882. Kano was a Japanese person who, like so many other people, began practising martial arts because of his limitations to protect himself due to his small stature and weak constitution.

He trained for many years under various teachers and different styles of Jujitsu and decided to take what he felt was the best from each and create what is now known as Judo.

He is also recognized as the creator of the coloured belt system adopted by many martial arts.

Kodokan Judo Principles and Aims clearly state the primary objectives of Judo are physical fitness, studying attack and defence and moral training.

This is supported by Kano’s own belief in which he divided Judo into three parts: a fighting method, a training method and as a method for mental training.

Judo is normally practised in three ways: Randori, sparring or free exercise; Kata, formal prearranged forms of attack and defence; and Shiai, competition that includes referees and rules.

Judo is known for its spectacular throws and intense ground work.

As can be imagined, it is very popular with young people.

In 1964, Judo became a sport in the Olympics for men. It wasn’t until 1992 that a women’s division was allowed in the Olympics.

There is a lot of debate whether Judo can be considered a martial art or a sport. And many have debated whether the inclusion into the Olympics has been good for it or has watered down the original intent and traditions of this fighting art.

Many of these changes have caused clubs to only focus on what is accepted for competition, thereby limiting the original intention and teachings of the founder. This has been the leading cause for the startup of other organizations.

Many feel the original intentions of the founder have been lost in the pursuit of competition and world attention brought about by the focus of the Olympic Games.

For instance, katas are not part of competition nor are the matches the same as they were years ago.

At one time, some matches would last as long as 40 minutes as the competitors strove to gain an advantage over each other. Now there are time limits and many techniques are forbidden because of the danger of them.

However, for many Judoka, it does not matter as they do it for other reasons than competition. Many practise for health and self defence as well as the traditions still taught in many clubs around the world.

Like everything in life, we are subject to change. Only the future will tell if the change was for the good of Judo or not.

In future articles I will talk about the history of Judo in the Yukon and what is being offered today.

Todd Hardy has studied and taught a variety of martial arts over 38 years and trained with many people from around the world. Would you like to comment on what you read here? Contact him at toddhardymla@gmail.com.