Jigoro Kano created judo in Japan in 1882 at a time during the Meiji Restoration when the fighting arts of the Samurai were being abandoned and held in some disrepute. Kano studied these arts as a youth, especially two different schools of Ju Jitsu.
Following intensive and extensive training, he was able to put together his own method and established his school, the Kodokan, to teach it. Kano was well educated and was to become one of the leading educators in Japan as it emerged into the modern era. He wanted his method of JuJitsu, which he named Judo, to be widely beneficial and to be practiced by many, not just a select few. It was designed to be practiced relatively safely, by removing many dangerous techniques, and was meant to be played as a sport. Nevertheless, the Kodokan was able to defeat other Ju Jitsu schools throughout Japan in competition and quickly gained widespread popularity. The sport of Judo evolved and through the influence of Professor Kano it spread around the world. It became an Olympic Men’s sport in 1964 and an Olympic Women’s sport in 1992. It also became one of the most beloved sports throughout the world, in many places second only to soccer. Unfortunately, it has yet to reach that level of popularity in the United States.
Professor Kano used the term “do” in Judo. This denotes that it is more than a sport or set of techniques, it is a way of life that is a vehicle for personal development and the betterment of society. Kano’s two basic principles of Judo are Seriyoku Zen’yo (Maximum efficiency, minimum effort) and Jita Kyoei (mutual benefit).
Judo ranks range from white to black belt based on experience level. However, everyone works together and learns from each other no matter their rank. In general, higher belts will mentor those who are of lower rank.
|White||Every beginner starts out as a white belt while they learn the basics of judo. You learn how to fall correctly and practice four of the most important throws in judo.||None|
|Yellow||As a yellow belt, you will expand your repertoire of throws and begin learning various pins for newaza (ground-based grappling). You can also begin to compete in tournaments.|
|Orange||Now, you are much more comfortable with movement, throws, and ground-based grappling. You are learning new throws as well as armbars and chokes but also focus on perfecting your technique.|
|Green||You learn some new throws, but you also begin to specialize. You are discovering your own unique fighting style.|
|Brown||Brown belt is all about technique and competition. You continue to perfect your fighting style and hone your skills through competition. There are 3 different belt levels you must achieve before you can go on to black belt.|
|Black||As a black belt, you have spent years practicing judo and have proven yourself a competent martial artist. You continue learning and practicing because you can always improve. There are 10 different ranks of dans (black belts). Additionally, you can now step into a larger teaching role to give back to judo in some way.|