About Judo

A Brief History | What's in a Name? | Why Judo for MMA?


A Brief History

Judo was founded in 1882 in Japan by Jigoro Kano, who had been a student of jiu jitsu from a young age. Kano wanted a martial art which incorporated the best of jiu jitsu, and eliminated the hazardous techniques (jiu jitsu matches would commonly end in severe injury or the death of one of the fighters) from competition.

By the 1920s, judo had made it to North America; by the 60s, judo was an Olympic sport.

Judo comprises various techniques throws (one judo player, or judoka, throws another), groundwork (the judokas fight on the ground and one will hold the other down for a given length of time), armbars or joint locks (can be performed from standing, or from the ground), chokes (as with armbars, standing or on the ground), and combinations of some or all of the above.

There are many excellent resources on the internet for a full history of Judo, so we'll keep ours to a minimum. For further information, check this page out, or for an explanation of Judo in the founder's own words, take a look here.

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What's in a name?

The character "Ju" in Judo roughly translates to "gentleness", "suppleness", or "flexibility". The character "Do" in Judo translates to "The Way". Thus Judo is commonly referred to as "The Gentle Way". But please don't mistake this moniker for meaning that no effort or strength is required, or that Judo is easy!

The name really reflects the idea that it is generally better to yield to an attacker's force, using his momentum, input some of your own force (preferably at an unexpected moment or angle), and use the combined forces to your advantage. Basically, it's better to step out of the way of a rushing truck than to try to stop it!

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Why Judo for MMA?

Mixed Martial Arts and free-style fighting typically have three distinct phases:
1. Standing striking where the combatants are standing apart from each other,
2.The Clinch - Also in a standing position, but with the combatants in direct contact with each other. Strikes are still a possibility, but throws and take-downs, joint locks, and chokes can also be employed.
3. Ground work - One or both of the combatants are on the ground, and strikes, pins, joint locks, and chokes are possible.

Traditional Judo training is particularly strong in phases 2 and 3 - the Clinch and Ground Work.

Competition Judo these days is about 80% clinch work, with the emphasis on strong, high-amplitude, throws ending with the thrower in the top, dominant, position on the ground - Exactly what is needed for successful MMA fighting.

Once on the ground, Judo teaches extremely strong pins/ground holds (in Judo tournaments, a pin of 25 seconds is required for a win - a very long time to hold a struggling opponent!) and that sort of control over your opponent is crucial to staying in a dominant position where strikes and submissions can be pursued.

And the list of submissions from groundwork in Judo is long and varied - very handy stuff to know as well.

It makes a lot of sense to add Judo to your MMA training regimen!

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