Just like any martial art or any other form of hand-to-hand combat, which has been around for hundreds of years, the history of judo is as rich as can be. With its roots dating back to the 1500’s in Japan, it can be said that judo is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) martial art that ever came into existence. What makes the history of judo a unique one is that its influence helped sprout out other similar forms of martial arts that remain prominent to this day. Through this article, we will look back at the history of judo, how exactly it came to fruition, and how it actually shaped the realm of the martial arts world as we all know it today.
According to accounts on the history of judo, the first forms of the art was founded in 1532, originating from Japanese jujitsu concepts that were taught in a more methodical approach. It then rapidly evolved in the next few hundred years, but also began to dwindle in the mid-1850’s when American Commodore Matthew Perry (not related to the actor) opened a “new world” for the Japanese folk. Around the year 1882, founder Dr. Jigoro Kano came up with the new concept by turning the art into a sport along with self-defense, which led to the birth of judo. As the history of judo further reveals, Dr. Kano devoted his life from then on to teaching the art and sport to many people, while also perfecting it as he went along. But it was not until the late 1890’s until the early 1900’s when judo reached the Western shores, specifically in London and the United States. In 1910, judo was finally recognized as a legitimate sport and was adapted into the Japanese educational system a year later. By 1949, Judo began flourishing in the United States, as shown by American Ruth Gardener, who became judo’s first non-Japanese black belt. Brian Jacks was the first British person to win a metal in a world championship in Judo, winning a bronze in the 1967 Salt Lake City tournament. Given the deep history of judo, it shows why this sport is respected all throughout the martial arts communities around the world.
Known as “The Gentle Way”, judo is now a popular martial art, not only for its traditional methods but for its benefit in other combat sports as well. Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey, for one, is known to be the poster child of the sport in mixed martial arts and has incorporated it well into her overall game. But as it has always been in the history of judo, the art provides not only a welcome challenge to its practitioners but also as a good booster for self-confidence. Physical strength may play a factor, but technique conquers all, as many of its practitioners would put it. That, my friends, is a brief overview of the history of judo, and hopefully, it did enrich your knowledge, one way or the other.