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Jigoro Kano performing uki goshi
Jigoro Kano teaching uki goshi

History

    Judo means literally the "gentle way" and Kodokan means literally "a school of studying the way," "the way" being the concept of life itself.  Judo is an art that is practiced as a sport. Its aims are threefold and are practiced in the following order:

   Physical development (renshindo)
   Proficiency in contest (shoubuho)
   Mental development (shushinho)

 

    In feudal Japan, the only weapons were hands (jiujutsu), knives, clubs, staves, swords, spears, and bows and arrows.  Use of these was taught and practiced with scientific and often deadly skill.  Teachers held official positions and were highly regarded.  Their teachings were promulgated in the many schools that developed.

    Toward the end of the Tokugawa era (1576-1875) a great change occurred in the types of weapons and methods of fighting.  The old martial arts fell into rapid disuse and interest diminished accordingly.  The jiujutsu masters lost their official positions and were forced to seek employment elsewhere.  Many turned to wrestling and to exhibitions at fairs.  One man, Jigoro Kano, a student of many of the old masters, realized that the arts were disappearing.  He set out to revive, organize and systematize a course of instruction in them.  In June, 1882, he established the Kodokan in Tokyo.  Today's sport of judo is that system as developed by Kano in the intervening years. 

(The Sport of Judo, 1997,Kobyashi and Sharp)

Purpose

    To stimulate interest in the art of Kodokan Judo among the general public as a sport and cultural pursuit; promote physical fitness and mental alertness; foster and maintain a sense of friendship and competition among its members and provide guidelines along which practice and competition can be conducted with safety and in accordance with rules for Kodokan Judo as in the USJA handbook.