History of Judo
The history of judo runs is rich and unique. Originating in Japan the martial art has grown in popularity and is a regular activity for countless individuals around the world.
Jigoro Kano – The Father of Judo
Jigoro Kano was born on the 28th October 1860 in the seaside town of Mikage, near Kobe, Japan.
As a boy, Kano was an undersized, slender, weak, and sickly child. Kano decided to do something to improve his health and at the same time learn how to defend himself against bullies.
In 1882 at the age of 22, Kano undertook a comprehensive study and rethink of other forms of jiu-jitsu, presenting his new sport – Judo.
Kano’s devotion to Judo did not interfere with his academic progress. He pursued his study of literature, politics and political economy, and graduated from Tokyo Imperial University in 1881.
Kano established the first judo school, called the Kodokan (which translates to “a place to study the way”), in the Eishoji Buddhist temple in Tokyo. The first Kodokan had only 12 mats (12 feet by 18 feet), and nine students in the first year.
Today the Kodokan has over 500 mats and more than a million visitors a year.
From 1889 onwards Kano left Japan to visit Europe and the U. S. to teach judo.
In his lifetime, Kano attained a doctorate degree in Judo, equivalent to the twelfth dan an honour reserved only for him. Kano worked tirelessly to ensure the development of athletics and sport in his native Japan and in 1935, he was awarded the Asahi prize for his outstanding contribution to the organisation of sport in Japan.
Kano died in 1938, aged 77.
This History of Judo in the United Kingdom
In 1899 Mr E W Barton-Wright sponsored a visit of a team of judo experts from Japan with a view to setting up a jiu-jitsu school in England. Although the project failed, several of the experts stayed including Yukio Tani.
In 1920 Tani was formally appointed as chief instructor of The Budokwai, a new club set up by compatriot Gunji Koizumi as a cultural centre and social club for the Japanese community in London. The club grew quickly and it’s prominence was reinforced by a visit from Kano himself in 1920.
On the 24th July 1948 the British Judo Association was established as the representative body of the sport in the United Kingdom.
Four days after the British Judo Association was established, a meeting under the chairmanship of Trevor Leggett approved the constitution of a European Judo Union (EJU) to represent judo on the continent. Three years later in 1951 the International Judo Federation (IJF) was created as global governing body for judo. Today the IJF has over 200 member countries.
Judo made its debut at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games and, after missing the 1968 Games, it was finally added to the Olympic programme in 1972. It has been ever present at the Olympic Games since.
Judo is also an optional Commonwealth Games sport since it made its first appearance at the Auckland 1990 Games.