About Traditional Kodokan Judo
Japan’s martial arts, including jiu jitsu, archery and swordsmanship, developed into complex disciplines during the Edo period from 1603 A.D. to 1868 A.D. In the 1800s, Jigor Kan established a unifying principle and kept only the manoeuvres that adhered to it, and in 1882 Kan founded the Kodokan, or the school for “learning the way.”
The principle behind judo is known as "giving way," or gentleness. The idea is that you can defeat a stronger opponent if you use your power in the right way. For example, if a much stronger person pushes you and you fight back in a confrontational manner with all your power, you’ll lose. Instead of fighting might with might, you give way only to the extent that your opponent has pushed. By retreating and yet maintaining your stance, your opponent will lose his balance and become weaker. He can’t leverage his strength in an unbalanced position. You can then strike from a position of balance and equal strength and exhaust your opponent.
When you train in judo, you use two methods: 'kata' and 'randori'.
Kata is a choreographed sequence of movements that teaches you the basics of offense and defense. These movements include kicking, striking, stabbing and slashing. Traditional judo has nine kata. In contrast to other martial arts, you need to partner to practice ‘kata’. In the second method, ‘randori’, you pair off with a partner and fight free-form, simulating a match. However, you’re not allowed to injure your partner while training.
As a form of intellectual training, ‘randori’ encourages you to figure out the weaknesses of your opponent. You also have to prepare for an attack when the opportunity arises. There’s little room for indecisiveness. When you face an opponent who is desperate to win, you learn to wear him down and allow him to drain his own fury and power. By doing so, you develop patience, self confidence and the ability to cope with turbulent circumstances.
In Japan, from where the sport has originated like most martial arts, parents send their children to judo to learn not only physical discipline or ‘shitsuke’, but also a code of ethics. They are instructed on ‘kiritsu no yosei’, or how to heed societal rules of proper conduct and perform in a group setting. In judo, you must also adhere to a seniority system in which you show respect for elders as well as for practitioners who have reached a higher skill level. Considered as a sincere way to display respect, the bow is a key component of the training.