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Judo (meaning the gentle way) was derived from the Japanese martial art of Ju Jitsu in the late 19th century by Jigoro Kano who wanted to find the basic principle underlying the techniques taught by the different schools and styles of Ju Jitsu. He identified this as seiryoku zen'yo (maximum efficiency, minimum effort) and eliminated all potentially dangerous techniques or confined them to Kata (formal) practise where they would be safe to train. Kano's judo was then made up of the Gokyo, 40 throws arranged into five groups, four groups of holds to pin an opponent to the ground, elbow locks, chokes and several Katas.
In 1882 Kano founded the Kodokan to teach judo as a martial art and an educational system based on the two principles of seiryoku zen'yo (maximum efficiency, minimum effort) and jita kyoei (mutual benefit and welfare). Over the years the popularity of judo spread across Japan and throughout the world and it quickly developed into a competition sport with championships held at national and international level, and was first made an Olympic sport at the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo.
Although modern judo is mainly a technical, fast-paced competition sport, it can be successfully practised by people of all ages and physiques and many judoka continue active training throughout their lives.
Jigoro Kano teaching judo.
Modern competition judo - 2012 highlights.