Judo literally translates as " the gentle way". It is a system of unarmed combat, now primarily a sport. Sporting judo rules are
complex; the objective is to throw the opponent cleanly, or pin him, or master
him by applying pressure to arm joints or to the neck.
Techniques are generally intended to turn an opponent's force to one's own advantage
rather than to oppose it directly. A ritual of courtesy in practice is intended to
promote an attitude of calm readiness and confidence. The usual costume, known as
judogi, is a loose jacket and trousers of strong white cloth. White belts are worn by
novices and black by masters, with intermediate grades denoted by other colours.
Judo was founded in 1882 by Dr. Jigoro Kano. Kano formulated Judo from
styles of Jujutsu that he had studied. In Japan at this time many changes
in society were occuring because of western influences. A major change was the
overthrow of the Shogun and the reinstatement of the emperor in what is known as the Meiji restoration.
One manifestation of this change was the decline of the warrior class known as the samurai or bugei.
This led to a decline in Jujutsu styles whose main function was martial. In this
atmosphere, Kano (and others of other martial arts), changed the emphasis from purely physical to spiritual endeavors.
Kano meant Judo to be both physical training as well as a path towards building good moral character and
spirituality. Part of Kano's vision for Judo was for it to be a guide in all aspects of life and lead to greater harmony. This is reflected in one saying from Judo, "maximum efficiency
with minimum effort for the mutual welfare and benefit of all".
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