Judo (meaning “gentle way”,柔道) is a modern martial art and Olympic sport. It was created in Japan in 1882 by Dr Jigoro Kano (嘉納治五郎). A judo practitioner is called a judoka and at the beginner levels the emphasis is on ukemi (break-falls, 受け身) to teach the judoka how to fall correctly without risk of injury.
Junior judoka learn how to throw an opponent to the ground and hold them on their back. In competition (shiai, 試合) this is how a judoka wins a bout. Each training session will involve the practising of break-falls, throwing techniques (nage-waza, 投げ技) and hold-downs (osaekomi-waza, 押込技). Each training session ends with free practice (randori, 乱取り) that simulates the competition environment.
As judoka’s learn they have the opportunity to be graded. Each successful grade completion results in the award of a new coloured belt that is worn at each training session and at competitions. Beginner students wear a white belt, progressing through the ranks until they are deemed to have achieved a level of competence sufficient to be a dan grade, at which point they wear the kuro obi (black belt, 黒帯).
Senior judoka train with the same structure but the added element of forcing their opponent to submit either by an arm lock (Kansetsu-waza, 関節技) or a choke technique (Shime-waza, 絞技). For seniors this is also a way for them to win a bout in competition. There are no strikes or thrusts by hands and feet apart from the pre-arranged forms of Judo (kata, 形) and kata forms part of the higher levels of grading.