World Judo, Japan's 'gentle' martial art practised by millions
Japan is the birthplace of traditional martial arts
Japan is home to many traditional martial arts, which are summarized under the preamble «Budo» (to German about war road). These include Judo, Aikido, Kendo (Fencing), Kyudo (Archery) or Karate, which is for the first time at the Olympics in Tokyo. © Hiro Komae / AP / DPA Judo is one of the traditional Japanese martial arts. As in many Japanese arts, the Budo is the sense of action that aims at the interior of the practitioner.
It's practised by tens of millions around the world but there's no doubt that judo's spiritual home is Japan, where the martial art was created and made its Olympic debut.
It will be among the sports most closely watched by home fans at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games, and is so deeply embedded in Japanese society it even has its own branch of medicine.
Japan dominate judo at the Games, having won 39 gold medals since it debuted at Tokyo 1964, more than the next four best countries combined.
That's perhaps no surprise given judo's roots in Japan, where it was founded in 1882 by the revered Jigoro Kano, whose benevolent portrait gazes down on judoka at dojos around the world.
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A pair of Japanese siblings each took home a gold medal in the judo competition on Sunday. Uta Abe won the gold medal in the women’s 52-kg on Sunday after she beat France’s Amandine Buchard in the final match. Less than an hour later, her older brother followed suit in winning judo gold. Hifumi Abe beat Georgia’s Vazha Margvelashvili to win the men’s 66-kg gold medal, officially making them the first brother and sister pair to win gold on the same day in the same Olympic competition. Keeping it in the family!ABE Uta wins #gold for #JPNABE Hifumi wins #gold for #JPNThe #judo siblings both win gold at a home Olympic Games!#StrongerTogether | @tokyo2020 | @Judo pic.twitter.
Born to a sake-brewing clan from the Kobe region, Kano combined different forms of jujitsu with his own ideas, including spiritual discipline, and believed judo's ultimate goal was to "strive for personal perfection" through discipline and training.
He named his martial art "judo" meaning "the gentle way", and saw it as a means to develop both body and mind.
A teacher by trade, Kano was passionate about sport in general, and led the push for Japan to make its first Olympic appearance at Stockholm in 1912.
But judo didn't feature at the Games until Tokyo first hosted the Olympics in 1964.
In competition, judo is contested on a mat with the goal of scoring an "ippon" or full point, which ends a bout.
Fethi Nourine and his coach suspended by the Judo Association: Algerian Judoka refuses to fight against Israeli
The Judo World Association reacts and the refusal of the Algerian athlete at Olympia against an Israeli. © Photo: Imago / Itar-TASS The Israeli Judoka Tohar Butbul, against which the Algerian Fethi Nourine did not want to compete. The Algerian Judoka Fethi Nourine has denied a possible fight against an Israeli in the Olympics in Tokyo and dispensed with participation. The International Judo Association then took on Saturday investigations against the 30-year-old athlete and its coach.
Ways to achieve this include pinning an opponent for 20 seconds or throwing them so they land on their back. Half-points called waza-ari can also be earned and add up.
Bouts at the Games will last four minutes, and the action is often fast-paced and highly physical.
Hifumi Abe and Shohei Ono are hotly tipped in the men's competition while Japan also has women's stars in Uta Abe and Akira Sone.
- 'It needs to be fun' -
An egalitarian spirit is viewed by some as a key part of judo. Winter training at judo's hallowed Kodokan centre in Tokyo is open to everyone, and women have practised the sport since it was founded.
Indeed Kano told his early disciples that the more subtle form of the martial art practised by women at the time would be judo's "real legacy".
Olympics Tokyo 2021: the mother of Clarisse Agbegnenou hilarious after the gold medal in judo won by his daughter!
© Icon Sports Olympics Tokyo 2021: the mother of Clarisse Agbegnenou hilarious after the gold medal in judo won by his daughter! Asked a few minutes after the Olympic victory of Clarisse Agbegnenou, his mother Pauline has engaged in a great analysis! For the uninitiated, the judo rules can sometimes be complicated to understand, even when the mother is an Olympic champion! Only minutes after the coronation of Clarisse Agbegnenou Tokyo this Tuesday, July 27 in the category of less than 63 kilos,
Competition in Japan only opened to women from 1978, however, and female judokas made their first fully fledged Olympic appearance in Barcelona in 1992.
The Kodokan is the sport's home, and in pre-pandemic times attracted enthusiasts from around the world.
It will serve as a training centre during the Games, with competition taking place at the famed Nippon Budokan, which has hosted everything from Olympic judo to concerts by The Beatles.
"It is not just a Japanese sport," an official from the Kokodan told AFP.
"Judo has blossomed as a global culture."
But some worry the martial art is losing its shine in its birthplace, including judoka Tadahiro Nomura, the only person ever to win three gold medals in judo.
"It's something that people (in Japan) just see as an Olympic event," he told AFP.
"As for how it's run, how it started, how it spread around the world, the essence of judo, what it can teach kids and so on -– all that has been kind of forgotten."
Kodokan officials said they are hoping that "superb performances and conduct" by judoka from around the world "will inspire children to feel that they too want to learn judo".
And Nomura thinks the Olympic spotlight could give the sport renewed vigour.
"People might think, 'Oh that athlete is great and cool and strong,'" he said.
"It can be an opportunity for people to get into judo. If there's a local dojo nearby, it's easy to go along and try it."
But he worries that dojos are closing and the sport is seen as increasingly inaccessible.
"It needs to be fun, or somewhere to learn etiquette, or something to do for your health," he said.
"I think if local dojos can meet the different needs of people... judo can recover a bit of its popularity."
Another judoka drops out of Olympics before facing Israeli opponent Tohar Butbul .
A second judoka has dropped out of the Tokyo Olympics due to Tohar Butul. Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool weighed in for his match against Butul, who is from Israel, but did not show up for the bout, according to the Guardian. Both the International Judo Foundation and Sudanese Olympic officials did not provide a reason for why Abdalrasool missed the match. Abdalrasool was supposed to face Algerian Fethi Nourine in an earlier round, but Nourine pulled out of the event due to the winner of that fight having to take on Butul in the round of 16. Nourine said he didn't want to compete against Butul due to Nourine's political support of Palestine.