History of Judo

The origin of Japan’s martial arts is vague, and what we know of it is more legend than truth. However, the takenouchi-ryu martial art system founded in 1532 is considered the beginning of Japan’s jujitsu forms. The system’s founder taught jujitsu in a structured and methodical manner.

For the next several hundred years, the martial arts were refined by Samurai who made a lifetime study of some twenty or thirty martial arts. Of these arts only one was based on weaponless self defense — jujitsu. By the mid-1800’s more than 700 different jujitsu systems existed. The most popular were takenouchi-ryu, jikishin-ryu, kyushinryu, yoshin-ryu, mirua-ryu, sekiguchi-ryu, kito-ryu, and tenshin-shinyo-ryu; the last two were instrumental in Judo’s development.

In 1868 Imperial rule was restored (Meiji Restoration) and the decline of the Samurai class started, along with a rapid decline in all martial arts.  Jujitsu literally fell into disuse. What was once the glory of the samurai was now looked down on, and as a result many well established jujitsu schools began to disappear.

The sport provided teamwork which was good for all and also developed the individual. It was a complete physical education, not just a game. Although self defense techniques were included in the training, emphasis was on using the techniques in a holistic manner. Dr. Jigoro Kano is credited with jujitsu’s survival of the Meiji Restoration. He took jujitsu and adapted it to the times. His new methodology was called Judo.

In 1882, Dr. Jigoro Kano (The Father of Judo) made a comprehensive study of these ancient self defense forms and integrated the best of these forms into a sport which is known as Kodokan Judo.