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Practice session at the Kodokan International Judo Center

Judo (柔道, Jūdō) is a popular Japanese martial art and a contested sport in the Olympics. It was created by Kano Jigoro in Japan in 1882. The emphasis of Judo is on the training of one's body and spirit, rather than solely on winning combats. The literal translation of Judo is "the gentle way", aptly describing the martial art whereby technique takes precedence over brute strength.

The three basic categories of techniques practiced in Judo are throwing, grappling and striking, while the art of falling is also an important component of the sport. In sparring practices and contests, participants are only allowed to use a set of approved techniques that excludes striking techniques to avoid injuries. Strikes are only used when executing a sequence of pre-arranged movements (kata).

Judo as we know today was born when Kano Jigoro first started his school at a small temple in Tokyo. He called his school Kodokan, which still exists today as the best and most highly regarded institute in Japan that offers Judo instruction. Kodokan also organizes grading examinations and monthly tournaments. Every year in April, the school co-sponsors the All Japan Judo Championships. Kodokan also welcomes trainees from abroad.

It is possible to observe Judo sessions for free at the Kodokan from the spectator seating area on the 8th floor on weekdays and Saturdays from 18:30 to 19:00. Reservations are not required. There is also a small museum displaying Judo-related exhibits on the Kodokan's second floor (open on weekdays from 10:00 to 17:00, free admission).


The Kodokan is located just north of Tokyo Dome, a short walk from Korakuen or Kasuga Subway Station.

Orientation in Tokyo

Page last updated: February 18, 2016