This Judo FAQ is intended to help a beginning Judo student understand some of the important concepts, terms, rank system, and history of Judo. It is not as useful for the Judo expert or an individual who has not yet begun Judo training, but it is the kind of basic information that lower rank students may be required to know for promotion. This page is also available en espanol.

redball.gifWhat is the English translation or the meaning of the word Judo?

Gentle Way

redball.gifWhat is the purpose in learning Judo?

The development of character, mind, and body so that one can contribute something of value to the world.

redball.gifWhat are the other main principles in learning Judo?

The principle of cooperation (jita kyoei), working for mutual welfare and benefit. The principle of maximum efficiency (seiryoku zenyo), using the least amount of effort to achieve the greatest results.

redball.gifWhere did Judo come from?

Modern Judo is a martial art based on the traditional Jujutsu fighting and self-defense techniques of Japan.

redball.gifWhat is the difference between Judo and jujutsu?

Judo is the modern scientific application of selected jujutsu techniques that may be practiced for self-development, physical education and sport. Jujutsu retains more dangerous self defense techniques, while Judo can generally be practiced with full force and complete safety. Check this description of Judo by Jigoro Kano himself.

redball.gifWhen and where did Judo begin?

Judo was first officially taught at the Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo, Japan in 1882.

redball.gifWho created Judo?

The father of Judo is Professor Jigoro Kano (1860-1938). He studied jujutsu at an early age and founded the Kodokan to teach the art of Judo.

redball.gifWhat must every beginner learn about Judo?

How to fall (ukemi) and the rules of safety and courtesy.

redball.gifWhat are some of the working principles of Judo?

The use of balance and off-balancing. The use of leverage to achieve greater power. Taking advantage of the opponent’s strength. Taking advantage of the opponent’s weaknesses. The value of yielding and giving way. The proper application of timing, momentum and force.

redball.gifWhat is kuzushi?

Kuzushi is breaking the balance of an opponent.

redball.gifWhat are some of the ways kuzushi can be achieved?

Hands: pushing and pulling.
Feet: for example, blocking the opponent from stepping forward.
Body: bending, pivoting, twisting or bumping the opponent to unbalance.
Voice: distracting, or mentally unbalancing, the opponent.

redball.gifWhat is kiai?

A sudden concentration of physical and mental power, combined with a loud shout used to defeat the opponent. Often also applied effectively to distract the opponent.

redball.gifBy what means is kiai achieved?

1. A sudden concentration of the abdominal muscles.
2. A forceful exhalation of breath.
3. A sharp loud yell or shout.

redball.gifWhat are the main types of Judo techniques?

Nage waza (throwing techniques), Katame waza (grappling techniques), Atemi waza (striking techniques)

redball.gifWhat are the types of Judo throws?

Te waza: hand and arm techniques
Koshi waza: hip techniques
Ashi waza: foot and leg techniques
Ma sutemi waza: rear sacrifice techniques
Yoko sutemi waza: side sacrifice techniques

redball.gifWhat is a combination throw (renraku waza)?

A series of attempted throws in which the last one is successful.

redball.gifWhat is a counter throw (kaeshi waza)?

A throw that is executed in answer to a throw attempted by the opponent, taking advantage of the opponent’s movements or the loss of balance involved in his throw.

redball.gifWhat are the types of grappling techniques (katame waza)?

Osaekomi waza: matholds and pins
Shime waza: choking and strangling techniques
Kansetsu waza: arm bars and joint locking techniques

redball.gifWhat is tori and uke?

Tori is the person executing a technique such as a throw, while uke is the person receiving the technique.

redball.gifWhat are the main methods of Judo training or practice?

Kata: formal exercise.
Uchi komi: repetitive throwing practice.
Randori: free practice.
Shiai: contest

redball.gifWhat is kata?

A formal demonstration of prearranged techniques of Judo. There are forms for throwing techniques (nage no kata), grappling techniques (katame no kata), self defense techniques and other aspects of Judo.

redball.gifWhat president introduced Judo into the United States and at what date?

Theodore Roosevelt, about 1902.

redball.gifWhen did Judo become an Olympic sport?

Judo, the first Asian martial art to become an Olympic medal sport, has been an official Olympic event for men since 1964. Olympic Judo competition for women was added in 1988.

redball.gif What are the referee and contestants called in a tournament?

The referee is called shimban. The contestants are aka (red) and shiro (white).

redball.gifWhat are the Judo ranks?

Achievement in Judo is recognized by awarding different color belts. The six student ranks are called kyu. The ten black belt, or expert, ranks are called dan. Juniors under 17 years old earn different color belts than seniors. In the US most dojos use the following system:


  English Japanese Senior belt Junior belt 6th grade rokyu white white 5th grade gokyu white yellow 4th grade yonkyu white orange 3rd grade sankyu brown green 2nd grade nikyu brown blue 1st grade ikkyu brown purple 1st degree shodan black 2nd degree nidan black 3rd degree sandan black 4th degree yodan black 5th degree godan black 6th degree rokudan black or red/white 7th degree shichidan black or red/white 8th degree hachidan black or red/white 9th degree kudan black or red 10th degree judan black or red



Many thanks to Juergen Wahl (godan), founder of the Encino Judo Club, for creating the original version of this document. Revised by Neil Ohlenkamp.