The aim of judo is to disable your opponent by means of a throw, stranglehold, arm lock or second hold down. The sport, derived from the ancient art of ju-jitsu is practiced by the young and not so young and by both the sexes.
You wear loose-fitting jackets and trousers called judogi, but remain bare-footed. The jacket is fastened by a belt whose color denotes the wearer’s standard, ranging from white for novices to black for the highest of the grades of mastery (dan).
The best way to learn judo is by joining a club or class. You don’t have to be fighting fit but if you are not so young or have knee or back problems it wouldn’t hurt to have a medical check-up first.
Falling – Once the breakfall is mastered you can learn some basic throws. Position and timing are more important than physical strength. It is essential to get your opponent off balance. The type of throw used depends much on opportunity: three useful ones for beginners to learn are the Osoto-gari, Ippon seoinage and Ko-uchi-gari.
Osoto-gari – When your opponent is moving his right leg towards you, move close to him and use your right hand to grip the lapel about level with his collarbone. Bring your left hand over his right arm, gripping the jacket at the sleeve.
Now bear down with your left arm and upwards with your right hand, to push your opponent off balance, onto his right heel. At the same time take a short step forward with your left foot and move towards your opponent until your chests touch.
Swing your right leg beyond his right leg, then swing it back so that the back of your right thigh contacts the back of his, and sweeps his leg from the ground. Swing your upper body downwards as your right leg comes back up.
Ippon-seoinage – (one arm shoulder throw) From a facing position, grip your opponent’s right sleeve tightly near the elbow with your left hand and move your right foot forward diagonally. Bring your left foot round, so that you are turning away from your opponent and bend your legs; at the same time swing your right arm up under his right armpit. Your right bicep must be under the armpit, and pulling down with your left hand will ensure that his arm is tightly trapped which is essential if the throw is to succeed.
Moving into position for the throw, bend your legs and thrust out your right hip. Pull forward and down with your arms, curl your body forward, straighten the legs and off load your opponent from your back and right shoulder.
Ko-uchi-gari – This is a very fast leg throw, used when an opponent has his legs wider apart than usual. Grip his right sleeve at the elbow with your left hand, and his jacket at the left collarbone with your right hand.
Move your feet so as to turn slightly left, then swing your right foot through his legs and bring the sole of your foot sharply back against the heel of his right foot, sweeping it forward. Push forward and down with both hands and follow through using your body weight to push him to the mat. Do not fall on top of him.
Hold-down – In competitive judo a hold down can score a win – the opponent must be held down on his back for a count of 30 seconds. One basic hold down is Kesa-gatame.
Sit by your opponent’s right armpit. Secure his arm and head tightly. Spread your legs.
Arm locks and strangleholds, used to force an opponent to submit, require expert tuition. Strangleholds especially can be dangerous.
To indicate that to submit, tap either your opponent or the mat twice. At that point your opponent must release you.