Judo

27 MAR 2011 - SHEFFIELD, GBR - Demi Brooks (white) v Natasha Maslen (blue) - English Senior Open Judo Championships .(PHOTO (C) NIGEL FARROW) (NIGEL FARROW/(C) 2011 NIGEL FARROW)

27 MAR 2011 - SHEFFIELD, GBR - Demi Brooks (white) v Natasha Maslen (blue) - English Senior Open Judo Championships .(PHOTO (C) NIGEL FARROW)

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If horse racing is the sport of kings then maybe judo should be considered the sport of leaders. Over the years statesmen such as President Theodore Roosevelt of the US and Vladimir Putin, the former Prime Minister of Russia, have practiced the sport. The chairman of the organising committee for the London 2012 Olympic Games, Lord Coe (or Sebastian Coe as he is known to athletics fans), trained alongside William Hague, the former leader of the British Conservative Party and currently the countries Foreign Secretary. And in acting well known names such as James Cagney, Chuck Norris and Peter Sellers have enjoyed the challenges of judo.

Created in 1882 by 21 year old Kano Jigoro the sport is derived from ju-jitsu, a popular martial art in Japan until it fell out of favour during the mid 19th century. Based around the principles of maximum efficiency for minimum effort and, mutual welfare and benefit, judo has three basic categories of techniques. Nage-waza (throwing techniques), katame-waza (grappling techniques) and atemi-waza (striking techniques). Whilst the latter is banned from competition it, along with knife and sword techniques, is retained in kata, the sport’s system of individual training exercises.

27 MAR 2011 - SHEFFIELD, GBR - Luke McCabe (white) v Robert Forrow (blue) - English Senior Open Judo Championships .(PHOTO (C) NIGEL FARROW) (NIGEL FARROW/(C) 2011 NIGEL FARROW)

27 MAR 2011 - SHEFFIELD, GBR - Luke McCabe (white) v Robert Forrow (blue) - English Senior Open Judo Championships .(PHOTO (C) NIGEL FARROW)

The most well known sign of proficiency in the sport however comes in the shape of the coloured belt, or obi as it is known within the sport, that is worn by the judoka when training and competing. These are awarded on the basis of the practitioners knowledge and involvement with the sport at all levels from competition to in the training hall, the dojo. This ranking system consists of kyu and dan grades. Although each country has its own system they are all consistent in having beginners wear white belts and the more experienced dan grade holders wearing the black belts which have become synonymous with the sport. In reality 6th to 8th dan grades are given the option of wearing a red and white checked belt whilst the even more skilled 9th and 10th dan holders are allowed to wear a red belt. Whilst many outside the sport would consider a black belt to signify the judoka is an expert, within the sport it is considered that being awarded the 1st degree black belt just demonstrates that the student is finally prepared to begin studying judo properly.

If done correctly this will provide a good cardiovascular workout so improving the individuals stamina, whilst the combination of techniques and challenges they face improves their coordination and reflexes.

27 MAR 2011 - SHEFFIELD, GBR - Christopher Sherrington (white) v Matthew Clempner (blue) - men's over 100kg category - English Senior Open Judo Championships (PHOTO (C) NIGEL FARROW) (NIGEL FARROW/(C) 2011 NIGEL FARROW)

27 MAR 2011 - SHEFFIELD, GBR - Christopher Sherrington (white) v Matthew Clempner (blue) - men's over 100kg category - English Senior Open Judo Championships (PHOTO (C) NIGEL FARROW)

For those not wishing to compete there is the option of doing randori, freestyle sparring which is practised under contest conditions in the dojo.

As with Kano’s ideas for judo the competitive version of the sport is designed to avoid injuries to competitors and promote proper etiquette with penalties for illegal techniques and inactivity and, competitors required to show respect to each other and officials throughout each match.

The duration varies depending on the age and experience of the competitors but for the top level are 5 minutes long for men and 4 minutes for women. During that time their goal is to secure victory by obtaining a point. The ideal method is by scoring ippon which is given for a throw carried out in a controlled manner but with enough speed and force so that the opponent lands mainly on their back. Alternatively they can achieve the score through a submission or a mat hold of 25 seconds. An ippon, meaning one point, wins the match.

Half points, called waza ari, are given for throws of insufficient power or control or, for a hold of only 20 seconds. Being cumulative, scoring two will give a judoka victory.

The third scoring option is a yuko which is given for a less successful throw or hold than a waza ari. However unlike a waza ari they are not cumulative and only used as tie breakers in the event of a draw.

In the event of identical scores at the end of the match the Golden Score rule is applied, the clock is set to match time and the first score wins. If at the end of this period there is still no score then the winner is decided by the majority vote of the referee and two judges.

27 MAR 2011 - SHEFFIELD, GBR - Andrew Burns (blue) gets the better of his opponent in the men's under 90kg category at the English Senior Open Judo Championships (PHOTO (C) NIGEL FARROW) (NIGEL FARROW/(C) 2011 NIGEL FARROW)

27 MAR 2011 - SHEFFIELD, GBR - Andrew Burns (blue) gets the better of his opponent in the men's under 90kg category at the English Senior Open Judo Championships (PHOTO (C) NIGEL FARROW)

After demonstrating the sport with 200 students at the Los Angeles Olympics six years earlier, Kano Jigoro successfully lobbied the IOC in 1938 to include judo at the next Olympic Games in Tokyo. Sadly he died on the way home from the meeting and due to the Second World War the sport’s full medal men’s debut was delayed until 1964 when the Games were eventually held in Japan’s capital with the women making their debut in Barcelona in 1992.

Unsurprisingly the most successful Olympic nation has been Japan with their judoka winning over three times as many golds as the next most successful, France. Promisingly for the sport though more recent Olympics have seen Japan come away with no medals from some weight categories with an increasing variety of other nationalities, including China, Brazil, Korea and various East European countries, being represented on the podium.

27 MAR 2011 - SHEFFIELD, GBR - Theodore Spalding-Mcintosh (white) throws Boris Kibrik (blue) to score ippon and win the men's under 100kg category at the English Senior Open Judo Championships (PHOTO (C) NIGEL FARROW) (NIGEL FARROW/(C) 2011 NIGEL FARROW)

27 MAR 2011 - SHEFFIELD, GBR - Theodore Spalding-Mcintosh (white) throws Boris Kibrik (blue) to score ippon and win the men's under 100kg category at the English Senior Open Judo Championships (PHOTO (C) NIGEL FARROW) (NIGEL FARROW/(C) 2011 NIGEL FARROW)

27 MAR 2011 - SHEFFIELD, GBR - Theodore Spalding-Mcintosh (white) throws Boris Kibrik (blue) to score ippon and win the men's under 100kg category at the English Senior Open Judo Championships (PHOTO (C) NIGEL FARROW) (NIGEL FARROW/(C) 2011 NIGEL FARROW)

27 MAR 2011 - SHEFFIELD, GBR - Theodore Spalding-Mcintosh (white) throws Boris Kibrik (blue) to score ippon and win the men's under 100kg category at the English Senior Open Judo Championships (PHOTO (C) NIGEL FARROW)




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