FAQ's

How is Judo different from other martial arts?

Is Judo dangerous?

Do I need any experience to try it?

Do I need to wear a special uniform to do Judo? 

Where do I get a Judo uniform (judogi)?

What is the minimum age to start Judo?

Am I too old to start?

Do I have to be in great shape to start?

Can girls/women do Judo?

Can people with disabilities do Judo?

Does Judo get you into shape?

What will I need to bring (or do) to get started?

Do I need to join the national organization?

Do I need to learn to speak Japanese to practice Judo?

Am I required to enter competitions?

What do the belt colors mean?

What are the practice times and club fees?

 

How is Judo different from other martial arts?

Judo was derived from Ju-Jitsu in the 1880’s by removing the striking (punching, kicking), and dangerous joint-lock techniques.  The word Judo in Japanese means, “the gentle way.”  Judo is both a sport and a formidable system of self defense.  Even as a “gentler” form of martial art, the foundational principles of Judo (balance, efficiency of motion, utilizing opponent’s weight/strength/momentum against them, technique over strength, etc) have proven highly effective while at the same time minimizing the potential for injury.  For example, police forces throughout the world require judo training for their officers, due to its effectiveness in subduing an opponent without hurting them.  Another example is the success of Judo competitors in the recently popular Mixed Martial Art competitions – the top Judo competitors tend to routinely win in head-to-head bouts with top athletes from other martial arts.  Judo was the first martial art to be introduced as an Olympic sport, and remains the most widely practiced martial art.  Its popularity worldwide is evidenced by it being 2nd only soccer among all sports.

 

Is Judo dangerous?

Like any strenuous sport or fitness activity, there is a chance of injury in practicing Judo.  When properly taught and supervised, Judo is a safe and healthy form of exercise.  The American College of Sports Medicine (in a recent study) found Judo to be the safest sport for children age 13 and under.  Participants should consult their doctor prior to starting any new fitness activity, and Judo is no exception to that rule.

 

Do I need any experience to try it?

No.  New students to Judo need only commit to trying their best.  Judo is appropriate and safe for participants of all ages, regardless of gender or fitness level.  It is not uncommon for a “new” student to Judo to be well past the age of 40, or even 50.  As with any sport, participants are encouraged to learn and improve at their own pace.

 

Do I need to wear a special uniform to do Judo? 

A new student needs to wear strong, loose-fitting clothing with no belts or clasps.  After the first couple practices, a specialized uniform (“judogi”) is worn by all participants in the sport.  A judogi consists of jacket and pants, in either white or blue, made of very heavy cotton fabric.  The purpose of the uniform is to provide maximum comfort and flexibility with enough strength to allow the techniques of Judo, which include gripping and pulling on various part of the judogi.  Women and girls are required to wear a t-shirt under their judogi.

 

Where do I get a Judo uniform (judogi)?

There are a number of online providers of high-quality Judo uniforms (or Judogi’s).  A new student will be well-served by a high-quality beginner’s gi, in the range of $30-$50.  A serious competitor will need a strong gi with a more competitive fit, which can run upwards of $150, and as high as $300.  Your Judo club coach can direct you to a recommended brand and website to find the appropriate gi.  www.judoinfo.com includes a site listing all the major judogi providers.

 

What is the minimum age to start Judo?

Children generally need to be at least 6 years old to start judo.  The rationale is that the Judo student needs to be able to understand four consecutive instructions and have the capacity to follow them in order.  There have been instances of younger children joining judo, but they tend to require more time and attention from instructors, which can be a detriment to the rest of the class.

 

Am I too old to start?

Unlikely.  If you are healthy enough to take on a new and strenuous activity, and have the determination to learn new skills that are both mentally and physically challenging, your age is a non-factor.

 

Do I have to be in great shape to start?

No.  You need not be in good shape, but by practicing Judo on a regular basis, you should expect to get into good shape.  Students are expected to work in practice up to their own ability and fitness level.  Instructors are experienced at leading classes with students of varying levels of ability and conditioning.  More advanced students and those training for competition will be pushed harder to reach their potential.

 

Can girls/women do Judo?

Absolutely!  Judo is a perfect Title-IX compliant sport, where competitors of similar skill level can practice together, regardless of gender, and with equal opportunity for achievement to the highest level (Olympic & World medals).  Judo is also a practice that families can enjoy and grow in together. It fosters a respect and care that enrich any social group, but especially a family.  Judo truly is for anyone: especially girls and women.

 

Can people with disabilities do Judo?

There are world championships for Judo for blind athletes, and Paralympic Judo.  Hearing impaired athletes have no problem competing in the same competitions as non-impaired athletes.  There are special rules and practice protocol for training and training with disabled athletes.  For instance, blind athletes require touch start, while a standard start is several paces apart.  In training, the instructor will always demonstrate techniques using a blind student as his/her partner, letting the rest of the class learn by watching.

 

Does Judo get you into shape?

You bet!  Judo is a full-body workout.  Regardless of your current starting strength, stamina, or general fitness level, practicing Judo on a regular basis will get you into shape.   Normal practice starts with stretching & warm-up, followed by technical instruction and practice drills, may continue with matched sparring, and ends with stretching and warm-down.  A Judo workout is a strenuous combination of cardio-vascular, strength (mostly core strength), balance, agility, and coordination.

 

What will I need to bring (or do) to get started?

Wear some clean, strong, loose-fitting clothing such as sweatpants with a sweatshirt or a tee-shirt.  We have some judogi’s to loan for new-comers, but we can’t promise we’ll have one that fits.  Have long hair tied back, with no metal clips.  No jewelry. No metal (buttons, zippers, etc) on your clothing, please.  Plan to workout in your bare feet.  Fingernails and toenails should be cut short.  Participants (or parents, for those under 18) will need to sign a liability waiver before joining the workout.  As with any form of exercise, check with your doctor to make sure you are physically able to complete a strenuous practice.  Then, just bring an open mind, be ready to break a sweat and learn how fun judo can be.

 

Do I need to join the national organization?

Yes.  A new student can only participate after signing (or having a parent sign) a waiver.  After one or two practices, a student needs to join one of the national Judo organizations.  This is a condition of the club’s insurance policy.  We recommend students join USJI (the national governing body for Judo in the US).  The USJI membership costs $50 per year.

 

Do I need to learn to speak Japanese to practice Judo?

No.  There are a number of Japanese words used in Judo, which a student will get used to in the course of practice, but instructors and other students will translate for new students until they get the hang of the lingo.

 

Am I required to enter competitions?

No.  Competitions are a great way to expand and improve in Judo in ways not achievable in practice alone.  For that reason students are encouraged, but not required, to participate in the local competitions.  For the same reason, students will reach their next promotion faster if they pursue competition as part of their Judo training (provided all other promotion requirements are met).

 

What do the belt colors mean?

Judo participants are ranked according to the merits of their participation, expertise and competition success. Junior ranks begin at white belt and progress through yellow, orange, green, blue, purple and brown belts up to black belt.  It is rare for juniors under the age of 17 to reach the rank of black belt.  Adult ranks begin at white belt and progress through green and brown belts up to black belt.  Some instructors choose to use the full spectrum of colored belts for adults.  There are three degrees of brown belt and ten degrees (“dans”) of black belt.  High-ranking black belts (6th to 8th dan) are permitted to wear a red and white belt.  Highest-ranking black belts (9th or 10th dan) are permitted to wear a red belt.  It normally takes several years of dedicated practice to reach the rank of black belt, and on the order of decades to reach high-ranking levels of black belt.