Judo derives from Jujitsu, the hand to hand combat technique of ancient samurai warriors. Translated from Japanese, it means the ‘’gentle way’’. Judo was created as a trio of mental, moral and physical pedagogy in the year of 1882 in Japan when Jigoro Kano codified the rules. Considered one of the most competitive sports, the goal of judo is to take an opponent to the ground, subdue them with a pin or force them to submit with a choke or a joint lock. Practitioners of judo are known as the judoka.
Judo as an Olympic Sport
The fact that Judo is an Olympic sport testifies to its representation and popularity. Judo first had its appearance as an Olympic sport in 1964 Summer Olympic Games held a Tokyo, Japan. It skipped the following Olympics in 1968 but has been an Olympic sport ever since. Up until the year 1988, only male judoka participated in the Summer Olympics while women participated as part of a demonstration sport. For women, the first medal-awarding ceremony was held back in 1992 Summer Olympics.
When it comes to the competition itself, the Judoka compete in several weight classes and each country may send one athlete per weight class to the Olympics. Currently, when it comes to the number of judo medals per country, the homeland of judo, Japan holds the record. They have a total of 39 gold medals and 84 medals in total. They are followed by France with 14 golds and 49 total medalists.
Heartland of Judo
The homeland of Judo is Japan. However, the heartland of judo is France. As a country, they have over 600,000 judokas nationwide that regularly practice the discipline. Across them, they have 147 World Championship medal and 48 out of those are gold, bested only by Japan. The current president of FJF (French Judo Federation) Jean-Luc Rouge was France’s first ever world champion within the -93kg category back in 1975.
With him leading, and at the same time paving the way, France’s judo scene is gaining in popularity even further. Rouge expressed his concerns stating how in the past French children would do two to four sports while nowadays it’s just one or two at best. As such, FJF purchased the Grand Dome of Villebon-sur-Yvette with plans of turning it into a state of the art multi-sports facility to further advance the popularity of judo, among other sports.