There are myriad benefits of judo, whether you train to compete, for self defense or simply to keep fit.
Judo is a popular martial art, also an Olympic sport. Developed in Japan by Dr. Jigoro Kano in 1882, with its roots tracing back to the ancient samurai art of Jujutsu.
It’s a grappling based art that doesn’t involve any form of striking, instead uses throws, trips, pins, chokeholds, joint locks to subdue opponents or until submission.
In this write up, I share some of the most amazing benefits judo has to offer, as well as some of the potential downsides.
Benefits of Judo
Judo is one of the best martial arts to learn for both children and adults, here are some of the most notable benefits of judo that you may want to consider as reasons why you should start training judo.
Great for Self Defense
It might not be a popular opinion, but I think if you want to learn a martial art for all the benefits it offers, you might as well pick one that’s great for self defense.
Otherwise what’s the point of picking a martial art specifically, as a lot of other sports and physical activities also offer similar benefits.
But I can also understand and appreciate that some people simply enjoy martial arts training, without the added benefit of physical strength and self defense.
Judo is one of the best martial arts for self defense, period. Especially for those who don’t want to inflict damage with strikes. As judo is great for controlling, subduing or even making someone unconscious if necessary, with throws, locks and choke holds.
Improves Physical Health and Fitness
It may not seem like it looking in from the outside, as you won’t see powerful punches and kicks thrown, but judo training is one of the toughest there is. Even just the warm up exercises for judo can easily make you breath heavy and sweat buckets.
Randori, also known as free sparring, is part of judo training where you practice your techniques against fully resisting opponents. This is easily one of the toughest workouts I’ve ever gone through.
Similar to wrestling sparring, the constant engagement of your core and muscles is super taxing on your body. Just imagine trying to throw someone that’s 200 lbs, and defending against someone trying to throw you for 30 to 45 minutes.
It’s a different type of workout compared to the likes of HITT, but it sure is one hell of a workout!
Develops Core, Balance and Overall Strength
As mentioned above, the constant engagement of core and muscles in judo training, greatly improves your core stability, balance, both overall and dynamic strength.
I often hear people call it judo strength, it’s the functional strength you gain from years of judo training, most notably your grip and pulling strength.
Teaches Discipline and Respect
One of the differences judo training offers from other sports and physical activities, is the built in discipline and respect culture in the art.
In fact, when Dr. Jigoro Kano first developed judo, it was meant to serve as a physical, mental and moral pedagogy. Respect and discipline has been part of judo since the beginning of time, and it’s not hard to see if you ever observed a judo training session.
You bow before entering and leaving the dojo, bow before and after a contest. My judo instructor always had a quick talk regarding respect and discipline before the training even started.
Builds Self Confidence and Belief
Consistent judo training not only builds self confidence, but also instills self belief. It’s done partly through hard training, where you feel a sense of achievement by getting good at certain moves or reaching the targets you set for yourself.
Another way it helps with self confidence is knowing you are able to handle yourself, and others if required when things go out of hand. This in turn will raise self awareness, which in turn will help you avoid potential sticky situations.
Helps to Develop Determination and Perseverance
In judo training and competition, it requires a great deal of determination and perseverance to get out of pins, escaping bad positions or defending chokes and locks.
Equally it takes the same determination and perseverance trying to throw, pin your opponent, or trying to keep you advantageous position and getting that submission.
This is one of the values that will help you in real life immensely, as you would have learned that nothing comes easy in life, you must work hard for the things you want. There’ll be blocks and even failures, but you’ll keep your head down and work through it.
Relieves Stress and Improves Mental Health
I feel like in today’s society, we don’t talk enough about stress and mental health. There has always been stigma on mental health, I mean it’s easier to admit you’re an alcoholic than admitting you have mental health issues.
Regular judo training and exercise help release a chemical called endorphins in your body. These endorphins trigger positive feelings in your body, leaving you relaxed both in the mind and body, accompanied by a positive and passionate outlook on life.
Another way to look at this, is by focusing on getting better at judo, setting goals you want to achieve in judo, it helps take your mind off things that stress you out.
Are there Any Downsides or Cons of Judo?
Just as pretty much everything in life, judo also has its pros and cons. To me, the biggest cons of judo are all related to it focusing too much on the sports aspect.
First one being it’s restricted to the olympic judo rules, where a lot of very effective moves are not allowed or completely eliminated. This weakens the competitiveness and “martial arts” side of judo in my opinion.
Second downside of judo is that it only offers training in a judo gi, while it’s great to learn the fundamentals and drill techniques in a good quality judo gi, I wish there was also some training done in no gi as well. From the self defense aspect, you are not gonna always defend against someone wearing a shirt right?
The final con of judo, again is related to most judo schools are too focused on the sports aspect of judo. Hence there’s hardly any ground work at all in some schools, they mostly work on throws to try and end the contest with an ippon.
Judo is a great martial art that helps develop the physical body, mental strength and moral compass of the practitioners.
Despite there being very minor downsides (may not even be downsides for some people), I think the many amazing benefits of judo like mentioned above, completely outweighs any downsides or perceived cons.