Learn The Basic Principles Of Judo

By: Jimmy Cox

The basic principles of judo are easy to grasp and are essential for the person studying the technique of judo.

Judo techniques enable a weak and small man to overcome a large and strong man because they are based on scientific principles of leverage and balance. The first thing to learn is never to oppose strength to strength. If you do that the stronger man will inevitably win.

Remember that when he is on balance he is strong, but off balance he is weak, providing you have retained your own balance to take advantage of his weakness. A man is on balance, you will find, if he stands upright, and keeps his centre of gravity inside a small circle drawn round his feet.

Before you execute a throw you must break his balance by getting his centre of gravity outside that circle. ("Centre of Gravity" is a scientific term, and for those who are not familiar with it, it means the point at which a person's or an object's weight acts. The point at which you could balance him on a support, in plain language.)

The second principle you should understand and think about is the action of levers. You know how much easier it is to lift a heavy object by putting a crowbar under it. If you rest the end on the ground, have the object a little way up the lever, and lift the other end of the bar, you are using your crowbar as a lever of the second class. If you put a support under your crowbar, put one end under the object and press down on the other end, you are using it as a lever of the first class.

The effort you use multiplied by the distance from the point of support (fulcrum) is equal to the resistance you lift multiplied by its distance from the fulcrum, and the resistance divided by the effort is called the Mechanical Advantage of the lever. (There is a third class of lever which does not have a Mechanical Advantage, but this will not concern us.)

Applying this to turning an opponent about a line drawn perpendicularly down through his middle, you will see that the wider your hands are apart in gripping him for this purpose, the greater will be your Mechanical Advantage. You will be able to see this applied in throws. Get the greatest Mechanical Advantage you can. Dr. Kano stated the principle as "Maximum Efficiency, Minimum Effort".

Direction of pulls and timing of attacks are also of paramount importance to success.

Aims Of Practice

From the brief statement of principles above, it will be seen that the immediate aims of practice are three-fold:
1. To learn the techniques.
2. To learn non-resistance, so that the opponent can be made to put himself off balance.
3. To develop speed and timing in the application of the techniques.

These are the immediate aims of a beginner, but there are more fundamental aims as well. As you progress, you will find that you reach a point where you can see that an opportunity to throw is going to occur, and you have developed enough speed to take advantage of that opportunity. This is very good, but beyond this, you will reach a stage in which you are practicing with an opponent, and suddenly he is down, without conscious thought on your part.

Then your body is automatically reacting in the right way to the situation, and that is true Judo. We may think of it as being like a telephone exchange. When you see an opportunity and take advantage of it consciously, that is like a manual telephone exchange, in which the operator in your brain has to plug in. When you automatically take advantage of the situation, that is like an automatic telephone exchange, in which the act of dialing a number is already making the connection, without any delay at the exchange.

These are the basic principles of Judo, and can be easily learnt. The actual practice of Judo of course takes much more time and effort.

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