Tips For The Beginner In Judo

by : Jimmy Cox

It takes some years of practice before you become adept at judo. The following tips will make your progress easier. From the very beginning, Judo must come a mental and spiritual art, in which you lose all thought of anger towards the opponent, or of competition, and ultimately rise above the conceptions of victory and defeat.

There is only one way to reach this kind of perfection, and that is endless practice. Japanese students may do about eight hours a day for five or six years before they achieve anything like perfection, and they will still go on practicing all their lives. Ordinary working men in Britain cannot hope to do as much as that, but however much you do you are bound to make some progress.

It is estimated that 10,000 repetitions of a movement are needed to make it flow smoothly, and 100,000 to bring it near correctness. Great patience is needed to train like this, but it is well worth doing so to achieve real Judo, rather than to accept the short-term alternative of helping out faulty technique with a bit of brute strength. The latter method may win you competitions but it does not make you any better at true Judo.

Methods Of Practice

There are four methods of practice in use:

1. Standing Throws

This means practicing the movement from a standing position without any resistance. One man presents the opportunity, and the other throws.

2. Random

This is a Japanese word, meaning "free practice". In this method, the opponents move around, trying throws in a spirit of gentle competition. It should be clearly understood that if this method is to have any value, it must not be treated as contest. Do not go all out to throw and to avoid being thrown. That will lead to irreparable faults in your style. Randori is an opportunity to try the movements learnt as standing throws, when moving about. It does not matter who throws who, so long as there is practice.

3. French Randori

This is the method of Randori practised in France. The opponents move around trying throws, as described above, but it is pre-arranged that they shall throw in turn.

4. Contest

This is a trial of skill. Contests normally last five minutes, or until one opponent has scored two points. Generally speaking contests should not be indulged in too frequently, as they are a test of skill rather than the means of developing that skill. On no account should Randori develop into contest. That would be as bad as a boxer training for a fight solely by fighting, without doing any of the other exercises he needs as well.


The Judo organizations award grades to students to indicate their proficiency. These grades are given partly for knowledge of theory, and partly for skill in practice and contest. Standards vary slightly in different countries. The grades are as follows:

BeginnerWhite Belt, sometimes Red
6th KyuWhite Belt
5th KyuYellow Belt
4th KyuOrange Belt
3rd KyuGreen Belt
2nd KyuBlue Belt
1st KyuBrown Belt
1st Dan to 5th DanBlack Belt
6th Dan to 8th DanRed-and-White Belt
9th to 1 lth DanRed Belt
12th DanWhite Belt, twice as wide as
the original white belt.

A belt of the appropriate color is actually worn with the Judo clothing on the mat. It consists of a sash nine feet in length, and about two inches in width, which is wrapped round the body two or three times and tied in front. Only about five men have ever been awarded the 10th Dan, three of whom are still alive. All are Japanese.

Only Dr. Jigoro Kano himself has ever been awarded a higher grade. He is 12th Dan. Generally speaking, if a student has a variety of partners to practice with and they are all keen, he should achieve the Brown Belt grade in about three years.

Finally, proceed carefully. Judo movements are dangerous if performed roughly. They were originally self-defense tricks in the old Ju-jitsu schools, remember.