Judo is a Japanese word meaning "gentle way," and is a type of martial art that comes from the ancient Japanese martial art of jujitsu, meaning "yielding way." In 1882, Dr. Jigoro Kano, president of Tokyo's University of Education, incorporated what he thought to be the best jujitsu techniques into what is now the sport of judo. Judo emphasizes using balance, leverage, and movement in all of its skills, especially throws. Practitioners of judo wear a cotton uniform called a judogi, meaning "judo uniform," and sometimes referred to simply as a gi. These uniforms are usually white but can also be blue. They consist of loose drawstring pants and a quilted jacket which is fastened by an obi, or belt. The uniforms were originally created for judo but are now used for many different types of martial arts. The most noticeable thing to someone watching judo would likely be the variety of powerful throwing techniques. Grappling techniques are also important to learn, and include various control holds, arm and joint locks, pins, and choking techniques. Safety is emphasized in practice, and judo places importance both on fighting done standing and on the ground.
Judo prizes the idea of flexibility in the techniques, tailoring the technique to what is required in a particular moment. Strength is not as important as technique and skill, as well as timing. This enables judo techniques to be performed effectively by a smaller person on a much stronger person. Judo is popular today with people of all ages, throughout the world. It is an excellent way to stay in shape, as well as increase self-confidence and learn self defense. Body control is developed, as well as quick reflexes, balance, and effective self-defense should the need arise. Judo is also a competitive sport, introduced as such at the 1964 Olympics. This Olympic sport was only open to men until 1988, when it was a women's demonstration sport; in 1992, judo became an official Olympic medal event for women. There are also collegiate judo competitions in the United States. The system of ranks found in many martial arts, usually identified by belts of different colors, was first used in judo. The ranks recognize hard work, as well as increased knowledge and ability of the martial art. There are separate junior ranks for children under 17 than there are for adults. Black belts are the highest ranks in judo, with ten different degrees of black belt.