In Japan, a martial arts form was quietly brewing inside of the mind of a young Japanese where it was patiently waiting to take the world by storm. Then, in 1882, it appeared. Originally a part of jujitsu, this art form is known as judo and it branched off and became the worldwide sport we have come to love today.
During the twelfth and nineteenth centuries, the samurai was currently ruling Japan thus providing a rich environment for the development of martial arts and jujitsu. This new form allowed a new fighting technique to be used alongside the common bow and arrows and sword. Jujitsu was then commonly used for close quarters and hand to hand combat. Over time, jujitsu was constantly improved upon. This evolving of jujitsu allowed close combat to become an important branch in military training.
Then, towards the end of samurai rule in 1868, jujitsu slowly moved into the shadows and had almost been forgotten about. That is until an enthusiastic Japanese by the name of Jigoro Kano managed to revive jujitsu and turn it into a new form of martial art.
Although Jigoro Kano was a bright student all through school, he had a very short stature throughout his life. Because of his stature, he turned to Yanosuke Fukuda to become his apprentice at his jujitsu school named Tenjin Shin’yo at only 17 years old so he could develop his strength. Four years later, at the age of 21, Kano decided to experiment with jujitsu and developed his own school for self defense. With this new school came, a whole new form of martial art. Starting out, Kano’s judo classes only had a few students and his dojo was small in comparison to others.
Then, in 1889, Kano traveled outside of Japan to spread the word about his newly invented art in Europe. But, as he headed out, he had an encounter with a foreigner that decided to make fun of him aboard the ship he was traveling on. Kano was seen throwing a man down but also preventing him from being hurt. This became the first example of a martial art in action as it demonstrated the perfect form of self defense that took high regard of an enemy. Ever since his trip to Europe, Kano continued to keep his point of view on a global level. This led him to serve on the International Olympic Committee where he had the opportunity to continue to spread his art.
It wasn’t until the 1964 Tokyo Olympics that Kano’s undying dream came true. It was the perfect stage where the new martial arts techniques could make their debut as a new event during the Olympic games. During the Olympic competitions, the Japanese competitors conquered all of the divisions except for open division. The winner of the men’s open division proved to the world that the Japanese were not the only martial artists that could perfect their art. It wasn’t until the Seoul Olympics in 1988 that women’s judo was given the opportunity to demonstrate. With an obvious perfect demonstration, a women’s program became official fours years later during the Barcelona Olympics.
With all forms of jujitsu originating in Japan, it makes sense that the country would continue to send representatives to other parts of the world to learn this very special type of martial art.