Judo is a martial art and Olympic sport that comes with a ton of physical and mental benefits that are enjoyed by its practitioners around the world today. Here we are going to explore the 12 key benefits everyone who trains Judo will gain.
Founded in 1882 by Jigoro Kano, Judo adapted Ju-Jitsu, a traditional martial art in Japan with a poor reputation, to become one of the most widely practiced sports in the world. Judo is reliant on the application of technique, timing and leverage rather than being dependent on strength or force. The principle aim of Judo is to throw an opponent onto the floor, so they land on their back.
Training in Judo is known to have many benefits some of which we will explore below.
Increased fitness levels
Training Judo can be an intense work out especially if it been a while since you last did any physical exercise. Even though it doesn’t rely on the use of strength to perform techniques repeatedly throwing someone is a seriously good work out.
On top of this lots of instructors will insist on participation in warm ups which can be gruelling in their own right. Sometimes the fitness element will be focused on Judo but other times they might resemble mini fitness boot camps. Training in Judo is a good way to add some variety to your work outs, so you no longer need to endlessly toil away on the treadmill.
Increased strength levels
Those who train Judo will usually notice some gains in muscle and strength, especially if they haven’t been exercising for a while. Whilst you don’t necessarily lift your training partners you still have to spend a considerable amount of energy manipulating their weight.
Judo relies on being able to establish good grips and using these to execute throws, as a result you can expect to see an improvement in grip strength over time. Most people who start a new martial art will notice a change in body composition as they become leaner and more muscular.
The more flexible you are the easier you will find Judo and whilst some people are blessed with seemingly limitless flexibility others are not. If you fall into the latter category you should expect to see an improvement in this area. Contorting your body into different positions to perform throws will help you develop better flexibly. The is also a great emphasis placed on regular stretching which can be done at home or in class.
Maintaining your balance in Judo is key to success especially if you want to compete. One of the key principles of Judo is breaking the balance of the person you want to throw, this makes them lighter and less able to resist the technique. Your balance will improve from training to positioning yourself to throw, the best throws are performed from a strong and balanced base. Equally you will become more aware of your body’s movements and how this effects your balance when attempting to avoid being thrown.
To be successful in Judo you will need to have strong co-ordination. Co-ordination is important from the point of establishing the first grip to the point where you throw your partner into the mat. As you repeatedly practice techniques you will become adept at taking advantage of small mistakes and your co-ordination should improve.
Judo will sharpen your reflexes and shorten your reaction times. When learning for a sustained period of time movements in Judo will become instinctive in the same way you hit the break in a car without thinking when you see a child step into the road.
Learning to take break falls properly is an essential to ensure you don’t get injured on the mat, it’s also a great way of demonstrating how your reflexes have improved. As you improve you will be thrown harder and faster, so your reflexes will need to become sharper to keep you safe.
When sparing you will see an improvement in the speed at which you are able to react and capitalise on small openings this is a sign of your sharpening reflexes and not just an expanding knowledge.
Increased self confidence
Most people who train in a martial art, not just Judo will notice an increase in self-confidence. Whilst at times the learning process can be frustrating seeing yourself improve and learn new skills is a great confidence booster. Knowing you are capable of learning complex movements and techniques will lead to greater self-belief.
Training Judo can boost confidence when dealing with difficult or aggressive confrontations. People who have trained martial arts are usually much better at keeping a calm and assertive manner in disagreements. On top of this people who train Judo should be confident that they can handle a physical confrontation should it come down to it..
Stronger mental attitude
Overcoming adversity which will be inevitable when training in Judo helps practitioners to building a stronger mental attitude. Knowing that you have been able to persevere through a troubling time to reach an end goal will give you the confidence to do the same when confronted with a similar problem in your personal life.
Understanding that you will make mistakes and that these provide opportunities to improve and move forward is great in developing mental resilience.
Almost everyone who trains in Judo will at some point have an experience that will be humbling for them. For lots of new starters this comes in the first few sessions usually when they get tossed around by someone much smaller and weaker who has committed to learning technique.
This is not just the preserve of the new starter though, even season Judoka’s can be humbled by getting beat up by a lower grade, an older student or someone else they previously believed to be inferior. It is for this reason that most people who train in Judo become incredibly humble even when possessing excellent skills.
Setting a goal
Often a neglected point but if your training in Judo then you have a reason to stay in shape if the lessons alone aren’t enough. Nothing is going to more negatively impact your training that allowing yourself to become unfit and overweight. If you really want to get an edge over a potential opponent having a bigger gas tank is one way of improving outside of training on the mats.
Judo has lots of opportunities to compete against others whether its just a bit of fun as part of a regular training session or something more formal like an organised event. The competition is great for spurring you on to improve your skills and takes away the fear of competing against others some people have. In competing lots of people surprise themselves at what they can actually achieve having previously doubted their own abilities.
Most of all training in Judo is a great way to have fun. Most clubs will have a friendly atmosphere and there is a great sense of camaraderie amongst those who train together. There’s really no excuse not to pull on a Gi and give it a go.