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Can Children Learn Judo? Yes, it is Worth An Introduction

Can Children Learn Judo? Yes They Can And it is Worthwhile Introducing Them 

Judo is suitable for all age groups from about 5 to adults; some younger.

What Is Judo?

Judo is a martial art, based on jujitsu, founded in Japan in 1882 by Professor Jigoro Kano. He excelled in schoolwork but had a small physique and felt impaired by that. At about 17 he started jujitsu training. By 21 he took all the essential aspects of each jujitsu style he had mastered and developed a new style, which he called Judo. In the beginning, he has just 9 students at his small school (Dojo). But over time it grew until in 1964 it was introduced at the Tokyo Olympics, where men’s Judo was recognised as an official Olympic event.

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The Philosophy Of Judo

Judo revolves around the philosophy of “The gentle way”, which is what “Judo” means. Which may seem a bit strange. But if you exchange the word way with Martial art then it may start to make a bit more sense.

Judo is guided by three fundamental principles:

  • Strive for perfection as a whole person (Jika no Kansei)

  • Maximum Efficiency, Minimum Effort (Seiryoku Zen’yō)

  • Mutual Welfare and Benefit (Jita Kyōei)

Maximum Efficiency: allows for the use of the least amount of energy by utilising proper technique.

Mutual Welfare and Benefits: teach how to become a better member of society.

Judo teaches how to use control rather than brute force. Well-known moves include spectacular throws that use the opponent’s apparent advantage against him or her to take the fight to the ground whereas other Judo techniques can be applied to control your opponent.

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Effectiveness Of Judo

Judo has many techniques including throws, armbars and chokes. To juniors, however, only throws and holds on the ground are taught. But the techniques itself is not as important as the execution.

One of the beauties of this martial art / Sport is that it has very few physical limitations in terms of technique. Almost anyone can learn and apply at least some of its techniques. Men, women, old, young, non-athletic or superior athletes. Even physically impaired people can learn Judo. It is often in the Paralympics.

Judo's effectiveness is in its ability to redirect energy; allowing the taking down of much larger opponents. If you expend the minimal amount of energy needed leads to longer periods of fighting before fatigue sets in, which is a crucial factor in determining the outcome of any contest.

In the BLACK BELT Hall of Fame for 1981, Judo instructor Jack Williams once said, “Make a throw fast enough, and they won’t get up.”

Out of a matter of interest, Even in movies with fight scenes most, regardless of the style they are using end with a throw to the ground.

In Practical Terms What Will My Child Learn doing Kids' Judo?

What My Child Learns in Kids' Judo?

Kids Judo is suitable for most age groups from about 5 years old to, well... I'm not sure when you stop being a kid but most Judo schools break classes up into age groups such as 5 - 11, 12 - 16 and then seniors. I say about because some schools have special classes for 3 and 4-year-olds. Classes should be balanced between technique, free practice, physical fitness, and games.

Judo consists of getting into condition, learning to fall, throwing techniques, pins/grappling, control holds, and submissions (within age requirements). Classical classes do NOT involve striking, kicking, or the use of weapons. I say classical because sometime an instructor will teach children how to defend against such things but not necessarily how to do them. Such things are reserved, however, for when an instructor needs to help children cope if they are in an aggressive environment that may involve such activity.

Your child will NOT be learning “how to fight,” instead they will learn how to play within a combative sports environment. Your child will learn how to safely play with others in such an environment with respect and discipline, and how to contribute to the well-being of others.

“Is My Child Going To Use This To Hurt Others?”

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This is a legitimate concern and under a good instructor, it is always addressed early by reminding Judoka that the techniques they learn in the training hall (Dojo) stay in the Dojo unless they are extremely frightened.

    Judo Isn’t About Brute Force, It Is About Control

Judo teachers emphasise the concept of maximum efficiency. This is at the root of Judo techniques it is not brute force but using your opponent's movements and strength against him or her. While physical strength and size are important, mental strength is probably the most critical factor in competition.

    Limiting Aggression

Judo is about giving children an outlet for their boundless energy. As children learn the ropes, they learn to respect their newfound strength and techniques and how to limit their aggression to correctly apply the technique.


Having said all the above bullying is a major problem in every culture in the world. What’s worse is that many kids feel ashamed to get their parents involved, and hence they suffer silently in a buildup of childhood trauma.

Judo by its nature is self-defence and given time it will build confidence and confidence is the most significant factor in most self-defence situations. Equipping both children and people, in general, to be able to stand up for themselves often without even having to lift a finger. Even more importantly, it can help them stay calm in a conflict situation.

While it might seem like learning Judo will lead to violent behaviour in a child, the facts actually tend to prove the contrary. This is especially the case if a child is involved in regular Randori or Shiai. When you are used to being in a combative situation you tend to be less intimidated and lack of concern often can result in a Deescalation of conflict because the protagonist has nothing to react against.

Naturally, we would all prefer that no one have to use the skill they learn in Judo. This is the ideal. Unfortunately, the ideal is just that, the ideal. But as your child develops they will develop discipline, fitness and skill that will potentially hold the power to overcome a protagonist should that become necessary.

    Utilising The Clothing

Also grappling and throws are made easier by utilising the clothing of your opponent. It is very rare to come across an assailant who isn’t clothed.

The Benefits Of Learning Judo

Image of two children doing kids Judo
The Benefits Of Learning Judo

It is just as important to learn how to win as how to lose. Therefore we do not shy away from competitiveness. But we have a very strong emphasis on the “How” to win and “How” to lose.

Rough and tumble play and (Randori) allow us to test our skills against resisting opponents. In many respects, this is a form of preparation for life’s many obstacles. Just as in life, we do not always have success, but there is always something to learn from winning or losing. By Rough and tumble play and Randori, judoka learns how to compete within the rules, and develop persistence, perseverance and resolve.

    Judo Is Fun

The fun aspect of Judo for kids should not be overlooked. Judo-specific training games are not only fun but are a safe place to do rough and tumble or to get used to being involved in rough and tumble.

    New Friends

All sport is an opportunity to develop relationships with different people from all walks of life. In your school or working life, you will tend to meet the same kinds of people day in and day out. Whereas a sporting club will attract different people from different walks of life. Judo attracts also different walks of life. Through judo, you will interact with people you would not normally mix with and that makes your life more interesting!

    Social Skills

And of course, there are social aspects of a Judo class. As much as any sporting club it provides a great opportunity for your child to meet other kids with similar interests.

The great thing about Judo is that it’s highly dependent on working with a partner. As a result, working on social skills is much more intense. It’s a sport of peer interaction where growth and progress depend entirely on the ability to work with others with the class as a unit, especially under pressure.

As kids interact with their training partners across a variety of scenarios, they develop social skills to handle each situation with respect and grace.

    New Activities

Trying new activities is essential to overall health as well as performance in other sports.

Because Judo uses such a wide range you may you may limit the occurrence of overuse injuries that are common to those participating in a single sport!

Trying new activities may also reduce the pressure to perform in a single sport as well as the burnout that is sometimes experienced by single-sport athletes.

    Judo Is For Girls Too

Most parents consider martial arts for their sons, but not nearly as many would consider it for their daughters. Your daughter’s yellow belt will be attained in the same way and time frame as your son’s.

The saying “Throws Like A Girl” is NOT a negative like it is elsewhere. In fact, being thrown by a girl in Judo can be a very sobering experience, whether you are a male or a female.

There are also tremendous international opportunities in Women’s martial arts as well.

    Ideal Activity For Teenagers

Adolescence is the time of our lives when we transition from children to adults. It's when we have so many options and opportunities that just about anything seems possible. The decisions we make during these years have a long-lasting effect on how we view and interact with the world as a grownup. As far as personal development goes, adolescence is the most important phase of our lives.

Of all the things written above what isn't there that isn't good for teenagers. Humility, Self-control, Physical Development, Confidence and Self-Esteem The list goes on. Judo is not for everyone but if they are willing to try it fits the bill for teenagers.

    Gives Kids A Break From Screen Time And Homework

These days kids get more and more screen time. And as they progress higher and higher in school they are confronted with more and more homework. There is no question that increases physical activity and reduction of screen time improve performance, and mental and general health. Given what has been discussed above, Judo could be an option to contribute to these improvements.

Judo Promotes Healthy Competition: Shiai And Randori

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Full competition (Shiai) is NEVER compulsory though it is encouraged. Competition can be fun, but it may not be what you or your child wants.

The difference between competition (Shiai) Shiai and Randori is Shiai is for points Randori is just free practice in a competitive environment. Shiai is usually held away from the club at some central place. Randori is held in the club. It is rough-and-tumble play and the nature of rough-and-tumble play may be confronting so there are often many stages that lead up to it.

Whether Shiai and Randori Judo encourages healthy competition. Between the bows at the start and the end of a match win or lose there is the understanding that the contest is based on the principle of mutual welfare and benefit.

    They Might Make It To The Olympics

Judo is an Olympic sport. Judo’s been in there for years and is very well respected with a vast and colourful history. Who knows, maybe your child will represent the country one day in Judo.

Every Parent Should Consider Initiating Their Kids into the World of Judo!

Judo is an amazing sport that has been shown to have many benefits for kids and adults alike. It is a great way to learn more about physicality, as well as the importance of being humble and respecting your opponent.

Kids will learn a lot about themselves, they will learn how to deal with defeat and most importantly learn that through hard work, they can achieve great results.

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