Judo: An Increasingly Popular Olympic Sport

Aug 10, 2016

Judo was founded in Japan around 1882. It’s an aggregate of techniques drawn from various martial arts. It’s been an Olympic sport since 1964 and has been gaining popularity ever since.

What does it look like?

“Bodies flying through the air…you’ll see a lot of them are very acrobatic,” says Jake Freedman, Head Coach of the University of New Hampshire Judo Club. “They may go very high into the air, and somehow spin in the air like a cat, and land on their fronts.”

Freedman says there are four ways you can win a match: throw an opponent down, so that they land directly on their back with speed, control, and force. You can hold them down for 20 seconds. You can get them to submit, using elbow-lock techniques—apparently it’s pretty painful. Or, you can use strangulation techniques, by applying pressure against the carotid arteries. If no one has won when the time runs out, the match goes to a points system to determine the victor.

He says although Judo is fairly obscure in America, Olympic coverage of the sport is making it more popular. There are various Judo clubs here in New Hampshire: in addition to the one at UNH, there are now Judo clubs in Portsmouth, Keene, Derry, Pembroke, and Londonderry.

If you want to catch a glimpse the game, America's Kayla Harrison will be trying for another gold medal on Thursday morning.