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Judo Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
A thoroughly modern martial art
Judo during the Sydney Olympics
Judo is not always as 'gentle' as described
BBC Sport Online looks at the story behind the not so gentle art of judo.

For the average person on the street, the thought of judo can conjure up images of eastern mysticism and strange-sounding foreign words.

Certainly judo, which means "the gentle way", has its roots in the Far East, owing its origins to the ancient Japanese art of hand-to-hand combat called ju-jutsu.

But the popular sport as we know it today, is comparatively modern, invented just over 120 years ago by keen academic Dr Jigoro Kano.

Based on the principle of using an opponent's energy against themselves, Kano established his school (Kodokan) in 1882.

Judo timeline
16th century: Various forms of hand-to-hand combat, ju-jutsu, developed
1883: Dr Jigoro Kano establishes a new form of ju-jutsu, Judo
1899: Kano begins to promote judo overseas
1951: International Judo Federation formed
1964: Judo makes Olympic debut at Tokyo Games
1988: Women's judo introduced as a demonstration sport at the Seoul Olympics
1990: Judo makes its first appearance at the Commonwealth Games
He saw physical education as one of the cornerstones of learning and it was not long before his new form of the martial art ju-jutsu had become part of the physical education curriculum in Japanese schools.

Kano soon began making trips to Europe and America to promote his martial art.

Judo's spread overseas, however, owed as much to its entertainment value than educational benefits in the first few years.

In 1899, a team of martial arts experts came to England in an attempt to establish a school in London.

The initial project failed, but some members of the team remained behind and found success on stage, wowing audiences across the country with dazzling displays of skill.

The most famous of these was Yukio Tani, who offered challengers 1 for every minute they could stay on their feet after the five-minute mark and 50 if they beat him - he retired undefeated.

In 1920, Tani went on to become an instructor at Great Britain's first martial arts club, the Budokwai in London.

By this time, the final touches to Kano's judo teachings had long since been added and Japanese experts had emigrated all across the world to promote the sport.

Unsurprisingly, judo continued to grow in popularity until the Second World War, when the global situation prompted a sudden decline in interest.

When the Japanese surrendered in 1945, martial arts were banned in schools and public institutions in Japan.

These restrictions were relaxed in 1951, at the same time that the European Judo Federation was established, three years after the creation of the British Judo Federation.

Judo made its first appearance in the Olympics at the Tokyo Games in 1964.

But it had to wait another 26 years before it made its Commonwealth Games debut in Auckland, New Zealand - its only appearance at the Games until now.

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20 Jun 02 | Judo
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