Get Inspired: JUDO

The word judo means 'gentle way' in Japanese and, although it appears to be anything but gentle, the aggression of the players is very much controlled.

Analysis

Nicola Fairbrother, BBC Sport

"Judo is a mix of skill, strategy and strength. Technique can and does often overcome power, meaning the sport is exciting and unpredictable. The moment to look out for is the ippon throw, which often comes from nowhere."

Skill, technique and timing, rather than brute strength, are the essential ingredients for success in judo.

Let's not kid ourselves too much though, judo is only the "gentle way" to an extent. A look at the official list of 66 throwing and 29 grappling techniques reveals that 'shime-waza' or 'strangulation' is an option.

Judo made its Olympic debut at the 1964 Tokyo Games and Japan is the dominant force, winning three times as many gold medals as any other nation.

More than 180 nations are members of the International Judo Federation. In Beijing, Mongolia celebrated its first ever Olympic gold medal when Tuvshinbayar Naidan won the men's -100kg event.

Why is it good for you?

Judo burns approximately 340 calories per session and helps improve fitness levels, balance, coordination and flexibility.

For those not wanting to take part in combat, the moves involved in the sport can still be done as conditioning and strength-building exercises.

The throws and holds involved in judo provide an effective form of self-defence training. It also lowers peoples risk of sustaining serious injury in other sports as judo teaches people how to fall in a safe manner.

Although it is an individual sport, judo is an excellent way to develop communication skills and learn to work effectively with other people as you train in groups.

Clubs also offer a variety of social events beyond simply playing the sport.

Judo is good for the mind as well as the body. Specific rules ensure you will build self-confidence, self-discipline and respect for yourself and others, with many of the moves involving a great deal of mutual trust.

Get involved

Judo is a fun and challenging activity,  suitable for peoples of all ages and abilities. All clubs that are registered with the British Judo Association offer free starter sessions, and have 'judo gi' (uniforms) that you can borrow while you take part.

Every new skill and technique you learn contributes to your grading. As you progress, you will be given a new coloured belt to denote the standard you have reached.

Judo clubs provide the perfect base for people to learn the various techniques involved in the sport in a safe and controlled environment. Clubs can be found in sports centres, gyms, schools, colleges and universities throughout the UK.

Use the British Judo Association's club finder  to discover where your nearest club is located. A list of upcoming competitions and judo training events for coaches and athletes  can also be found on the Association's website.

As judo is a tough combat sport, a licence that provides insurance is required to take part in competitions and advanced training sessions. Information about where you can obtain the licence and its cost can be found on the British Judo Association,   NI Judo,   Judo Scotland  and Welsh Judo  websites.

It is vital that judo sessions are overseen by a qualified trainer. The British Judo Association's ClubMark  scheme accredits club that are committed to providing a safe and effective environment to learn the sport.

More on the British Judo Association website 

History

Judo is a traditional Japanese wrestling sport, and the word ju-do means "the way of suppleness".

Founded in 1882 by Dr Jigoro Kano, judo is a refinement of the ancient martial art of Jujitsu.

Olympic weight divisions

Men: -60kg, -66kg, -73kg, -81kg, -90kg, -100kg, +100kg

Women: -48kg, -52kg, -57kg, -63kg, -70kg, -78kg, +78kg

Dr Kano studied what he considered to be the best of Jujitsu's techniques and developed a sport which involves no kicking or punching, rather relying on fluid movements and throws to put an opponent on his or her back.

The sport first appeared at the Olympic Games in 1964 in Tokyo, was left out in 1968, but returned in 1972 and has remained ever since. Women's judo was added to the Games in 1992 in Barcelona.

Judo is now the most popular martial art in the world, with 13 million participants in 111 countries.

Since its Olympic debut at the 1964 Tokyo Games, Japan has won three times as many gold medals as any other nation.

More on the IOC website 

Are you inspired to try Judo? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the activity by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired  or email us on getinspired@bbc.co.uk.

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.