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Judo (translated as "the gentle way") is a Japanese martial art and combat sport created by an educator named Jigoro Kano from several ancient jujutsu styles. It's essentially a form of jacketed wrestling where the goal is to throw an opponent to the ground, as well as immobilize or otherwise subdue him with pins, joint locks and chokes.

Practitioners of the sport are called Judoka. Equipment consist solely of a white uniform called judogi or keikogi (sometimes abbreviated as "gi"), composed of a loose jacket and pants tied with a belt called obi.

A discipline spread out worldwide, its philosophy, pedagogy, keikogi uniform and Martial Arts Belts became the model for other modern Japanese martial arts, and the art itself became part of the Japanese educative system, with judo clubs and teams established in almost every school and university. With its most prominent feature being currently its competitive element, judo is an Olympic sport since 1964, and its ruleset is regulated by the International Judo Federation. As the originator of the sport, Japan usually tops the medal table (but not always), and their usual rivals are France, Brazil, Russia and South Korea.

Judo is an unified martial art, which means there is only one metaphorical school and one ruleset for all the competitions. There is, however, a minor modality called kosen judo, which is actually a remnant from the dark ages in which the art was still developing and had more open rules, and it still takes place in the Japanese universities in a league named Nanatei or Shichitei. Judo also gave birth to the martial arts of Sambo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) after its expansion to Russia and Brazil, respectively, and its connection can be traced in their similar techniques.

And no, the "judo chop" is not an actual judo move. Asking your judoka friend to do this move will result in a nasty look from said friend and may or may not cause him/her to throw you depending on how many times you ask.note 

Appearances in media


  • The famous Segata Sanshiro, the Japanese spokesman for Sega's Saturn console, was a crazy judoka directly parodied from book character Sanshiro Sugata.

Anime and Manga

  • Any topic about judo in manga or anime must bring Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl, a series in which the title character Yawara Inokuma is trained by her judo-obsessed grandfather Jigoro (exactly what it says, a Jigoro Kano clone) to win gold at the Olympics.
  • There was also a less known series named Kurenai Sanshiro in which the main character, young jujutsuka Sanshiro, searched his father's killer.
  • Yet another series, the quite wackier Inakappe Taishō, featured a judoka protagonist.
  • In Berserk, Griffith submits Guts in their first duel with a picture-perfect waki-gatame.
  • Ninja Scroll: The Series also shows Tsubute throwing Tatsunosuke down with a magnificent ippon seoi nage.
  • Matsushita from Angel Beats! is a 5º dan in judo, although he never shows it on screen.
  • The short-lived character Hisashi from Highschool of the Dead is a black belt in judo, but despite his belief it doesn't save him from the zombies.
  • In Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma, the ninja Hikage breaks the neck of an enemy with a rather anachronistic ushiro-sankaku-jime.
  • Misae from CLANNAD busts some juji-gatame here and there to punish her dorm students.
  • Tiger Mask featured Real Life judoka-turned-wrestler Seiji Sakaguchi as a recurring character, and Tiger Mask himself knows a few judo moves, being especially notable for integrating the tomoe nage in his second and third Finishing Moves.
  • A recurring character in Kyō Kara Ore Wa!! is Takasaki, noted for being a high school judo champion... And one of the few people who have ever managed to hand Mitsuhashi his ass (helped by Mitsuhashi having decided to beat him at judo and not in a street fight without having any idea of what judo actually is). While nowhere near as fast or strong as Mitsuhashi, he remains a force to be reckoned with even in street fights, as many a delinquent have learned when they went after him thinking he was just a sportsman and discovered the hard way how much it hurts being thrown on your ass on a street.
  • In My Hero Academia, Izuku Midoriya uses judo flips to good effect on Katsuki Bakugo and Hitoshi Shinso.
  • All Rounder Meguru features a number of fighters that come from Judo, most notably Yudai (who was all but forced to give it up after an incident in which his older brother and fellow Judoka crippled his rival and went into MMA to have those who chased him off Judo forced to hear about him and never forget) and Momoko.
  • In Holyland Iwado is a notable Judoka and one of Setasho's most formidable students, because, as Masaki points out even before he's seen in action, being thrown on concrete hurts. He also gets to show a few less known moves when two thugs fought him in a narrow street to restrain his throws only to be dispatched by a Kosotogake (the victim hit his head on a wall) and a choke adapted to his opponent's clothes.
  • Medaka Box has a few characters experienced in it:
    • One of Medaka's many unbelievable accomplishments is reaching master level in judo-in middle school.
    • Judo is also one of the martial arts Zenkichi studied, tough nowhere near as Medaka's level.
    • Kouki Akune first appears as the star of the judo club, even earning the nickname of "Prince of Judo". Befitting his middle school reputation as The Destroyer, in steet fighting he'll resort to the various forbidden techniques.
    • Nekomi Nabeshima is the captain of the judo club. As befitting to someone called "Foul King", she tends to supplement her legitimate skils with unfair tactics and outside of sanctioned matches she's an incredibly dirty Combat Pragmatist, to the point that everyone who lost to her has exclaimed "You cheater!".
  • Maryuu Senki shows some professional-looking grappling moves and judo throws amongst its 80's tentacled gore.
  • In the 2019 adaptation of Boogiepop Series, Nagi and Masaki (who has also a Karate background) employ some slick judo throws in Episodes 8 and 9.

Comic Books

  • Judo is often listed among the fighting styles which compose Captain America's fighting style.
  • As this article shows, Batman has used judo moves as part of his arsenal since a long time. He even explicitly calls them "old jiu-jitsu tricks."


  • Batman uses a nice ippon seoi nage on a mook while going to rescue Martha Kent in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
  • Martial arts madman Donnie Yen performs a brilliant judo exhibition in the award-winning final fight of Flash Point, where he uses pinning, armbars, triangle chokes, and of course flashy throws like ippon seoi nage, uchi mata and tomoe nage. Any other modern Yen film is guaranteed to have at least a bit of judo in it.
  • Gold Finger: Pussy Galore (whose late actress was a judoka) starts a fight with James Bond by throwing him. He counters her next attempt to throw him.
  • Immortals, the fight between Theseus and Hyperion sees a morote gari, a standing ude-garami and a tobi-juji-gatame of all things by the Greek hero.
  • Before the The Karate Kid craze, a film by the name of Judo's Gentle Tiger already feature mystic Japanese martial arts in American soil in the form of judo. George Harris, an Olympic judoka, starred in it.
  • In Naked Weapon, Andrew Lin's Yakuza character exhibits some judo throws against the female lead.

  • Rurouni Kenshin and its sequels Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno and Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends feature the title character mixing sword fighting with all sorts of jujutsu throws and armlocks, an aspect he never demonstrated in the original manga and anime.
  • Akira Kurosawa had his directorial debut in a film adaptation of Sanshiro Sugata, which was followed by sequel Sanshiro Sugata Part II.
  • In Sherlock Holmes (2009), John Watson knocks out a mook with a jacket lapel choke. The film's diirector, Guy Ritchie, is a black belt in judo and BJJ and helped to choreography the scenes.
  • James Cagney demonstrated some judo in Blood on the Sun.
  • The movie Throw Down by Hong Kong big name Johnnie To is a homage to Sanshiro Sugata, and features appropriate judo action.
  • In the live action films of Tintin, the title character uses some judo throws to dispose of baddies.
  • Yuri Boyka, the self-proclaimed most complete fighter in the world played by Scott Adkins, used some judo throws and holds in Undisputed II: Last Man Standing and Undisputed III: Redemption.


  • Sanshiro Sugata from the eponymous series penned by Tsuneo Tomita, son of Tsunejiro Tomita.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle wrote Sherlock Holmes as user of an style called "Baritsu" or possibly "Bartitsu," which in real life was created by a guy named Barton-Wright who had contacted the Kodokan school. Nonetheless, Holmes used what is implied to be a judo throw to dispose of his foe Moriarty on the famous Reichenbach Falls.
  • Clive Cussler describes his protagonist Dirk Pitt as having some judo training in his novel Cyclops, although this is apparently forgotten in the rest of Dirk Pitt Adventures.

Western Animation

Tropes associated with judo

  • The Ace:
    • The sport had an ace-like figure in the legendary Masahiko Kimura, who is called by many the best judoka of all time.
    • In more recent times, the not much less legendary Yasuhiro Yamashita could be the next in occupy that role, with his four world championship wins and legendary skill.
    • In modern times, Teddy Riner from France has stood on top of the heavyweight division for years, getting two Olympic gold medals, seven world championships and has been undefeated in international competitions for seven years. Some have started calling him an Invincible Hero.
    • Ryoko Tamura is often called the greatest female judoka of all time, winning seven world titles and five Olympic medals.
  • Action Girl: Judo had some of the first women in martial arts as of Jigoro Kano's times. Sueko Ashiya and Keiko Fukuda were some of them. Manga gave us Yawara, which was embodied in real life by Ryoko Tamura in the Olympic Games. Finally, nowadays Ronda Rousey has become the most badass judo gal in popular culture.
  • Adaptation Displacement: Many people are unaware that you can do chokes and armlocks in judo, thinking that they started from BJJ (which actually spun off from judo, something else many people didn't realize). Or even that BJJ adopted those techniques from judo, and not only basic moves, but also curiosities like complex guards, sweeps and submissions, which were widely practiced before the World War II. It didn't help that Kodokan forbade a lot of holds and that the IJF has been de-emphasizing the ground game for years.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: There were many in the times of the foundation of Kodokan, as it was a recurrent archetype for the average jujutsu practitioner in Japan. Some of the first judoka were challengers who had been defeated by Kodokan members and had decided to join, and many of them (Sakujiro Yokoyama being the first example) never abandoned completely the attitude.
  • Arsenal Attire: The uniform or judogi is basically a cloth which can used as a weapon, using lapels to choke out both its wearer and his opponent.
  • Ass Kicks You: The hip is an essential part of judo, as it is used as a pivot to throw the opponent around, so a good control of it is required. It is sometimes used to bump or unbalance the opponent by thrusting it against him.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The judo ruleset leaves little time to work when the fight hits the mat before the judokas are stood up, so the art's signature style of groundwork tends to be offensive and rushed, focused on hunting submissions in the shortest time possible and brute forcing one's way towards positions instead of strategically navigating through them like other grappling styles. Conversely, this trait also led to the creation of a long array of techniques surrounding the turtle position, which is the favourite move of judokas unskilled on the ground who prefer to wait for the stand-up instead of engaging.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: There is a class of moves called sutemi-waza or "sacrifice techniques", in which the user needs to put themselves in a disadvantageous position, like falling or throwing himself to the ground, in order to perform a strong throw on the opponent. They are usually more dangerous than the average throw, and are taught in higher levels to prevent accidents, meaning this is more of a Subverted Trope.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Yoshiaki Yamashita, one of the Four Guardians of the Kodokan, loved to beat and maim people at the slightest opportunity. He was suspended and confronted by Kano himself after he killed some guys in a brawl, but the bloodthirsty Yamashita still wanted to hear none of it and actually challenged his master to a fight. He only relented when Kano made him realize that Yamashita's ways would only get himself beaten and killed some day.
    • Edson Carvalho was considered as one of the best judokas in Brazil during his time, but his spectacular public enmities and his not less spectacular short temper got him a bad reputation. He was expelled of Georges Mehdi's dojo for brutally beating down a guest training partner, Wallid Ismail, and had to face charges for attacking the president of the Brazilian Judo Federation, Joaquim Mamede, who had refused him a place on the national team in order to give it to his son despite Edson having defeated him in a tournament.
  • Badass Back: Over the shoulder throws and other takedowns are done with the opponent at the user's back, both bent over and picked up.
  • Badass Bookworm: Tsunejiro Tomita was the most bookish and the least violent of the Four Guardians of Kodokan, but he still scored an impressive victory by wrecking the mighty Hansuke Nakamura.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game:
    • Hajime Isogai was the first known person who managed to out grapple the feared jujutsuka Mataemon Tanabe, a master grappler who had made tap out a lot of people until then.
    • Once judo started spreading across the world, judokas often entered in wrestling contests to prove the superiority of their art over native styles (which often was as simple as said wrestlers not understanding finish holds like armbars or chokes). European Music halls were famous for bringing little Japanese guys to challenge and beat dozens of toughs and challengers with their exotic martial arts, and some of them even joined catch wrestling tours to keep the occupation.
    • Famous judoka Tokio Hirano beat Dutch wrestling champion Peter Artz within his own rules (i.e. ten seconds pin falls and no judogi).
    • The reverse has also happened: other nations like Georgia or Mongolia have successfully adapted their own traditional wrestling styles to excel in top-level judo competition.
    • Another reverse is catch wrestler Ad Santel beating several high-level judoka at their own rules in Japan.
  • Blood Knight:
    • Three out of the Four Guardians of Kodokan loved a good fight and weren't shy about it. Yoshiaki Yamashita was a sociopathic berserker, Shiro Saigo was an unapologetical Stock Shōnen Hero, and Sakujiro Yokoyama only liked to drink more than to fight. Yokoyama's classmate Takisaburo Tobari was also a Leeroy Jenkins on his own right.
    • Dutch pioneer Jon Bluming loved competition, according to the sources, a bit too much. He has been criticized (and liked by other people) for talking with excessive serenity about breaking limbs and beating people down.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The kesa-gatame is a basic technique in judo which doesn’t look very impressive, resembling more your classic pro wrestling pin fall or the setup of more exotic puroresu holds like the Anaconda Vice, but a skillful judoka can pin down an opponent with it and leave him near absolutely helpless. It also enables the user to apply pressure in the opponent's neck and chest, so exceptionally strong judokas can even use it as a submission hold.
    • Wrestling takedowns like single leg or double leg have their judo counterparts (kuchiki taoshi/morote gari respectively). They are plenty effective but people started overusing them for stalling in international competitions, which eventually led to the leg grab ban.
    • Doing hikikomi or pulling guard was forbidden by the judo rulers in ancient times for being a cheap way to skip throws and get right to the ground, but it is still legal in kosen judo, and you can recognize a match of the annual Shichitei/Nanatei league because the first thing they do once they grip up is pulling guard.
  • Bowled Over: A good and pretty intuitive way for a judoka to face multiple attackers is tossing one of them over the rest or on their path. Yoshiaki Yamashita demonstrated it in his many street brawls.
  • Broken Ace: Naoya Ogawa was one of the fastest rising judokas ever, winning multiple All Japan Championships and setting a record only behind Yasuhiro Yamashita himself, but his mindset issues (namely, his alleged laziness in training and prima donna attitude) kept him away of the Olympic gold and finally got him out of judo.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Almost every famous judoka has a story in which somebody crazy enough picked a fight with them before being thrashed. It's notable an anecdote by Kyuzo Mifune in which he was assaulted by thirteen thugs in a tavern, with exactly the outcome you are thinking.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: According to Josh Barnett, former world judo champion Hidehiko Yoshida could bench press 400 lbs. as if nothing.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Unbeknowst to many people, judo proved to be a determining factor in the famous Karate/Muay Thai challenges in the 1963. At least two out of the three karatekas sent by the Kyokushin school had judo knowledge as well, and they took advantage on the open muay thai ruleset to hit throws constantly and stun the Thai guys enough to knock them out. This played specially well for the smallest of them Akio Fujihira, who was pitted against a much heavier Thai fighter and only could counter his clinch work thanks to his judo throws.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Judokas experienced in street fighting like Kyuzo Mifune and Mikinosuke Kawaishi are great examples of the trope. In their books, they show not only forbidden techniques with all the tips to use them in a real fight, but also include striking and dirty tricks like headbutts and eye gouge in order to set up bigger moves.
  • Contortionist: Some judokas have really good acrobatic skills and can get out of throws by doing flips or cartwheels so they land on their stomach (which doesn't award any score). Ukranian judoka Georgii Zantaraia is famous for this.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: In mid-2000, world judo champion Kenzo Nakamura and world Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion Roger Gracie had a legendary roll in the Budokwai club without knowing who the other was at the time. Author Mark Law, who was present, called it a "battle of gods." It was supposedly even invoked by resident instructor Ray Steves, who basically wanted to see what would happen.
  • Counter-Attack: A good chunk of the judo move set is based around reversing and countering other moves, as well as subtlety manipulating the opponent's balance when trying his own moves. Sometimes a counter can even be countered.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Judo has a long history of this.
    • Back in its origins, the art initially focused only in tachi-waza or throwing technique and contained little ne-waza or ground fighting, a flaw which was capitalized by a grappling expert named Mataemon Tanabe to beat Kodokan fighters. After the incident, the Kodokan fastly caught up and suffered a ground fighting boom, which produced a wave of specialists who later helped to create Brazilian jiu-jitsu (Mitsuyo Maeda and Soshihiro Satake being the main ones). Ironically, Jigoro Kano would return to the roots and change the judo official ruleset to restrict ground fighting, leaving only the kosen judo competition to keep the former style.
    • In recent times (2010s) the IJF has been criticized for severely restricting the judo ruleset to differentiate itself from wrestling and maintain its place in the Olympics. The most controversial changes include completely banning leg grabbing (punishable by disqualification) and severely limiting time for ne-waza in matches, though referees have been more lax in enforcing the ne-waza restriction as of late.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique:
    • Kani basami ("scissors throw") is a throw where you do a scissoring motion with your legs from the side, sweeping and pushing the opponent down at once. It's very easy to misjudge the distance and end up breaking your opponent's leg, which is what happened when Sumio Endo broke Yamashita's fibula using it in the 1980 All-Japan finals. The throw has been banned from competition ever since, and nowadays is almost more common to be taught in karate schools than in judo.
    • Ashi garami, a kind of standing leglock entry that risks the leg's integrity, was banned in 1898 when some poor guy got his leg broken in an exhibition in front of Emperor Taisho. The entry would be useless today even if it wasn't banned, as leglocks thmselves were forbidden at the same time, but the ban is meant to discourage unskilled judokas who would try to use it as a delaying technique and then get somebody horribly injured for nothing.
    • As said above, any kind of leglock is banned in judo competition and even unrecognized as a technique by the Kodokan school, despite many judo books often naming and explaining them. This includes ashi hishigi (ankle lock), ashi dori garami (toehold), and the more popular hiza-juji-gatame (kneebar), which was reportedly very used in kosen judo before its prohibition.
    • Do jime is a quite intuitive move in which one traps the opponent's torso with their legs, like in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu basic guard, and then extends/stretches them note  to squeeze them nutcracker-style. The reasons of the ban are more about practicality than danger, however: it is usually hard to submit an experienced grappler with it unless you enjoy a gross size advantage or an insanely strong pair of legs, and the former case would mean you are screwing the weight class system, while the latter would be against judo's philosophy for using raw strength instead of skill. On top of the reasons given, if the opponents are similar enough in size, but one's hips are narrow, then they could submit their opponent [[note]], especially if the other person is
    • There is also the kawazu gake, known in pro wrestling as a Russian leg sweep, as it drops the opponent down with his and your legs turned into a knot with all its inherent dangers.
  • David Versus Goliath: It pretty much faded away with the introduction of weight classes, but initially the art's philosophy disparaged size in favor of skill, so matches between judokas of wildly different size were very common. It took Anton Geesink to prove that size and skill was a trouble for just skilled opponents. Still, some open weight judo tournaments remain, like the All-Japan Judo Championships held every year in Tokyo.
  • Deceptive Disciple:
    • There is the popular impression, possibly fueled by promotional purposes that pander to the modern appreciation towards antiheroes and mavericks, that Mitsuyo Maeda, the traveling judoka and founder of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, was a rebellious figure who sailed free after being expelled of the Kodokan school and/or went against the established judo in order to create his style, or maybe that he was outlawed for this activity. In reality, Maeda never left the Kodokan and was always very highly considered by the organization: he was promoted to 4th and 5th dan by Kodokan while he was in Brazil, and there is a bust of him in the school headquarters in Japan labelling him as a groundwork expert.
    • Ironically, it would be Masahiko Kimura who was badly seen by the Kodokan school, and it was because he followed his former master to a group of judokas who left to found unsuccesfully a business of "professional judo" much in the vein of pro wrestling. Even worse, he would later join pro wrestling itself, which was seen as a big no-no by the Kodokan, as he needed income. Still, although he received a sanction in the form of a rank freezing, he was never expelled of Kodokan, represented them until the end of his career, and was reaccepted with a job as trainer at Takushoku University until his death.
  • Defeat Means Friendship:
    • Almost all the first-generation members of the Kodokan school were traditional jujutsu fighters who had been bested in challenge matches. Sakujiro Yokoyama was possibly the first of them; he originally belonged to the Teshin Yoshin-Ryu, and only joined the school after crashing Shiro Saigo's promotion ceremony and being thoroughly beaten by him in the subsequent match.
    • According to some, Mataemon Tanabe from Fusen-Ryu helped Kodokan to refine their groundwork technique after trashing them in said field. Some other say it was less about friendship and more about Kano paying him a lot, though it is known that Tanabe became personal friends with several judokas through this trope. Soji Kimotsuki stands out because it was him who defeated Tanabe and not the opposite, though he lost a rematch before starting training together.
    • Kimotsuki himself had joined the Kodokan school in a similar case. He was originally a Tenjin Shinyo-Ryu jujutsuka who was training in Yataro Handa's dojo when Jigoro Kano and his people visited the place. Although Kimotsuki was unimpressed about the visitants, he changed his mind after being tossed to the ground in seconds by a smaller guy.
  • Defeat Means Respect: Takisaburo Tobari became somewhat of a Worthy Opponent to the aforementioned Tanabe, as he never stopped challenging him despite losing in every fight they had. Even if Tanabe was never close to be beaten by him, he recognized Tobari's guts.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • Some throws like uchi mata or harai goshi require the thrower to stand on one leg while loading the opponent on their hip. They are highly effective techniques often seen in top-level competition, but newbies generally won't be able to do them until they have a few years under their belt to refine their balance.
    • Foot sweeps like deashi barai require very, very precise timing and positioning to execute properly, but if you get it just right you can quite literally sweep someone off their feet with very little force.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Brazilian judo master Georges Mehdi was respected and feared enough to render his school free of the challenges and dojo stormings common in the old vale tudo scene. Some of his apprentices, like Luis Virgilio Castro de Moura or Edson Carvalho, were similarly feared as well.
    • Jon Bluming was known as "The Beast from Amsterdam" for a reason, and his fame was such that people often dropped off from tournaments to avoid facing him.
    • Simply, Yasuhiro Yamashita in his prime.
  • Dueling Dojos:
    • The Kodokan schools art had to struggle through a dojo war against many other jujutsu schools in order to be recognized. Given that the goal of Kodokan was founding an unified jujutsu system in a landscape filled with organizations which enjoyed their disparity and loved to quarrel with each other, it was effectively a war of a man against the world. Against all the expectations, even if they counted losses, they won the war.
    • Inside judo itself, there was friction between the Kodokan school and the Dai Nippon Butokukai, a military fighting arts organization which had adopted judo as part of its curriculum. People at the Butokukai favored brutal training and extensive groundwork (due in a no small part to being located in Kansai, a land with a lot of newaza-happy jujutsu schools whose members often trained with them), while the rest of the country was more adhered to Kano's emphasis in stand-up and sensible teaching methods. However, Jigoro Kano himself was a high member of the Butokukai, and it was him in first place who convinced its members to create a jujutsu department and accept not only judo, but also other schools.
  • Escalating Brawl: A colorful and somewhat crazy anecdote tells how the legendary judoka Shiro Saigo was expelled from Kodokan for causing one of those. He supposedly went with some colleagues to drink and decided to challenge Araumi, a hulking 400 lbs. sumotori. He did throw him down, but Araumi bite his shin in revenge, so Saigo struck him in the face to make him release his leg. This break of the popular challenge rules caused both his and Araumi's posse to react and start a battle. Soon the police arrived, but Saigo wanted none of it and he started throwing cops left and right, even tossing some of them into a nearby river. Unsurprisingly, he was jailed until Kano could free him, and when he got out, the master was not happy with him.
  • Field Promotion: Batsugan is the act of promoting judokas to higher ranks due solely to competition feats or in order to get in a rank-restricted competition. It is an act which is frowned upon, but it does happen.
  • Five-Man Band: Kano and the Shitenno.
    • The Hero: Jigoro Kano (founder and leader)
    • The Lancer: Yoshiaki Yamashita (childhood friend and philosophical opponent to Kano)
    • The Big Guy: Sakujiro Yokoyama (the largest physically and most boisterous)
    • The Smart Guy: Shiro Saigo (technical genius)
    • The Heart: Tsunejiro Tomita (the worst fighter, but an intellectual and moral center)
  • Forgot Flanders Could Do That:
    • Judo is somewhat infamous in grappling circles for disallowing leglocks, which are a large part of the submission curricula nowadays. However, it was only after 1914 that this ban took effect, and still many masters taught them for a time after the prohibition; ancient judo books show all kinds of leglocks, including several which were thought to have originated in other forms of wrestling. For instance, most Brazilian jiu-jitsu historians believe the dangerous heel hook came to them through the Butokukai judoka Takeo Yano.
    • Judo is mostly known as a grappling martial art, and striking is out of question. But few remember that striking techniques are part of the Judo repertoire, they are called Atemi waza and were codified by Kano himself adapting from old ju-jutsu. However, they are mostly forgotten since they are too hard or dangerous (since it includes attacks on the throat and eyes) to practice on randori (and thus, on a resisting opponent), and were never part of Judo competition.
  • Four Is Death: Back in the days of the contests between the Kodokan and other jujutsu schools, the four judokas Shiro Saigo, Yoshiaki Yamashita, Sakujiro Yokoyama and Tsunejiro Tomita were called Kodokan Shitenno ("The Four Heavenly Kings of Kodokan" or "The Four Guardians of Kodokan") for his victories against jujutsukas.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: By all accounts, the mentioned Shitenno. Saigo (Sanguine), Yokoyama (Choleric), Yamashita (Melancholic) and Tomita (Phlegmatic).
  • Fragile Speedster: Compare the fighting styles of extra-lightweight (-60kg for men, -48kg for women) and heavyweight (+100kg/+78kg) judoka. Lighter weight fights are a lot more frantic and twitchy, using more movement and speed to unbalance their opponents to compensate for relative lack of strength.
  • The Giant: A Dutch judoka, Anton Geesink, was known for his strength and size (6 ft 6 in and weighed in at 120 kg (265 lb).), and his domination of the open weight division of the world championships cemented his role. Russia got a Distaff Counterpart in Svetlana Goundarenko, an even heavier competitor.
  • Glass Cannon: Olympic gold medalist Pawel Nastula was renowned by his great combinations and brilliant groundwork skills, but his stamina was famously limited, and at the end of his judo career he quickly dropped off the ranks when the younger judokas learned to overpower him simply by keeping the match long and waiting for him to become tired.
  • God Was My Copilot: In grappling, "sandbagging" is a term which refers to competing in a low level while having a much higher level. Judo black belts are forbidden to wear white belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and sometimes vice versa, while judo organizations usually obligate you to identify both yourself and your true rank before entering. However, it hasn't historically stopped some big names from doing the trick in order to have fun. Jon Bluming once disguised himself as a white belt and trolled an instructor in front of his class, getting admonished by Risei Kano himself, and Brazilian black belt Edson Carvalho wore a white belt in his first BJJ class and laughed at a tournament winner by pinning him with kesa-gatame and not allowing him to get out.
  • Handicapped Badass: Judoka rely on sensing their opponent's weight through their limbs rather than on sight, so visually impaired people can enjoy the sport with only slight modifications to the rules (contestants must remain gripped up at all times). Watch judo in the Paralympic Games and you won't believe these athletes have any disabilities when they grip up and fight.
  • Handy Feet: Shiro Saigo was said to have those.
  • Human Knot: There is a choke technique called ebi-jime in which the user applies a gi choke with the opponent's leg hooked against him, thus basically pancaking him inside of the lock. It is rarely taught in mainstream judo today, but it was codified by Mikonosuke Kawaishi and is thought to have been innovated by Mataemon Tanabe.
  • Ignored Aesop: By all accounts, every time a jujutsuka defeated a judoka in the ancient times of the Kodokan, it was by submission, as back then judo consisted on standing throws and very little groundwork, the last of which some jujutsu schools were expert in. Still, even although the Kodokan lost an entire challenge to ground grapplers, the school never really developed ground experts until very late after those dojo wars, all because of Kano's relatively right opinion that training throws was more important for self-defense than rolling on the tatami. Only after Hajime Isogai came with his mind changed from a risky battle against Mataemon Tanabe, did he make Kano realize they really needed to learn the damn ground in order to advance.
  • The Lancer: Hajime Isogai had one in the form of Kaichiro Samura, a sick grappler who had joined the Kodokan and become his rolling partner. He would later gain another in Tsunetane Oda, although they became more of Those Two Guys than anything.
  • Lost Technology: The yama arashi or "mountain storm" was a technique used by ancient judoka Shiro Saigo to beat people left and right, supposedly causing concussions. While there is a move called Yama Arashi in the current move set of judo, some believe that it is not the same move used by Saigo, which in that case would have been forgotten.
  • Meaningful Name: Borders in Non-Indicative Name, as many a judoka will tell you that judo is not precisely gentle to train or compete in. The meaning of judo, "gentle way", refers to energy redirection and force adaptation in opposition to frontal clash or strength against strength.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: Cartoonish or tongue-in-cheek representations of judo in media often show the user gripping the opponent one-handed and throwing him easily to the ground over his head, sometimes swinging him several more times for additional smashing. While its move set is obviously much more complicated than that, some basic shoulder throws could actually fit this trope, at least in their basics.
  • Mighty Glacier: As judo is based more around applied strength and firmness than agility or acrobatics like flashier martial arts, it naturally favors fighters who can throw vigorously and resist being thrown themselves, so if they are not this kind, they will tend to be the Lightning Bruiser kind.
  • Mighty Whitey: Americans like Donn F. Draeger, Brazilians like Georges Mehdi and Dutchmen like Jon Bluming and Anton Geesink has been described as such by the Japanese for dominating their native ranks.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Even basic pinning holds can become submission moves on their own right if the user is strong and/or skilled enough. The kesa-gatame can smother the opponent or crank his neck, and a well-placed kami-shiho-gatame can easily cover the victim's face and choke him even without transitioning it into a neck lock.
  • Murderous Thighs: The sankaku-jime or triangle choke is a technique where the user scissors their opponent's head and an arm with their legs and squeezes to cut out his blood stream. It has several variations, and classical judo is especially fond of the inverted variation or ushiro-sankaku-jime because it allows to attack turtled up people, but the most known (especially thanks to BJJ) is the omote or frontal one, where the opponent's face is pointed towards the user's lower body.
  • The Nicknamer: Brazilian master Georges Mehdi is famous for giving his students colourful and often derisive nicknames. For instance, Wallid Ismail, admittedly one of his most obsequious trainees, is known in BJJ circles as "Paraiba" (meaning "tough guy"), but for Mehdi he was simply "the pig." Another of his apprentices, a judoka who happened to be small and talented, received the name of "Mini Sensei".
  • One-Hit Kill: Technically any judo match counts, as victory can be accomplished in any moment by nailing one perfect-picture throw. The rule is not only for competition, by the way - a judo throw in an unpadded floor is definitely not something a common person can simply shrug off.
  • One-Man Army: Yoshiaki Yamashita and Shiro Saigo were known for facing literally dozens of guys in street brawls and coming victorious, in most cases thanks to smart strategies and good timing. The former was especially apt in those; he would place himself in architectural bottlenecks like stairs and narrow streets in order to force his opponents to go one by one and throw them as they came.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The prestigious Budokwai judo school in Britain was not even a judo school when it started. Its founder, Gunji Koizumi, was a Tenjin Shinyo-Ryu jujutsuka, and his associate Yukio Tani was actually from Mataemon Tanabe's Fusen-Ryu school. The school only was made part of judo in 1920 when Jigoro Kano visited it and granted them black belts for their work.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: According to some, the Kodokan actually lost its first police challenge against the Totsuka Yoshin-Ryu school, which would have taken place in 1884. Kano personally participated in this challenge, which saw his school doing well throwing people down before being caught in submissions This defeat was a turning point: when the two schools faced again in 1886, the judokas came improved, motivated and probably with a better takedown defense, and the result was a 9-0-1 house cleaning. The challenge repeated itself in 1888, with the Kodokan winning again by 13-0-2.
  • Sadist Teacher: Some of the teachers at the Kodokan school weren't shy on hitting students with shinai and forcing them to train to extenuation.
  • Samurai: Judo comes from jujutsu (it even can be considered a school of jujutsu itself), which was created in samurai warfare in order to disarm, throw down and pin an armored opponent.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Russian female judoka Svetlana Goundarenko may definitely qualify, being 6 ft 3 in and 330 ib.
  • Stone Wall: A common competition tactic is to score a minor point and run out the clock, doing just enough to avoid penalties. It's not pretty and people don't like to see it, but it's the safe way to win when you're ahead on score. Similarly, when the bout hits the tatami, many judokas will adopt the turtle position and try to nullify his opponent's possible submission attempts while waiting for the stand-up.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Ask any judoka and they can probably pinpoint the exact IJF rule change that ruined the art for them, but none caused more angst than the leg grab ban in 2008. When the rumors about a reinstatement in 2017 were proven untrue, many people shed a tear.
  • Tell Me How You Fight: Even though they all fight under the same rules, judoka from different countries have differing styles and favorite techniques.
    • The Japanese, as the founders of the art, are mostly classical and orthodox, but also very creative. They favor upright stances and throws such as uchi mata, along with combinations of moves, subtle sweeps and slick transitions. Their groundwork, when they use it, tend to be cutting edge as well.
    • Russians and other Eastern Europeans have a more strength-based approach, and they prefer a more bent over posture, an overhead gripping and lifting or pickup throws; they also like armbars variations a lot. Those traits are due to the influence of sambo and because Mother Russia Makes You Strong.
    • The European styles are quite varied and can range from zealously classic to crazily eclectic. However, its players typically tilt to the technical side of the spectrum, and they specifically focus on having a large bag of tricks, like counters, sacrifice throws, rare ground techniques and, back when they were legal, leg grabs.
    • The Mongolian style uses pretty much any grip they could grab, and focus on techniques which resemble their Mongolian wrestling, with a hunched posture and plenty of double legs and kosoto gake. Despite this, they seem to have adapted pretty well to the new rule changes.
    • Brazilians (and to a lesser degree, Americans) like ne-waza possibly more than anybody, due to the influence of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and the inevitably extensive cross-training between both.
  • Turn in Your Badge: When the judoka killer Ad Santel came to Japan to knock the Kodokan's gates with a challenge on their own land. A group of judokas stepped forward and offered to fight for the honor of the art, Kano was angered and threatened them with expulsion, as he thought prizefighting wasn't the way of judo (and very probably feared that the school's reputation would be dented if they were defeated by a man from a circus discipline). The judokas's answer? "Well, expel us if you want, we ARE fighting him."
  • Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: Happened in 1886 when Sakujiro "The Demon" Yokoyama, The Big Guy of Kodokan, faced Hansuke "The Demon Slayer" Nakamura, his counterpart from Ryoi Shinto-Ryu. Nakamura was more unstoppable than ever, as he had been humiliated by Tsunejiro Tomita and was seeking revenge against his school. Still, perhaps appropriately, they fought to a 55-minute draw.
  • Use Your Head: Believe it or not, the way of softness once contained an acumen of headbutt technique. It was called atama ate waza, and was innovated by masters like Kyuzo Mifune and Mikinosuke Kawaishi who knew a lot about fighting in “da streetz.”
  • Ur-Example:
    • Jigoro Kano introduced the white keikogi and colored belt ranking system which were later used in karate, aikido, taekwondo and other arts with minimal modifications.
    • The triangle choke, popular in several grappling styles, was officially invented by kosen judo master Yaichibei Kanemitsu in 1922 (though a very similar headscissors choke was described to be used by Senjuro Kanaya from Takenouchi-Ryu around 1890).
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Yuji Hirooka, the judoka who got his leg broken by Mataemon Tanabe in front of the Emperor? One of Tanabe's closest friends both before and after the injury.
  • The Worf Effect: Perhaps inevitable due to being one of the first growing and popular martial arts to worldwide scale, but a lot of stories about the badassery of other fighting styles often have it being demonstrated over one or more judo practitioners, who were the established badasses until that point. To enumerate: Mataemon Tanabe from Fusen-ryu defeated many judokas, aikijutsu master Sokaku Takeda was rumored to put a beating on minor Kodokan guys, shuai jiao practitioner Chang Tung Sheng defeated judokas in China's prison camps, mizongyi stylist Huo Yuanjia (yes, the one from Fearless) supposedly beat some judokas hard, and Ad Santel had their famous Catch Wrestling challenge matches.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Many classic pro 'rassling moves are present in the judo move set and vice versa. John Cena's Attitude Adjustment is known in judo as kata guruma, Chris Jericho's Boston crab is present in ancient judo books under the name of ryo ashi hishigi, the Russian legsweep is a kawazu gake, the gutwrench suplex is a tawara gaeshi, the over the shoulder arm drag is a ippon seoi nage, the monkey flip is basically a tomoe nage with the legs bent, and some sacrifice throws like ura nage also resemble your typical belly to back suplex or side slam.

Famous or notable judo practitioners:

  • Chuck Norris: Though he is more known for his roundhouse kicks, Norris is currently a black belt in the art, and some of it can be seen in his films.
  • Bruce Lee: The legendary martial arts film star trained in judo, allegedly after meeting Gene LeBell. There is some controversy about whether he ever was ranked in the art, but he did know the techniques and used them in his films.
  • Donnie Yen: Judo is one of the many martial arts Yen is trained in, and he couldn't resist temptation to include it extensively in some of his last films.
  • Guy Ritchie: A black belt in judo aside from Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
  • Vladimir Putin: The current Prime Minister and Memetic Badass of Russia is a mainstay in judo, as well as sambo and other martial arts. The only thing more dangerous than picking a fight with his country is picking a fight with him.
  • Theodore Roosevelt: ...but Putin is not the only world leader in having worn a gi: Teddy was the first American to reach brown belt and loved practising it in the White House.
  • Rabindranath Tagore: The Indian poet and writer whose books you were probably forced to read in high school? A crazy judo fan who personally arranged exhibitions in India and tried everything he had to popularize it there.
  • Fedor Emelianenko: The Mixed Martial Arts fighter aptly nicknamed "The Last Emperor" is hardly the only on the business to having judo on his background, but he two national bronze medals and is known for his wide usage of judo throws during his matches.
  • Ronda Rousey: The former standard-bearer of female MMA, Ronda Rousey, stands out for her judo background, being a medalist in Olympic Games, Panamerican Championships and World Championships. Her mother Annmaria de Mars is another world medalist.
  • Still in MMA, and not counting the many fighters who simply have a rank in the art, some names have stood out for their impressive judo backgrounds, impressive judo skills, or both.
    • In the PRIDE era, the so-called "judo mafia" was composed by Hidehiko Yoshida' and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka's respective teams and contained people like Kazuhiro Nakamura, Makoto Takimoto, Hirotaka Yokoi and Michihiro Omigawa, a bunch of madmen who went to the ring looking to bust chaps around with hip throws or die in the process.
    • Other decorated judoka like Naoya Ogawa, Pawel Nastula and Dong-Sik Yoon went on their own way, being usually limited to short careers and conservative in-ring strategies. For their part, Shooto trained fighters like Hayato Sakurai and Sanae Kikuta were strong judokas and often demonstrated it on the ring.
    • Later the UFC got people like Hector Lombard, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Karo Parysian, who inherited the former generation's desire of having judo throws on the cage, and more recently gold medal bad boy Satoshi Ishii has tried to make a name for himself.
    • The Daguestani fighters such as Khabib Nurmagomedov or Islam Makhachev are usually trained in Judo, Sambo and Wrestling all together. Many have observed how Nurmagomedov and Makhachev make a skillful use of kusushi (unbalancing) and trips.