Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

The “Gentle Way” of Judo – The Judoka

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/22 Traditional Culture ,

As we learned about the history of Judo in our previous post, this time we will learn more about the sport and martial art, particularly on the practitioners (called judoka).

The Judoka

Judo practitioners are called Judoka (柔道家). [Note: Judo and judoka are spelled as juudou/jūdō and juodoka/jūdōka respectively when written in romaji (Romanized Japanese, or Japanese written in Roman alphabet)] Traditionally though, only those who are in 4th dan (or rank) or higher, as the suffix –ka (家) when added to a noun (in this case judo 柔道) denotes a person with a special knowledge or expertise of the subject. Other judo practitioners below the rank of 4th dan used to be called kenkyuusei (研究生, trainees). The modern meaning of judoka in English refers to all practitioners, disregarding the level of expertise.

Just like any teacher (be it martial arts or any) in Japanese, a judo teacher is called sensei (先生). In western dojo, it is common to call any instructor of dan grade a “sensei”. By tradition, the “sensei” title is reserved for instructors of 4th dan and above.

Judo Ranking

In Judo, improvement and understanding of the art is denoted by a system of ranks split into kyū and dan grades. These are indicated with various systems of colored belts, with the black belt indicating a practitioner who has attained a certain level of competence.

Judoka are ranked according to skill and knowledge of the art. Their rank is indicated by the color of belt that they wear. There are two broad categories of rank: those who have attained a level of competency at which they are considered worthy of a black belt (黒帯 kuro obi) and who hold dan (段) grades and those who are yet to attain that level and who hold kyū (級) grades. Those who hold dan grades are collectively termed Yūdansha (有段者) (literally “person who has dan“) and those with kyū grades are Mudansha (無段者), literally “person without dan“.

This ranking system was introduced by Kanō Jigorō, the founder of judo, in 1883. However, the current system is not the original one, but based on Kanō’s last system with some modification shortly after Kanō’s death in 1938. The first dan grades were awarded to his students Saigō Shirō and Tomita Tsunejirō. Since then it has been widely adopted by modern martial arts.

In the current system as in use in Japan, there are six student grades ranked in descending numerical order. Beginners were given the rank of sixth kyu (六級 roku-kyū) and wore a light blue belt (obi). Once they had passed an elementary level of instruction, they were promoted to fifth kyu (五級 go-kyū), when they would adopt the white belt. This they wore through fourth kyu (四級 yon-kyū). The remaining three grades (third kyu (三級 san-kyū), second kyu (二級 ni-kyū) and first kyu (一級 ik-kyū) were all indicated with brown belts (for seniors) or with purple belts (for juniors).

judo belt

The style of belt (obi) use by judoka. The color show what rank the judoka is. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

1st kyū is the last kyu rank before promotion to first degree black belt (shodan). There are ordinarily 10 dan ranks, which are ranked in ascending numerical order, though in principle there is no limit to the number of dan ranks.

Kanō’s original kyū-dan grading system

Rank Senior Junior Japanese name
Sixth kyu
(beginner)
Light blue Light blue rokkyū (六級)
Fifth kyu
Fourth kyu
White White gokyū (五級)
yonkyū (四級)
Third kyu
Second kyu
First kyu
Brown Purple sankyū (三級)
nikyū (二級)
ikkyū (一級)
First dan
Second dan
Third dan
Fourth dan
Fifth dan
Black shodan (初段)
nidan (二段)
sandan (三段)
yodan (四段)
godan (五段)
Sixth dan
Seventh dan
Eighth dan
Red and White
or
Black
rokudan (六段)
shichidan (七段)
hachidan (八段)
Ninth dan
Tenth dan
Eleventh dan
Red or Black kudan (九段)
jūdan (十段

In some countries, kyū grades may vary because some has more. Although initially kyū grade belt colours were uniformly white, today a variety of colours are used.

References:

1. Judo. Wikipedia.

2. Featured Image from MelkiaD on Flickr

The following two tabs change content below.

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

hanafuda

Playing with Flowers in Cards: Hanafuda

Hanafuda (花札) are Japanese playing cards that are used to play a number of games. The name comes from two Japanese words hana (花) which means flowers and fuda (札) which can mean cards. Some call it “flower cards” in English. The name also refers to games played with those cards. The following two tabs […]

Read Article

Symphony No.9 in Hiroshima

New Year Holidays in Japan : Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven)

The Symphony No. 9, a.k.a. “Choral”, is probably one of the most famous and beloved classical music in Japan. I played the (probably shortened) 4th movement on accordion as a member of a band when I was an elementary school student. (Other music I remember we played are the school song, and theme from “Space […]

Read Article

Shogi_osho

Shogi, The General’s Board Game – Shogi Rules and Strategies

This will be the last part of the Shogi series. In case you missed the first posts about shogi, here they are: History and Origin, Shogi Pieces, Board and Gameplay. In this post, we will learn more about the shogi rules and strategies. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by […]

Read Article

"Tachi" key ring

Katana : Japanese traditional sword – Part 2 –

Katana : Japanese sword (2) Japanese swords are famous as samurai’s weapons, but was it impossible for common people like farmers to own them?   Japanese swords for civilians If you have seen an old film “Shichinin no samurai” (Seven samurai) by Akira Kurosawa, you might think that Japanese farmers in the old times haven’t […]

Read Article

sumo

Sumo: More Than Just a Martial Art – Rules

In our last post about the Japanese traditional martial art sumo, we learned about its history. In this post, we will learn more about its rules and features. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text 2 – June 3, 2015 Kaomoji: Expressing […]

Read Article

shichigosan

Shichi-Go-San – Celebrating A Long and Prosperous Life Ahead

Last Saturday, November 15, was Shichi-Go-San in Japan. It is a traditional festival celebrating the growth and well-being of young children particularly girls of seven years old, five-year-old boys, and children of three years old, hence the name of the day, Shichi-go-san (七五三 literally means 7-5-3). Because it is not a national holiday, it is […]

Read Article

hatsumoude

New Year Holidays in Japan: Hatsumoude

Happy New Year! Everything you do in the first days of the New Year can mean something or will affect the whole year. Hatsu or “first” of something are important according to Japanese culture: the first shrine visit, first dreams, and the first sunrise have impacts on how your year will turn out. The following […]

Read Article

Shiba

Japanese dog as a spiritual being

Dog in Japan One of the very popular animals in Japanese old tales. As long as I remember, usually drawn as a white medium-size Japanese dog in a book, with a curled tail and erect, triangular ears like a Kishu dog. The dogs are always loyal, take the good men’s side. I can’t remember any […]

Read Article

4421620285_5227d3f439_m

Onsen

Japan is one of the countries located along the “Pacific Ring of Fire”.  Countries along the “Pacific Ring of Fire” have high seismic and volcanic activity.  This explains why earthquakes are common in the “Land of the Rising Sun”.  There are many  volcanoes in Japan.  In fact, approximately ten percent of the world’s active volcanoes […]

Read Article

20141011_133610

Omihachiman and the man named William Merrell Vories – Part 3

Who is William Merrell Vories? William Merrell Vories was an american from Leavenworth, Kansas who at a young age of 24 left his country and moved to Japan to teach English at Hachiman Commercial High School and since his arrival at Omihachiman on February 2, 1905, he has called this place his new home. He quickly […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑