Police Judo Perspective - Competition


There has been a lot of interest in competition (and winning) related to martial arts, especially in the domain of MMA (which style is better, which fighter is the best, etc). This is not a new issue to martial arts, and it was one that worried Jigoro Kano - the founder of judo - during his development of judo. He wanted the martial art of judo to be a way of life more than just a sport. He did see a role for tournaments and competition, but strongly believed that the focus for any competition should not be on winning, but should be about the learning process for each participant. In this environment the techniques, training and development of judo could be truly tested.

In Police Judo, the focus is on helping the student develop both physically and mentally, look after each other, to grow and develop together, and there is no concern with who is the "ultimate fighter" or the player with the most medals. There are no referees on the street where police officers work, so rules and regulations and what constitutes a "win" don't necessarily translate. For example in competition judo, a clean throw of an opponent on his back will win a judo match. A clean throw for an aggressive and fighting individual on the street might just be the start of the fight. For an officer, losing is not an option. One will do as one trains under stress and pressure. Police have to train for the demands of the job and the reality of the street.

Based on extensive experience in surveying Police Judo students and monitoring injuries incurred during our early years during the competitive freestyle practice, as well as looking at the renewed popularity of Police Judo in the past several years, the decision was made to shift the training program to a recreational program - eliminating the higher risk of injury and further modifying it to suit the unique needs of law enforcement. And in the process we have developed a recreational judo program that one can safely practice for life -no matter what one's age or previous experience.

The requirements for grading at the black belt level in Police Judo deliberately incorporate a level of volunteer work and community service in addition to regular judo practice (part of developing character and reminding one of the value of giving back). Police Judo, too, hopes to help students find "their path" in life, whether that is a career in law enforcement or any other career aspirations the students have. We want to help them accomplish their goals and encourage judo as a lifestyle.

Although we don't incorporate a competitive judo model in the Police Judo program, we fully support athletes who have made this choice and are pursuing the competitive judo stream. Police Judo training, although recreational in nature, mirrors many of the principles Jigoro Kano laid down when he created the martial art of judo as a way of life, and for development in both education and physical fitness. 

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Here are some of his thoughts on the subject of competition and winning taken from Jigoro Kano's memoirs:

"I introduced competition in Kodokan judo as an educational tool to give trainees and opportunity to hone their physical and mental abilities in a public forum. Unfortunately, contents have become increasingly competitive, winning now being among the most important factor among the majority of the trainees."...; a contest should be a learning experience that builds your character, not an occasion for building your ego"... (from entry 24 in Jigoro Kano's memoirs).


"The purpose of Kodokan judo is physical education, how to behave in contests, how to cultivate wisdom and virtue, and the application of judo principles to daily life. Judo training builds the body, contests build the spirit. The judo spirit consists of perseverance, self-restraint, good manners, and respect for others. The purpose of Kodokan judo is to bring the best out in others. It is for enabling one to lead a satisfying and meaningful life. "...(from entry 23 in Jigoro Kano's memoirs).

Referenced Material: The Way of Judo by John Stevens, copyright 2013.