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Judo 101: A Comprehensive Beginners Hobby Guide! (2023)

Feeling bored or stuck in a rut? Sick of scrolling social media and other websites? Looking for a new hobby that not only keeps you physically active but also mentally sharp?

Well, you’re in luck because today we’re diving deep into the world of Judo—a martial art that’s not just about self-defense but also about mastering the art of balance, both physically and mentally.

Judo could be the perfect solution for you. It’s a fantastic way to break the monotony, learn self-defense, and even make new friends.

But where do you start?

Don’t worry; this guide aims to answer all your burning questions.

Judo: A beginner's guide, featured image, zoomed in on white robe and white judo belt

What is Judo?

Judo is a modern martial art and Olympic sport that originated in Japan. It focuses on throws, pins, and joint locks to subdue an opponent.

Unlike striking-based martial arts, Judo emphasizes the use of technique and leverage, making it accessible for people of all ages and sizes.

It not only serves as a self-defense method but also promotes physical fitness and mental discipline.

Two boys practicing karate and judo on a black background

Who Can Engage in Judo

Age Groups

  • Kids (5-12 years): Great for instilling discipline and focus.
  • Teens (13-19 years): Excellent for physical fitness and self-defense.
  • Adults (20+ years): Never too late to start; offers both physical and mental benefits.
Age GroupBenefitsSkill Level Required
Kids (5-12)Discipline, FocusBeginner
Teens (13-19)Physical Fitness, Self-DefenseBeginner to Intermediate
Adults (20+)Physical and Mental Well-beingAny

Skill Levels

  • Beginner: No prior experience needed.
  • Intermediate: Some basic knowledge of martial arts can be beneficial.
  • Advanced: For those looking to take their skills to the next level.

Health Requirements

  • General Fitness: No serious health issues.
  • Flexibility: Helpful but not mandatory.

Time Commitment

  • Casual (1-2 hours a week)
  • Serious (3-5 hours a week)
  • Competitive (6+ hours a week)

Equipment Needed

A group of children in Judo uniforms


  • Judo Gi (Uniform): Mandatory for practice and competitions.
  • Belt: Color indicates your rank and skill level.

Tools and Accessories

  • Mats: For safe practice.
  • Mouth Guard: Optional but recommended for sparring.

Cost Breakdown

  • Low Budget: Basic Gi and belt (~$50)
  • Medium Budget: High-quality Gi, belt, and mouth guard (~$100)
  • High Budget: All of the above plus private lessons and advanced gear (~$200+)

What You’ll Need

EquipmentMandatory/OptionalUse CaseAverage Cost
Judo GiMandatoryPractice & Competitions$30 – $100
BeltMandatoryIndicating Rank$10 – $20
MatsMandatorySafe Practice$50 – $200
Mouth GuardOptionalSparring$10 – $50

How to Start Your Judo Journey: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

So, you’ve made it this far. Congratulations!

Let’s now take a look at the steps you should take if you’re starting to consider learning Judo!

Finding a Trainer

Why You Need a Trainer:

Expert Guidance: A certified trainer ensures you learn the correct techniques.
Safety: Reduces the risk of injury.
Motivation: Keeps you accountable and motivated.

How to Find a Trainer:

Local Dojos: Search for Judo schools in your area.
Social Media Groups: Join Judo communities online to get recommendations.
Trial Classes: Most dojos offer free trial classes. Take advantage to find a good fit.

Learn Basic Moves for Beginners

Ukemi (Falling Techniques)
Why: To protect yourself during falls.
Stand upright.
Roll backward, tucking your chin.
Slap the mat with your hands as you roll.

Kuzushi (Breaking Balance)
Why: To prepare for a throw.
Grip your opponent’s Gi.
Use your legs and hips to unbalance your opponent.
Maintain your own balance.

Nage Waza (Throwing Techniques)
Why: To execute a successful throw.
Achieve Kuzushi to unbalance your opponent.
Turn into the throw, fitting your body against theirs.
Execute the throw using your hips and legs.

Continuing Your Journey

Regular Practice
Frequency: At least 2-3 times a week for steady progress.
Duration: Each session should last about 1-2 hours.

Joining Competitions
Local Tournaments: Great for gaining experience.
National Championships: For more advanced practitioners.

Earning Belts
White to Yellow: Basic techniques and falls.
Yellow to Orange: More complex throws and groundwork.
Orange to Green: Mastery of intermediate techniques.

Lifelong Learning
Advanced Classes: Once you’re comfortable, consider advanced classes.
Online Resources: Websites, YouTube channels, and forums for continuous learning.

Estimated Cost: 100 USD


  • Tape: For finger and joint support.
  • First Aid Kit: Includes band-aids, antiseptics, etc.
  • Cooling Gel/Pain Relief Cream: For muscle relief.
  • Water Bottles: For hydration.
  • Energy Bars/Gels: Quick energy boosts.
  • Chalk: For better grip.
  • Cleaning Wipes: For sanitizing hands and face.
  • Mouthguard: Usually replaced periodically.
  • Nail Clippers: To keep nails short and prevent injury.
  • Disposable Towels: For sweat and cleaning.


  • Judo Gi (Uniform)
  • Belt
  • Mats
  • Mouth Guard: Optional

Materials: Cotton, vinyl, thermoplastic, synthetic leather, neoprene, foam cores

Mastering Judo Moves: A Deep Dive for Beginners

Judo is a martial art that focuses on throws, joint locks, and pins. While it may seem complex, breaking down the moves into categories can make it easier to understand and practice.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to Judo moves for beginners.

Basic Stances

Shizen Hontai (Natural Posture)

  • Purpose: Basic standing position.
  • How to Execute: Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands relaxed by your sides.

Jigo Hontai (Defensive Posture)

  • Purpose: Defensive stance.
  • How to Execute: Slightly bend your knees and lean forward, hands up to guard your face.
  • Watch: How To Do Jigotai and Shizentai by Sports And Outdoors
How To Do Jigotai and Shizentai

Ukemi (Falling Techniques)

Mae Ukemi (Forward Roll)

  • Purpose: To safely fall forward.
  • How to Execute:
    1. Start in Shizen Hontai.
    2. Roll forward, tucking your chin.
    3. Slap the mat with your hands as you roll.
  • Watch: Mae-ukemi – Demo by Efficient Judo
Mae-ukemi - Demo

Ushiro Ukemi (Backward Roll)

  • Purpose: To safely fall backward.
  • How to Execute:
    1. Start in Shizen Hontai.
    2. Fall backward, tucking your chin.
    3. Slap the mat with your hands as you roll.
Ushiro-ukemi - Demo

Nage Waza (Throwing Techniques)

Osoto Gari (Major Outer Reaping)

  • Purpose: To throw an opponent backward.
  • How to Execute:
    1. Achieve Kuzushi (unbalancing your opponent).
    2. Step in and sweep your opponent’s leg while pulling them backward.
Osoto-gari - Basic principles

Ippon Seoi Nage (One-Arm Shoulder Throw)

  • Purpose: To throw an opponent over your shoulder.
  • How to Execute:
    1. Achieve Kuzushi.
    2. Turn into your opponent, fitting your body against theirs.
    3. Lift and throw them over your shoulder.
How to do Ippon Seoi Nage

Katame Waza (Grappling Techniques)

Kesa Gatame (Scarf Hold)

  • Purpose: To pin an opponent.
  • How to Execute:
    1. Sit beside your opponent’s head.
    2. Wrap one arm around their neck and the other around their arm.
    3. Apply pressure to keep them pinned.
Judo Kesa Gatame (Scarf Hold) Tutorial

Ude Garami (Arm Entanglement)

  • Purpose: To submit an opponent using an armlock.
  • How to Execute:
    1. Trap your opponent’s arm between your legs.
    2. Hold their wrist and twist their arm to apply pressure.
Judo Ude Garami Tutorial

Advanced Moves

Tomoe Nage (Circle Throw)

  • Purpose: To throw an opponent by using their momentum.
  • How to Execute:
    1. Achieve Kuzushi.
    2. Drop to your back, placing your foot on your opponent’s abdomen.
    3. Use your foot to lift and throw your opponent over you.
Tomoe Nage - JUDO Throwing Techniques and MISTAKES (Tutorial in Motion)

Uchi Mata (Inner Thigh Throw)

  • Purpose: To throw an opponent by lifting them with your leg.
  • How to Execute:
    1. Achieve Kuzushi.
    2. Step in and lift your opponent using your inner thigh.
    3. Complete the throw by twisting your body.
1-Step, 2-Step & 3-Step Uchimata

Similar Activities or Hobbies: What’s Your Match?

If Judo isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other activities that offer unique benefits.

Here’s how they compare:

ActivitySimilaritiesDifferencesEquipment NeededSkill LevelTime Commitment
KarateSelf-defenseFocuses on strikingGi, BeltBeginner2-4 hrs/week
TaekwondoKicking techniquesHigh, fast kicksDobok, BeltBeginner3-5 hrs/week
Brazilian Jiu-JitsuGrapplingGround fightingGi, BeltIntermediate4-6 hrs/week
BoxingStrikingOnly uses punchesGloves, WrapsBeginner3-5 hrs/week
YogaFlexibilityNon-combativeMat, BlocksBeginner1-3 hrs/week
AikidoThrowsEmphasizes harmonyGi, BeltBeginner2-4 hrs/week
Muay ThaiStrikingUses elbows, kneesGloves, Shin GuardsIntermediate4-6 hrs/week
CapoeiraAcrobaticsIncludes dancePants, ShirtIntermediate3-5 hrs/week
KendoDisciplineUses bamboo swordsShinai, BoguIntermediate2-4 hrs/week
Krav MagaSelf-DefensePractical focusComfortable ClothesBeginner3-5 hrs/week

For more options, check out our complete list of martial arts!

'list of martial arts!" featured image. 2 men in boxing ring. vivid color background surrounded by black.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best age to start learning Judo?

Any age is good, but starting young can be beneficial for discipline.

Do I need to be physically fit to start Judo?

Any age is good, but starting young can be beneficial for discipline.

Is Judo good for self-defense?

Yes, Judo teaches effective techniques for self-defense, particularly throws and pins.

How is Judo different from Karate?

While Karate is a striking-based martial art, Judo focuses on throws, pins, and joint locks.

Is Judo safe?

While there’s a risk of injury as with any sport, proper training and safety measures can minimize risks.

What are the weight classes in Judo?

Weight classes vary by competition but generally range from Extra Lightweight to Heavyweight.

Conclusion: Your Next Steps

Two men practicing judo on a dark background


You’ve learned who can engage in Judo, the equipment needed, basic moves, and how to continue your journey.

Now it’s time to take action!

The next time you’re feeling bored, consider looking into Judo as your next endeavor!

Next Steps

  1. Find a Trainer: Use the tips provided to find a certified trainer.
  2. Get the Gear: Purchase the basic equipment to get started.
  3. Start Practicing: Use the step-by-step guide to begin your practice.

Glossary of Judo Terms

A group of martial arts students standing in a line, practicing karate

Basic Terms

  • Judo: A Japanese martial art focusing on throws, pins, and joint locks.
  • Dojo: The training hall where martial arts are practiced.
  • Sensei: The instructor or teacher.
  • Judoka: A practitioner of Judo.


  • Shizen Hontai: Natural posture, the basic standing position.
  • Jigo Hontai: Defensive posture, used when on the defensive.


  • Nage Waza: Throwing techniques.
  • Katame Waza: Grappling techniques.
  • Atemi Waza: Striking techniques (rarely used in sport Judo).


  • Osoto Gari: Major outer reaping, a throw that targets the opponent’s leg.
  • Ippon Seoi Nage: One-arm shoulder throw.
  • Uchi Mata: Inner thigh throw.


  • Kesa Gatame: Scarf hold, a pinning technique.
  • Ude Garami: Arm entanglement, an armlock technique.
  • Shime Waza: Choking techniques.

Falling Techniques

  • Ukemi: The art of falling safely.
  • Mae Ukemi: Forward roll, a technique for falling forward safely.
  • Ushiro Ukemi: Backward roll, a technique for falling backward safely.


  • Kuzushi: The act of unbalancing an opponent.
  • Tatami: The mat used in Judo practice.
  • Gi: The uniform worn during Judo practice.
  • Kyu: Student rank, below black belt.
  • Dan: Black belt rank.
A person in a white judo outfit


  1. “Kodokan Judo” by Jigoro Kano: The definitive guide by the founder of Judo.
  2. “Judo Unleashed” by Neil Ohlenkamp: A comprehensive manual for beginners and intermediates.
  3. “Winning on the Ground” by AnnMaria De Mars and James Pedro Sr.: Focuses on grappling techniques in Judo.


  1. Judo Subreddit – The universal principle of adaptability (
  2. JudoInfo: A complete resource for all things Judo, from techniques to history.
  3. International Judo Federation: The governing body for the sport of Judo.
  4. Reddit Judo Community: A community where you can ask questions and share experiences.

YouTube Channels

  1. Judo World: Official channel of the International Judo Federation.
  2. Efficient Judo: Focuses on techniques and tutorials.
  3. Beyond Grappling: Offers tips on Judo and other grappling arts.


  1. Judo Gokyo: For learning and revising Judo techniques. Google Play | Apple
  2. Judo Quiz: Test your knowledge of Judo techniques and terms. 90 Judo Trivia Questions, Answers, and Fun Facts | Martial Arts (


  1. The Judo Way of Life: Discusses various aspects of Judo, including techniques and mental preparation.
  2. Judo Chop Suey: A podcast that covers a wide range of Judo topics.

Online Courses ????️

  1. Udemy – Judo Basics: A course aimed at beginners.
  2. Coursera – Martial Arts for Beginners: Includes a section on Judo.

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Judo: A beginner's guide, featured image, zoomed in on white robe and white judo belt