T Nation

Judo Advice


I'm thinking of learning Judo as a martial art. I don't doubt it's effectiveness if taught well and for it's effectiveness as a means of self defense, that's why I'm interested in learning Judo. However, I have practiced striking arts Boxing and Muay Thai for years now but I am worried about injuries from Judo. I have had some bruising and a bloody nose from boxing and a broken finger from a kick in Muay Thai, but they were short lived injuries.

I'm worried though about long term injuries from Judo. The idea of being thrown on my head and seriously damaging my neck/spinal chord or becoming paralysed from a throw is seriously putting me off the idea. Am I right to be worried about the idea? Amateur boxing and Muay Thai matches seem a lot more long term injury risk free than competitive Judo or even Judo in a recreational class for that matter.


There are 2 sports I know of , in which everyone I know (who has played it at least 2 years) has been injured : football and judo. Judo is translated by some as "gentle way", which at times may seem to be a stab at humor - since it is full contact, the full weight of your spine hits the floor each time. I did Japanese Jujutsu many years, and taught for a few - and it banged me up good, and while we trained very hard we did not have big macho competitive egos. You have reason to think about it - its good training, my advice is to find a school that seems to have the students interests at heart - and with little ego. Ego will get everyone hurt. I did it many years, did ok - some long term owies that still bother me, but luckily nothing big. I do know ALOT of Judo guys who have had multiple surgeries.

Macho ego + judo = injury http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTuuKAweO2c

The ground is their enemy in Judo hahahahaha


There's the potential for injury in any type of combat sport. Before you sign up with a particular club, go watch a class and see how it's ran. Look to see if the people in the class know what they're doing. You want to practice with an experienced player because they'll be able to throw you properly and not drop you on your head.

Also the first thing your coach should teach you is a proper breakfall. If you keep your chin tucked and land on your back, dissipating the impact with your arms, hands, and feet you'll be good.


You want a high impact MA try krav maga that shit destroys ya. I think a core progam is vital to keep your spine healthy in any MA. it only makes more sense that in an art that recuires alot of stress should recieve some extra attn: ya know!


Nice way to subside someone's concerns!

I've only just started judo myself, and I agree with what steve-o said. Go check out the club, talk the the guys, see what it's like.
And yeah, if you can pick your partner in drills or randori, don't be afraid to go for the black-belts! These guys really (should) know what they are doing, and will be able to teach you much more than other students who you might feel safer with/less threatened by. Getting thrown by an experienced guy is much "cleaner", and they will be able to teach you much more about your technique by having you perform it on them, rather than watching you perform it on someone else.

Learning how to breakfall will also be priority number 1-
but remember that during randori, or other practice, to relax! I find it hurts much, much less- if, once your balance has been broken, to just allow yourself to be thrown, and focus on your breakfall.

There's really not much room for ego in judo. We have a few guys who, erm, are quite "spirited" in randori, but I find if I relax, not get frustrated and not try anything stupid myself then everything is ok.


The injuries are just different types I think. You slip, or someone isn't careful in boxing, and you get punched in the face. Big fuckin deal.

You fuck up in Judo, and your arm is hangin by a thread or some shit, or you land on your neck... haha, I'll stick with boxing thanks. I've gotten used to gettin punched.


I am not going to placate someone by blowing smoke up their ass. I know lots of people to get hurt in Judo. Seriously hurt. Broken neck hurt. Watch the videos. Judo carries more competitive ego with it then Jujutsu - because most Judo associations require competition to get rank advancement. So you get alot of gunners who believe the point is not to be better, just simply better than YOU.

As Fighting IRish says, and which I agree - the injuries are different. I don't personally know anyone who boxed for a few years who has had a broken spine. I know a few in Judo who have done so. I don't know anyone in boxing who has had a major surgery specifically because of boxing - but know many in Judo.

On the other hand I do know more Judoka than competitive boxers. But you could add my Muay Thai contacts and it evens out - and the most recent injury I know of in Muay Thai is a friend who got a tooth knocked out. Big deal - much easier to deal with than being a paraplegic from a broken neck.

I did Jujutsu many years - have a few owies but nothing serious. This same is not true with my Judoka friends - and the irony is that Jigoro Kano (founder of Judo) took the "dangerous" throws out so that Judo could be done competitively. But I know wayyyy more Judoka with serious injuries that Jujutsuka.

"Back in the day" , in the summer we lost our dojo to train in (it was in a college dance class during the school year) and we trained in the Sensei's back yard - often doing breakfalls on the bare ground or occassionally on concrete - and even then had less injuries than Judoka.

You watch the first video and you see some jerk Jodoka (Jerkdoka?) who is so desperate for a win so he can get his next rank advancement that he snaps the poor suckers neck on purpose. "Yay, I got my next belt...sorry about your neck"

But if you want me to subside their concerns Tassie.... ok..... sure go ahead and do Judo. You CANT get hurt .... its impossible. Pillow fights at little girl slumber parties are tougher. If you only know how to fall you can never get hurt. Its impossible. You should never have such a concern.


As long as you work with advanced players, you should be fine. Just avoid those who seem unnecessarily rough or unaccommodating. In fact, try to avoid working with white and green belts entirely if possible (they tend to be spazzy and almost always have horrible technique, two things that can lead to injury). Injuries in judo usually occur when people let their egos take over and adopt a "win at all costs" mentality, so remember that you are there to perfect your technique and NOT to beat every person you roll with.


Very good point. In the years I taught JJ I tried to help students realize a partner is not an opponant. I often compared a training partner to weights or a toothbrush - you cannot defeat them, but you can use them to improve your body in some way. You train with them, not defeat them.

I did not mean to infer that all Judoka have big ego's, not at all. I have many good Judo friends, but most of them have had injuries - the same as my football friends. Thats all I am saying - is that it is reasonable he have some concerns about his long term health and safety if he gets involved in Judo, and should look before he leaps.


Every Judo club that I've ever been to the coaches have been really good about teaching beginners the basics of break-falling. You'll do a lot of ukemi drills before anything else.

That said, you'll find out pretty quickly if Judo is for you or not, because for the first 3-4 months you'll be getting rag-dolled in randori. It takes a certain type of personality to keep going back every day. And you will get injured, it's inevitable.

If you're just starting out, look for a club that's run out of a community centre, they usually play more recreational Judo. University clubs are much more competitive and the players are more serious about their training.


Easy killer. I think he was being facetious.


Either Judo or Judon't home's!
PS- I have not been seriously hurt in many years of Brazilian Jujitsu and 2 years Judo.


I don't think you really watched those videos closely. The first one is a BJJ comp and the second one also looks to be a BJJ guy, Judoka aren't allowed to wear patches on their gi.

I second the bloke that said to pick a black belt as a partner for randori though, you tend to get thrown better and more cleanly. Every time I've been injured it's been due to a lower belt with a lack of control going a bit harder than necessary.


I'm not saying at all that judoka don't get hurt. Injury in any combat/contact sport are inevitable.
What I'm saying is that the risk for injury can by minimised by being smart, and making sure that you're in a good school.
My issue with your first post is that you are taking a worst case scenario and presenting it as though it is common place.
Even if the personal experiences you related are true, bad personal experiences don't always prove true for the general population.

I believe I gave some decent advice, as best as a beginner could, on how to help minimise the risk for injury.

OP- So yes, the risk for getting seriously injured in judo exists. Perhaps more-so than other contact/combat sports, I don't know.
Minor injuries are inevitable, on a daily basis. Like I said, check out the school. Ask them about you concerns for injury if you like.

If you decide it not's for you, I'm sure you'll find something else to get into.
Good luck!


I did get hurt in judo, but it was my own fault and by bad technique during a throw in a tournament. I've taken a thousand falls (with thousands more to come) and have never once been injured by a fall.

The thing about judo is that your training partners are all there to make sure you're safe. If injury happens, it is 90% of the time in shiai (tournament fighting) where you are throwing without much concern for your partner.

Even in randori (which is practice) you're still expected to help your partner fall well, and your partner is expected to do their part and execute good ukemi.

Do it right, and you'll just get a few bruises and broken digits.

Judo is badass and you won't regret it. Once you pull of your first throw in randori, you'll be hooked.


If you do start judo make sure to STOP BENCHING IMMEDIATELY. The key to success in judo is making your chest as weak as possible. Fighting Irish will back me up on this one.



Not speaking for all clubs/associations, but we don't get promoted based on tournament performance. We get promoted by improving technique, mat time, and willingness to learn. I believe most are like this (at least the ones in my area).


Its a pretty common practice, in fact nationwide I would say its the norm.

This quote is from the United States Judo Federation " Promotion points may only be credited for wins against opponants of equal or higher rank, and must be obtained in USJF sanctioned events.." www.usjf.com/public/rank_requirement.pdf <<<< why did that link not turn red?

http://judoinfo.com/draeger.htm Quote : "The judoist for advancement in rank, and once established as a yudansha comment is more often than not forced to pay himself physically against opponents far younger than knee; opponents whom he is expected to defeat if he is to gain the advancement or if used to continue his popularity via the route of respect to other judoists."

http://www.shihanryu.org/resources/kodokan.htm Quote : "This "drift" has become a major focus among many well intended Judoka, but in the minds of many Sensei, technique has suffered and Judo has become (more often than not) a sport in which "win at all costs" is the underlying objective. This emphasis on "Contest Proficiency" has caused the true meaning or purpose of Judo to be unclear and somewhat out of proportion to what was intended by Dr. Kano. This problem is surfaced nowhere more clearly than in "notion" that contest victories are rewarded with rapid rank promotions. Often this rapid rank advancement far exceeds the Judoka's ability to understand Judo except in terms of scoring a contest point. Today, in the U.S.A., this incorrect emphasis is unfortunately found in the many of the Judo organizations. This misconception of Judo has grown to the extent that "the number of contest points" has become the underlying factor for advancement among many Judo organizations."

I no longer have many contacts, like I use to, so maybe my opinion is dated. "Back in the day" (80's and 90's) in which I was in contact with and visited face-to-face many people nationwide, and appeared at one point or another in probably every martial arts magazine of any significance (Blackbelt, Karate Illustrated, Kung Fu etc) as well as some in other countries and knew many people around the nation - I would say it was more common than not that competition was the method of Kodokan related Judo advancement : if you could beat a black belt you deserved a black belt. I never did Judo formally, and was never ranked in it - but I did train with numerous judoka. But back then I trained with virtually everyone in traditional martial arts - I even once did a special training session with Oshima of the SKA and had him autograph the book Karate Do Kyohan.

Fun fact: I did train with some Judoka , whose Judo system that was formally called "Judo" but actually predated Kano's version of Judo - and their advancement was not based on competition. But in the USA, in the 80's and 90's - rank WAS competition, as a rule in Kodokan.

I taught more years than most even spend in martial arts, but I have now been out of martial arts longer than most ever spend in it too..... so my opinion may be out of date. Maybe competitions are no longer emphasized in judo. My martial arts are mostly memory : talking with a Tang Soo Do classmate about Bruce Lee dying, following Chuck Norris when he competed and Hayward Nishioka was the big name in Judo in this country.


Holy crap, I just noticed you are from Missouri - if you are in the Kansas City area or more southernly in the Springfield/Joplin area I bet I knew your instructors instructor. I did not know as many in the St.Louis area until you cross over into Illinois around Scott Airforce base.


Ok, I am pretty sure these injuries are strictly speaking Judo :

This is pretty cool though - demonstration of Judo by the founder Jigoro Kano himself

And personally I really like this video of Kano doing the old Judo kata http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1YLcINgAqE&feature=related