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I've been wanting to take Judo for a while but haven't been able to due to school and other obligations. With summer now approaching and my schedule freeing up, I think I'm going to commit to learn.

However, I'm having a little trouble finding judo classes in the northern Virginia area. I have found one club ( in arlington, a little far from where I am) but Am not really sure in what I should be looking for in a class or club. I know I should probably sit in on a class before I commit, but what should I be looking for?

Plus: If anyone in the nova region knows a good judo club or class, please tell me here or through a pm.

Thanks in advance.


Judo is great. I hope you find a good place to take it. Here is what to look for:

Classes with multiple instructors or high instructor/expert to novice ratio. You really need some individual attention to get the art down.

Instructors that do standing and ground work. If they focus heavy on standing, that's ok, but realize you'll need to work your ground game on your own.

Instructors that arn't afraid to admit they don't have all the answers. It's a big sport, and you're always learning. That humility is important for you to grow and not get steared the wrong way.

Best of luck.



Darshu42 did judo at a very nice club in NoVA (though it might be a bit further south then what you are looking for). Not sure the town. I told him to get on here and give you some pointers.

There is a small dojo in Great Falls (I guess actually Sterling) called the Great Falls Budokan ... they do aikijiujitsu (roots of aikido), judo, and kenjitsu (sword -- real swords). I did not study judo there, but they are a serious, traditional dojo that I would be happy to train at.

As far as looking at a random school, I would look for a blend of uchi-komi (practice throws with/without throwing), randori (free sparing), ground techniques, and "ground randori" (sparing on the ground using pins, joint locks, and chokes).

I would also pay attention to whether beginners are just told to "go randori" or if you are given some specific instruction (i.e. use THESE techniques only, and try THESE combinations). The beginner concerns are somewhat lessened if you come from a wrestling background ... however, don't fall back on your wrestling skills ... try to push your judo techniques.

Many judo schools will also have training in Brazilian jiujitsu -- this is quite nice if you are really leaning towards MMA -- though the right judo school can give you much of what you need for MMA. There are judo schools that are 1) almost archaic in their traditional focus, 2) mainly Olympic focused (lots of Olympic style competitions), and 3) moved towards more general competition (MMA style). You should be able to tell which style the school is within about 10 minutes of walking in the door ... definitely by the end of the evening.



just to add on what the other guys have said:

its good if there are a large number of dan grades, u will improve a lot quicker the higher the level of the people around you. even if theyre not instructors dan grades can still teach you a lot, im a 4th kyu (blue belt) and when i practise with dan grades im always asking them tips why their doing certain motions in their throws, what the best angles to put locks on are etc

go and get stuck in to a practice, if however u dont spend most of your first lesson learning how to breakfall properly, then leave. i know this may sound harsh but here in the uk at the club i train at we had a couple of new guys come for the first time and they went off with one of the other instructors for the 1st lesson and spent the majority of the time breakfalling. if u dont know how to breakfall (this needs practice) then u are liable to fall improperly, at best just causing yourself a lot of pain, at worst breaking something.

hope this helps and go and enjoy it, its a great sport



Hey, there's lots of great Judo in VA. I trained at Sport judo in Alexandria. http://www.sportjudo.net Maurice Allan is a great instructor with a broad range of grappling experience. He's a 7th degree balckbelt, he was an olympic wrestler for the Brits in the 70's, and he was a wolrd Sombo champion. The members there are really great people as well. All around it's a great atmosphere.
You can also look on the Judoinfo site for other clubs in the area http://www.judoinfo.com/contacts/browse2.php?Country=United%20States&State=Virginia The Arlington Judo Club is good, they have some good guys that I've competed against. There is also a club that trains at Georgetown that is top rate. Good Luck, I'm sure you are going to enjoy it.


Just to add to everyone else's advice, I'd look for a school that is involved in competing on a regular basis. I don't think anything improves your judo game as much as competing a few times a year. It gives you a really honest assessment of where your skills are. And I'm not sure this was mentioned, but you want to make sure the school is part of one of the major US Judo organizations. It gives you some benefits (like insurance for competitions), discount gi's, and if you ever move you won't have issues transfering your rank over to the new school (since you're in an accredited database).


Here's another list of clubs from Shufu Yudanshakai. http://www.shufujudo.com/clubs.aspx the one in Georgetown is the Washington Judo Club.


I don't have too much to add, but i would like to emphasize the point about learn breakfalls first. If they don't teach you this first (before throwing techniques), that is a BIG red flag. Another thing to look for is how well the instruct conveys the information to his/her students. (THis is an obvious one, but i am surprised how many people don't consider this).


Thank you so much everybody. This is incredibly helpfull. I searched around on my own but found little. I'll look into all the comments you guys have made. Hopefully I'll be on the mat soon.


I've been involved in Judo off and on since the 70s. First, why do you want to learn judo, martial art/spiritual discipline? sport? fitness?

For me it was martial art/spiritual discipline. Go traditional judo. I assert it is the best. I find sport judo boring and one dimensional. Traditional judo guys do just fine in tournaments. (The Japanese Olympic Judo Team practices traditional judo.)

If you can find someone who learned judo in Japan even better. Their approach tends to more holistic, teaching moves without breaking them down into little mechanical steps.

Wish you the best. It is a great life long endeavor. You'll see old guys beating young guys and at the age of 49 I love seeing that and even doing it on occasion.


I respectfully disagree. if by traditional, you mean lots of kata work, or moves banned in sports judo, or rejecting russian judo innovations. or focusing on newaza that they will never have time for in tournaments.

I don't think the high level japanese do any of those things.

unless you mean something else by traditional?

judo is a great sport. lots of judo boards that might be able to give you better info. there is one at www.mma.tv; another at judoinfo.com.

good luck with it.


THanks for more advice, I'm still looking for a school.

I've found quite a few selections, I'm just nore sure what to take right now.

As for why I want to take Judo: I use to wrestle in high school ( I'm a senior now) and I feel this giant outlet in my life has been removed ever since it ended. I've really wanted to return to a mat in some form or another and Judo has always seemed interesting.

My main issue in selecting a school right now is cost and interest. One school is significantly more expensive ( twice the rate in fact) but offers more classes besides judo (3 other grappling arts including wrestling.) Both teaches seem well accredited so it really is a hard choice. Maybe I'll be able to make it after my trial classes in both.