When I was a child I was intruduced to one of the most dynamic enjoyable activities around: Judo.
Judo stradles the line between martial arts and sport–you can go either way. On one end, an efficent finness oriented martial art, on the other end its one of the most exciting one-on-one olympic sports .
Judo began as the refined style of Jiu Jitsu developed by Jigaro Kano (more about that later). Now, what many people don't know is that there is no one Jiu Jitsu. There were and are actually hundreds of styles of jiu jitsu. Different clans in Japan had their own approach to unarmmed combat and self defence. Some styles involved more striking, some emphisised throwing, and others, grourdwork.
Proffesor Kano took elements of differnt styles and created Judo. Essentially he cleaned up the techniques so that the art could be practiced over and over again–without injuring the participants. (OK, this is an over simplification of the history, but if you want to know more, you can read someone elce's history) Other martial arts that came from jui jitsu include Aikido, and Karate.
Today the sport of Judo not only has elements from its jiu Jitsu background, but other forms of wresling as well, and it continues to develope and grow. Some are surprised (like me) to learn that judo is the second most widely practiced sport in the world, behind soccer. Like soccer, groups of judo players can get together for a collective work-out. Unlike soccer, judo players pair up to work out, so it is like always having the ball.
Judo is remarkably safe. I don't have any data, but the judo players I know sustain less injuries than ballet dancers. In fact, its a great activity for young children, as well as adults. You don't have to compete to be a judo player, all you have to do is enjoy a good work out.
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