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Judo for Self-Defense

Feldenkrais and Judo

The translation of the term Judo is 'gentle way'. Judo is actually an evolution of Ju-Jitsu and was developed by Jigoro Kano.

Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais had the chance to meet Kano in 1933 when he resided in France. Kano was intrigued by Feldenkrais and his work, and encouraged him to study Judo from Mikonosuke Kawaishi. Feldenkrais became a very proficient Judoka earning his 1st Dan in 1936 and a 2nd Dan in 1938. He also wrote several books on Judo and became a leading figure in promoting Judo in Europe. "Feldenkrais brought together his engineering background, his own process of learning Judo and his experience of real fighting to develop new methods of teaching Judo." It is claimed by some sources that he used to "break down techniques into a series of discrete movements that could be easily explained and practiced", just as was costumed in Israel to teach contact combat disciplines before.


Original Judo had three basic categories of techniques:

  • Nage waza - throwing techniques

  • Katame-waza - grappling techniques

  • Atemi-waza - striking techniques

Striking techniques are not allowed in modern judo and are not taught today, only rarely in Kata (structured forms).


Judo advantages and downsides in self-defense

A trained Judoka will aim to grab his opponent and throw him to the ground, therefore the preferable combat distance for him will be the grappling range. Usually a judoka will not feel eased in striking distance and will try to close the distance as soon as possible.

A trained judoka can catch and take down an aggressor in a second, he will be highly qualified in catching his opponent limbs and take him off balance. This is why judo can be used as a very efficient self-defense system. Its downsides will be the optimal entanglement which can happen in close contact combat, falling down if losing balance, the relatively long time it takes to master techniques, and the ability to act properly against multiple opponents or an armed assailant.

Altogether, Judo is an excellent discipline to improve strength, athleticness, character, and serve as an efficient self-defense tool for specific situations.


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