Despite that line in “Blame It” by Jamie Foxx, Judo is not a kicking sport. Judo practitioners do not wander around smashing their heads through concrete blocks or practice moves that involve hitting something with a big stick. In fact, pretty much all of judo involves smashing an opponent into the mat at high velocities, with a sprinkling of chokes, armlocks, and hold-downs thrown in.

You can find out everything you need to know about the history, what the moves look like, and how tournaments work by doing a little bit of research. Here’s what the research doesn’t tell you:

  • Every dojo teaches the name of the throw being taught in Japanese. This way should you compete in a country not your own, you can still fight. You may not understand anything else, but you will know when the fight stops/starts and whether you won or lost.
  • Yes, that little girl can mop the ground with you, if she’s trained and you’re not. Yes, that blind person can whip you in a fair fight, especially if you try to be nice. Yes, that one-legged guy will drag you to the ground, flip you on your back, and sit on you till the match is over.
  • The easiest move for a beginner to use effectively would be O-Soto-Gari. It essentially involves sticking your leg out behind the legs of your opponent, and giving him/her a good push.
  • While classic movie throws like the Seoi Nage (Shoulder Throw) and Tomo Nage (stomach throw) look cool, beginners don’t always pull them off that well. Typical problems with shoulder throw involve standing up too straight (you have to load them on your back for that spring-board action toss) and for stomach throws, not knowing when to sit down and do it. (Tip: If you fall on your butt and your opponent is still coming down toward you, it’s a good time.)
  • Girls: Short hair and shorter nails are critical for this sport. Your nails will get caught on someone elses shirt and torn off. Your hair will get stepped on.
  • Short people rejoice! This sport is advantageous for you. Your center of balance is naturally lower than everyone elses, making it harder for them to throw you, and easier for you to throw them.
  • One of the three judo maxims translates to, “Mutual Benefit.” Judoka are never against each other in training. A fight is essentially meant to be free form exercise, not trying to kill the hated enemy.  

If your character is a martial artist, doing research on their particular form will help fights seem more realistic. Google and Youtube judo for details on how to perform the motions.