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The history of judo in India and how it was popularised

The history of judo in India and how it was popularised
Judo (Source- International Judon Federation)

Abhijit Nair

Published: 2 Feb 2021 7:01 AM GMT

A modern martial art form, Judo was introduced to the world by a man called Jigoro Kano of Japan in the early 1880s. Believed to have been originated from another Japanese martial art, JuJutsu, Judo has since evolved as a combat sport and is also a regular feature at the Olympic Games since the 1964 Tokyo Games.

With the main focus on grappling and wrestling, Judo was also referred to as Kanō Jiu-Jitsu before it was introduced into the Olympics. The person who practices Judo is called, ‘Judoka’, and the attire worn during practicing it is called, ‘Judogi’.

History of Judo in India

The history of Judo in India is very vague and is largely undocumented. When you sit down to have a proper look at the origin of this Japanese martial art in India, the information available across the internet is quite contradictory.

While a major section of the people believe Judo to have originated in India during the year 1929, certain evidence indicate that sport was practiced in India before 1929 too.

Whatever the case be, in modern times the credit for popularising the martial art of Judo in India goes to the legendary poet Rabindranath Tagore. Yes, the poet who wrote the Indian national anthem is credited for Judo in India.

Hugely inspired by Jigoro Kano – the founder of Judo, Tagore invited a judo coach by the name Takagaki to demonstrate the sport in his ashram, Shantiniketan, during 1929. While this is believed to be the start of Judo in India, there are also pieces of evidence of one Mr. A.F.S. Barodawala achieving a black belt in the sport in 1930 after learning it from a Japanese duo who used to stay in Mumbai back then.

But, the official records at Kodokan – the worldwide headquarters of Judo, credit Shri. Deshpande was the first Indian to achieve a Judo black belt in the year 1932.

While these are some highly contradicting information regarding the origin of Judo in India, the first-ever national federation for the sport was surely set up in the year 1965.

Established in 1965, the Judo Federation of India led the martial art to faster growth and newer heights in the country. The International Judo Federation recognized the Indian federation in the same year and the first-ever national tournament in the sport was held in India during the following year in 1966.

India participated in their first international Judo event during the 1986 Seoul Asian Games and bagged three bronze medals to round off a successful campaign in the sport. What is to be noted here is the fact this was the first time Judo was played in the Asian Games. India competed in Judo at the Olympics for the first time during the 1992 Barcelona Games and has since competed in the sport at every edition of the quadrennial event.

Also read: Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore introduced Judo in India

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