Is Judo Good For Self-Defense?

judo for self-defense

Judo is effective for self-defense when properly applied. If self-defense is your goal then you should choose a judo academy that has a focus on self-defense. Some judo schools only focus on sport judo which is designed primarily for sport.

This is why you must find the right dojo and Sensei. That is a judo academy dojo that has a focus on self-defense and randori. Randori is simply another word for sparring.

Sparring is essential for actually developing the skills needed for self-defense. Just like developing any skill you need to practice. Many martial arts that promote self-defense never actually drill the techniques.

Learning Judo For Self-Defense

Judo began as a martial art focused on self-defense. However, since it became a sport many if not most academies have switched their major focus to Olympic-style judo.

There are, however,  some schools that teach both judo for sport and self-defense. This is important because there are many things that you would want to do differently if you were in a self-defense situation.

For example, when executing a judo throw, you might not want to roll down to the ground with your opponent. Instead, you might simply want to throw them to the ground and run away.

Sport Judo Good For Self-Defense

This might make you wonder if competitive Olympic-style judo can help in a self-defense situation. Perhaps you want to learn the sport but would not mind knowing how to defend yourself as well.

The answer to this question is that yes of course sport judo can help. You just might need to make some modifications and use some common sense.

The truth is that anyone who is practicing a combat sport like judo is going to be more ready for a street fight than your average Joe.

After all, boxing is a sport that does not focus on self-defense but you still probably would not want to mug Mike Tyson, would you?

Cons Of Learning Judo For Self-Defense?

The main con of judo for self-defense is that you do not learn how to strike. That is unless you have found a dojo that does some cross-training within their self-defense system.

Otherwise, you will probably want to learn at least the basics of striking and learn how to avoid getting hit. In addition, you need to learn how to adapt your judo throws to work both in and out of the gi.

Though learning in the gi is great for self-defense when an attacker has thick clothing on, this will not always be the case. In fact, as someone who lives in Texas, this is very rarely going to be the case for me.

So you also want to learn how to adapt your GI throws to work without the need for gi grips.

Judo Can Be Very Dangerous

Another potential con to judo for self-defense is that it can be very dangerous for your opponent. I know that this can just as easily be a pro instead of a con.

But you do need to take into consideration that you can seriously injure someone using judo techniques in real life. After all, you probably will not be throwing them onto padded mats.

Even in judo competitions, people are getting knocked out on mats when they are not even dropped directly onto their heads. Think about what could happen if you send someone flying down into the concrete on their head.

You might be in a situation where you are simply fighting for your life and have to make quick choices, but you do need to know how dangerous it can be.

Defending yourself is one thing, but you should never get into an altercation that can be avoided. So don’t use judo unless you have to.

In Summary

Judo is a great martial art to learn for self-defense purposes. Of course, you will want to choose the right dojo and sensei first.

That said, even sport judo can help you become more prepared for a self-defense situation. You just need to know how to modify some techniques and learn what not to do in a real-life situation.

Though judo is great for self-defense, you still might want to do some cross-training in other martial arts. Take up some boxing, BJJ, and wrestling to help you become more well-rounded. 

Of course, there are a ton of martial arts that are great for self-defense as well. That said, don’t dismiss judo when it comes to learning how to protect yourself.

Joshua Paul

Joshua Paul is a BJJ purple belt who lives in Austin, Texas. Joshua loves all forms of grappling and when he is off the mats he is likely spending time with his wife and son.

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