Judo for the Ladies
So I'm looking for some opinions on starting Judo in the next few weeks. I have always been a contact sports lover and have been playing competitively for many years (Rugby, Soccer, etc.). Now I'm looking into starting to train in the martial arts again and have my eye set on Judo or Jujitsu. I'm not the biggest person (5'4 130lb) but still with a decent amount of muscle for a girl at least.
I know that Judo is a very male dominated sport at least from what I've seen around the city I'm living in (North CA), and many people are telling me not to do it because I will just be out muscled and outweighed by any guys I'm sparring with. But I want to it and know I can take a beat down on the mat if I'm at least taking something away from it.
I was hoping to get some opinions from people here of how you feel about women being involved in judo/sparring with them/training in general, as well as if there is any extensive risk to women sparring with men in regards to injuries, technique execution, etc.
Alive grappling arts, such as judo and BJJ, are excellent choices for women as skill and leverage can beat even very, very large size and strength differentials; I’ve seen a 125 lbs guy beat 220+ lbs guys (and I’ve certainly been beaten up by girls). Strength always plays a role, and the stronger fighter always has an advantage, but it can be negated by sufficient strength differential.
You may find it frustrating at first, of course, as being both a beginner and much smaller will make sparring more challenging: Your margin of error will be smaller and you will never be able to muscle anything. (This isn’t bad, as it’ll force you to be technical from day one…but it may be frustrating.) Unless you’ve already settled on a club, you can always check out a few local judo dojos and BJJ clubs and see if any of them have women’s classes, or just happen to have a bunch of smaller guys in the mix (for instance, if the classes contain some teens). That way, you might have a less frustrating experience in the beginning as you won’t always have to contend with the strength advantage.
As for watching out for things, a smaller player should always be careful when rolling with larger beginners, who don’t yet have much control and may hurt you by accident. If I’m rolling with a woman, or a very small guy, I will treat them with respect for their skill but I will take care not to use my size to crush them—and I have a few years of experience that helps me control what I’m doing. Spar with people closer to your size and/or more advanced students if you can, and avoid sparring at all with big dumb noobs who refuse to tone it down even when told.
Good luck, have fun, and tap early, tap often!
I think Judo may be the only combat sport where the female branch is in the same league as the male's. Probably less so in the US but in Europe judo has been making women badass since ages, there's a huge talent pool compared to other disciplines. When I was a kid the biggest judo stars in my country were women, competing in the olympics and such, they were the top athletes.
Anyway, it's a great choice, though of course your experience will depend on the club.
I'll just leave this here:
Also, I have personally been obliterated in Randori by some pretty tiny women and my wife who is roughly my size can still pretty much hip throw me at will.
I'm female (and short--but not petite) and I do judo. Never had a problem--and I absolutely love it. Yes, most of the guys are stronger. Just means you need better technique. That will take a while to develop, and it can be frustrating, but it's well worth it.
Especially when you're first starting, work as much as you can with the higher ranking people in class--they'll have more control and can teach you more. Size difference is less of an issue in class than it is in tournaments--and tournaments have weight divisions anyway. Learn to take your falls and have fun! There is no high quite like tossing a guy bigger than you are!
If you're anywhere near San Francisco, there's Keiko Fukuda's club:
Originally Posted by ldutra
Keiko Fukuda is the highest Kodokan ranked judoka in the US and holds a USJF (?) 10th dan, the highest rank possible. She's also 98 so probably doesn't do that much teaching, but you can bet that you would get the highest quality tuition that's possible. It's also a women only club, as I understand it.
Otherwise, there's no real problem in mixed classes. In randori (sparring) you adapt to your partner unless you're a jerk, and you should be fine.
Knee injuries are something that women are more prone to, and it's something you should watch out for in judo. They're easy enough to avoid if you know what you're doing.
I am not sure all this advice about how quickly you are going to learn to trash big blokes is all that helpful or useful. I would advise you to find a club with one or more similar sized female training partners. You will learn faster and more safely that way. I do agree with the advice about choosing higher ranked partners btw.
The objective of randori (judo sparring) is to learn, not to win. Both sides can learn even when there is a size or skill difference. In fact your best bet is to train with the most senior people you can as they have the experience and skill to improve the judo of their students through randori.
Enjoy judo! If you are ok with contact sports and wrassling around with sweaty guys doesn't squick you out you will do fine.
since someone already posted satoko shinashi's highlight, here's one for megumi fujii, who basically grew up in a judo dojo