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The Connection between Karate and Judo.Many people know of the creation on Karate's popularity and modern known system, which borrowed it's belt system and Randori for sparring inspiration. However, deeper connections exist that are revealed within Bunkai.

The Connection between Karate and Judo.

Many people know of the creation on Karate's popularity and modern known system, which borrowed it's belt system and Randori for sparring inspiration.

However, deeper connections exist that are revealed within Bunkai.

Karate Vs. Judo

Modern Karate was created from Judo's earlier studies.

As early as 1882, an article was seen in a Japanese Newspaper written by Jigoro Kano. The article stated:

"The number of schools of Japanese jiu-jitsu has increased remarkably during the last few years and we can now boast of more than two hundred different schools among which must be included many so-called schools of Chinese jiu-jitsu - styles that are framed according to fixed principles, and teach throwing techniques only. There is no question that such schools have sprung up overnight without their founders having acquired knowledge through personal experience or practice."

Jigoro Kano then went on to state that he had perfected his "New Jiu Jitsu" and was planning on opening a school for it.

Jigoro Kano then goes on to write:

"Here (in Japan) there is no Jiu Jitsu suited to the present time, therefore we should rely upon the methods of the western wrestlers; we must, however, consider carefully how much can be applied and what should be discarded."

The article also states that he had been working on his new system since 1882.

In part from his observations of Western Wrestling, as well as studying older schools of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu he finally opened his new school in 1882.

This new style became known as Judo.

The translated meaning being "the gentle way", also more literally 10 ways.

This meaning is derived from two kanji:

ju: the meaning is gentleness and softness, or flexibility.

Do: This means "way" or "path".

So we see that Kano's new system revolved around not only throwing techniques but countering grappling (Jujutsu) as well.

The belt system was founded upon the order of mastery in learning these throws and counters to grappling techniques.

Jigoro Kano then visited America and gave a demonstration of his art at the YMCA in New York City on November 18 and December 9, 1904.

His success led him to give exhibitions across the USA including San Francisco and Los Angeles where he met Mikonosuke Kawaishi who had also studied judo.

He convinced the young man to go back to France with him and also help teach his art.

Mikonosuke Kawaishi then continued on to meet three individuals who were attending the University of Heidelberg in Germany, at this time.

These men being Anton Geesink, Jan Plas, and Henk Norel.

It is here that European karate can trace some of its roots back to judo.

While working for the YMCA in Hamburg, Germany during 1923 Kawaishi began teaching karate at a local gym there after having studied various styles of karate while still in Japan.

The first known public showing of Okinawan Shotokan karate by Gichin Funakoshi was around 1924-25 when he demonstrated his art to some visiting Judo teachers from Japan. This took place at the Kodokan in Osaka, owned by Kano.

At this time in history, karate and judo were still closely related.

If we look at the styles of judo and karate being taught around this time by Gichin Funakoshi, Jigoro Kano, Mikonosuke Kawaishi, and others from Japan's Kodokan institute of judo we find many similarities between karate and judo throws.

These throws consisting mainly of standing throws such as O'Soto Gari (big outside kick) /Oguruma (big wheel) /Tomoe Nage (Hip Drop), Uchimata (inner thigh throw), Osoto Guruma (large outer wheel throw).

In fact, these techniques were almost identical to those being used by Okinawan Karate masters.

The only differences seen were that there was a lack of groundwork being used, and instead more joint locking techniques applied with soft tissue striking and Chinese pressure point application.

In 1927, a man named Gogen Yamaguchi visited Japan and witnessed judo while he was there.

He then went to China where he saw Chuo University karate club practice for the first time.

After two weeks of practicing with them, he wrote an article stating his beliefs that karate's best techniques could be found in Kodokan Judo.

Karate then developed over the next few years into its final form, as Karate is seen today, morphed by notable individuals such as Chojun Miyagi (founder of Goju Ryu), Jigoro Kano (founder of Judo), Gichin Funakoshi (founder of Shotokan/Shorinji).

The styles all grew apart but never lost their roots.

It was not until the 1970s that karate actually branched off into its current sport form.

It is at this time in history that Dr. Jigaro Kano's son, Yukimitsu Kano, came to Okinawa and brought along with him Kodokan Judo forms for Okinawan judoka (judo practitioners) to practice at local dojo (karate gyms).

This can be seen taking place within the video below:

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As you watch the video it shows traditional Kodokan Judo throws.

The only difference between the two styles of Karate and Judo is that students don't wear judogi or keikogi while practicing Kata or performing groundwork like they would in a judo match.

Today, many schools of karate will use the kata they practice as a form of self-defense while throwing and grappling is limited to forms practice for Kodokan Judo.

Many karate dojo branched off from judo.

In fact, even today you could say that many styles of Shotokan still have the words "Judo" or "Kano Jigoro" within their school names such as Shindai Ryu dojo which means "the way of Kano," Aikido Ryu whose founder was a student of Gichin Funakoshi and practiced both Karate and Judo while teaching his art at Keio University, and Nihon Karatedo which is the official name for Gichin Funakoshi's style of karate.

There are many reasons why kata has judo within it. Here are some examples:

Sweeping Kicking techniques came from "ashi sabaki" ( footwork) in judo.

In judo, you always have to be moving your feet properly or else you expose yourself to being thrown easily without knowing what is going on.

In both karate and judo, there are no set rules regarding how long one can stay stationary when fighting an opponent -- they must keep moving!

Both Karate and Judo stress the importance of foot placement and body kineseolgy.

Karate Kata have Judo Moves in Them because

- Ukemi (breaking one's fall during a technique), the ninja roll, came from judo.

In karate, students practice moving their bodies in such a way so they will "bounce" off the ground and come back strong after being thrown.

In judo, you must learn to break your fall or else you might get injured when taken to the ground while practicing throws.

To protect yourself and others around you, it is important that while practicing judo techniques you learn how to properly take falls and not hurt yourself or your partner if either of you should lose your balance (ie: slip on sweat...we've all done it.).

The same idea applies for both karate and judo -- no one likes getting hit or landing flat on your back!

Also, today we can see that kata like Passai (Bassai), Kusanku (Kosokun), and many others, are "test pieces" that have judo applications within them. You can see this in the footwork of several techniques.

Randori Vs. Kumite

Randori or free practice came from judo originally.

Have you ever heard the phrase "there is no such thing as a fair fight?"

In randori, both parties must be constantly aware and agile.

You don't want to be caught when you least expect it and neither does your training partner!

Randori (or kakari geiko in judo) is an integral part in both karate and judo.

In Karate, we call this practice Jiu Kumite, or free sparring.

Judo Philosophy can be seen in Karate

Preserving your body to keep practicing came from judo originally.

In judo, if you get injured during a class, you can't train for at least 7 days.

Allowing time for resting the body so it will heal properly.

In karate, there are many more injuries that can occur due to the intensity of kumite practice or sparring.

Also, just like jiu kumite in karate where you must continuously attack until your opponent is defeated, in judo two opponents battle each other for 5 minutes straight.

We see Sport Karate time limits have emerged from this model today.

Karate Kata have Judo Moves in Them Like Choke Holds (Seipai Kata)

Choking someone out came from judo / Jiu Jitsu.

In judo, there are many ways to do this but the main idea is getting your opponents air passages cut so he/she will blackout or submit.

Karate Kumite moves have Judo inspiration

Kuzushi (breaking balance) came from judo originally.

In both karate and judo, you must break your opponents' balance as to put them off-balance before executing a technique such as an o goshi, kote gaeshi, or kata guruma throw.  

In Karate Kumite, Ashi Barrai, or front leg sweep in very popular and effective to off balance your opponent and score an Ippon.

Also, if you lose your own balance during randori or kumite you are at the mercy of your opponent until either he/she pins you down or lets you go, making it something effective in real world application.

Make sure that when practicing throws that both partners are equally prepared beforehand so no one will get injured during practice by putting themselves in a vulnerable position.

Karate classes stole from Judo

Warm ups and stretching came from judo originally.

In judo, they always stretch before class so you don't pull a muscle or tear a tendon by throwing someone too hard/too fast/with bad technique.

Also, it is important to warm up the body before practicing a strenuous activity such as throwing a person or grappling with them on the ground.

You don't want to hurt yourself while training either!  

In karate, you must also do warm ups and stretches for similar reasons: you will be exerting your muscles during practice and this could lead to injury if not done properly beforehand!

The same idea applies for both karate and judo.

Karate Kata have Judo Throwing Moves in Them

Throwing an opponent on his/her back came from judo.

In both karate and judo, you would normally throw your opponent by his/her waist to get them on their backs for a pin or submission if they are resisting you while being thrown.

You can't just let go of someone while throwing them or else they will bounce right back up at you!

Also, the throws should be executed with proper technique so neither fighter gets injured.

Which would win in a street fight, karate or judo?

Judo because judo can be used in a street fight and karate cannot. Why? You might ask...

Karate was originally used for battle and doesn't have rules. Unlike the Karate we see today that has been changed into a sport.

Judo is a sport, not a type of self-defense.

Karate vs judo:

In judo you learn how to properly execute throws and holds on someone without injuring them as if you were fighting in the streets.  

Judo was originally meant to be used as an art/sport for competition and exercise only, not as a life or death martial art!

However, it can be used as such if you had no other choice but still has more benefits than drawbacks. In fact, it was weaponized in World War II by the Japanese Army and taught to soldiers.  

In judo, proper throws and holds are executed through muscle memory from drilling over time.

In Judo it's done slowly while sparring against another opponent at various speeds/angles/distances until the technique has been drilled enough for perfection.

The same concept applies for Karate kata where they must practice each move over and over to create something that will work when needed.

The Difference, Karate doesn't have rules so there can be no referee to stop a street fight.

Also, karate wasn't meant to be used for competition or exercise only because it was originally made to kill or maim someone during battle in early Okinawa and Feudal Japan.

The Karate Kid Movie Karate and Judo Connection

Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) learns karate.  The katas looked like strikes, judo throws and pins.

Miyagi (Pat Morita) teaches "wax on wax off" to help Daniel get stronger but this soft defensive style relates to Japanese culture of not damaging your opponent and bowing out of respect when which also applies for Judo.

- The Karate Kid Movie (1984)

When it comes down to the nitty gritty of things though… Judo stands NO chance against raw karate when it comes to self-defense, so the movie focused on heavy kick and punch usage.

Karate was originally made as a form of self-defense and Miyagi stressed that Daniel would only use it for peaceful resolution to conflict. Otherwise, you end up killing someone if they won't stop fighting back, which Miyagi refused to do, and so did Daniel in The Karate Kid II.

Judo's Rules:

Knees and elbows are not allowed to be used when throwing your opponent. However, this doesn't apply during The All Valley competition, because the referees present to stop it, only issue warnings after the fact.  

Karate and Judo both have rich histories originating in China.

Karate and Judo were both taught to samurai families.

Both karate and judo have had more modern developments of their arts over the years.

Judo evolved mainly because of Jigoro Kano's rule changes to make it safer so it could be practiced on a mass scale in schools for sports/exercise.  Funakoshi also sought to teach Karate in Schools and promote the popularity of Karate.

Both originally started in China and spread throughout Japan and Okinawa/Ryukyu Islands .


Karate vs judo debate: karate vs judo - what is better? What is the difference? Which is more effective for self-defense?


It would seem in the 1940s, when judo was imported to Japan, karate enthusiasts in Okinawa became critical of it.

They claimed that judo's new techniques were not "original" (and by implication superior) and began deriding judo as being merely an "application of karate".

Some even went so far as to claim that there is no difference between karate and judo; whoever called his martial art judo had simply bastardised the true secret fighting style of Okinawa (karate).

From Wikipedia

While Gichin Funakoshi is often credited with introducing karate to Japan, karate was already well established on Okinawa by the time he began his karate training in 1922.

While studying at the Okinawa Prefectural Middle School (Okinawa Kenritsu Chuto Koko), among his friends were Shitoryu-ka Shinpan Shiroma and Kenwa Mabuni.

It is commonly acknowledged that a number of Okinawan students had been sent to Tokyo to train with Sakuma, who taught them as part of their curriculum studies.

In addition, many of Funakoshi's peers had previously studied karate under other teachers such as Anko Asato, founder of the Shurite style of karate.

However, at the age of 32 (circa 1916), Funakoshi abandoned his studies to move to Tokyo and focus on karate.

In 1956 at the First Japan Martial Arts Demonstration in Kyoto, Japan, a discussion was made which was recorded as follows:

"On this occasion, an explanation of the term 'Judo' by Shihan Mitsuhiro Kondo can be found in his book Judo Karate-jutsu Authorized Judo Commentary -The Essence of Karate-.

In it he says that Professor Gichin Funakoshi informed him that judo is usually preceded by kendo as one's first martial art.

Since Gichin Funakoshi practiced kendo before beginning karate it is to be assumed that he meant kendo when making this comment.

Furthermore, in Gichin Funakoshi's 'Karate-Do Kyohan: The Master Text', on page 11 and in the section entitled "Karatedo," the following statement appears:

"That which we call Karate today has taken form based on ancient techniques of kenpo (kicking and striking methods).

Karate was not systematically taught but rather passed down from one person to another.

While couched in such terms as to leave room for other interpretation than what Professor Kondo later stated he believed, these two statements appear to support Professor Kondo's claim.

However, there is still a problem with assuming Gichin Funakoshi meant kendo when he mentioned karate, because it remains unclear how much kendo training Gichin Funakoshi had.

Additionally Professor Kondo was not a direct student of Funakoshi's, but rather Itosu's.

This would leave the only other alternative to be that other than what is clearly stated in Karate-Do Kyohan, that for some reason Gichin Funakoshi did not wish to reveal publicly his true understanding of where karate stands in relation to Japan's traditional martial arts and self defense systems."

The following two quotes from further down on the same thread:

"The link between judo and karatedo is through jiujitsu" and "As an example, the jo-techniques that my teachers taught me were very similar to those of judo or kendo." by both Funakoshi's student and jiujitsu practitioner Minoru Mochizuki contradict this statement:

Additionally, at another meeting with a group of Judo practitioners in May 1926, which included Gichin Funakoshi and Tsutomu Ohshima (who studied karate under Gichin Funakoshi), they discussed their art.

A summary of their various conversations was published in the October 1926 issue of "Karatogi" as follows: "Gichin Sensei said that our 'kata' are not secret; we would like to show them to you.

However we don't want to show you the bunkai (applications) just yet. That way we can avoid confusing you with so many different things at one time."

Even though Gichin Funakoshi continued to demonstrate kata by showing long applications, he refrained from releasing information concerning the kata and its bunkai in publications and public forums."

Bunkai was developed to apply karate techniques to win over grappling techniques, this made the situation a bit awkward.

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Colton Woodard and Rika Usami Karate Japan WKF

About the Author:
Colton Woodard is a 7th Degree Black Belt in Kuniba Kai Karate Do and holds the title of Kyoshi as well. He loves to teach Karate, Kobudo, and Iaido and considers himself a lifetime student in pursuit of self improvement in both Martial Arts and in Character. Colton loves to visit Japan and speaks conversational Japanese and can write quite a few Kanji. He is a Karate competitor and coach and loves to exercise and make new memories with people all over the world.


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