Information for Beginners


Thinking about joining?

If you have been in touch with the coaches, or have come down and visited the club, and would like to take up judo, we have regular beginners' courses which include everything you need.

For ࠨjuniors) or 堨seniors) you get:
* A three-month provisional licence with the British Judo Council (Costs ੍
* A judo outfit (Recommended retail price 段0)
* All lessons for the term (Mat fees for a term cost 嬠or  per session)
This really is a great package for beginners.

Getting ready for a class...

There is quite a lot of physical contact in judo, so you will need to make sure you are fresh and clean, paying particular attention to the hands, feet and face. Fingernails and toenails should be trimmed short. If they are rough or too long then you might scratch your partner.

There can be a bit of pushing and pulling, so anyone who does not have a judogi should wear loose, long sleeved clothing. Jogging bottoms and a long sleeved top are ideal.

For safety, no hard objects may be worn when doing judo. Things like jewelery, buckles and hair clips must be removed. If you have long hair, it must be tied back to keep it out of your eyes, and make sure it is held with a simple elastic tie, with no metal parts.

If you have footwear that is easy to slip on and off at the edge of the mat (such as flip-flops), then it is much easier to step on and off the mat.

Into the dojo!

A dojo is a place where martial arts are practised. It literally means the 'place of the way'.

The floor of the dojo is covered with safety mats, called tatami. It is very important to keep these clean and undamaged, so they should only be walked on with bare feet. Outdoor shoes and socks must be removed at the side of the mat before stepping on. If a person has a medical condition such as verucas, then their socks may be worn.

This area is called the shimoza, and is where visitors and guests to the dojo sit.

This side (with the flag) is called the shimoseki, and it is where the students line up at the beginning and end of a class. You will enter the dojo through the brown doors, and should bow towards the top end of the hall.
Opposite this side is the joseki, or 'high seat', which is where the instructors will be.

The 'top' end of the dojo is afforded the most respect, and is called the kamiza, which means 'high seat'. It holds a few photographs of people important to judo.

Some important Japanese words we use

Judo (joo-doh) - Often translated as 'the gentle way', but 'flexible' or 'yielding' are just as good translations as 'gentle'.

Sensei (sen-say) - 'Teacher'. The word comes after the name, so you will be taught by Derek sensei and Martin sensei.

Mate (mat-teh) - 'Wait'. If you hear this, stop and pay attention to the teacher at once.

Hajime (ha-jee-meh) - 'Begin'. Whatever you have been asked to do, start it now!

Lining up

At the start and end of a class, the students stand in a straight line facing the instructors in grade order.

When lining up, remain standing as when the class is about to begin the instructors will ask you to kneel in seiza. To sit in seiza, from standing, drop the left knee to where the left foot previously was, then do the same with the right knee. Settle back, still keeping the upper body upright, and rest your hands naturally on your thighs. The instep of your feet should be flat on the mat.

The class will start with the command ki o tsuke!, which means 'sit properly and pay attention' so at this point you should stop slouching or fidgeting and sit up straight, and look straight ahead.

Next you will be told to bow to the instructors with sensei ni rei!. The instructors are bowing to the class to thank them for coming to learn, and the students are thanking the instructors for sharing their knowledge and experience.


There are quite a few times when people bow to one another in Japanese culture, so this is also done in judo practise. The Japanese bow to show respect, thanks, and trust, and it can be thought of in a similar way to Westerners shaking hands.
In Judo, we bow when we enter or leave the training hall, and when we step on or off of the mats.
Everyone bows together at the start and end of a class, and at the start or end of a practise with a partner.
Sometimes, the bow will be done while standing, and other times it will be done from kneeling.

Standing bow

Stand relaxed, but upright, then bend at the waist, so that the upper body bends forward. Your gaze falls naturally as you lean forward, and your hands remain close to your thighs.

Kneeling bow

To bow, bend the waist, keep the upper body straight, and slide your hands down towards the mat, almost making a triangle with the tips of your index fingers and thumbs. As with the standing bow, let your gaze fall naturally as your upper body leans forward.

And finally, don't forget... relax and enjoy yourself! Judo is great fun. See you soon!

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