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Shichidan (7th dan)Judo red white belt.svg
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Judo is a Japanese martial art and combat sport founded by Jigoro Kano (1860–1938) in 1882. It was introduced to Canada by Japanese immigrants in the early twentieth century, first in British Columbia, and then to the rest of the country as Japanese-Canadians who had been interned resettled in other provinces after the Second World War.

Beginnings in British Columbia[edit]

Before the Second World War, most Japanese-Canadians lived in British Columbia, and a quarter of those lived in Vancouver. Most of the Vancouver residents lived in the neighbourhood known as 'Japantown' or 'Little Tokyo', which was made up of about six blocks centred on Powell Street and bordered by Alexander, Jackson, Cordova, and Main (49°16′59″N 123°05′48″W / 49.283146°N 123.096545°W / 49.283146; -123.096545 (Japantown)). It was a distinct Japanese area until Japanese-Canadians had their property confiscated and were interned inland during the War. What used to be Japantown is now part of the Downtown Eastside, but it was not a bad neighbourhood at the time and had its own churches, stores, banks, and theatres.[1]:p.205

According to martial arts historian Joseph Svinth, there were at least three public "jiu jitsu" exhibitions and matches in Vancouver toward the end of the first decade of the 1900s, which may have actually been or included Judo, since it was often referred to as 'Kano jujutsu' at the time. Beyond these rare public events, there is some indication that Judo was practised in Vancouver as early as 1910, and a man named Sataro Fujita reportedly taught Judo or jujutsu in the city around 1914, but he did not establish a long-term school.[1]:p.205–7[2]:p.17 Several Judo-versus-wrestling matches were organized in the early 1920s.[1]:p.206–8

Tai Iku Dojo[edit]

A young man named Shigetaka Sasaki was outraged by these contests, which he said were fixed. Sasaki, who also went by 'Steve', was born in Japan and was 19 when he arrived in Vancouver in 1922. He began studying Kito-ryu jujutsu at 12 and had been promoted to shodan (first dan) in 1920.

Tai Iku Dojo (体育道場, or 'place for physical education' in Japanese) was established in 1924.


RCMP participants and officials at the 10th Annual Canadian Judo Championships in Vancouver in 1937. Front row, left to right: Superintendent Fowell, Shigetaka Sasaki, Assistant Commissioner Cadiz, Etsuji Morii, and Inspector Genan

Jigoro Kano visits Canada[edit]

Jigoro Kano and Shigetaka Sasaki at Lake Louise, Alberta on their way to the Berlin Olympics in 1936

World War II and internment[edit]

Japanese-Canadian judoka celebrating kagami biraki in the gymnasium at the Tashme internment camp in British Columbia, 1945. The suited man in the centre appears to be Shigetaka Sasaki

The post-war period[edit]


Ottawa-Hull Judo Club at the YMCA was originally an affiliate of the French Federation of Judo and Ju-Jitsu.

Recreational Judo[edit]

Domestic competition[edit]

International competition[edit]

There are more than 30 major international Judo competitions at both the world and regional levels, which are divided into seven categories: Summer Olympics, World Judo Championships, World Masters, Grand Slams, Grand Prix, World Cups, and Continentals.

The Olympics, held once every four years, have been the most important competitions since Judo became an Olympic sport in 1964. The World Judo Championships, founded in 1956 by the International Judo Federation, is held annually except in Olympic years, and is considered the highest level of world competition along with the Olympics. Other major world tournaments include the four Grand Slams (Paris, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo), the six Grand Prix, the twenty-six World Cups, and the World Masters tournament.

  • World Judo Championships
  • World Masters
  • Grand Prix (six locations)
  • Continental championships (5)
  • World Cup (26 locations)

Qualification process

Print material[edit]

  • Bernard Gauthier, Canadian and American Modern Judo
  • Leyshon, Judoka
  • Takahashi book
  • Ron Angus "Competitive Judo"
  • Many issues of Black Belt Magazine

  1. ^ a b c Svinth, Joseph (2003). Getting a Grip: Judo in the Nikkei Communities of the Pacific Northwest, 1900-1950. Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences. ISBN 0-9689673-0-2. 
  2. ^ Leyshon, Glynn A. (1998). Judoka: the history of Judo in Canada. Judo Canada.