Tokyo introduced Judo as a competitive sport at the 1964 Olympic Games. The organizers did not include the sport in the 1968 Games. However, it made a comeback in 1972 and has been a part of the program ever since.
Yoshihiro Uchida, a founder of Judo, was the United States coach when judo made its Olympic debut at Tokyo 1964. In 1953, he convinced the Amateur Athletic Union to approve a national judo championship.
This decision allowed judo to be included in the Olympic program in Tokyo. Travis Stevens is a decorated American judoka and a three-time Olympian. Stevens participated in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics and was the third American male judoka to win a medal.
Women’s judo was first added to the Olympic Games in 1992 in Barcelona. Ronda Rousey is a decorated judoka and one of the most successful mixed martial artists of all time. At 17, Rousey represented the United States at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where she won a bronze medal. She was the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in judo.
The Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games marked the inception of judo competitions as an original Paralympic sport, open to athletes with at least a 70 percent visual impairment in both eyes.
Since its introduction, every Paralympic Games has consistently featured both men’s and women’s judo competitions. Men’s Paralympic judo was first introduced at the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea, with 13 weight divisions ranging from 60 kg to +95 kg.
Women’s Paralympic judo made its debut at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, offering 7 weight classes for women, spanning from 48 kg to +70 kg.
Among the most accomplished American Paralympic judoka are Kayla Harrison, a two-time Olympic gold medalist (2012, 2016), World champion (2010), and Pan American champion (2009, 2011, 2015), and Ronda Rousey, an Olympic bronze medalist (2008) and UFC Bantamweight Champion (2012-2015).
Paralympic judo is an exhilarating and motivational sport that highlights the remarkable skills of visually impaired athletes. It serves as a testament that nothing is impossible, irrespective of physical capabilities. The history of Judo has gained popularity and is now a top sport in the Paralympic Games. Learn more about Paralympic sports on our sports page.