Tello (Social Safeguards, 2015, etc.) describes the basic concepts and techniques of judo in this introductory work of nonfiction.
Like many martial arts, judo is a practice steeped in tradition and built upon notions of physical and mental control. Popularized by Jigoro Kano and his Japan-based Kodokan Institute in the late 19th century, it was created as an alternative to the older practice of jujitsu: “Japanese society demanded a new approach to martial arts, no longer focused on the efficient killing of enemies, but rather on the defeat of opponents for sport, self-defense, moral discipline, and personal improvement,” Tello writes. The sport is now popular around the world and has been an event in every Summer Olympics since 1972. With this book, the author offers curious readers a look into the culture of the sport, including its etiquette, its uniform, basic techniques and training strategies, and the seven steps of judo referenced in the title. As new judokas reach milestones in their training, they advance through kyu ranks, which are marked by the receipt of various colored belts. (The belt system, developed by Kano, has since spread to a number of other martial arts, as well.) Tello explains the intricacies of each rank and ends with an extensive glossary of judo terms. The author writes in clear, concise prose, taking care to explain the nuances of various terms and moves as well as the philosophy that informs them. At just a little more than 100 pages, the book isn’t meant to be a comprehensive exploration of judo, but it succeeds in giving potential judokas all the information they need to decide if they’re interested in pursuing the sport. Tello is an admitted advocate for the popularization of judo, and, as a result, there’s a bit of a promotional quality to the book. That said, his concern for the safety of practitioners is apparent, as is his insistence that people take up the sport only for noble reasons (namely, self-improvement). This book best functions as a primer for the sport by embodying those qualities that judokas value: precision and erudition in the promotion of self-discipline and hard work.
A lean, direct introductory text for readers interested in judo culture and practice.