History of the USJF

last updated 10 Oct 2016

The United States Judo Federation (USJF) is a non-profit, tax exempt and educational corporation dedicated to the teaching and promotion of judo in the United States. The USJF is the oldest U.S. National organization of judo, and consists of regional associations called Yudanshakai, or Black Belt Holder's Association, local clubs or schools (called dojos), and individual members.

In order to understand the purpose and goals of the USJF, it is first necessary to consider the purpose and goals of judo itself. As described elsewhere, judo has many different faces – as sport, self-defense, exercise, or general activity. But the overriding goal of judo, as originally developed by Jigoro Kano, is the development of people, and of one's moral and ethical character. The practice of judo, whether as sport, self-defense, or general exercise, is only the means by which a larger goal is attained – the complete development of oneself as a person.

Other organizations of sport, as well as other organizations of judo, may place primary emphasis on sport and competition. It is here that judo and the USJF distinguish themselves. Competition and training in judo are seen as two ways of improving oneself and cultivating relations with others, as this is a principle goal of judo. If judo puts too heavy an emphasis on sport and competition, the judo becomes no different than any other sport. But, because the basic goal of judo is different, judo transcends sport to become a discipline. It is this meaning of judo that makes judo, and the practice of judo, special and different.

Not everyone can become a champion in competition. In judo, however, everyone can become a champion in a different sense – in the sense that they develop themselves and their relations with others to the fullest extent. These goals of inner development of one's character are much more important than all other materialistic goals.

This is not to say that judo does not care about sport, competition, self-defense, or general exercise and activity. These are also very important. But in the traditional view of judo, one's technical skills are seen as vehicles by which character and person are developed; they are a means to an end, rather than ends in themselves. So often we are witness to champions, in this sport and others, who act immorally or improperly. It is the goal of judo to place the development of individuals as people first, and sport and competition second.

It is the purpose of the USJF to support all regional Yudanshakais and each dojo in their efforts to develop and promulgate the goals of judo. Other national judo organizations also exist, and they are each distinguished by their implicit or explicit goals. The USJF is distinguished from other organizations in judo in its adherence to the goals of judo as described here.

old USJF logo

The USJF aids in the regional and local development of judo by some of the following activities:

  • sponsoring national tournament for juniors, intermediates, and youth;
  • sponsoring clinics, seminars, and other programs to aid in the development of officiating, instructing, and other technical aspects of judo;
  • sponsoring regional and local tournaments and programs for the development and promulgation of judo in the local and regional arenas;
  • providing members with the ranking system of judo most highly regarding in the U.S.

The historian committee assembles material about the history of USJF.
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