How did Judo evolve and become popular in India?

The modern martial art was brought to India by Rabindranath Tagore in India.

Judo is a modern martial sport created by Kano Jigoro of Japan in 1882. The sport originated from “Jujutsu”, also a martial art. The sport was introduced to India by Rabindranath Tagore who wrote the national anthem for India and Bangladesh. Tagore brought Japanese coach Shinzo Tagayaki to Shantiniketan and started teaching people in Kolkatta. The Indian Judo Federation was established in 1965.

Judo was first introduced at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, but was again left out of the charter for the next 1968 Olympics in Mexico. Since 1972, after the sport was reintroduced, it has featured in every Olympics to date.

Women’s judo was introduced later in the year 1992 at the Barcelona Olympics. In 1988 it was a demonstration sport for women and received medals at the next Olympics. Currently, there are seven weight categories for men and women.

Notable players from India

Narender Singh

Narender Singh became the first judoka to represent India at two Olympic Games (1992 in Barcelona and 1996 in Atlanta). He has won several accolades, the first being the Arjuna Prize. In 1990, Narendra won bronze at the Commonwealth Games in the 60 kg category in Auckland.

Akram Shah

Akram was part of the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) on a sports quota basis and won many medals at the All India Police Games. He was a stronger contender in India for nearly a decade, from 2000 to 2010, having also represented India at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

In Athens, Akram finished 9th in the 60 kg category. He also earned a silver medal at the 2022 CWG Games and a bronze medal at the 2003 Asian Championships.

Garima Chaudhary

The 32-year-old has been training judo since 2004 and has been active in the sport for over 15 years. She participated in the 2011 World Championships as well as the Asian Championships. Her participation in both events earned her valuable points to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. Additionally, she was the only judoka to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

Garima then increased her weight class from 63kg to 70kg and in 2019 she won a gold medal at the South Asian Games in Nepal.

Kalpana Devi

Kalpana Devi, 32, was a police chief with the ITBF (Indian Tibetian Border Force). She started her career with flying colors by failing to win the Sub-Junior National Championships in 1998. Going further, she won four National Junior Championships and one Asian Junior Championship. At the senior level, she won two national championships.

The transition to the senior configuration was also very good winning a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Avtar Singh

Avtar came from a poor background and sometimes found it difficult to participate in tournaments due to financial constraints. Breaking all expectations, he participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics (90 kg category) but lost in the first round. Avtar Singh won a gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games and a bronze medal at the 2018 Taipei Open (100 kg category).

Medals received by India

To date, India has not won any medals at the Olympics but has regularly won medals at the Continental and Commonwealth Games.

Asian Games – 5 bronze medals

Commonwealth Games – 5 silver and 6 bronze

Asian Championships – 4 silver and 11 bronze medals

In the recently concluded 2022, CWG Games India won 3 medals.

Future talents

Linthoi Chanambam

Linthoi became the first Indian to win a World Cup gold medal (any age category) in the cadet section (57 kg category). The 16-year-old beat Brianca Reis, Pan American Junior Champion from Brazil by Waza-ari. Linthoi Chanambam in 2021 had won a gold medal at the National Junior Championships and the Asian Cadet and Junior Championships.

The IIS athlete is training with a foreign coach and is progressing well. Few people in the past have moved from the cadet section to the senior section, but Linthoi has given the judo community good hope to thrive in the future.

Tababi Devi

Tababi Devi became the first Indian to medal at the Olympics (Youth Olympics 2018) by winning the silver medal. In 2017, she was crowned champion at the Asian Cadet Championships and has since won 3 medals at the Continental Championships.

She is only 20 years old and has a lot of potential for the future with her sights set on the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Nitin Chauhan

Nitin Chauhan has become the first Indian to win a silver medal at the 2022 European Open. The 23-year-old mainly competes in the 66kg category. He also represented India at the 2022 Asian Championship in individual and team events.

Tulika Mann

Tulika Mann, 24, recently won the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. She was initially not part of the team but was included later. She also won a gold medal at the 2019 South Asian Games and represents India in the 78kg category.

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