Becoming a Judo Instructor

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People practice judo for several reasons -- as a sport, a form of self defense, a fitness program. Have you been studying judo, or practicing it and would like to know how to become an instructor of this art?

Find out from our guide how to progress from a student to a teacher rank.

Judo precedes most modern martial arts. It has a well established ranking system such that most other martial arts have based theirs on the judo method of ranking. Those who have attained professional level of proficiency in the discipline are awarded the rank of dan (black belt), which qualifies them to teach. And so, if you want to become a judo instructor you must ascend the ladder of student ranks (kyu) to teacher rank (dan). To do so:

  • Find a good judo teacher under whom you can train. Your teacher will award several colored belts as you progress in proficiency. The colors could vary by country. There are six traditional student ranks, but there are more in some countries. The requirements to progress from one rank to another vary depending on the teacher and the national organization that grades students. A student needs to pass an exam (that could include a competition) in order to advance in rank.
  • Join competitions. Find local tournaments and compete in the weight division where you qualify. Proceed to national competitions if there are chances. You can even go to the Olympic Games.
  • Work to get the knowledge, skills and leadership of a professional judo practitioner. To qualify for senior rank you must be above 17 years old. A senior rank means a black belt (dan), under which there are 10 degrees of advanced grades. The black belt ranks are more consistent throughout the world than the colored belt ranks. Just like the student ranking, black belt degree qualifications vary. But unlike kyu ranks, which are awarded by teachers, dan ranks are determined by national judo associations who send independent judges to test the proficiency of a judoka applying for a rank upgrade. Ranks are registered with the organization in order to be recognized. In the U.S. there are The United States Judo Federation and The United States Judo Association.
  • Continue training to advance from a lower black belt degree to a higher one. Before, you must be at least at 4th dan to be truly considered an expert. Advancement can be obtained by improving on skill, winning on competitions, and contributing to the advancement of judo.

You can apply as judo instructor in martial arts and defense schools, and community training centers. Or, you can open your private practice. The good thing is, judo is suited for people of all ages and physical capacity. Women, the elderly and the very young can train judo throwing and grappling techniques. And so, your potential students can come from a large range of the population.

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