Judo guide - London 2012 Olympic Games



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Your complete guide to judo ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

© Getty Images

Converted: Judo means ‘the gentle way’; as in ‘the gentle way of beating someone up’, which is kind of classy.

Confused: A fight where it's against the rules to hit each other, which is kind of rubbish.

Judo - The essential guide

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Street cred: This Olympic sport may be practised by millions worldwide but it is not sexy. Jean-Claude Van Damme has never starred in any movies about judo due to its lack of flying kicks and low death count.

Who’s good? Japan gave birth to judo and it's still the daddy of the dojo (the arena they fight in), although the 14 gold medals tend to be spread out among various nations.

Glory-hunting potential: Great Britain has had its moments in Olympic judo but not since the silver won by Kate Howey in Sydney 2000. Euan Burton is our best hope for London 2012.

The basics: You can win a judo contest either by points (or ippon), which can be won in three ways: throwing an opponent onto their back, pinning them down for 25 seconds, or forcing them to submit.

Athlete to watch: The USA's Beijing bronze medallist Ronda 'Rowdy' Rousey: a pretty, blonde, cage-fighting vegan.

Almost useless fact: TV funnyman Tony Slattery is a judo black belt and represented England at under-15 level.

As seen in: 'Dog Judo', an animated online comedy about a couple of canine, judo-loving flatmates.

Do say: ‘Premier League footballers and their prima-donna ilk should take note of judo’s moral code of politeness, courage, self-control and respect.’

Don't say: ‘Chin him!’

British Olympic hopeful - Euan Burton

© Mike Varey

What sacrifices have you had to make?

I probably could have gone straight to university after school and got a good job but I decided that this is what I want to do with my life.

If the monarchy suddenly disbanded, what song would you want played at your gold-medal ceremony instead of the national anthem?

Either ‘Flower of Scotland’ or something cheesy such as ‘We Are the Champions’ by Queen.

What's your favourite London spot or guilty pleasure?

Greenwich – both for the park and the market. The food at the market is pretty amazing. My guilty pleasure would be whatever is on offer.

Who’s your Olympics crush?

Well my girlfriend, Gemma Gibbons, is trying to make the Olympic judo team, so there is my crush right there.

What goes through your head while competing?

It's pretty easy to fly off the handle if someone boots you really hard, takes a grip and catches your skin, goes to strangle you, or punches you across the face. It's very important to stay calm or focused, a bit like an assassin.

What is the most common misconception about your sport?

When I was a kid, people were always coming up to me shouting, ‘Judo - hay ya!’ then doing something like a kung-fu kick.

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