Aikido vs. Judo

Aikido and judo are two popular martial arts that share many similarities. Both originated in Japan long ago and each places an emphasis on using an opponent’s momentum to your advantage. However, there are also some key distinctions between these two disciplines that are worth exploring. Let’s take a closer look at aikido vs. judo to help you better understand their major similarities and differences.

Aikido vs. Judo


Aikido is a Japanese martial art that was developed in the early 20th century by Morihei Ueshiba, or O-Sensei. This defensive martial art focuses on using an opponent’s effort and energy to avoid combat, rather than trying to overpower them with brute force. The study of aikido stems from jujutsu (jiu-jitsu), and it emphasizes the principles of harmony and nonviolence.

Students of aikido (aikideshi) perform various joint locks and throws to disarm and subdue their opponents. They also train to defend against armed assailants. Because aikido is primarily defensive, there’s no competitive element to it at any level. Instead, students cooperate to perfect their technique through discipline, attention to detail, and consistent personal growth and self-improvement.

Aikideshi typically wear a white gi (uniform) and white trousers. Some students also train with wooden or bamboo weapons that mimic the weight and feel of swords, staves, or knives. With dedication and mastery of techniques, students generally progress through a series of ranks shown by colored belts. Once a student receives their first black belt, they begin wearing their hakama, which is a pair of loose blue or black trousers.


Judo is also a Japanese martial art, and it was developed in the late 19th century by Jigoro Kano. This competitive martial art focuses on grappling, creating imbalance, and using an opponent’s energy against them in combat. The study of judo also stems from jujutsu, and it emphasizes principles of strength, competition, and close-quarters ground fighting.

Students of judo (judokas) learn to perform throws, chokeholds, and submission-type moves that put pressure on extremities. They also focus on stability, strategy, and taking their opponents to the ground as quickly as possible. As a result, judo training often involves a lot of strength, grappling, and strategic ground work.

Judo is an unarmed, competitive sport. Students often compete against their peers in local, national, and international tournaments. The goal of judo is to score points by throwing, taking down, or pinning an opponent for a certain period of time.

Judokas typically wear a blue or white gi, and they progress through a series of ranks over time. Like in aikido, they also wear various colored belts to show their ranks.

Key Differences between Aikido and Judo

While aikido and judo share similar origins, they are distinct in many ways. For instance, aikido is primarily a cooperative, defensive martial art, while judo is much more like other competitive sports. Aikideshi also use practice weapons and focus on disarming armed attackers, but judokas don’t do either.

Aikido and judo each emphasize a different mindset and philosophy. Aikideshi aim to develop their character, improve their self-confidence, and become more mindful of themselves and others. However, judokas seek to compete against and overpower their peers through strength, stamina, and superior technique.

Aikido also revolves around the development of one’s “ki” or life energy. It stems from traditional Japanese philosophies like Zen that emphasize patience, awareness, and intentional breathing. This concept is rarely, if ever, highlighted in judo training, though it lies at the very heart of aikido.

Finally, judo was one of the first modern martial arts accepted into the Olympics. It first appeared in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Over 70 judokas from more than two dozen nations gathered there to compete against their distinguished peers. By contrast, aikido doesn’t involve competition at local, national, or international levels, and it’s not an Olympic sport.

Ask Us about Aikido vs. Judo

There are dozens of different types of martial arts, each with their own goals, methods, and history. Some of them, like aikido and judo, share similar origins and certain techniques. However, it’s also important to understand their distinctions, especially if you plan to become a student at any point.

If you’re interested in learning more about aikido vs. judo, then we encourage you to give us a call, send us an email, or stop by our dojo today. We’re open during the evening on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and on Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm. We’ll gladly answer your questions and offer a free trial class to help you decide if aikido is the right martial art for you.

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