The sportification of judo: Global convergence and evolution

Shohei Sato*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


This article re-examines our understanding of modern sport. Today, various physical cultures across the world are practised under the name of sport. Almost all of these sports originated in the West and expanded to the rest of the world. However, the history of judo confounds the diffusionist model. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, a Japanese educationalist amalgamated different martial arts and established judo not as a sport but as 'a way of life'. Today it is practised globally as an Olympic sport. Focusing on the changes in its rules during this period, this article demonstrates that the globalization of judo was accompanied by a constant evolution of its character. The overall 'sportification' of judo took place not as a diffusion but as a convergence - a point that is pertinent to the understanding of the global sportification of physical cultures, and also the standardization of cultures in modern times.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-317
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Global History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jul
Externally publishedYes


  • Japan
  • cultural exchange
  • martial arts
  • non-western
  • sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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