Judo literally means "the gentle way." It is a sport developed from JIU-JITSU, a group of self-defence methods, but with certain harmful techniques eliminated or modified for safety's sake. Judo incorporates ethics, art and science into a sport that uses the opponents' strength against themselves. Judo was begun in June 1882 in Tokyo, Japan, by Dr Jigoro Kano in a small hall that became the Kodokan, the mecca of judo. Kano defined the purpose of judo as the training of one's mind and body to use energy efficiently, in competition and everyday life, toward the goals of physical development, contest proficiency and mental and moral development.

Around 1924 judo was introduced on the Canadian West Coast by pioneers such as S. Sasaki, first director of the Vancouver Judo Club. WWII moved many Judokas east of the Rockies, establishing new centres to practise the sport. Judo Canada, the governing body for the sport, was established in 1956. Each province has affiliated associations to help govern and promote judo. Participants are graded from 6th Kyu (white belt) to Ikkyu (brown belt) provincially, and from 1st dan (degree), or black belt, to 9th dan. The highest rank in Canada at present is the 8th dan.

Judo received Olympic recognition at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, at which Doug Rogers won a silver medal for Canada in the heavyweight class. Since then, Canada has been represented at all Olympics, world championships and PAN-AMERICAN GAMES. Other highlights for Canada were the 1981 world championships in Maastricht, Holland, where Phil Takahashi and Kevin Doherty both won bronze medals in the 60 kg and 78 kg classes respectively. Later Takahashi, Brad Farrow (65 kg) and Louis Jani (86 kg) won bronze medals at the 7th world university championships in Jyväskylä, Finland, August 1982. Mark Berger won a bronze medal in the 95 kg class at the 1984 Olympics. Canada's most successful judoka is Nicholas Gill. At the age of 18 at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona he upset the defending world champion to win a bronze medal in the 86 kg class. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics Gill advanced to the gold medal match, losing to the number one judoka in the world.

Women's judo didn't become an official Olympic sport until 1992. Prior to that time Canadian women produced successes in international competition. Tina Takahashi won a gold medal in the 48 kg class at the 1984 world university championships. At the 1987 Pan-Am Games, Sandra Greaves won a gold medal in the 66 kg class; other members of the Canadian team won 2 silver and 3 bronze medals.