Help:Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I find a Judo school or club?
National Governing Bodies
Why should I join a NGB?
National governing bodies (NGB) provide opportunities that you can not take advantage of unless you are a member. These organizations provide liability and accident insurance, clinics, camps, tournaments, a uniform rank system, instructor support, networking and learning opportunities, athlete, coach and referee development, support for national teams, coordination with the USOC, IJF, and foreign countries, etc. 
What is the purpose of any membership? It allows people to be informed about their activity, to be admitted to those activities, to share common values without having to discuss and attend every adminstrative discussion in person since the association does that for you through its representatives. Ultimately, it is not that different from the question "why do you want to be a citizen of your country". Why not go renounce citizenship ? Yet, it also allows protection, gives you a passport that will be recognized by other countries, and guarantees minimal ethical and fair treatment standards by other democratic, civilized countries, it allows you to share values, cultural identity with people who are dear to you. 
If your instructor does not have a legitimate rank registered with a national organization; if you can't attend outside clinics, camps, or tournaments; if you can't get continuing education and attain certifications in coaching, refereeing, kata, or other aspects of judo; if your rank is not recognized in any other country or club; then how do you know that your rank is legitimate? 
The three largest judo organizations in the United States are the USJA, USJF, and USJI. There are no differences in the training methods or type of judo taught because that is up to the instructor. Most generalizations would be wrong when applied to a particular club or member, and most judo instructors belong to 2 or 3 of the organizations. Each organization is stronger in some areas of the country. The USJF and USJA are working well together via their Grassroots Judo programs. The biggest differences are historical.
So, should you chose a club based on which organization it belongs to? As long as it belongs to USJA, USJF, or USJI, you should be fine. All of these organizations have the authority to issue rank, which is recognized by the other two national organizations and the International Judo Federation. They also offer insurance. The most important thing to consider when choosing a Judo club is the teacher and the atmosphere of the club, regardless of its affiliation. All three organizations recognize each other and (usually) allow members of the other two organizations to participate in their events.
The USJF, USJA, and USJI provide liability insurance which protects the person hosting events, practices or whatever in case someone decides to sue. There is no real difference in liability coverage given the miniscule odds of a lawsuit. Many event organizers and club coaches require this insurance for their own protection. You can buy both business insurance and event insurance, and some people do, but most judo clubs are run on a shoestring budget and do not. The USJF and USJA offer secondary memberships, so a member of one of these organizations can become a member of the other organizations with a minimal extra fee, however, no additional insurance is provided.
For more information: What are the USJA, USJF, and USJI?
Ranks and Belts
The traditional belt color for Mu-dan-sha is white. Every ranking system starts with white. If white is not stated, then the beginning white belt is thought of as no rank or mu-kyū (無級). Organizations have adopted multiple color systems to help recognize achievement and provide regular incentives.  This can especially be seen in the child ranks.
All ranks from 1st dan to 10th dan are black belts, with holders of 6th through 8th dan being allowed to wear a red/white-paneled belt, and the holders of 9th and 10th dan being allowed to wear a red belt. 
Here are some examples of different ranking systems for adults:
|Mu-dan-sha||無段者||むだんしゃ||Without Dan Rank||Belt Colors|
|nana-kyū, shichi-kyū||七級||ななきゅう、しちきゅう||7th grade||Gray|
For more information: Ranking System and Belt Colors
Are ranks in judo necessary?
Since there is an official rank system used in judo it is wise to follow the system if you want to learn judo. It is required if you want to achieve a higher rank like black belt. Ranks help many students set reasonable short term and long term performance goals. Other students are encouraged by recognition of improvements and hard work so they stick with it longer. But even if you don't see how it could help you, recognize that it helps others. 
Safety is another reason. Lower ranks have little experience and need to be taken great care of.  Many tournaments and classes have special rules about using arm locks or other more dangerous techniques for certain levels of students. Organizing a class, clinic, or camp is easier with some visible sign of experience levels (e.g. certain groups can learn lessons at their level while other groups learn a different lesson). Guest instructors or visiting students don't have to guess about experience levels. New students can immediately tell who to watch and learn from as good examples. Tournaments can be organized based on performance levels so that each person gets fair matches. Instructors can establish a sense of fairness for students so they know where they fit within a club, region or national organization. 
Part of the purpose of having ranks are the examinations. Examinations are there to prepare you for the black belt examination. Judo as an educational system is like any other educational system where you have to go through ranks and show your proficiency along the way so that you can build on your knowledge. Rank examinations give an objective reality check to many and spur others on to a greater service for judo. Virtually all schools are organized in ranks for a reason. 
Ranks help reinforce a performance-based system of seniority that is helpful for the mutual welfare of all students. I think reinforcing this basic principle of judo (jita-kyoei) is one of the reasons for a rank system. More senior people have a responsibility to help those who are less senior in judo, rather than having everyone always fighting for themselves with no responsibility to others. The individual is not the center of the universe in judo. 
What do I need to know in order to obtain a _______ belt / rank?
It really depends on the organization your club or school belongs to and to the description of your instructor. The best thing to do is ask your instructor.
Here are some links to get you started:
- United States Judo Association (USJA)
- United States Judo Federation (USJF)
- Judo Federation of Australia
- British Judo Association
- Judo Canada
How long does it take to earn a _______ belt / rank?
The time it takes varies from person to person. There are too many variables to take to give a definitive answer to this question. Some people can practice for 10 years and not earn their black belt, while others might earn it in 3 or 4 years. 
- How old are you?
- How athletic and coordinated are you?
- How competitive are you and do you plan on competing?
- What organization are you planning to earn a promotion from?
- What country do you live in?
- Who is your sensei and what is their rank?
- How big is your class and are there black belts to train with?
- Will you attend special clinics and other practices besides your own class?
- How often and how long do you practice?
- How fast do you learn?
The best thing to do would be to ask you to talk to your sensei. They know you best and will be best suited to answer your questions about your personal development.
Can I ask or refuse rank?
Your rank is based on your skill level which is determined by your instructor. Promotions are a judgement call that the instructors are usually in the best position to make. Only the instructors can set appropriate standards, guide students, take responsibility for their development, and evaluate performance and growth. If you believe your current rank or the rank presented to you is not at the correct level, then you should discuss this with your instructors. 
It is an unfortunate reality that there are illegitimate promotions made every day by unqualified people, often not registered with a valid national organization. In some cases instructors make the wrong choices and perpetuate a system that is not fair, or based on factors like profit. In such cases it is up to the student to remove himself from this situation once they recognizes it. However, while they are a student of that instructor he should still follow the guidance of his instructor and accept all kyu ranks. A student must have a relationship with a sensei that permits him to respect and accept the sensei's judgment. 
As you rise in rank it becomes more the individual's responsibility, and less that of the sensei. It is natural that as the student gains knowledge and ability his judgment gets better. However, it can be quite difficult for a student, even Yū-dan-sha, to make a correct assessment of their own qualification for a higher rank, which is why promotions continue to be made by others of higher rank. 
What is Kosen Judo?
What is judo?
How is Judo unique in regards to other martial arts?
Is Judo for me?
What are some good techniques to teach a novice?
Why do I have to learn Japanese?
What does <insert judo term> mean?
How do I pronounce <insert judo term> in Japanese?
How do I perform <insert technique>?
What techniques do I use against...
What happens at a judo competition?
When should I participate in my first judo competition?
Fitness, Health, Exercise
What are some common injuries?
How can I treat cauliflower ear?
Should I cut weight?
How much weight can I cut?
as much as you need to to make your weight or desired weight.
How do I cut weight without affecting my performance?
How do I tie my judo belt?
What color can my judo-gi be?
What are the colors of the judo-gi belts?
What is the writing on the belt and judo-gi?
Is it acceptable to wear patches on a judo-gi?
Combat, Self Defense, and MMA
- ↑ JudoSensei, USJF or USJA? (JudoForum)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 JudoSensei, USJF or USJA? (JudoForum)
- ↑ Cichorei Kano, USJF or USJA? (JudoForum)
- ↑ http://www.judoinfo.com/obi.htm
- ↑ Cichorei Kano, Red and Black Obi (JudoForum)
- ↑ http://www.usja-judo.org/Docs2004/National%20Judo%20Rank%20System.pdf
- ↑ http://www.usjf.com/public/rank_requirement.pdf
- ↑ http://www.ausjudo.com.au/jfa/forms?tabKey=3107
- ↑ http://www.britishjudo.org.uk/technical/documents/KyuGradingSyllabus_004.pdf
- ↑ http://www.britishjudo.org.uk/technical/gradings_home.php
- ↑ http://www.britishjudo.org.uk/technical/documents/KyuGradingSyllabus.pdf
- ↑ http://www.judocanada.org/doc/doc/00000534_kyūSylE.pdf
- ↑ http://www.judorio.org.br/graduacao_do_judo.html
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 JudoSensei, Goal of belts ? (JudoForum)
- ↑ Hanon, Goal of belts ? (JudoForum)
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 JudoSensei, How long to earn the black belt ? (JudoForum)
- ↑ crystalclear, How long to earn the black belt ? (JudoForum)
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 18.2 JudoSensei, Disrespectfull to stay white belt? (JudoForum)