Judo in Israel - Brief History
By: Sensei Yonah Melnik and Dr. M. Schwartz
Judo was brought to Israel with the immigration waves during the thirty's and fifty's by Jewish immigrants, mainly from French speaking countries. They opened separate clubs where they taught various styles of Judo and Jujutsu. The Maccabiah Games of 1961 included Judo presentation, for the first time, as an organized sport. In order to further Judo activity on national and international plan, there was need for a national organization. The Israeli Judo Association was established in 1965, and was accepted as a member of the European Judo Union. Moshe Feldenkreis was nominated Honorary President of the association. From 1969 on, the Israel Judo Championship is being held regularly, every year. During the late 70's, Israeli judokas started to win several nice achievements in international competitions: Yonah Melnik, twice gold medal at the Scandinavian Open, one gold medal at the Belgian Open and twice bronze medal at the British Open Judo Championships. Edi Koaz and Zerah Hadad, gold medals at the Scandinavian Open, and Ilana Shalom, for women, bronze medal at the United State Open (1977).
Organization and Activity
We have about 5,000 judokas registered at The Israeli Judo Association. It is estimated that about twice as this are active in judo in Israel. More than 100 currently active Yudanshas (Black Belt Grades.) The judo activity takes place in about 300 registered clubs, under different Sport Organizations like Hapoel, Maccabi, Elizur, ASSA, Judokan and Meitav. About 150 judokas currently take part in the national teams – seniors and juniors, women and men.
We are grateful to Mr. Amos Gilad, Rokudan, and the Israeli Judo Association for providing the information.