The sport of Judo was founded by Jigoro Kano in 1882 when at the age of 22 he opened his own school the Kodokan. The original dojo was situated in the Eishoji Temple in Tokyo; it had a mat which measured 4m by 6m and a grand total of 9 pupils. Both the Kodokan and the sport of judo have expanded greatly since then.

Jigoro Kano was born in 1860 and started learning Jujitsu at the age of 18. He was a fast learner and toured the various jujitsu schools learning the different techniques taught by each Sensei. Wanting to use his skills for education rather than self defence he combined the techniques he had learned, removing the aspects intended to injure, and developed the technical manual for Judo, which means the Gentle Way. Although the manual was completed in 1887 it was not published until 1922.

In 1886 the Tokyo police organised a competition to select a martial art to use as self defence. The Kodokan was invited and its player took part in 15 fights. They won 13, drew 2 and lost none. Judo emerged as the clear winner and was adopted for use by the Tokyo police.

As well as being founder of Judo, Professor Jigoro Kano was a respected academic. He enrolled at the Imperial University in 1877 and graduated with a degree in Economic and Political Sciences. A year after graduating he started to teach at the University and eventually became Vice President. In 1909 he took a seat on the Olympic Committee and in 1932 he became Minister of Physical Education in the Japanese government.

Throughout his life Jigoro Kano dedicated himself to promoting Judo. In 1889 he toured Europe and later America. The result was the first Judo school outside Japan when in 1903 a school was opened in the US. Later in 1918 he sent Professor Koizumi to London to open a Judo school, the Budokwai.

Often called the "Father of Japanese Sports". In 1935 he was awarded the Asahi prize for his outstanding contribution to the organizing of sport in Japan during his lifetime.

Jigoro Kano died in 1938 while returning from an Olympic congress in Cairo. It was at this congress that Japan was selected as the country for the next Olympic Games. Unfortunately the 1940 games were cancelled and Judo did not make an appearance in the Olympics until 1964 at the Tokyo games.

Britain has been central to the introduction of Judo to Europe. The Budokwai was the first Dojo in Europe and thirty years later in 1948 the British Judo Association was formed. Four days later Trevor Leggett, the most senior non-Japanese player in the world, presided over a meeting that led to the formation of the European Judo Union. In 1951 the International Judo Federation was created.

1951 saw the first Budokwai demonstration at the Albert Hall. Which was also the venue for the first European Championships in the same year.