The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will include a variety of martial arts, including Karate, Taekwondo and Judo. In the world of martial arts, this is a mixed blessing. While some may lament the inclusion of martial arts as a watering down-or commercialization-of these disciplines, there are advantages, as well.
One of the biggest advantages is the exposure inclusion will bring to the martial arts. Just as youngsters see Olympic ice skaters or swimmers or gymnasts and decide to give those sports a try, seeing the martial arts on their television is sure to compel many children who may not have thought of martial arts to give it a try.
Since the martial arts has a long and storied history, there also is little danger that instructors will pop up only to teach aspiring Olympiads. In other words, even if children are drawn to a studio because of what they saw as part of the Olympic Games, they are sure to be exposed to a wide range of martial arts classes when they seek out instruction. They may even decide (after investigating the many types of martial arts) that they would prefer Kung Fu, for example.
While some people think that the martial arts are new to the Olympic Games this is not the case. In fact, these events were among the first contests to be included in the games in ancient times. In fact, after footraces, they were the original contests.
When the Olympic Games were reinvented in the modern era, wrestling was included. Fencing also was included. Both of these sports had skill sets that were in some ways similar to the martial arts although many of those similarities have fallen by the wayside.
Judo was an Olympic event for the first time in 1964 in Tokyo. It was not included in the 1968 games but returned in 1972 and has continued to be included since that time. Women’s judo was added to the mix in 1992.
The 1980 games in Moscow were a bit unusual in that the political climate cast a pall over the games. As a result many people were unaware that Sambo, a Russian wrestling form, was featured during the opening games. Taekwondo is the most recent martial art to be included in the Olympics when it became a medal sport for men and women in Sydney in 2000.