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Dr Jigoro Kano invented judo as a new form of the martial art ju-jutsu in Japan in 1882 and it was soon part of the physical education curriculum in Japanese schools.

However, its development in the UK in the early part of the 20th century owed more to its appeal as a music hall entertainment than its value in the classroom.

In 1899, a team of Japanese martial arts experts arrived in England hoping to establish a ju-jutsu school in London. When the project failed, several members of the squad stayed behind and found their way on to the stage.

The leading exponent was Yukio Tani, who toured the halls offering challengers £1 for every minute they stayed on their feet after the five-minute mark and £50 if they defeated him. Not surprisingly, he retired with an unbeaten record.

However there was a serious side behind the showmanship. For Tani and his compatriots also worked as martial arts instructors and, in 1920, Tani was appointed instructor at the country's first martial arts club, the Budokwai.

The sport also developed worldwide in the first 40 years of the 20th century but its popularity waned in the aftermath of the Second World War. Indeed, following the Japanese surrender in 1945, martial arts were banned in schools and public institutions in Japan until restrictions were relaxed in 1951.

By that time, however, the British Judo Association had been founded in 1948, followed quickly by the establishment of the European Judo Federation and, in 1951, the International Judo Federation, with overall control of the sport.

Judo first appeared at the Olympics in Tokyo in 1964, and in 1981 Englandís Neil Adams became world champion. It was not until 1990 however, that judo made its Commonwealth Games debut in Auckland, its only other appearance at the Games until now. England lifted 14 of the 16 gold medals on offer in the men's and women's events in New Zealand with Scotland and the home nation also striking gold.

In 1992 womenís judo was officially recognised at the 1992 Olympics, and there was success for Britain with Sharon Rendle winning bronze and Nicola Fairbrother silver. The next year Fairbrother was world champion. In 1999 Graeme Randall became Britainís second male world champion in half a century, winning the light-middleweight title.

The chances of a single nation pulling off a near clean sweep this time are remote because at Manchester 2002 the competition is bound to be intense when the action starts at the G-Mex Centre. So count yourself in!

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