4 – Competitive Judo – History

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Competitive Judo

History of competitive Judo

Yoshihiko Yoshimatsu attempting to throw Toshiro Daigo with an uchi mata in the final of the 1951 All-Japan Judo Championships

Contest (試合, shiai?) is a vitally important aspect of Judo. Early examples include the Kodokan Monthly Tournament (月次試合, Tsukinami shiai?) and the biannual Red and White Tournament (紅白試合, Kohaku jiai?), both of which started in 1884 and continue to the present day.[citation needed]

In 1899, Kano was asked to chair a committee of the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai to draw up the first formal set of contest rules for jujutsu. These rules were intended to cover contests between different various traditional schools of jujutsu as well as practitioners of Kodokan judo. Contests were 15 minutes long and were judged on the basis of nage waza and katame waza, excluding atemi waza. Wins were by two ippons, awarded for throwing the opponent onto his back or by pinning them on their back for a “sufficient” amount of time or by submission. Submissions could be achieved via shime-waza or kansetsu-waza. Finger, toe and ankle locks were prohibited.[49] In 1900, these rules were adopted by the Kodokan with amendments made to prohibit all joint locks for kyu grades and added wrist locks to the prohibited kansetsu-waza for dan grades. It was also stated that the ratio of tachi-waza to ne-waza should be between 70% to 80% for kyu grades and 60% to 70% for dan grades.[49]

In 1916, additional rulings were brought in to further limit kansetsu waza with the prohibition of ashi garami and neck locks, as well as do jime.[50] These were further added to in 1925, in response to Kosen Judo (高專柔道, Kōsen jūdō?), which concentrated on ne waza at the expense of tachi waza. The new rules banned all remaining joint locks except those applied to the elbow and prohibited the dragging down of an opponent to enter ne waza.[citation needed]

The All-Japan Judo Championships (全日本柔道選手権大会, Zennihon jūdō senshuken taikai?) were first held in 1930 and have been held every year, with the exception of the wartime period between 1941 and 1948, and continue to be the highest profile tournament in Japan.[citation needed]

Judo’s international profile was boosted by the introduction of the World Judo Championships in 1956. The championships were initially a fairly small affair, with 31 athletes attending from 21 countries in the first year. Competitors were exclusively male until the introduction of the Women’s Championships in 1980, which took place on alternate years to the Men’s Championships. The championships were combined in 1987 to create an event that takes place annually, except for the years in which Olympic games are held. Participation has steadily increased such that, in the most recent championships in 2011, 871 competitors from 132 countries took part.[citation needed]

The first time judo was seen in the Olympic Games was in an informal demonstration hosted by Kano at the 1932 Games.[51] However, Kano was ambivalent about Judo’s potential inclusion as an Olympic sport:

I have been asked by people of various sections as to the wisdom and possibility of Judo being introduced with other games and sports at the Olympic Games. My view on the matter, at present, is rather passive. If it be the desire of other member countries, I have no objection. But I do not feel inclined to take any initiative. For one thing, Judo in reality is not a mere sport or game. I regard it as a principle of life, art and science. In fact, it is a means for personal cultural attainment. Only one of the forms of Judo training, so-called randori or free practice can be classed as a form of sport. Certainly, to some extent, the same may be said of boxing and fencing, but today they are practiced and conducted as sports. Then the Olympic Games are so strongly flavored with nationalism that it is possible to be influenced by it and to develop “Contest Judo”, a retrograde form as ju-jitsu was before the Kodokan was founded. Judo should be free as art and science from any external influences, political, national, racial, and financial or any other organized interest. And all things connected with it should be directed to its ultimate object, the “Benefit of Humanity”. Human sacrifice is a matter of ancient history.[52]

Nevertheless, Judo became an Olympic sport for men in the 1964 Games in Tokyo. The Olympic Committee initially dropped judo for the 1968 Olympics, meeting protests.[53] Dutchman Anton Geesink won the first Olympic gold medal in the open division of judo by defeating Akio Kaminaga of Japan. The women’s event was introduced at the Olympics in 1988 as a demonstration event, and an official medal event in 1992. Paralympic judo has been a Paralympic sport (for the visually impaired) since 1988; it is also one of the sports at the Special Olympics.[citation needed]

Current international contest rules

All-Japan Judo Championships, 2007 men’s final

Main article: Judo rules

The traditional rules of judo are intended to provide a basis under which to test skill in Judo, while avoiding significant risk of injury to the competitors. Additionally, the rules are also intended to enforce proper reigi (礼儀?, etiquette).[citation needed]

Penalties may be given for: passivity or preventing progress in the match; for safety infringements for example by using prohibited techniques, or for behavior that is deemed to be against the spirit of judo. Fighting must be stopped if a participant is outside the designated area on the mat.[citation needed]

Weight divisions

There are currently seven weight divisions, subject to change by governing bodies, and may be modified based on the age of the competitors:

Weight divisions
Men Under 60 kg 60–66 kg 66–73 kg 73–81 kg 81–90 kg 90–100 kg Over 100 kg
Women Under 48 kg 48–52 kg 52–57 kg 57–63 kg 63–70 kg 70–78 kg Over 78 kg

Competition scoring

A throw that places the opponent on his back with impetus and control scores an ippon (一本?), winning the contest.[54] A lesser throw, where the opponent is thrown onto his back, but with insufficient force to merit an ippon, scores a waza-ari (技あり?).[54] Two scores of waza-ari equal an ippon  (技あり合わせて一本, waza-ari awasete ippon?).[54] A throw that places the opponent onto his side scores a yuko (有効?).[54] No amount of yukos equal a waza-ari, they are only considered in the event of an otherwise tied contest.[54]

Ippon is scored in ne-waza for pinning an opponent on his back with a recognised osaekomi-waza for 25 seconds or by forcing a submission through shime-waza or kansetsu-waza.[54] A submission is signalled by tapping the mat or the opponent at least twice with the hand or foot, or by saying maitta (まいった?, I surrender).[54] A pin lasting for less than 25 seconds, but more than 20 seconds scores waza-ari and one lasting less than 20 seconds but more than 15 seconds scores a yuko.[54]

Formerly, there was an additional score that was lesser to yuko, that of Koka (効果?). This has since been removed.[citation needed]

If the scores are identical at the end of the match, the contest is resolved by the Golden Score rule. Golden Score is a sudden death situation where the clock is reset to match-time, and the first contestant to achieve any score wins. If there is no score during this period, then the winner is decided by Hantei (判定?), the majority opinion of the referee and the two corner judges.[citation needed]


Minor rules infractions are penalised with a shido (指導?, literally “guidance”). This is treated as a warning and a single shido makes no contribution to the overall score. A second shido awards the penalised competitor’s opponent the score of a yuko and a third shido is equivalent to a waza-ari. A serious rules violation yields a hansoku make (反則負け?, literally “foul-play defeat”), resulting in disqualification of the penalised competitor. Hansoku make is also imposed for the accumulation of four shidos.[citation needed]

Formerly, there were two additional levels of penalty between shido and hansoku make: chui (注意?, literally “caution”), equivalent to a yuko and keikoku (警告?, literally “warning”) equivalent to waza-ari.[citation needed]

Representation of scores

Judo scoreboards show the number of waza-ari and yuko scores scored by each player. (A score of koka was also displayed until its use was abandoned in 2009.) Often an ippon is not represented on the scoreboard, because upon award of an ippon the match is immediately terminated. Some computerized scoreboards will briefly indicate that an ippon has been scored.[citation needed]

Scoreboards normally also show the number of penalties imposed on each player, and sometimes the number of medical visits for each. (Only two “medical” attentions are allowed for each competitor during a match—most often for minor bleeds.)[citation needed]

Electronic scoreboards also usually include timers for measuring both competition time and osaekomi time.[citation needed]

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