Competition Rules

From a competitors point of view, the contest rules are fairly simple. Which is how we will be examining the rules here. For a complete list of the Judo contest rules please see:

The IJF Detailed Explanation of the IJF Judo Refereeing Rules

The IJF Sports and Organization Rules

You can also view the 2024 Dee High Memorial Alaska State Judo Championships Referee Training Slides

Basics of the Competition Rules

The contest rules of Judo are setup as a safe way to simulate a fight and allow the students to practice their techniques against a resisting opponent. With this in mind, consider yourself the "good guy", in real life, bad guys rarely attack alone. One of the assumptions of the rules is, the bad guy has accomplices. Therefore, you want to grip your opponent in such as way as to be able to control their shoulders and hips to prevent them from punching and kicking you, and to use them as a body shield, keeping them between you and their accomplices. This is the traditional grip with on hand on the lapel and one hand on the sleeve. obviously, in a Judo match it is just you and your opponent, but this is still the idea. If you have a non-standard grip (e.g. two sleeves or both hands on one side of the body) you must be using it to attack. As long as you are actively setting up and attacking you may maintain an alternate grip. If you find yourself in a position where you can no longer attack, you must switch back to a traditional grip.

In ground work you, in a real fight, you do not want to be on the ground longer than you have to, and you want to maintain the ability to stand up when necessary. As long as there is progress being made, the referee will allow the match to continue in ne waza (ground work). 

As the "good guy", your goal is to finish the fight as quickly as possible with a technique that would win the fight in a real situation. 

Ways to win your match

Some common minor penalties (shido)

Grave infringements penalties (hansoku make)

Doing these will disqualify you from the match, but you can continue the tournament if the loss doesn't eliminate you.

Special attention will be given to situations where tori attempts to throw his opponent during tachi-waza with, for example, seoi-otoshi, seoi-nage, sode-tsurikomi-goshi with the grip on both sleeves and koshi-guruma with both grips on the collar and uke makes an involuntary head defence. 

These are examples and this situation can occur with other throwing techniques. In this situation there is no penalty for either tori or uke. 

Severe grave infringement penalties (hansoku make)

Doing these will eliminate you from the tournament. Yes, even if you were in multiple divisions.

Even if the thrower twists/turns during the throwing action, this should still be considered “kawazu-gake” and be penalised. Techniques such as o-soto-gari, o-uchi-gari, and uchimata where the foot/leg is entwined with opponent’s leg will be permitted and should be scored. 

Judo Practice Uniform - Judo Gi

The original Judo gi was shorter in the sleeves and pant legs, more closely matching the traditional Japanese Kimono of the day. As Japan adopted more of the customs of the West, and as Judo spread throughout the world, the sleeve and pant length was increased to match that of a business suit. Today the gi sleeves should fall comfortably to your wrists and the pants should hang to the tops of your feet. Since you are providing the equipment for you partner to grip, and your partner is providing the equipment for you to grip, there should be sufficient slack in the gi throughout the arms for your partner to take a grip. The material should be sturdy enough to stand up to being pulled on, but supple enough to be gripped. Your gi should be clean and in good repair. Your belt should be properly and securely tied around your waste, and should represent the color of the official Judo rank you hold.

Contest Area - Shiai Jo

The competition area consists of a safety zone, which the players should generally avoid, and the contest area. If you and your partner enter the safety zone as the result of attacking action, the referee will allow the action to continue as long as it is safe for you and your partner. Forcing your partner into the safety zone, or entering the safety zone without attacking action will result in a penalty.

Bowing - Rei

When entering the contest area, you and your opponent will bow into the safety zone. You will then bow into the contest area as you exit the safety zone. As you and your opponent approach each other toward the center of the mat, you will bow to each other as a show of respect and take one step forward to let the referee know you are ready to being the contest. 

At the end of the contest, when the referee awards the match, you and your opponent will take one step backwards and bow to each other. You will each bow out of the contest area and then bow out of the safety zone as you bow off the mat.