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Judo Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Get to grips with judo
Judo generic
Speed, control and force are essential in judo throws

Judo is a grappling sport in which two opponents try to defeat each other using recognised judo moves and holds.

The first contestant, or judoka, to score one point by throwing, holding or immobilising their opponent wins the match.

But scoring a point tends to be harder than one might think as legitimate judo moves follow strict criteria.

Judo equipment
Tatami: Vinyl-covered foam mats covering an area of 14mē
Judogi: Loose-fitting uniforms, made up of trousers, a jacket and belt tied at the waist
Belt: All competitors wear a black belt to signify their grade
Judoka must perform a clean throw, or apply a legitimate hold that makes their opponent submit or immobilise them for a specified time.

An opponent submits in a hold by tapping twice on the mat with a hand or a foot.

The bout last five minutes and, if no-one has collected a point by then, the contestant with half a point is the winner.

If both, or neither, score half a point during the match, then the person who has accumulated the most credits wins.


In order to win, the contestant must score a point, which is called an ippon.

This can be achieved by simply pulling off a good throw which fulfils the four criteria laid out in judo.

Weight categories
Extra lightweight - under 60 kg for men, 48 kg for women
Half lightweight - under 66 kg for men, 52 kg for women
Lightweight - under 73kg for men, 57 kg for women
Half middleweight - under 81 kg for men, 63 kg for women
Middleweight - under 90 kg for men, 70 kg for women
Half heavyweight - under 100kg for men, 78 kg for women
Heavyweight - more than 100 kg for men, more than 78 kg for women
The opponent must be thrown mainly onto his or her back, using control, speed and force.

The contest can also be won if the opponent is immobilised with a legal move for 25 seconds or forced to submit during a move such as an armlock or stranglehold.

But bouts often rely on accumulating half-points, called waza-ari, or even credits, counted in yuko and koka.

A waza-ari is awarded when a contestant meets three of the four criteria while performing a throw, or after an opponent is held for only 20 seconds.

A yuko is obtained when two elements of a throw are missing or the opponent is held for 15-19 seconds.

A koka is less significant than a yuko and is given when three elements of a throw are absent or the opponent is pinned for 10 to 14 seconds.

Penalties and other rules

Committing even the smallest offences can result in credits and points being awarded to the other contestant.

A minor penalty would involve a koka or, more seriously, a yuko, but a major offence could entail a hansoku-make.

This means that the opponent is given an ippon, but the referee must confer with the judges before awarding such a serious penalty.

Did you know?
Contestants must:
Be clean
Have dry skin
Have cut their finger and toenails before a bout
Given the fact that opponents spend the entire bout grappling with each other at close quarters, offensive body odour is also banned
There are also other strict rules that contestants must honour and obey in judo.

At the beginning and end of the bout, they must bow to each other and the contest area.

Naturally, contestants must respect their opponents, so no derogatory remarks or gestures are permitted.

Punching as well as putting a hand, foot, leg or arm on an opponent's face is also not permitted.

Judoka are also not allowed to bend back their opponent's fingers to break a hold.

A serious injury can end the bout, but if it is the result of an illegal move used by the opponent, the injured party wins.

Judo glossary

  • Judoka: A judo competitor. Two judoka take part in a bout.

  • Ippon: One point - the amount needed to win a bout.

  • Waza-ari: Half a point - awarded when a competitor almost scores an ippon. It is awarded when three of the four throw criteria are met or the opponent is pinned for 20 seconds.

  • Yuko: A credit, better than a yuko, awarded for meeting two of the four criteria when throwing an opponent or pinning them for 15-19 seconds.

  • Koka: A credit given for achieving only one of the four criteria when throwing an opponent or pinning them for 10-14 seconds.

  • Hansoku-make: A penalty which results in an ippon being awarded against the transgressor.

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    20 Jun 02 | Judo
    20 Jun 02 | Judo
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