Judo rules

HVR Sports   Fitness for Judo 1024x285 Judo rules
HVR Sports   Fitness for Judo Judo rules

Judo rules

  • Stalling is not permitted.
  • Using a defensive posture is not permitted.
  • It is required to bow to the competition area.
  • False attacks are not permitted. They are considered attempts to circumvent the prohibition against noncombativity.
  • Disregarding the orders of the judge is prohibited.


  • Awarding of ippon ‘One full point’. Award of ippon decides the winner and ends the match.
  • Awarding of waza-ari. ‘One half point’. When two waza-ari are awarded in the same match, it is considered to be same as ippon and the match ends (the judge exclaims ‘Waza-ari, awasete ippon’)
  • Awarding of yuko . One score of waza-ari is considered greater than any number of yuko scores. Yuko is currently the smallest score that can be awarded.
  • Awarding of koka . Was introduced in 1975 and removed from IJF competition at the end of 2008. Any number of koka scores does not add up to a yuko score.

Two types of penalties may be awarded. A shido is awarded for minor rule infringements. A shido can also be awarded for a prolonged period of non-aggression. Recent rule changes allow for the first shidos to result in only warnings. If there is a tie, then and only then, will the number of shidos (if less than four) be used to determine the winner. After four shidos are given, the victory is given to the opponent, this is an indirect hansoku-make, and does not result in expulsion from the tournament. The penalty of hansoku make is awarded for major rule infringements, or for accumulating four shidos. If hansoku make is awarded for a major rule infringement, it results not just in loss of the match, but in expulsion from the tournament.

Competition area
The competition area must be padded with tatami. The minimum allowable size is 14 x 14 meters. The match takes place in an 8 x 8 meter to 10 x 10 meter zone within this larger area. The surrounding space acts as a safety zone. When two competition areas are side by side, there must be at least a 3-meter safety zone between them.

Rules related to grips are primarily motivated by the desire to avoid stalling, to avoid providing undue advantage, or to reduce the chance of injury.

  • Deliberately avoiding gripping is not permitted.
  • In a standing position, it is not permitted to take any grip other than a “normal” grip for more than three to five seconds without attacking. A “normal” grip is one where the right hand grips some part of the left hand side of the opponent’s jacket (and the left hand grips some part of the right hand side of the opponent’s jacket.) A non-normal grip may involve grabbing the belt, or the trousers, or the wrong side of the jacket. (A non-“standard” grip is one that does not involve the traditional sleeve/collar grip. There are no time-limits related to non-“standard” grips as long as they are not non-“normal”.)
  • A “pistol grip” on the opponent’s sleeve is not permitted.
  • It is not permitted to insert the fingers inside the opponent’s sleeve opening or trousers opening at any time. You are permitted to insert your fingers inside your own gi openings.
  • Biting the opponent’s gi is prohibited, as it grants another gripping point.
  • Since 2010, it is not permitted to grab the legs or trousers, initially, during tachi-waza (standing techniques). As of the 9th of February 2013 it is no longer permissible to touch the legs of the opponent whatsoever during tachi-waza. Furthermore, is no longer permissible to break an opponent’s grip with two hands.

Judo competitions typically have some safety-related rules related to age: chokes are prohibited under a certain age (typically 13), and arm bars are prohibited under a certain age (typically 16).

The duration of matches is also dependent on the age of the competitors. Match length is typically three minutes for children, five minutes for teenagers and young adults, and three minutes for ‘masters’ (adults thirty years of age or older).

Rules related to the gi are primarily related either to safety or to preventing contestants from wearing gis that prevent their opponent from being able to get a grip on them.

  • The sleeves of the jacket are not allowed to be too short: they must extend down to no more than 5 cm above the wrists with the arms extended in front of the body.
  • The legs of the trousers are not allowed to be too short: they must extend down to no more than 5 cm above the ankle.
  • Excessive advertising on the gi must be avoided, and may result in a forced loss if an appropriate gi can’t be found.

Medical treatment, illness, and injury
The official International Judo Federation (IJF) rules related to the provision of medical treatment and to the proper handling of situations involving illness or injury are relatively long and involved, since the exact nature and cause of an injury may themselves affect the awarding of the match, and since receiving some types of medical treatment, but not others, automatically ends the match. The latter fact makes it necessary for medical attendants at judo matches to have some understanding of this rather complex aspect of the rules of judo. The medical team is not allowed to enter the fighting area without permission from the mat judge, and if a contestant receives medical treatment he automatically forfeits the match. Nosebleeds, for example can not be treated by the medical team, the contestant must fix it himself with materials provided by the medical team, proper procedure is stuffing cotton balls up the nostrils, while applying tape around the head. If a contestant is rendered unconscious without a choking technique, and is unable to wake up, the medical team has to take immediate action and they can’t wait for the contestant’s consent, he forfeits the match automatically. A contestant can ignore any injuries he has, and keep fighting. This requires that it is not of any discomfort to the opponent, e.g. bleeding over an opponent can cause penalties. If the bleeding is tried to be stopped three times, with no effect, the match is forfeited.

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