The Rules of Judo

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Because judo is generally thought of as a gentle form of martial arts, many people assume that injuries are rare in the sport. But what we must remember is that, even with its gentleness, judo still involves punching, kicking, and falling, plus plenty of potential for repetitive sports injuries. So even with all that padding that judo competitors wear, it can be a dangerous sport.

The rules of judo focus on keeping injuries from happening, but there are also major elements designed to keep things fair and to ensure that contestants show proper etiquette to one another. With these motivations in mind, let’s look at the main rules of judo.

There are certain restrictions upon what judo competitors can do, including:

• You cannot attempt to intentionally injure another opponent.
• You cannot punch or kick in ways that aren’t permitted in the judo rules.
• You may not strike or touch an opponent’s face.
• You may not wear metallic objects during competition.
• You may not stall the match from moving forward.
• You may not adopt a defensive posture.
• You may not fake attacks, as this incites a counterattack, which goes against judo.
• You may not ignore or subvert orders given by the judo judge.

Players are expected to show a great deal of courtesy to one another and to all in attendance. As such, there is a set of etiquette rules that all competitors must follow. These include:

• Contestants are required to bow to the room before walking onto the mat.
• Before and after competition, contestants must bow to each other.
• Foul language and inappropriate body language are forbidden.

There are two levels of penalties in judo. The shido is given when a contestant has made a minor infringement such as stalling, faking an attack, or adopting a defensive posture. The hansoku make is given when a player either accumulates four shidos or commits a serious infraction such as intentionally inflicting injury on an opponent or punching an opponent’s face.

Players win by scoring an ippon, which is considered “one full point” and decides who wins the match. It’s awarded in a variety of match-ending scenarios, such as when one player throws another on her back. Two waza-ari equal one ippon. The smallest point awarded in judo is a yuko. These are only considered when a match ends in a tie, in which case the player with the most yuko wins.

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