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Instructor Graeme Welsh

07966 273 062

What is judo?

Judo history

What is Judo?

A judo match takes place between two fighters on a mat for five minutes, and is scored by referees. During a judo match, the aim is to score an ippon, which is akin to a knockout in boxing. When an ippon is scored, a match is terminated. There are three ways to gain an ippon:

  • Throw your opponent hard onto his back
  • Pin your opponent on his back, this is known as a hold down
  • Make your opponent submit by applying a strangle hold or armlock.
Judo award recipients

There are many different types of throws and every individual finds the techniques that best suits their physique and style. There are hand throws, leg throws, foot sweeps, hip throws, sacrifice throws. Some throws are designed to land your opponent flat on their back and other throws are used to trip or stumble your opponent. The ideal finish is to throw your opponent square onto their shoulders for an ippon win.

If a throw does not result in an ippon win then the fight carries onto the ground. This is the grappling aspect of judo, (or newaza as it is known). At our club we give this equal importance as the throwing techniques. To pin an opponent a fighter has to hold their opponent down for 25 seconds, in a position generally controlling the head and an arm, or leg, so that the opponent's back or a shoulder is on the mat. If your opponent is unable to bridge or twist out of the hold within the 25 seconds then it is an ippon win.

Judo throw demonstration

To win by submission pressure can be applied directly on the elbow joint. To strangle or choke, pressure is applied to the sides of the opponent's neck by one or both forearms or by using the opponent's own jacket. Once your opponent taps their submission then that is an ippon win.

Although strangles and armlocks may seem dangerous, the players are trained to know when they are in danger and will submit by tapping either the mat, or the opponent twice, before any damage is done. The referees are extremely alert when one player attempts to apply a choke or an armlock. If the referee thinks the technique is about to cause serious injury, he can stop the match and declare a winner.

Three referees supervise a contest. One is the main referee who controls the fight in the centre of the mat and the other two sit on opposite edges of the mat (contest area) supervising and giving advice if the main referee should require it.

Supervised demonstration of a hold

The centre referee judges the quality of the throw and calls and indicates the score. The higher the arm is raised the better the score. The referee will call the score and signal simultaneously.

  • Ippon: arm straight up. (opponent lands flat on back)
  • Waza-ari: arm out at shoulder level (opponent lands on side)
  • Yuko: arm 45 degrees out from the side (opponent lands on backside)
  • Koka: arm against the side; hand in a sort of stop or greeting signal (opponents backside makes minimal contact with mat)

The contest area is a square eight meters long on each side. The outer meter (“danger area”) is red and is inside the playing area, but competitors can only remain in that area for a few seconds before attempting a throw or they will be penalized. There is a three-meter “safety area” in which a player can be thrown as long as the thrower remains inside the contest area.

In the last few decades the powers that run Judo worldwide have altered the rules to favour dynamic throws and have introduced a range of penalties for passivity and time limits for grappling and submission techniques. Blue judogis (judo outfit) have been introduced, one fighter wears blue the other wears white. This is to encourage more spectators and to try and get judo on television. However, this purely competitive view of Judo ignores many other aspects that make up its component parts. E.g. newaza (grappling) kata (formal study of the techniques of Judo) self defence.

At WGC Judo we try to teach all aspects of judo and encourage people to follow what interests them whether that be competition, kata, or just a weekly workout! Judo is training for life and all areas should be studied.

Welwyn Garden City Judo Club

Based at Gosling Stadium, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

Telephone: 07966 273 062, Email: