5 Things You Need To Know About Olympic Judo Before Watching It

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With the
olympics upon us, we can watch nearly any sport we want to, performed at the best level in the world. The only problem is, a lot of these sports are kind of obscure, at least to us. Even if you’ve heard of a sport, you might not know the details of it, or how to tell who’s winning when it airs on television. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about judo before watching a match.

1. What is it?

Judo is a Japanese martial art with an emphasis on throws, joint locks, and control, which originated from forms of Jiujitsu when Jiujitsu fell out of favor with the Japanese public upon Westernization of the country.

Judo practitioners work to perfect throws, grappling techniques, and falls in order to overcome an opponent. Although taught for self-defense purposes, Judo is also known for its competitive elements.

2. What’s the goal?

Judo practitioners work to control their opponents by doing one of 4 things:

  • Throw the opponent to his or her back.
  • Choke the opponent.
  • Apply armlocks to the opponent.
  • Immobilize an opponent.
If the judoka (judo practitioner) is able to do any of these things, they score points which can win them the match.

3. How do you score?

Judo has 3 different kinds of scores, all of which can make or break an opponent in competition.

  1. Ippon: This is a full body throw which results in an opponent being on their back, unable to defend themselves. You can also receive ippon by holding your opponent down for 20 seconds, when an opponent “taps out” (conceding defeat), or if an opponent passes out. This score wins you the match, and is the Judo equivalent of a knockout in boxing.
  2. Waza-ari: This is the in between score. If you throw your opponent but not hard enough to receive ippon, you’re rewarded waza-ari. You can also receive this score for holding an opponent down for more than 15 seconds, but less than 20. You need two of these to win the match.
  3. Yuko: If you didn’t quite earn waza-ari, this is the score you get. This can happen when opponents are thrown to their sides, rather than their backs. A hold 10 to 15 seconds long can also net you yuko.

4. How do you win?

When time expires, the judoka with the most points wins. However, judo values quality over quantity, so the judoka with the most waza-aris will always win over the opponent with more yukos. If you want to win instantly without waiting for time to expire, one of 5 things has to happen:

  • You score an ippon.
  • You score 2 waza-aris.
  • Your opponent cheats, tries to injure you, or otherwise has a huge rule infraction.
  • Your opponent has 4 minor rule violations.
  • Your opponent concedes due to injury.

5. What’s up with the uniforms, anyway?

Why do they wear those weird karate uniforms? Judo uniforms were traditionally derived from karate uniforms, as the founder of judo took inspiration from kimonos and other common garments found around the turn of the 20th century in Japan.

Judo uniforms are made sturdier than karate uniforms because of the amount of grabbing and dragging on the floor that takes place during judo competitions. Judokas must have access to both a blue and white uniform, as it denotes their place in the bracket in competition.