What’s the deal?
It is “the gentle way.” It is Judo, a Japanese form of wrestling that isn’t just sport–it also encompasses one’s own progress along other facets, including moral, personal and social progress. Derived from jujitsu, it’s a one-on-one fight where competitors called Judoka aim to use their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses in order to beat them.
The International Judo Federation rules state, “Judo must be understood to be apprecciated [SIC].” So here goes. Judo bouts last five minutes, and the goal is to win by the highest score. If no one’s scored by the end of the time, the winner is then the first to score. Here’s where it gets a little complicated. There are three different types of scores:
- Ippon: This is the big one, the mother of all ways to score. Throw your opponent onto their back with “considerable force and speed” and hold them for at least 20 seconds or until the other Judoka taps out. Get an Ippon at any point in the bout and you get one full point–and the win!
- Waza-ari: This is not as big as an Ippon. You may not have used enough force to hold your opponent, or they’re not thrown directly onto their back. Or you hold them for between 15 and 20 seconds. If you get two Waza-ari, that equals an Ippon, and you win.
- Yuko: The lesser of all the scores. You’ve thrown your opponent, but it’s not with speed or force or not directly on the back. Yukos need to be held between 10 and 15 seconds to count. Unfortunately, you can get all the Yukos you want, but they’ll never add up to a Waza-ari or an Ippon.
Men and women each compete in 7 different weight classes:
- Extra-ligthweight (-60kg)
- Half-lightweight (-66kg)
- Lightweight (-73kg)
- Half-middleweight (-81kg)
- Middleweight (-90kg)
- Half heavyweight (-100kg)
Why should I watch?
We’re honestly really curious about a sport that has a multiple page bowing guide. But seriously, this is really a blink-and-you’ve-missed-it sport, because you’ve got to pay attention or else you could miss an Ippon. Also, it’s pretty amazing to see how grown adults can flip and throw each other.
Potential drinking game:
Every time someone scores a straight Ippon, take a sip.
The perfect snack:
Any number of martial arts studios in strip malls around the world feature judo classes, so check them out, or look into the International Judo Federation for more information. Judo needs referees as well–learn more about this opportunity from your national organization. Team USA has an example of what to look for here.