Rules and Regulations of Judo

Current international contest rules

Penalties may be given for: passivity or preventing progress in the match; for safety infringements for example by using prohibited techniques, or for behavior that is deemed to be against the spirit of judo. Fighting must be stopped if a participant is outside the designated area on the mat.


There are currently seven weight divisions, subject to change by governing bodies, and may be modified based on the age of the competitors:

Weight divisions
Men Under 60 kg (130 lb; 9.4 st) 60–66 kg (132–146 lb; 9.4–10.4 st) 66–73 kg (146–161 lb; 10.4–11.5 st) 73–81 kg (161–179 lb; 11.5–12.8 st) 81–90 kg (179–198 lb; 12.8–14.2 st) 90–100 kg (200–220 lb; 14–16 st) Over 100 kg (220 lb; 16 st)
Women Under 48 kg (106 lb; 7.6 st) 48–52 kg (106–115 lb; 7.6–8.2 st) 52–57 kg (115–126 lb; 8.2–9.0 st) 57–63 kg (126–139 lb; 9.0–9.9 st) 63–70 kg (139–154 lb; 9.9–11.0 st) 70–78 kg (154–172 lb; 11.0–12.3 st) Over 78 kg (172 lb; 12.3 st)


A throw that places the opponent on his back with impetus and control scores an ippon (一本?), winning the contest. A lesser throw, where the opponent is thrown onto his back, but with insufficient force to merit an ippon, scores a waza-ari (技あり?).Two scores of waza-ari equal an ippon waza-ari awasete ippon (技あり合わせて一本?,  ).A throw that places the opponent onto his side scores a yuko (有効?). No amount of yukos equal a waza-ari, they are only considered in the event of an otherwise tied contest.

For this Olympic period, the International Judo Federation recently announced changes in evaluation of points. There will only be ippon and waza-ari scores given during a match. There will be no more yuko score. The waza-ari score will also not be added up, which means two waza-ari will no longer be the equivalent of ippon.

Ippon is scored in ne-waza for pinning an opponent on his back with a recognised osaekomi-waza for 20 seconds or by forcing a submission through shime-waza or kansetsu-waza. A submission is signalled by tapping the mat or the opponent at least twice with the hand or foot, or by saying maitta (まいった?, I surrender).A pin lasting for less than 20 seconds, but more than 15 seconds scores waza-ari and one lasting less than 15 seconds but more than 10 seconds scores a yuko.

Formerly, there was an additional score that was lesser to yuko, that of Koka (効果?). This has since been removed.

If the scores are identical at the end of the match, the contest is resolved by the Golden Score rule. Golden Score is a sudden death situation where the clock is reset to match-time, and the first contestant to achieve any score wins. If there is no score during this period, then the winner is decided by Hantei (判定?), the majority opinion of the referee and the two corner judges.

There have been changes to the scoring. In January 2013, the Hantei was removed and the “Golden Score” no longer has a time limit. The match would continue until a judoka scored through a technique or if the opponent is penalised (Shido).


Minor rules infractions are penalised with a shido (指導?, literally “guidance”). This is treated as a warning and anything up to three shido make no contribution to the overall score. A serious rules violation yields a hansoku make (反則負け?, literally “foul-play defeat”), resulting in disqualification of the penalised competitor.

Freestyle Judo

Freestyle Judo is an increasingly popular form of competitive Judo that allows all the elements of traditional judo to be used in a safe and fair way in competition. Freestyle judo is an attempt to bring back the original intent of judo as a combat sport. Freestyle Judo is considered to be a split from the heavily regulated and restricted Olympic-style Judo sanctioned by the International Judo Federation. Freestyle Judo is currently backed by the International Freestyle Judo Alliance (IFJA). The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) officially sanctions Freestyle Judo in the United States of America.[64]

Kodokan Judo includes techniques from wrestlingsambo, and modern jiu-jitsu. Over the past couple of decades many of these fighting styles were discouraged, and eventually penalized, in tournament Judo for reasons such as better television viewing by the IJF. Competitors who specialize in standing techniques can throw for ippon. Wrestlers who prefer lower body attacks can shoot for the legs. Grapplers who specialize in submissions have the time and flexibility to fight on the ground without being stopped.


Competition is held in both the “Gi” Category where the contestants wear the standard judo uniform, and “No Gi” Category where contestants do not wear the standard judo uniform.

A contestant shall be declared the winner in the same situations as used in the current AAU Judo Rules with the following amendments or exceptions.

  1. Ippon. Ippon (Full Point) is awarded for a throw or submission technique(armlocks and chokeholds/strangles). Ippon is not awarded for holding or pinning an opponent(Osaekomi) as in Olympic Judo.
  2. Superior Decision: When one contestant scores twelve (12) points more than his/her opponent, the match will be stopped by the referee and the winner with the superior score will be declared the winner.
  3. Points Decision: When the scheduled match time runs out and one contestant is ahead in the score, that contestant shall be declared the winner. (Example: The scheduled match time ends and the Blue contestant has 7 points and the Red contestant has 6 points. The Blue contestant has more points and will be declared the winner.)