I just came back from the California State Games, which used the current IJF rules. As always when I go to even a few events that run IJF rules, I wonder how we have allowed ourselves down this ugly road of issuing hansokumakes and shidos for what used to be good Judo just a few years ago. Everyone complains, but few do anything constructive to offer alternatives. So, here are the Judo America rules I use when I host our in-house tournaments.
Full matches: We want participants to experience as many minutes as possible fighting and developing their competitive Judo skills. I call this time in a match, or TIM. Therefore ippon does not end the match. Coaches have the prerogative to end a match if their students are overmatched.
Leg grabs: All leg grabs are allowed provided tori starts with at least one grip on uke.
Gripping: All grips are allowed provided they are for offensive purposes.
Pins: After an ippon-scoring pin, the referee will call matte, stand the players back up, and call hajime to continue the match.
No penalties: We want players to win by positive scores, not by getting their opponents penalized. While there will be no scores via penalties, referees will verbally admonish players in a proactive manner, i.e. white attack, blue stand up, stay in the middle, white no stiff arms, etc.
Cumulative scores: To diminish the role of the referee’s subjective scoring judgment, (where no number of yuko can ever be the equivalent of a waza ari), scores will be cumulative. Two yuko will equal a waza ari, 2 waza ari will equal an ippon.
Gis: We allow for the wearing of any color judogi, including different colors for pants and jacket, on any side. Jiujitsu gis should adhere reasonably to Judo standards. The new IJF gi size requirements will not be enforced.
T-shirts: No shirts for boys. Girls can wear any color undergarment they want, but please no sparkles, or gem stones.
These rules make for more risk taking, more dynamic Judo, more positive actions, and fewer silly distractions about gis, making this an exciting, spectator and competitor friendly tournament to watch. A coach from Mexicali, Mexico emailed me after our last tournament to tell me he thought all tournaments should use Judo America rules. I agree.
Our rules also make it easier to learn to referee by eliminating all the rules that stifle good Judo and create information overload in a referee’s mind, making it easier to focus on the most important aspect of refereeing: getting the scores right!
I encourage you to try these rules out for yourself. I’m pretty sure your students and parents will love the effects of sensible rules.