Judo may mean ‘the gentle way’ and reflect a moral code which demands politeness, courage, self-control and respect, but the four minutes bouts (five for men) can be as physically demanding as boxing and wrestling.
The sport is all about strength, speed and control whilst also possessing the mental agility to quickly spot and exploit your opponent’s weakness.
Date: July 28 – August 3
Judoka: An expert or practitioner of judo
Dojo: Practice hall
Hajime: The referee’s command to start a judo fight
Soremade: The referee’s command to end a judo fight
Judogi: A judo uniform
Judo contests are fought on a mat, or tatami which is 14m x 14m, with a smaller contest area of 10m x 10m marked inside it.
At the start of each contest, the athletes stand 4m apart, facing each other on the tatami. The referee gets the contest underway by shouting ‘Hajime!’ and stops it by shouting ‘Matte!’
Two judokas gain points for throws and holds in a bid to beat their opponent. A contest lasts a maximum of five minutes for men and five minutes for women, and the athlete with the highest score is the winner.
The best score is ippon, which can be achieved for a throw, a hold, a strangle or an armlock, and results in immediate victory.
Other scores are waza-ari and yuko. These depend on the type of throw or how long a judoka can immobilise his/her opponent.
Fighters compete in events determined by their weight, and at London this summer there will be seven weight classes for men and seven for women.
One to watch
GB’s Sarah Adlington. She took bronze at the 2011 US World Cup, beating Olympic bronze medallist Tea Donguzashvili in the final round. And she also won seven medals in 2010 including gold at the British Open Cup and bronze at the Korean World Cup.
Japan is a huge judo nation, not surprisingly as the sport originates from the Japanese martial art Jujitsu and since 1972, when the sport became a firm fixture on the Olympic programme, Japan has dominated the medal table taking home a total of 65.
Who to follow on twitter…
@bigyin78 – Sarah Adlington
Judo Olympic fact
Women’s judo in the Olympics wasn’t introduced to the Games until 1992 in Barcelona.
The Women’s Sports Magazine