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Jigoro Kano was the one to introduce Judo in Japan, in 1882. Its techniques derived from martial arts developed over centuries in various “Ju jitsu” schools. Jigoro Kano devoted his life to promoting the sport and training new athletes and thereby created a legacy for today’s generations.

Starting in 1909 and for the next 30 years, Jigoro Kano participated in the Olympic Movement as a member of the IOC; he was one of Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s main associates. In addition, Jigoro Kano was the one to first propose the founding of the International Judo Federation (IJF) in the 1930s. The federation was finally established in 1951 by 13 European country-members. Today the federation counts more than 180 countries as its members.

Olympic History

Judo made its Olympic debut, for men, in Tokyo in 1964 with three specific weight categories, plus an open category for competitors of any weight. After missing Mexico City 1968, the sport returned permanently to the Olympic program in Munich in 1972.

Women’s judo became an Olympic sport at Barcelona 1992, after being a demonstration event at Seoul 1988.


The mat

A Judo contest is conducted on a square 8m x 8m mat (Tatami). There is a 1m x 1m danger area and a 3 m outer safety area. The colour of the mat varies. Green is usually preferred for the competition and safety zone areas and red for the danger area.

The contest

To win the contest a judoka must score an Ippon (a degree equalling 10 points) by using a successful technique. Lesser scores such as waza-ari (7 points), yuko (5 points) and koka (3 points), can be awarded when a technique does not warrant an Ippon. Athletes may also receive penalties of corresponding points: hansoku make (Ippon), keikoku (waza-ari), chui (yuko) and shido (koka).

Two waza-ari add up to an Ippon. This also applies if one competitor has already scored waza-ari and the opponent is subsequently given a penalty of keikoku. Yuko and koka do not add up. Winner is the athlete who has scored the greatest value point at the completion of the five minutes.

An Ippon is given to the athlete who manages to throw his opponent on his back with a technique combining speed, force and control. A waza-ari is awarded to an athlete when the referee and judges consider an element of the Ippon to be missing. This may be the case if the opponent does not fall on his/her back or that the athlete has not demonstrated enough force.

A yuko is awarded when two of the required elements are missing. This may be the case when the opponent falls on his/her side. A kοka awarded when three of the required elements are missing. This may be the case when the opponent falls on his/her shoulder or leg.

An Ippon is also awarded, when an athlete applies an osaekomi technique and manages to hold his/her opponent to the ground for 25 sec. The referee calls the beginning and the end of the osaekomi countdown. Waza-ari is awarded when the opponent is unable to escape for more than 20, but less than 25 seconds.
Yuko is awarded when the opponent is unable to escape for more than 15, but less than 20 seconds.

Koka is awarded when the opponent is unable to escape for more than 10, but less than 15 seconds. An Ippon is finally awarded to an athlete who applies a strangling or joint technique and thereby forces his/her opponent to give up by tapping twice or more with his/her hand, or says “maitta” (I give up).

Current Olympic Programme

There are seven categories for men and seven for women, all based on weight:



Up to 60Kg

Up to 48Kg

+60kg up to 66kg

+48kg up to 52kg

+66kg up to 73kg

+52 kg up to 57kg

+73kg up to 81kg

+57 kg up to 63kg

+81kg up to 90kg

+63 kg up to 70kg

+90kg up to 100kg

+70 kg up to 78kg

+100 Kg

+78 Kg


Judogi – the Judo uniform

Judogi is made out of heavy cotton to allow athletes to grab on to their opponents’ collar, chest, belt and trousers when practising the various techniques. For many years there were only white judogi. In the Sydney Games blue judogi were added to make the distinction between competitors easier.


Judo belts are used to identify the athletes’ skills, technical proficiency and contribution to the sport. Rank is shown by a belt colour. There are two types of rank: kyu and dan. Dan grades are the highest and shown by a black belt. Coloured belts show kyu grades. Although the grades vary among countries, the most universally accepted system is the following:

5th kyu: yellow belt

4th kyu: orange belt

3rd kyu: green belt

2nd kyu: blue belt

1st kyu: brown belt

1st – 5th dan: black belt

6th – 8th dan: black or red-and-white belt

9th – 10th dan: black or red belt

All beginners wear white belts. Black belts are awarded to students who have developed a degree of proficiency in the various techniques of Judo. They have shown commitment to being a serious student of Judo. There is a general perception that a black belt holder is a Judo expert. The 1st degree of black belt (the 1st dan) in Judo actually signifies that the student is truly ready to begin learning Judo.


Judo has two main elements, the sporting skills of attack and defence and the culture of the sport through, which these skills are performed. The moral code of Judo is politeness, courage, sincerity, self-control, honour, modesty, friendship and respect. In Judo competition, a judoka can be disqualified for deliberately hurting their opponent.

The bow

Bowing is the most visible of the rituals of Judo. In competition, judokas bow to each other at the beginning and end of the contest to show their respect and courtesy to each other as opponents and to the institution of Judo, which fosters fair play. The bow is used because it is a physical act of humility, gratitude and appreciation.


There are 66 throwing techniques and 29 grappling techniques officially acknowledged.

Throwing techniques Nage waza

Standing techniques Tachi waza

Foot/leg techniques (21) Ashi waza

Hip techniques (10) Koshi waza

Hand techniques (16) Te waza

Sacrifice techniques Sutemi waza

Supine sacrifice techniques (5) Ma sutemi waza

Side sacrifice techniques (14) Yoko sutemi waza

Grappling techniques Katame waza

Hold-down techniques (7) Osae waza

Strangling techniques (12) Shime waza

Joint techniques (10) Kansetsu wa

Team HeroesEntire Team

Karina Bryant took up judo to meet new people and learn self-defence and, at the age of ten, she joined the Camberley club and earned her black belt within six years.

She won European junior silver in the +72kg category in 1995 before w...


Gemma Gibbons doesn’t look at the draw for her -78kg weight at competitions until the morning she fights, usually after the weigh-in and breakfast.

Introduced to judo aged six, Gibbons is studying for a Masters in e...

Our Results

Total: 20 medals
  • 0 Gold
  • 9 Silver
  • 11 Bronze
Tokyo 1964
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Munich 1972
  • 0 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 2 Bronze
Montreal 1976
  • 0 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Moscow 1980
  • 0 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Los Angeles 1984
  • 0 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 2 Bronze
Seoul 1988
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Barcelona 1992
  • 0 Gold
  • 2 Silver
  • 2 Bronze
Atlanta 1996
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Sydney 2000
  • 0 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Athens 2004
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Beijing 2008
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
London 2012
  • 0 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
EYOF 2013
  • 0 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
View More