Guide to Tournament Rules
This is a brief introductory guide to tournaments for beginners, spectators
and parents.


Start of a Contest

Prior to a contest ( shiai ) one contestant is assigned a blue sash to wear in addition to their obi (belt) and/or they will be asked to wear a blue Judogi. After the contestants have bowed and stepped forward, the referee announces hajime (begin) to start the contest.

Scoring a Contest


  • Ippon (full point)
  • Waza-ari (almost ippon , half point)
  • Yuko (almost waza-ari )
  • Koka (almost yuko )
  • Hansoku-make (very serious violation, disqualification)
  • Shido (minor violation, koka to the opponent the first time, then increasing score each time)

In Judo competition the objective is to score an ippon (one full point). Once such a score is obtained the competition ends. An ippon can be scored by one of the following methods:

  • Executing a skillful throwing technique which results in one contestant being thrown largely on the back with considerable force or speed.
  • Maintaining a pin for 25 seconds.
  • One contestant cannot continue and gives up.
  • One contestant is disqualified for violating the rules ( hansoku-make ).
  • Applying an effective armbar or an effective stranglehold (this does not usually apply for children).
  • Earning two waza-ari (half point). A waza-ari can be earned by: 1) a throwing technique that is not quite an ippon (for example the opponent lands only partly on the back, or with less force than required for ippon ); 2) holding one contestant in a pin for 20 seconds; or 3) when the opponent violates the rules ( shido ) three times.

If the time runs out with neither contestant scoring an ippon, then the referee will award the win to the contestant who has the next highest score. For example a contestant with one yuko would win against an opponent who scored 4 kokas .


There should be one or two scoreboards to show the state of play. Because in Judo it is always the highest quality score that wins, the score-board is laid out left to right to show the scores like a number.

Looked at in this way, the score is 100 to 31: white's single waza-ari beats the lesser quality of blue's 3 yuko's and 1 koka. The Ippon score is not shown on the scoreboard because there can only be 1 Ippon and scoring it ends the match.

Waza Ari
Waza Ari