The Two Main Principles of Judo

The Two Main Principles of Judo

It might help to understand what Judo is all about and what it teaches us, both on and off the mat, if we analyse the Two Main Principles laid down by the founder of Judo in 1882,, Jigoro Kano, Shihan.

Seiryoku Zenyo   :  Translated variously, one of the easiest to understand would be “ The most effective use of Energy or Effort”, although with the furious activity one sees in a Judo practice or a competition between two matched opponents, it’s not immediately obvious.

There are many subtle changes of balance, movement and positioning that lead to a successful technique being executed. And like many games, the winner is usually (although not always) the one who has devoted more time, effort and attention to detail to attain the advantage of superior skill.

Judo is often referred to as ‘the gentle art’ which can be misleading. Force is diverted by the experienced judoka to his/her advantage so that the attacker contributes to his/her own defeat . This ‘giving way’ to force is the essence of Judo. In free practice with a skilled judoka, it can be like ‘fighting an empty jacket” which was how Jigoro Kano’s own students described the Master’s Judo.

Attaining this level of skill takes time and effort. Time that the majority of people are not prepared to invest in this ‘quick-fix’ world we live in. Judo challenges the mind as well as the whole body, and yet allows all on the mat to progress according to their experience and ability.

Jita Kyoei  :   Easier to understand, this dictates that all concerned, must feel Mutual Benefit from the practice of Kodokan Judo. The student, from having learned something, and the instructor from improvement of his own teaching. The competitor, whether losing or winning, must have learned something and enjoyed the contest, the referee and other officials from satisfaction at the fairest outcome of the match. Perhaps, because of this, Judo friendships last for life, and are made overnight.

Judoka are welcomed into clubs far from home and The Judokan is no exception – in the past 12 months alone, we have had visitors from Italy, Holland, Britain, Spain and France, to name a few. Each has brought with them ideas, skills, fun and friendship with promises of a welcome in their own countries.

The Rules of Judo

Like all sports and games, Judo has rules, applicable both in practice and in competition, and when one examines them, they all affect safety, respect for others and fair-play. After every Olympic Games, changes are introduced, sometimes minor and sometimes major, but always with the aim of improving Judo, making it safer and more spectator-worthy, ruling out unfair or dangerous tactics.

Of course, in ordinary practice in a club, these changes are introduced so that they become habit and judoka avoid penalties or disqualification. Dangerous techniques, restrictive variations or fitting of judo-suits, negative play and stalling are banned. Recently, senior match-time was reduced to 4min instead of 5mins to encourage continuous action, since a Judo bout is intended to be a non-stop activity that ends dramatically.

From the very beginning of one’s journey in Judo, and since it involves bodily contact, there are basic rules that show respect for the dojo, the mat, one’s opponent/training partners, hygiene and senior ranks.

Shoes or footwear are NEVER worn on the mat – for obvious reasons.

Shoes or footwear are ALWAYS worn on the surrounding floors or approaches to the mat – for obvious reasons.

Judo-suits are washed REGULARLY and kept in good repair – for obvious reasons.

The senior grade on the mat is responsible for safety and discipline – his/her instructions are obeyed and judoka enter or leave the mat – for ANY reason – with his/her permission.

Japanese terminology is used – in practice and in competition, because it is the ‘language of Judo’ anywhere in the world, so judoka can ‘fit in’ wherever they are.

MATTE! Means STOP! – and stop immediately…….called by the coach in practice, or the referee in competition, for a number of reasons. A partner or opponent signalling submission to an armlock, strangle or choke – by tapping or verbally, has the same effect.

Grading in Judo

The rank (or grade) of a judoka is indicated by the colour of the belt he/she wears. It signifies the stage in the nationally approved syllabus that the judoka has successfully demonstrated in a formal examination, and is awarded by certified Grading Masters of the appropriate level and approved by the National Body – Judo South Africa.

The colours ‘darken’ as the judoka advances upwards, making it theoretically possible to dye the belt over the previous colour, with black from 1st Dan to 5th Dan.

6th Kyu         White belt

5th Kyu          Yellow belt

4th Kyu            Orange belt

3rd Kyu           Green belt

2nd Kyu            Blue belt

1st Kyu             Brown belt

1st Dan           Black belt

2nd Dan          Black belt

3rd Dan            Black belt

4th Dan            Black belt

5th Dan            Black belt

6th Dan           Red and White blocked belt   (worn only for demonstration or ceremonially)

7th Dan           Red and White blocked belt   (worn only for demonstration or ceremonially)

8th Dan           Red and White blocked belt   (worn only for demonstration or ceremonially)

9th Dan           Red belt                                 (worn only for demonstration or ceremonially)

10th Dan         Red belt                                (worn only for demonstration or ceremonially)

From 1st Dan upwards, candidates must, in addition to their demonstration of Judo in a formal examination by a panel, have contributed to Judo as a Referee, Technical Official and other service. With dedication and regular training, 1st Dan typically takes 5 – 6yrs to attain.

Currently, the highest grade in South Africa is 7th Dan, approved by the African Judo Union and the International Judo Federation.

Scoring in Judo Competition

Major Judo competitions are fought in weight and gender categories and also in age categories, so that one is generally not at any disadvantage, other than in degrees of skill and/or fitness.
The primary object from the beginning, is to throw one’s opponent flat onto his/her back with control and a certain degree of force, scoring an IPPON and ending the match. There are no rest breaks or rounds, and matches last up to 4 minutes. If there is no score, or the competitors have even scores, GOLDEN SCORE is declared and the match continues, with the first score of any sort determining the winner.
If the action continues down to the mat from the standing position, the competitor who immobilises his/her opponent for 20 seconds, or gains a submission through an elbow lock or strangle or choke is the winner by IPPON. Certain dangerous actions are prohibited, and the main Referee and Corner Referees will impose penalties or even disqualify the offender. This also applies to passivity or if the contestant has accumulated three SHIDOS.
Partial success in a throwing technique (where the Referee(s) do not award IPPON) may score WAZA-ARI and these are cumulative and may decide the match when IPPON is not scored. An IPPON outscores ANY other score awarded to the opponent.
While a match is in progress, Technical Officials are keeping score of the Referee’s awards or penalities, and of the time – both the duration of the match, and any holddowns scored.
The Mat Referee and Corner Referees represent the opinion and judgement of 3 trained officials to ensure the fairest outcome of a match, and when necessary, the match is stopped for them to confer. In major competitions, the action is televised and watched in the event that a decision requires further consideration after a ‘replay’of the footage.
The introduction of blue suits in international Judo competitions is intended to further assist in determining the correct outcome, and to award (or penalise) where necessary.
The rules of Judo do not permit any argument or discussion with the Referee.

Some Basic Judo Terminology

DOJO – The place where one practises

JUDO KA – One who practises Judo

JUDO GI – The judo suit one wears to practise Judo – pants and jacket

OBI – the judo belt

TATAMI – The mats on which one practises Judo

REI – The traditional bow of respect to others or on entering the dojo or the tatami    

UCHIKOMI – The repetition of any technique in order to perfect it

TORI – The person applying a technique

UKE – The person receiving the technique

WAZA – A knowledge/skill in  some aspect of Judo

UKEMI WAZA – The skill in being able to fall safely

TACHI WAZA – The skill of throwing techniques

OSAEKOMI WAZA – The skill of immobilising an opponent on the ground

KANSETSU WAZA – The skill of locking joints (although only the elbow is permitted)

SHIME WAZA – The skill of strangling or choking

RANDORI – Free practice – either standing or in groundwork

SHIAI -Contest  – as in competition

HAJIME! – Begin!

MATTE! -Stop!

MAITTA! -“I give up” or “I am beaten”

SENSEI – One’s coach or instructor (literally, ‘ one who has gone before’)

KYU GRADE – The grades leading up to brown belt (the last of which is 1st Kyu)

DAN GRADE -The grades from black belt upwards (the first of which is Shodan)

KATA – The formal demonstration of various aspects of Judo by 2 judoka in the roles of Tori and Uke. There are 7 katas of Judo.