Whether contest appeals to you or not, it is without a doubt a vital part of judo. To start a match, the referee signals the judokas to walk half way the tatami and bow towards the center, then advance to the center, bow, then take one step forward and wait for the referee to call hajime i.e. begin match. The judokas can score points by throwing each other and by ground techniques. The better the throw is executed, the higher the score will be.

The scores of high to low are:

Judokas can thus score by controlling their opponent in a pinning technique (the opponent’s back and at least one shoulder in contact with the mat; established control from the side, rear or top; his/her legs free and unencumbered by the opponent). The longer the control lasts, the higher the score. To signal a pinning technique the referee calls "Osaekomi", to signal a broken pinning technique "Toketa". The time of maintaining a pinning technique decides the score:

Score Time youth Time junior/senior

Koka (untill 2010)

5-9 sec 10-14 sec


10-14 sec 15-19 sec


15-19 sec 20-24 sec


20 sec 25 sec

Junior/senior contestants can win a match by arm locks or chokes and force their opponent to submission ("Ippon").
There are many types and levels of penalties in Judo. Each penalty results in a score to the opponent.

In judo we know the following penalties.

  • first Shido is a warning; before 2010 a Koka (for the opponent)
  • second Shido is a Yuko (for the opponent)
  • third Shido is a Waza-ari (for the opponent)
  • fourth Shido is Hansoku-make and is Ippon (for the opponent).

Penalties can result from breaking the contest rules, for instance: non-combativity/inactivity, stepping off the mat, stalling or excessive defensive gripping, forbidden techniques, insulting the referee etc.. Once the fight is over and the winner has been decided by the referee, both judoka must step back, bow to each other, then return to the outer border of the tatami, bow to the center again, then walk of the tatami.