Judo is an ultra-competitive combat sport for athletes with a visual impairment and the only martial art on the Paralympic programme.
Its name means ‘gentle way’, but Judo is a full-on combat sport in which a false move or the slightest loss of concentration can result in defeat. It originated in Japan in the late 19th century, as an activity embracing physical, mental and moral aspects.
Judo has been a Paralympic sport since Seoul 1988, with women's events first contested at the Athens 2004 Games. Although competitors are given classifications based on the severity of their visual impairment ranging from B1 (total blindness) to B3 (weak vision), they are divided by weight rather than degree of impairment. All the sight classes compete together and eye masks are not used.
There are seven men's weight categories, from under 60kg to over 100kg; and six women's categories, from under 48kg to over 70kg.
The objective of Judo is to throw or takedown an opponent to the ground; subdue them with a pinning hold; or force them to submit with a joint lock or a choke. Athletes (known as judoka) face each other on a 10 x 10 metre mat and deploy a wide range of throwing and grappling techniques. The highest score a judoka can earn is called ippon or one point, which wins the match. If a throw or other technique is successfully executed but all the requirements for ippon are not met, waza-ari (a half-point) is awarded.
The rules are almost identical to Olympic Judo, but one significant difference is that judoka must grip their opponent's sleeve and lapel, and hold still, before a match can start. If they move, they receive a penalty. As there is no need to establish a grip on the other competitor, contests begin in earnest as soon as the referee says ‘Hajime!’ (‘Begin!’).
At the end of 2016, the [link to: ijf.org] International Judo Federation revised its rules to shorten men's matches by one minute so that those for both sexes are four minutes long. This applies to both Olympic and Paralympic Judo. Also, judging criteria were limited to scoring only from ippon or waza-ari. These changes were designed to encourage more aggressive and attacking judo where ippon would be sought after.
International Federation: International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA)
- up to 60.00kg (Men)
- up to 66.00kg (Men)
- up to 73.00kg (Men)
- up to 81.00kg (Men)
- up to 90.00kg (Men)
- up to 100.00kg (Men)
- over 100.00kg (Men)
- up to 48.00kg (Women)
- up to 52.00kg (Women)
- up to 57.00kg (Women)
- up to 63.00kg (Women)
- up to 70.00kg (Women)
- over 70.00kg (Women)
Fighting with spirit and all the senses
When totally blind athletes leave the mat by accident, they may need help to move back towards the centre. Red circles 7cm in diameter are sewn on the outside of the sleeves of their judogi (uniform) to make it easy for the referee to see that they are totally blind. No penalties are given for leaving unless the move is intentional. When competitors approach the edge, the referee calls from the middle of the mat to let them hear where they should be.
Look out for the skilful manoeuvring for grip that happens as competitors try to transition from their initial grip to one that works better for them. Although they are unable to physically see what their opponent is doing, judoka sense their rival's intentions from their movement, grip and breathing. They will try to get their opponent off balance while resisting their attacks and look for a chance to apply their own waza (moves).
Paralympic Judo also differs from the Olympic equivalent in that coaches may advise competitors during contests. Of particular importance is to communicate the length of time remaining.
As the sport develops, more competitors are beginning to add waza from other disciplines such as Brazilian jujutsu, which uses many ground fighting techniques, and Russian sambo, which tries to get an ippon with throws and joint locks.
Winning medals through strength and explosive energy
One hundred and twenty-nine competitors from 36 countries participated in the Paralympic Judo competition at the Rio 2016 Games and 18 countries won at least one medal, reflecting the sport's global growth.
Uzbekistan won 10 medals including three gold: more than any other country, and a big step forward from the one silver medal they won at London 2012. The establishment of dedicated training facilities and enthusiastic support for Paralympic sport help to explain this major leap forward.
No Paralympic Judo player has won more medals than Antônio Tenório da Silva (Brazil). With his victory at the Beijing 2008 Games, he became the first person to win four consecutive golds in the sport. He then took bronze at London 2012 and a silver at Rio 2016, at the age of 45, to wild cheers from his local fans.
China's Yuan Yanping won three consecutive gold medals in the women's 70kg category, beginning at the Beijing 2008 Games. At Rio 2016, at the age of 40 and with injury concerns, she showed unmatchable skill and strength to win all her matches with an ippon.
Since the Sydney 2000 Games, one Judo competitor has worn a white judogi and the other a blue one to make it easier for referees and spectators to identify them. When they previously both wore all white, how could anyone tell them apart?Answer
A：One wore a white obi (belt) and the other a red one. In Japan, competitors still wear white judogi with white or red obi.
- Nippon Budokan