Coaches from five continents approve new judo rules

Japan was the first one to say arigatou (thank you). Then France smiled. Brazil also gave a big applause. And little by little, countries from every five continents and different judo schools like Georgia, Australia and Algeria approved the new rules which were tested during the 14th World Junior Championships held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 23rd to 26th October 2008. Finally the IJF Executive Committee approved the changes, which will be effective from January 1st 2009 (please see for entire rules change).


The Refereeing Commission of the International Judo Federation watched closely the proposed changes in the rules and system of competition during the junior tournament in Thailand: the extinction of koka, repechage from quarterfinalists, new border line rules (actions valid when one of fighters has a part of their body in the contest area, no more mate), more strict punishment for grabbing trousers and defensive position or false attack, golden score with three minutes only.


“The All Japan Judo Federation is pleased and thankful to the International Judo Federation for all this proposals. They are all necessary chances to bring back the true judo. We are happy to see that the IJF is really thinking about judo”, says Hitoshi Saito, head coach for the Japanese National Team.



One of the proposals was, tough, nothing different from what the Japanese fighters are used to: the absence of koka (the lowest judo score).


“This is normal on Japanese judo. We don’t feel strange about that and we are happy to see more ippons happening”, continues Mr. Saito.


Also the French National Team head coach, Patrick Rosso, sees with good eyes the proposed changes – that, if approved, will be start officially to be used from 1st January 2009.


“Of course we still need to make a more careful analysis of all, but at first sight I can say that classic judo is back. During the last years, what we saw was judo being mixed with other fights, such as wrestling. This is not good if we think about the future of our sport in the Olympic Games”, comments Rosso.


The repechage system also helps judo to be more dynamic.


“I agree with that especially in a very high level like senior international competitions. But maybe for juniors we still need the old way. This young athletes need to fight as much as they can”, says the French coach.


For Brazilian Olympic bronze medalist (Atlanta 96) and coach of the junior national team, Henrique Guimarães, the feeling of the “old days” is back to the tatami.


“I wish I was still fighting to experience the true judo coming back!”, says Guimarães. “I think all countries will take benefits from this. And also the public and the media, who will have a more attractive sport to watch”, continues the Brazilian coach.


Australian Head Coach Colin Hill agrees:


“Judo has speeded up. There are more ippons happening. I specially liked the edge rule”, comments Mr. Hill.


Technical Director of the Algerian National Team, Mr. Nacer Ouarab comments on the effects of the modifications.


“If IJF proposed something to change it is because they have thought seriously about it. Personally I think that the edge rule is really good for the fighters. But, of course, the true result of the changes during the combats will depend on the referees”, says Mr. Ouarab.


Also the Georgians, known worldwide for their effective judo based strongly in leg grab, have nothing against the IJF proposals.


“We see more action going on”, says Georgian Judo Federation Executive Director Mamuka Khabareli. “The beauty of judo is that it differs from country to country and of course we will need to talk to all our coaches and work to make some little chances in our style, but the new rules are very good”, says Mr. Khabareli.


For the entire changes please access the news section of