New rules to be tested in WC Junior in Athens

The International Judo Federation Refereeing Commission announced one change in the rules of judo during the IJF Ordinary Congress in Rotterdam/NED, last Sunday (23rd August). All techniques below the belt line will not be allowed anymore. Any athlete trying to grip the opponent´s leg will be punished with a shido (first time). If another try happens, he will be banned from the combat (hansokumake) and the victory will be given to the opponent. Only techniques using leg against leg will be allowed, or if the hand grip in the leg is the continuation of another technique tried (example: ouchigari which can develop into kataguruma).


“We don´t want our sport to be mixed with other martial arts. Judo is judo, and all IJF wants is to come back to the true judo”, explains the Head of the Refereeing Commission, Mr. Juan Carlos Barcos. “We may lose a few techniques with this decision, but on the other hand we will be awaking some techniques who we don´t see any more in the combats due to the sitting position the athletes take while they try to grab the opponents leg”, adds Mr. Barcos.


The IJF concern is that more and more often, wrestling and sambo techniques are seen during judo combats.


“That is not good for the future of our sport in the Olympic Games”, says Mr. Barcos.


This change will be tested during the World Junior Championships, to be held in Athens/GRE, in October 2009. If it is approved by the IJF Refereeing Commission, who will also argue coaches and athletes, it will become official rule for all IJF competitions.


The Refereeing Commission also announced that another step will be taken to modernize and professionalize the sport: the use of only one referee per mat (instead of three) is also to be tested in Athens during the World Juniors.


“This aims to raise the quality of the referee´s level. It is easier to find 20 good referees and to work to prepare them better and improve their skills than to have 40 referees at the same level in one time”, explains the Head of the Refereeing Commission.


But they are not to be left alone on the mat. Technology will be used even more than it is today to help them take their decisions and avoid mistakes.


The IJF Refereeing Commission will continue to have live recording of all fights and will replay it as many times as necessary to clarify the doubts.


“We are currently using the video replay as a helping device in case of difficult decisions, since judo is a very fast and technical sport, which enables several techniques and has details that are difficult to see at once. In Athens we will have the referees using also head phones so that we can immediately communicate with them in case of need”, continues Mr. Barcos. “Our objective is to make judo more professional and the refereeing needs to be in a very high level as well”, completes the Head Director.


Another point observed is that with less two people per mat, the competition area will look cleaner for the public and for tv.