The only martial art on the Paralympic programme, the gripping, grappling sport of Judo offers plenty of action.
Developed from jujitsu and established as a sport in the late 19th century by Dr Jigoro Kano, Judo requires athletes to employ an intricate mix of attack and defence. Contested at the Paralympic Games by visually impaired athletes, the sport’s one-on-one battles can be tough, tense and explosive, as competitors grapple for command against determined opponents.
Thursday 30 August – Saturday 1 September
Number of competitors
132: 84 men and 48 women
Each country is limited to a total of six men and five women, apart from Great Britain as the host nation, which is allowed seven men and six women. No nation may have more than one athlete in each event.
B1, B2 and B3. B1 athletes are classed as blind, B2 and B3 with different degrees of visual impairment. All athletes compete together.
B1 athletes have a red circle sewn on to the sleeves of their judogi (judo suits). This is in order for the officials to apply the rules according to their special circumstances. Similarly, when an athlete is also deaf as well as visually impaired, a small blue circle will be attached on the back of the judogi.
Number of medal events
Field of play
Judo contests are fought on a mat, or tatami. The contest area is 8m x 8m, with a 1m safety area all the way around.
History of Judo at the Paralympics
Judo first featured on the Paralympic programme at Seoul 1988, with women’s events introduced 16 years later in Athens.
There is very little variation between Paralympic Judo and its Olympic counterpart. The main difference is that in order to orientate themselves, players may have physical contact with their opponent before each contest begins.
Reflecting its origins, much of the terminology of Judo is Japanese.
Two athletes (judokas) gain points for throws and holds in a bid to beat their opponent. A bout lasts for five minutes, with the athlete who has the highest score at the end of the bout the winner. The bout will stop immediately if one judoka achieves ippon – the maximum score, two waza-ari (a lower score), or if the opponent either submits or is disqualified.
The scores of waza-ari and yuko depend on the throw and how long a judoka can immobilise their opponent. (Note that the koka score has been dropped from Judo scoring since the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.)
The referee gets the bout underway by shouting ‘Hajime!’ and stops it by shouting ‘Mate!’
In the event of a tie on points after five minutes, the contest enters a golden score period, when the first score wins. If neither scores during the period, a panel of two judges and referee decides the winner.
For a complete set of rules, please refer to the website of the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), governing body for the sport.
Athletes compete in weight categories.
Within their weight category athletes are divided into two groups. Competition is then on a knockout system that decides the two finalists for the gold-medal match.
The defeated quarter-finalists will compete in two repechage contests, the winners of which will then go up against the two defeated semi-finalists to determine the winners of the two bronze medals in each event.
A referee stays in the combat area, while two line judges sit just outside it to rule on holds and confirm refereeing decisions. Decisions are communicated to the athletes by touch as well, if necessary.
Keys to success
Judo is all about strength, speed and control. Scoring ippon wins the match. This can be done by: throwing an opponent on to his/her back; trapping an opponent in an armhold or stranglehold, forcing them to submit; or immobilising an opponent on the floor for 25 seconds.
Breaking the rules
Getting a warning from the referee gives valuable points to the opponent. This could be, amongst other things, for hitting or trying to injure, voluntarily leaving the tatami or passivity. Warnings range from shido through to hansukomake, which results in instant disqualification.
Hajime: The referee's command to start a contest.
Judogi: A judo uniform.
Judoka: A competitor.
Tatami: The mat.
If you want to find out about Judo in your country, including clubs, facilities and coaching schemes, check the website of your National Governing Body for Judo. To find out how you can get involved in Judo in the UK, go to thegamesandbeyond.com
For more information on the Judo competition at London 2012 and the rules of the sport, go to the website of the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), governing body for the sport.