Adapting to the new IJF rules.

There is a lot of discussion at present about the IJF rules and adapting to them. In this article I want to talk about how as a player you need to look at the current rule changes and future changes and how you can be affected (or not) by them.

The new (starting January 2013) rules have been in testing at IJF events for some months as I write this. The are affecting the way Judo contest evolve, and as an athlete you need to understand them and know how you and your opponents can use the rules and how they affect you (and your opponents) Judo.

Although it is tempting to go into the “nitty-gritty” of the new rules and talk about how you might use them to your advantage; I shall refrain from doing so. The reason being that this is just one of a series of changes to the rules and as such it is I think more important to talk about how to look at the rules and your Judo.


As a Judo athlete you are training to compete; you are seeking to win contests in competitions. This is what a Judo athlete does. You are bound by an ever changing set of rules that determine what range to techniques and to a degree styles you can you to achieve victory. Within those bounds you are free to find your own way. You develop throws, ne waza, tactics and strategies that work for you.

When a change to the rules happens you need to assess if any of your ways of competing are affected directly and indirectly. For example the recent rule changes about leg grabs affects you directly if you favour that method of attack. The new shido does not equal a score affects you indirectly. The shido rule change I feel actually affects most athletes more than the leg grab rule. The dynamic edge rule again is important in the same way.

So if your waza is affected directly, you need to look at changing your techniques. This is hard work and will require dedication, effort and time. If you are not directly affected then this is good.


This is where you need to look deeper and consider the direction the sport is going and how your style of play fits into this direction. You need to “future proof” your Judo now so that you don’t get burned the next time the rules change. For me the direction is pretty clear, the sport is trying to encourage positive attacking tachi-waza. It is trying to discourage negative defensive Judo that is deemed boring. The player that stands tall and throws with big throws from a “standard” grip has less to fear than the bent over counter specialist.

So your homework for this week is to look seriously at your Judo and decide what your Judo looks like to the outside world. Be critical and perhaps film yourself in Randori at the club. Are you standing tall like the IJF wants? Are you making lots of powerful attacks that would appeal to the TV audience? If not, then you need to seriously consider if what you are doing will become discouraged by the rules in the future.

Let me know what you find out about you own Judo.



Comments (1)

Mas MotoMarch 9th, 2014 at 10:48 pm

About Bowing to the mat. I noticed at local judo contests as well at National contests that some Competitors don’t Bow to the mat! What is the rule about this? We looked at the IJF rules and there are TWO mentions of bowing to the MAT on the floor. One says you SHOULD and the other says it is NOT required! Can’t the IJF make up it’s mind? Does ANYONE know which one is correct? Mas Moto

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