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(The full International Judo Federation rules are mostly written for referees and competitors.  The following abridged set of the rules is for the ordinary club member doing free-fighting (Randori).  Those going in for competitions including gradings must refer to the BJA or IJF rules.

  1. Judo is practised on a large square or rectangle of green mats. Where the mats go up to the walls throwing activity must stop at least one metre away from them. Throwing into or off the walls is not allowed.
  2. The Judoka (practitioner of judo) must wear a clean white judo suit (Judo-gi) that is made of cotton or similar material. It shall not be so hard or thick as to prevent a hold being taken and the suit must not have any tears or holes in it. The judo suit must also be loose and  large enough to afford the opponent a decent grip on it from the ankles to the wrists and round the trunk. The judo belt must be worn at all times. Women judoka must wear a white T-shirt or leotard underneath the jacket.
  3. The body must be clean, nails trimmed short and no jewelry or metallic object of any sort may be worn.  Long hair must also be tied back.
  4. Judoka must start and finish each judo bout with a standing bow for throwing randori or a kneeling bow for groundwork where the two are practised separately.
  5. In Judo free-fighting the participants seek to throw the opponent crisply and squarely on to his back, gain a submission (two or more taps) from an elbow lock or from a strangle, or pin the opponent on his back for 25 seconds. Anything outside this is illegal.  Apart from the elbow no other joint may be twisted or over-extended in any way.  Apart from elbow locks and strangles submissions cannot be won from any other type of pain causing moves. NB. Using the fingers to squeeze the neck is not allowed. Throwing the opponent on his head, face or front is not allowed.
  6. In competition and where the mat is big enough groundwork may be taken from standing work when an opportunity presents itself.  In smaller spaces throwing work and groundwork are usually practised separately. Groundwork can only be done following an incomplete throw (your or his), from a standing armlock or strangle if it has started to take affect in the standing position, or from a move that skilfully stumbles the opponent to the ground (not necessarily a throw). An opponent cannot simply be dragged down to the ground. When standing work only is practised judoka should quickly get to their feet after a throw or tumble in case somebody else gets thrown on top of them.
  7. Action must stop in the following cases:-
    1. When the contestants go to the edge of the mat or outside it.
    2. When one contestant is injured or ill
    3. When it is necessary to adjust the judo suit eg. tuck the jacket in or tie the belt properly.
    4. When there is a stalemate on the ground.
    5. When one party rises from the ground with his opponent clinging to his back.
    6. When one party lifts the other clear of the mat.
    7. When one party taps two or more times.
  8. In club free-fighting, unlike competition where an Ippon score finishes the match, both parties try to score as often as possible  and they regulate the bout themselves within the time period allotted to them by the instructor.
  9. Either party in a free-fighting bout is free to terminate it at any time if they feel unwell or injured or if they feel the other party is dangerous or contravening the rules.
  10. The following acts are prohibited:-
    1. Inserting the fingers in the bottom opening of the sleeves or trousers.
    2. Interlocking your fingers with the opponent’s fingers in a standing position.
    3. Adopting an excessively defensive and crouching position.
    4. Wrapping the belt or jacket completely round a part of the opponent’s body.
    5. Taking the judo suit in the mouth.
    6. Putting a hand, arm, foot or leg directly on the opponent’s face.
    7. Putting the foot or leg inside the opponent’s belt collar or lapel.
    8. Making a strangle with the belt or bottom of the jacket
    9. Using the fingers to strangle.
    10. Squeezing the opponents trunk, neck or head with both legs
    11. Breaking an opponent’s grip by kicking or kneeing it.
    12. Breaking a grip by bending the fingers back.
    13. Entwining the opponent’s leg with your leg, making a throw and falling on the opponent (Kawazu Gake).
    14. Lifting an opponent who is lying on the mat and driving him back down into it.
    15. Sweeping away the supporting leg of an opponent from the inside and throwing him face down to the mat when he is doing throws such as Harai-goshi.
    16. Making unnecessary calls, remarks or gestures derogatory to the opponent.
    17. Making any action that may endanger or injure the opponent especially the opponent’s neck or spinal vertebrae.
    18. Falling directly to the mat when attempting standing armlocks.
    19. Making a forward roll when doing Uchi-mata or Haraigoshi.
    20. Falling backwards when the opponent is clinging to your back.
    21. Doing anything against the spirit of Judo and fair play.

Syd Hoare 7th dan    Budokwai 11-10-01