IJF Rule Changes
The IJF (International Judo Federation) has issued rule changes which are applicable to judoka who compete in tournaments nationally and internationally. Since, as a club, we have limited people competing in shiai, we ordinarily don’t pay much attention to judo tournament rules until someone is about to enter a tournament.
We were aware of the rule against grabbing pant legs and various defensive moves, which have long been frowned upon, and the causes of penalties. We were not aware, though, of the anti-wrestling attitude of the IJF. Basically, the IJF wants judo matches to be upright, showing good form and fast, beautiful, strong throws. Any stance which looks as though the judoka is about to go to the ground (bending forward, grabbing a leg as with kata guruma, or yoko kata guruma, etc.) are grounds for penalties. Four such penalties in a match for a judoka and the match is awarded to the opponent.
The IJF and its proponents have decided that anything resembling wrestling moves are unacceptable. Granted, Butt Flops are annoying and irritating, usually an indication that the competitor is at a loss for a way to get his or her opponent to the ground. I can see penalizing the judoka for this manoeuver. Turtling without having unbalanced one’s opponent is comparable, and equally penalized.
The area of the rule changes which astounds me is that of being penalized for grabbing your opponent’s leg to take him to the floor. If you are successful, then you will have taken him off-balance, and he will hit the mats, and you will follow him and begin grappling. The fall may not be ippon, but the grab of the leg should not be penalized.
I will admit that throws which are high-amplitude and well-executed look spectacular. The number of people in the world who know judo, however, and watch judo, are very limited. It is not a spectator sport and certainly not a sport which lends itself to television: every time the CBC has shown judo competitions, either for the Nationals or the Olympics, a great deal of instruction for the viewer was necessary, and yet, I’m sure the average viewer still didn’t grasp much of the intricacies.
Judo is very complicated: there’s a lot to learn when studying it. People actually spend their entire lives perfecting techniques. It takes years to get one’s black belt. How can a five minute segment on the point system, throws, joint locks, or any other technique in judo, explain to the viewers what is happening?
To make rule changes with the viewers in mind is an amazing step backward. Rather than incorporating grappling into tournaments, the IJF and its members will have forced all those judokas in the world, who want to advance their skills into other areas, to go to other martial arts. I wonder how many people will leave judo because of the IJF rule changes.
At a time when, I believe, judo clubs should be growing from sport judo to judo/grappling, we have the top judo organization in the world telling us we can’t do anything resembling grappling. Luckily, we can teach whatever we want in our club.
February 2, 2010