Paralympic Sports A-Z: Judo

Judo is derived from JuJutsu, the ancient hand-to-hand combat of samurai warriors. Men’s Paralympic Judo first appeared at the Seoul Games in 1988 with women’s events introduced in 2004 in Athens. Matches are fought on a ten by ten mat known as the “tatami”. Practitioners are called Judoka – their ultimate aim is to achieve Ippon, which gains the maximum score and guarantees immediate victory. This can be done by forcefully throwing your opponent on their back, by gaining submission from an arm lock or strangle hold, or by immobilising them for 20 seconds, which is called an ossae – komi. If no Ippon is achieved, the contest is won by the Judoka who scores the most points through a variety of different holds and throws. All the athletes have a visual impairment. To be eligible, athletes have less than 10 per cent vision remaining or a visual field restricted to 20 degrees Athletes who are completely blind are identified by a red circle on the sleeves of their Judogi. Competitors who are deaf have a yellow circle. Athletes compete in weight categories independently of their visual impairment. Paralympic Judoka have contact with their opponent before each contest begins and the referee warns competitors when they are nearing the edge of the mat. Each match lasts five minutes for men and four minutes for women unless Ippon is achieved. If the scores are tied at the end there is a “golden score period” with no time limit where the first score of any kind wins. Paralympic Judoka require expert technique, balance and focus so they can resist their opponent’s attack and launch their own.

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