What is it?
Judo, which means ‘gentle way’ and was developed from jujitsu, is the only martial art included in the Paralympic programme. Judoka (athletes) use a combination of attack and defence techniques.
Who can participate in judo at the Paralympics?
Judo is open to visually impaired athletes. All blind and partially sighted athletes who meet the International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA) Classification guidelines can compete.
There are no disability classifications. Participants are divided into categories according to their bodyweight (as in Olympic judo).
How is it played?
In Paralympic Judo athletes compete with the same rules as sighted athletes. The only difference is the beginning of the match, where both competitors hold on to each other. If contact is broken the bout stops and the competitors return to the centre and hold each other again.
- Each judo bout lasts five minutes, except if there is an ippon (see below). Ippon ends the contest immediately.
Scores are awarded for different throws and holds:
- An ippon is a winning manoeuvre (a movement or set of movements) that is awarded for throwing your opponent onto his back or for holding him for 25 seconds, or when he surrenders.
- A waza-ari is worth a half-point. It is awarded for certain types of throws or holding your opponent for 20 seconds.
- A yuko is worth less than a waza-ari. It is awarded for certain throws or holding your opponent for 15 to 20 seconds.
- If the scores are tied after five minutes, the contest enters a golden score period, when the first score of any sort wins.
- All the judo events are played in a knockout format, with the winners qualifying for the next round.
Judo helps me to see
“Do you see?” We often say that when we mean “do you understand?” I practise judo, do you see? I’m very good at it, but I can’t see anything. I was born with no vision but one of the best things that I have ever done was to start practising judo.
Of course, playing sport is recommended for everybody, but it can be especially important for people with a disability. This is because sometimes people with a disability suffer from inactivity and / or feel isolated from other people.
Judo has given me the opportunity to meet other people and measure myself against them on an equal basis.
It has helped me to achieve independence of movement and develop physical capacities which have improved my quality of everyday life.
One of the most important elements of judo is balance. Balance is extremely important for the visually impaired. Judo helps you appreciate where you are in relation to other people and objects. This means, in my everyday life, I can move around with more confidence and avoid accidents.
And if you do fall – and visibly impaired people know this will sometimes happen – the skills you learn in judo will help you to fall in a way that is least likely to hurt.
My instructor says that my inability to see is not a serious problem for a judoka - a judo competitor. That’s because you don’t really look at your opponent, instead you understand his strength and behaviour through physical contact. That’s what makes you react in one way or another.
My instructor also says that I am good enough to try for a black belt, though that is a joke between us because for me all belts are black! Do you see now?