A while back I wrote about differing opinions on weight classes in judo competition. Some folks say they are necessary to promote fair competition and prevent injury. Others blame weight division for the apparent technical decline of Kodokan judo from a high point in the 1950’s (before weight classes).
Well, recently I came across some references to a kind of competition used traditionally in judo schools that pretty much negated the need for weight classes while retaining the variability in the competitor pool that made for great judo in the 1950’s. From the 2006 AAU Rules:
STAND-UP CHALLENGE Contestants lined up from lightest to heaviest. Winner of each match stays on mat against next challenger in moving from lightest to heaviest.
And a more complete description from judoinfo.com:
Traditionally Judo competitions were organized using the "winner stays up" or Kohaku shiai method. In this method contestants were lined up by size, or sometimes rank and experience were also considered, and the smallest two competitors in a division would fight. Then the winner would stay on the mat to fight the next biggest competitor. The winner of each match would again stay up until losing. The largest person, if he won, would be permitted to fight back down the line a limited number of matches. The person with the most wins at the end would be declared the winner.
Perhaps the best discussion of this sort of old-style tournament and the plusses and minuses of modern tournament systems is Ichikawa and Draeger.
I, for one, wish I’d come up through the ranks in a club that did monthly red-white interclub tourneys with this “winner-stays-up” lineup method (as opposed to 3-4 'real' tournaments per year against folks from other clubs). I can’t wait to get this going with my judo kids class.