Friday, February 15, 2008

Goodbye and good riddance

The following article from the Yomiuri Shimbun is creating some ripples in the Judo world...
(Feb. 15, 2008)
PARIS--The International Judo Federation will consider a proposal to eliminate the koka from the scoring system, while also making a wrestling-like tackle illegal, it was learned Wednesday.

The federation will propose at its executive council meeting on March 6 that the koka, the lowest of the four levels of scoring, be eliminated, with the new rule possibly coming into effect in time for the Beijing Olympics.
Currently, there are four levels of scoring--koka, yuko, waza-ari and ippon--depending on what part of the body hits the mat when thrown by an opponent. But there is no firm criteria for distinguishing between them.

By eliminating the koka, it is believed that judges will be able to demarcate the differences better.
Japan, which emphasizes traditional judo with its big throws, has recently been hard-pressed to match the European style of building up points with small techniques such as the wrestling tackle.
Under the proposed rule, the competitor will no longer be able to execute such a move without first grabbing the opponent's uniform.
In addition, a judges' decision will again be used to break ties. If all three are in agreement, the match will end; if not, then the match will continue in a sudden-death overtime format.

While Japan welcomes the rule changes, some officials expressed concern that this summer's Olympics may be too soon to introduce them.
As for me, I say, "goodbye, koka, good riddance, and the sooner the better!" It is sufficient to promote excellence to have a 3-level, "good, better, best" scoring system and it is certainly easier to judge. I have never been able to reliably tell the difference between a koka and a yuko anyway and it doesn't do anyone any good to reward "clumsy throws" with a koka.
Maybe while they are at it, they can tell the referrees to not call ippon for half-hearted throws onto uke's side. Referrees used to be more stringent in their interpretation of the ippon ("hard and fast, on the back, with control") now in many tournaments I see, it seems like anything that doesn't land uke on his feet gets called an ippon.
I think the illegalization of the double leg is unnecessary and probably not a good thing. And more gripping rules are almost sure to make Judo a more marginal, more ridiculous thing. IMO, judo is not supposed to be just jacket wrestling.


  1. I agree fully with your comments, though I would prefer, actually, to get rid of the yuko, and make the categories "you did something that had some effect," "you did something pretty good," and "you did something great." I also agree that we shouldn't try to make judo a pretty, jacket-only take-down sport. It should, IMO, be a system of getting people off of their feet and onto their backs, and the gi provides extra toys to play with in accomplishing that. So we can teach the beautiful, effortless judo that looks so cool, but we should also know how to defend against (and execute) tackles and other non-kano moves... I *hate* that they are trying to make additional techniques illegal just because it doesn't look like what Kano did. Sambo guys, wrestlers, BJJ folks, etc. all have great stuff that we should be *adding* to judo. Instead, though, we come up with new rules to make it illegal. If something is dangerous, outlaw it. Otherwise, it's fair game. And while they are at it, let's make the dakiage lift to shoulder level (not requiring the slam at the end) an automatic ippon again, and get rid of the rule that groundwork breaks if I can lift the bad guy 1 inch off of the mat.

  2. It is the devotion to a set of techniques and to tradition rather than to a set of principles that has and continues to stagnate our art. The beauty of Judo is that you can test it. If you don't think it will work, have someone that can execute it try it out on you. Did it work? Yes? Well, in that case, I'd better learn it. No? The tori can go back to the drawing board to figure out how to fix it. I think that happened a lot in the early days, but then, once those damned foreigners started doing judo and grabbing all sorts of crazy places and trying all sorts of crazy moves, a lot of the stuff didn't work any more. But instead of adopting and adapting, they outlawed. And that culture is still pervasive...


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