Rio 2016: A beginners’ guide to judo

As the UAE’s three-strong team get ready for the start of the Olympic judo competition, John Murray give a quick rundown on everything you need to know about the sport

In the beginning

A Japanese word meaning ‘soft path’, judo was founded in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. An educator and pioneer of international sports, Kano wanted to create a martial art that developed mental discipline as well as technique. Following an unsuccessful attempt to join the programme in 1928, judo became the first martial art at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964. Such is the popularity of the sport that it now has more than 20 million participants across the world.

Olympic pedigree

Japan won three out of a possible four gold medals at its home Games in 1964, and has continued to dominate the sport ever since. The first women’s Olympic competitions were held in Barcelona in 1992, and in Rio there will be seven weight categories for both men and women. After winning four medals in London in 2012, Brazil – which has a strong judo history – will be hoping for further success on home soil.

How it works

The Olympic competition is a knockout format. Men’s bouts last five minutes and women’s bouts four minutes; at the end of the bout, the highest-scoring athlete – or judoka, as they’re more commonly known – is declared the winner. In the event of a tie, the contest goes to a ‘golden score’, where the judoka who scores the first point wins.

Holds, moves and chokes

Judokas score points through a variety of moves: Waza-ari, Yuko and Ippon. Waza-ari is when a competitor is held down for between 15 and 20 seconds, while Yuko is scored when an athlete falls on their side or is held down for 10-15 seconds. Judokas can score Ippon in three ways – putting their opponent onto their back, holding them down for more than 20 seconds or forcing them to give up, for example with an arm lock or choke. Score an Ippon and you automatically win the bout.

UAE watch

For the third consecutive Games, the UAE are represented in the judo competition – and this time, with more athletes than ever before. Moldovan-born trio Victor Scvortov (-73kg category), Sergiu Toma (-81kg) and Ivan Remarenco (-100kg) will fancy their chances of making the podium, having each won medals at world championship level. The competition, which starts on 6 August, will be held in the Carioca Arena 2 in Rio’s Barra Olympic Park.

The Olympic judo competition runs from Saturday, August 6 to Friday, August 12