The Good and the Bad

By Julissa H.

How would you feel if all of a sudden your favorite game changed its rules? In Judo many rules have changed, some are good while others are not so good. Some rules sound unfair. Some fans of Judo are arguing whether these rules should go or stay. I believe that these new modern rules should go.

Rules of Judo competition have changed over the past 120 years. Back then contestants were very rough and most of the time participants didn’t go back home. Dai Nippon Butokukai banned locks of fingers, toes, wrists and ankles in a judo contest in 1899. In 1916 ashi garam (knee entanglement, twisting, knee lock), and dojime (trunk/kidney squeeze, performed from a body scissors) were banned by Kodokan (headquarters of the worldwide judo community). There were a number of serious injuries which was why they banned those techniques. Joint lock attacks in contests were limited to the elbow in 1925.

In the 1970’s the rules awarded ippons (the full point) for lifting an opponent who is lying on their back to a height of your shoulders. Although later this rule changed for the safety of the opponent. Another safety rule banned kanibasami (flying scissors) after Yashiro Yamashita received a broken ankle in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

Modern rules were supposedly created for safety, while other changes were to maintain fairness, to encourage action, and to make Judo more “spectator-friendly”. Before judo matches didn’t have a time limit, then in the 1950’s and 1960’s the rules had a maximum of 20 minutes. In the 1970’s the World Championship finals lasted 15 minutes. As Judo became more popular, matches had to be reduced to 5 minutes.

In 1974 a penalty (shido) was added to prevent stalling. First, shido became a warning. After three shidos are given, then the victory goes to the opponent. The other type of penalty is hansoku-make, you’re given this penalty for major rule infringements, or by receiving three shidos. If hansoku-make is given for a major rule infringement, then the result is not just a loss in a match, but an expulsion from the tournament. In 2017, a 4th shido would be a hansoku-make.

Some fans don’t like the modern rules and the only way to express what they feel is through social media. A Twitter user posted, “please don’t change the rules for a while”. While on Facebook a user commented, “A terrible change”. While a spectator said, “These rules are not doing much for Judo. They’re just BJJ (Brazillian jiu-jitsu) rules with an ippon throw score”.

Fans no longer find these new techniques entertaining. Back in the day the old techniques were unique. The old techniques were gentle yet rough which was why people thought it was entertaining, but the modern techniques are just trying to sweep someone off their feet. I and other fans believe that the old rules should come back.

Student Bio

Julissa H.

2021 Summer Program

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