A Journey Through Judo Part 3: The End Goal

In contest judo, you aim to win, ideally by ippon (a full point), by either throwing the other person on their back or by getting them to submit through the application of an armlock or a strangle. You can also hold or pin them on their back for a set length of time. Other than that you can win by getting smaller scores (the person doesn’t land squarely on their back with enough force) and by the other person receiving penalties. Judo as a sport has developed and evolved and as such has a set of rules and regulations which aim to make the sport safe, fair and spectator friendly. A judo contest now is certainly a very different prospect to what it was 100 years ago.

As a means of unarmed combat the end goals are the same: defeat the attacker by disabling them. Usually getting them on their back and finishing them with some strikes, kicks, a lock or a chokehold will do that.

The average spectator will watch a judo match today and may very well wonder what’s going on a lot of the time. It’s quite difficult to see or understand the intricacies involved in trying to throw someone on their back unless you have felt it or watched it a lot. With people of the same standard there are lots of opportunities for counters, combinations as well as direct ‘hits’. But it’s easily within everyone’s scope, especially during randori (free practice) to be able to throw cleanly and effectively.

For a beginner getting thrown for the first time can be quite daunting. Sometimes it is better for beginners to practice with higher grades who know how to throw cleanly and be thrown. Plenty of time should be given to learning ukemi (break falling techniques) to build confidence. It is quite common for beginners to be tense and stiff to start. To be able to throw and move effectively, a judoka learns how to be stiff and strong yet fluid and soft in equal measures.

When you throw cleanly for ippon, it’s like everything has just come into focus in an instant.