This page has been designed to explain to you the procedure of a judo competition. By being fully informed of what is expected and how things run, you and your child will be able to focus fully on the most important part of the day, the contest itself.

You are advised that the lowest age group for a BJA competition is 8 years old and that arm locks and strangle holds are not allowed until the competitor is 16 years old.

If you have any concerns or questions, you must speak with your Coach, as he/she is the best person to advise you on any specific judo matters. Also seek their advice to gauge that the standard of the competition suits you/your child’s ability

It is better to be sure than to wonder, remember:

Knowledge is Power

Why Compete?

To gain the full benefit of judo, players are encouraged to participate in local tournaments thus assisting them to progress through their grades as well as gaining experience and achievement in competition. We encourage Westcroft Judo Club junior club members to enter British Judo Association approved competitions that are suitable for their grade and ability.

The benefits are that:

  • Children find out techniques that are successful for them.
  • We can identify areas that they can develop.
  • Experience of competitions helps improve children’s judo.
  • Competition experience is helpful in gradings when children try for a higher belt.
  • Children enjoy scoring points for their successful techniques and this helps build confidence.

How to Enter

Details of competition events are sent to the Club. We will handout entry forms for these events, including full details of the competition date and venue. Points to note on the entry form are

  • A fee is usually payable to the contest organisers.
  • Entrants must have an up to date British Judo Association Junior Licence.
  • The entries are required to be returned to the organisers normally at least a week prior to the event although in same cases this may be longer or if there is a restriction in numbers then you need to submit the entry as early as you can.
  • You will need to know the weight of the entrant.
  • You will need to know their grade (i.e. Mon).

Weight Groups

Whilst the weights are normally provided on the entry form, they are:

Boys: -24, -27, -30, -34, -38, -42, -46, -50, -55, -60, 65 and +65 Kilograms

Girls: -25, -28, -32, -36, -40, -44, -48, -52, -57 and +57 kilograms

Normally a tolerance in the weight is given over and above that stated to allow for the weight of the judogi (suit), this being 0.5kg for boys and 0.6kg for girls. Westcroft Leisure Centre has two weighing machines that can be used to check the entrant’s weight. It should be borne in mind that at the competition weigh-in there may be inaccuracies compared with these Westcroft machines. If in any doubt, it’s better to enter for two weight groups. Sometimes an additional fee is payable but mostly this is free. Changes on the day can be difficult and normally cost more.

Westcroft Judo has a policy of not encouraging dieting. Children grow and by artificially restricting their food input this may have long term consequences. If weight control is required then it is better to provide a balanced and healthy food intake, cutting out junk food, crisps sweets and fizzy drinks.

First of all, is your judo licence up to date?

On the day of the Competition you will need to pack:

  • Judogi (Judo Suit)
  • Belts, if you have them, although for most junior competitions these are provided. If you wish to provide your own, the colours are normally red and white, although blue is now finding favour in the higher ranking events.
  • BJA Judo Licence
  • Plenty to drink (not fizzy)
  • High-energy snacks
  • Smartphone/Camera/Camcorder (although there may be some restriction at some venues so its best to check at the venue with the Venue organisers.

In addition points to remember or be aware of are:

  • Make sure your judogi (judo suit) is clean and your finger and toenails are cut short.
  • Girls only should wear a plain white T-shirt under their judogi and tie their hair back with a non-metallic hair band.
  • Nail polish should be removed.
  • No jewellery is allowed at all.
  • Judo suits should not be too short in the arm or leg. This rule is open to interpretation so seek guidance from your coach.

On Day of the Competition

Details of competition events are sent to the Club. We will hand out entry forms for these events, including full details of the competition date and venue. Points to note on the entry form are:

  • A fee is usually payable to the contest organisers.
  • Entrants must have an up to date British Judo Association Junior Licence.
  • The entries are required to be returned to the organisers normally at least a week prior to the event although in same cases this may be longer or if there is a restriction in numbers then you need to submit the entry as early as you can.
  • You will need to know the weight of the entrant.
  • You will need to know their grade (i.e. Mon).

The Weigh-In

When a competition is weight-banded, all Judokas will have to be weighed in.

A time will be specified on the entry form and this should be strictly adhered to. You may be asked to remove your jacket for weighing and you will have to show your licence. The official may write your weight on the back of your hand. Then it is up to you to listen for the announcement calling your weight group to the mat; this could be anything from 20 minutes to over an hour.

Arrange to have a small high-energy meal after the weigh in. Pasta, oranges, bananas, chocolate and juice (not fizzy) are suitable slow energy release foods.

The Waiting Time

After the competition has started you may find that you have to wait until you own event is called. At some venues a schedule of the times are displayed. These are for general guidance but no reliance must be placed on them. Listen at all times for the announcements. Ask if you can’t hear the Tannoy (a common problem with officials taking lessons from railway station staff announcers).

During the waiting time be careful with what you eat and drink, the rule is to nibble small quantities of easily digestible food. If you can, try to warm up just prior to you event. If you cant do this, then do spot warm-ups whilst waiting for your turn on the mat.

How are Judo Contests Arranged?

Contests are in weight groups but not necessarily within the same grades or age band, so you may be fighting someone older/younger or of a higher or lower grade then yourself. However, sometimes higher grades get a surprise and are beaten by a lower grade, so remain confident in your mind and this will give strength to your body.

Preparing to Fight

Once you are called to your mat area, make yourself known to the officials at the table so they can mark you off the register. Then sit by the table and listen out for your name. When you are called, you will be told which corner to wait at. You may be asked to wear a different belt to your own, so that both players have different belts on. One contestant wears a red (or blue) belt, the other a white belt. The contestant called first wears the red/blue belt.

When invited onto the mat by the referee, each contestant walks to the centre edge of the red mat area and waits. Remember judo rules and walk behind the corner judges if there are any. The referee will then call “REI” (bow). Contestants bow to each other and step forward to the centre of the mat; each standing on the red or white strip on the mat. The referee will call “REI” again for the contestants to bow.

After this second bow you should take up a posture that is ready to attack but still be defensive if you opponent is quicker of the mark. On the referee command of “HAJIME” (start) the contest begins.

The Contest

Once the contest begins keep going and don’t stop unless you hear the referee call “MATTE”. If you get your opponent down with a throw, go straight for the hold down. If you hesitate you are giving your opponent a chance to beat you.


The referee will call “MATTE” (stop) if:

  • The contestants go out or the contest area.
  • There is a prohibited act performed.
  • One or both contestants are injured.
  • Contestants need to adjust their judogi.
  • There is no progress in groundwork.
  • When the referee needs to confer with other officials.

Other referee commands with their meanings

  • “Sonomama” (soh – noh – mama) = freeze
  • “Yoshi” (yosh) = continue
  • “Soremade” (soh – ray – ma – day) = end of contest
  • “Osaekomi” (o – sigh – eh – com – ee) = hold is on
  • “Toketa” (toh – kay – tah) = hold is broken

The referee will call out the scores during the contest for the benefit of the contestants and for the scorekeepers to record. Do not stop fighting unless the referee has called “Matte” or ” Sonomama “. If the referee calls “Osaekomi“, it means that the hold is on and the clock is ticking. Do not get up and keep the hold on.

The Referees

On the mat, there will be a Referee in the middle, and possibly two corner judges on chairs in the corner. These corner judges may highlight to the Referee specific points during the contest that they believe the Referee has missed or misinterpreted. In these instances the Referee may call the corner judges to the side of the mat to discuss the finer points. During this period you and your opponent will be required to stand on your coloured line at mat centre. In all instances the Referee will make the final decision. If the contest is a draw, the corner judges will help the referee decide who wins.

How long can a contest last?

Contests are timed only while action is taking place, so the clock is stopped while the players resume position after being down or out of the area. A contest for junior low grades usually lasts two minutes and up to five minutes for senior contests. The contest ends at the referees signal. If the contest is equal in score at the contest end then the contest is resumed under the Golden Score rule for a further two minutes (or longer dependent on grade of event). The Golden Score finishes either when a contestant scores a throw or hold down, is awarded a penalty or Golden Score time expires. If the time expires, the Referee and corner judges then decided in their opinion who best deserved the win because of their attacking style.

Scoring Points

The aim is to throw and hold the opponent onto their backs.

Ippon (full or 10 point score): The top score of Ippon (full point) will result in the contest ending. Ippon is called when an opponent is thrown with control largely on the back with force, or held on their back for 25 seconds (Ippon is also called if the opponent taps twice).

Waza-ari (5 point score): Is awarded for a throw where the opponent (uke) does not fall “cleanly” on his/her back, uke slows the fall, when the throw is effective but delayed. A hold of 20-24 seconds also scores waza-ari. Two scores of waza-ari results in Ippon

A hold down for 10-19 seconds also scores Waza-ari. Pinning your opponent for the full 20 seconds scores an Ippon.


3-point penalties are awarded for negative judo such as

  • Not attacking
  • Taking a very defensive posture
  • Putting fingers up opponent’s sleeves or trouser legs
  • Putting hands, arms or legs in opponent’s face
  • Standing on the (red) danger zone for seven to five seconds unless beginning an attack
  • Bending back opponent’s fingers

If the referee is going to award a penalty, they will explain their decision to the contestant.


These prohibited acts will result in the contest ending and the contest being awarded to the player against whom the act occurred.

  • Disregarding the referee’s instructions.
  • Calls, remarks, gestures, derogatory to an opponent or official.
  • Any action that may endanger or injure the opponent
  • Wearing hard or metal objects

If this happens the Referee will say “HANSOKU MAKE“.

The Contest Ends

After time has been called or you or your opponent has amassed an Ippon score, the Referee will stop the contest and direct both contestants to their respective coloured line. After directing the contestants to tidy themelves up he will then raise an arm on the side of the winner.

At the referees command of “REI” contestants bow to each other. It is normal and good etiquette to then step forward and shake hands/hug, maybe with a polite “well done” or similar verbal gesture. Each contestant then steps backwards to the centre edge of the red mat area. They then “REI” again and return back to the table area. Again remember judo rules and walk behind the corner judges.

Don’t forget! If you are the winning contestant, remember to report back to the table to confirm your name. This is the only way to make certain your win has been recorded!

Knockout or Repercharge

If the competition is a “Knockout” system you will be eliminated as soon as you lose a contest.

If the competition is a “Repercharge” system, all the competitors within your weight group will be put into groups of three or more and will fight against other groups. You will not be aware of your grouping. The purpose is to find the two highest scoring competitors from each group who then go on to form further groups until it gets down to the last four: A gold medallist, a silver medallist and two bronze medallists.

If you win your contest, give your name to the table official and sit back down. If you lose, do not leave until you are dismissed by an official – you could be walking away from a medal as this system means that you could be pulled through to the next round by another player losing or scoring lower than you!

Competitions are usually very noisy. The audience will shout encouragement to their favourite competitors and coaches will call advise from the side of the mat to the players. This is all done to encourage competitors onto greater effort.

Sportsmanship should be maintained at all times, especially through hard-fought contests and a handshake at the end by both contestants, is a nice gesture for the audience, as well as each other, win OR lose.


After the contest and at your next Westcroft Judo Club judo session, it is traditional that you advise the desk/your coach of the contest and how well you did. We of course hope that you will bring your winning medal but remember that the taking part is just as important.

This web site would also appreciate a report, this can be done by clicking here.

We hope that you find these notes useful and that you have many happy and successful contests.

Oh, and one last thing………

Good luck and enjoy yourself!!!!