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Rules of the Game: Judo

Judo is a combat sport in which a bout can last painstakingly long or can be over in a matter of seconds.

Judo made its Olympic debut 57 years ago in Tokyo, and now it returns for the 2020 Games. It will also be contested in the same building as it was in 1964 -- Nippon Budokan.

Judo is a combat sport in which a bout can last painstakingly long or can be over in a matter of seconds. The athletes, known as judokas, can win with a throw or a takedown, by subduing their opponent with a pin, or by forcing them to submit to a chokehold or a joint lock.

The match can end in an instant with an Ippon. There are three primary ways of doing this.

  • Use a throwing technique to put the opponent on their back with strength, speed and control.
  • Use a grappling technique to pin an opponent for 20 seconds.
  • If a chokehold (Shimewaza) or a joint lock (Kansetsuwaza) is established, it could lead to injury. The judoka receiving this can signal "maitta" -- meaning "I give up."

Half-points are known as waza-ari. Two of these equal one Ippon. A throwing move that is completed but does not demonstrate strength, speed and control may be scored a waza-ari. A grappling technique to pin an opponent for 10 seconds will also be scored waza-ari.

A competitor can also be penalized for stalling, not being aggressive or otherwise conducting in behavior that's not in the spirit of Judo. A player can also be disqualified.

If the score remains tied after four minutes, the bout goes to overtime, known as "Golden Score." The first judoka to post any score in the extra session is the winner.

The uniform is called a judogi. There are only two colors -- white and blue. The competitors face each other on a 10m x 10m mat.

Tokyo 2020 marks the Olympic debut of the mixed team event. Three men and three women on each team compete, with each judoka in a different weight category. Judokas can go up in weight class – but cannot go down. Someone who competed as an individual in one weight class can enter the mixed team event at a higher weight class.

In both the individual and mixed team events, two bronze medals will be awarded in addition to the gold and silver.