Ready for Rio: Judo, 16 facts

By Jillian Clarke | Sept. 30, 2014, 12 p.m. (ET)

Dartanyon Crockett
Paralympic judo athlete Dartanyon Crockett took home a bronze medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He is hopeful to compete once again in Rio.

How much do you know about Paralympic judo? Learn these 16 facts before athletes take to the mats for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games:

1. Paralympic history
Judo made its first appearance for male athletes at the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games. It was not until the Athens 2004 Games until women were able to compete in Paralympic judo.

2. Competitors
Men and women can compete in Paralympic judo, but they compete separately. In contrast to other Paralympic sports, judo classifications are rendered based on medical criteria as opposed to functionality, and athletes are divided into three different classifications.

3. Classifications
Paralympic judo athletes are legally blind. There are three classes of visual impairment. All three visual classes compete together and are paired based on weight class. Classifications include:

  • B1 athletes are totally blind.
  • B2 athletes have the ability to see the shape of a hand in front of the face to 20/600.
  • B3 athletes have vision ranging from 20/600 to 20/200.

4. Goal
The goal of judo is to throw the opponent on his or her back, to pin them for 20 seconds or to submit them via choke or arm-lock.

5. Judo lingo
  • Ippon: Ippon is worth one point and is announced when one fighter receives the highest score possible by putting the opponent on his or her back, pinning them for 20 seconds or submitting them via choke or arm-lock, therefore, ending the match. The referee announces the competitor who achieves ippon by stating ippon shiro or ippon ao.
  • Shiro: The term “shiro” identifies the opponent wearing white.
  • Ao: The term “ao” identifies the opponent wearing blue.
  • Shido: Shidos are penalties. Competitors can only receive three shidos before being disqualified.

6. Weight classes
Paralympic judo athletes compete in specific weight classes regardless of their classification. Olympic and Paralympic judo weight classes are the same. There are seven weight classes for men: 60kg, 66kg, 73kg, 81kg, 90kg, 100kg and +100kg. The six weight classes for women are 48kg, 52kg, 57kg, 63kg, 70kg and +70kg.

7. The arena
Judo is performed in a square arena measuring 8 meter on each side with a 4 meter safety area.

8. Match duration
Men’s judo matches last for five minutes, and women’s matches last for four minutes. The first fighter to achieve an ippon score, or the fighter with the most points at the end of the match, wins.

9. Keeping contact
During Paralympic judo, both opponents must remain in constant contact from the beginning of the match. If contact is lost, the fight will stop until the referee can bring the fighters back in contact.

10. Judo uniform
All Judo athletes wear a thick cotton robe called a judogi. One opponent wears a shiro (white) judogi and the other wears an ao (blue) judogi.  In the Paralympics, all judoka must hold a minimum rank of shodan, or first degree black belt.

11. Black belt
The highest rank a judo athlete can achieve is a black belt. There are 10 degrees of black belt.

12. Red dots
Why do some Paralympic judo athletes have two red dots on the shoulders of their uniform? The two red dots symbolize an athlete who is completely blind. Judo athletes can have varying degrees of sight.

13. IBSA
Judo is one of the many Paralympic sports governed internationally by the International Blind Sports Federation.

14. Participants in 2012
At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, 84 men and 48 women competed for 13 medal events for judo. The same number will participate in Rio.

15. London 2012
Ukraine took home the most medals for Paralympic judo at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, winning three gold and two bronze medals. Team USA won two—a silver medal and a bronze medal—but has not ranked in the top three nations for Paralympic Judo since taking first at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.

16. Where to watch in 2016
Paralympic judo will be held in Rio Olympic Park at Olympic Hall 2 Barra for the Rio 2016 Games. After the Games finish, this complex will become part of Brazil’s new Olympic Training Center in hopes of strengthening Brazil’s judo programs.

Visit the USA Judo website for more information about Paralympic judo.