Judo is a martial art created in Japan around 1880. Its creator was Jigoro Kano, who combined various movements from other styles and wrote the rules based on Jujitsu, the art of attack and defence using one’s own body, eliminating its dangerous parts.
Although the first Judo school was established in 1882 (founded by Kano himself), the sport’s international federation was only created in 1951. The sport joined the Olympic Games in 1964, at the edition in Tokyo, the capital of Japan.
The sport was not included in the programme of the 1968 Games in Mexico City, but returned definitively in 1972, in Munich. Women only began participating in 1992, in Barcelona.
Currently, there are seven weight categories for men – up to 60 kg, up to 66 kg, up to 73 kg, up to 81 kg, up to 90 kg, up to 100 kg and over 100 kg. There are also seven weight categories for women – up to 48 kg, up to 52 kg, up to 57 kg, up to 63 kg, up to 70 kg, up to 78 kg and over 78 kg.
Lasting up to five minutes, matches take place on synthetic mats. The goal is to throw one’s opponent onto his or her back on the floor, finishing up with an arm lock or strangle hold or immobilisation on the floor.
A fight can end at any time if one of the judokas achieves an ippon – throwing the adversary largely on his/her back onto the floor with strength and speed, finalising with an arm lock, stranglehold or immobilisation on the floor for 25 seconds.
If the opponent falls on the mat on his/her back, but without enough speed or strength, or if the immobilisation only lasts from 20 to 24 seconds, a waza-ari is scored – worth half an ippon.
Another way of scoring points, although fewer, is the yuko, which occurs when a competitor is thrown down and falls on his/her side, or if immobilisation lasts from 15 to 19 seconds.
Penalties may be awarded due to a lack of combativeness, very defensive behaviour or a false attack. In the first occurrence, the competitor receives a warning, but if the behaviour recurs, the other participant will be awarded a yuko, waza-ari and ippon, respectively, for a second, third or four offence. Judokas may also be disqualified immediately if they put their adversary’s physical integrity at risk.
If a match ends in a draw, there is a Golden Score, meaning an extra three-minute bout in which the first person to score a point wins. If competitors end up with the same number of points and penalties, the winner is decided by the judges.
During Judo competitions, participants in each category are divided into two groups. The winners of each group meet in the final, while the four people defeated in the quarter-finals take part in two heats of repechage. The winners of the repechage fight the losers of the semi-finals for two bronze medals.