The Road To Victory: Part 1- Scores In Shiai Judo

2 kids competing in a Judo Shiai. Red Sash currently has 1 yuko with 2:10 left in the match. No other scores currently, but yellow sash is attempting a Harai Makikomi
2 young Judoka competing in a Judo Shiai. Red Sash currently has 1 yuko with 2:10 left in the match (JM201126 © sanita maleja 2011 CC BY-ND 4.0)

Part 1, Scores

As the Judoka attempt to throw each other, they can accumulate a variety of scores throughout the match.  Although throwing one another is the ultimate goal, it isn’t the only way to gain scores or achieve victory.


Scores can be broken down into two categories. There are the Major Scores-


  • Ippon, or Full Point
  • Waza-Ari, or Almost Ippon/half point
  • Waza-Ari Awasete Ippon, or Two Waza-Ari Together


and Minor Scores-


  • Yuko, or Almost Waza-Ari/Advantage
  • Shido, or Penalty


All of these methods of scoring will also be described in more detail on respect to how they translate to a victory in Part 2. This part has been written to give you a working knowledge of what these scores are. First…


Major Scores


Ippon- Full Point


Ippon is more than a score, it is a victory condition. Ippon roughly translates to “full point”. The match is over. The referee will raise his arm straight in the air, then have the contestants go to their starting positions, face each other, fix their gis, and as they bow to one another the referee points toward the victorious judoka.


There are four ways to score Ippon. First is by Nage Waza/ThrowTechnique of course. The second is by holding your opponent down in Osaekomi/Hold Down for 20 seconds. If your opponent has declared by word or action Maitta/surrender or is in some way incapacitated is the third, and the fourth and final way would be if your opponent has been issued a Hansokomake/Disqualification.


Waza-ari/Almost Ippon, or Half Point


If you attempt a Nage Waza/Throw Technique that isn’t quite perfect (more on what constitutes a perfect throw in Part 2), or you hold your opponent in Osaekomi/Hold Down for 15 – 19 seconds, then you score a Waza-ari, or almost Ippon, also referred to as a Half Point. The referee will hold their arm out to the side at shoulder height, first bending at the elbow toward their chest then extending it outward to the side. Action will typically continue in the match, unless…


Waza-ari Awasete Ippon/Two Waza-ari together


2 Waza-Ari scores added together make an Ippon. This score ends the match. The referee will first signal as if a Waza-Ari, put their hand down to their side, then raise their arm straight up on the air signaling Ippon.


Lesser Scores


Although kept track of and can influence the results of the match if it ends because time on the clock has expired, lesser scores are in and of themselves not an actual score. No matter how many of the following scores you have, at the end of regulation time a Waza-Ari is still considered a superior score and will therefore win the match. Of course nothing beats an Ippon or a Waza-Ari Awasete Ippon, as they both end the match immediately with a victory to the person receiving either of those scores. The only way these lesser scores determine the outcome of the match is if both competitors have one Waza-Ari each. These lesser scores are…


Yuko/almost Waza-Ari/Advantage


If you throw your opponent with a judo technique, and the Nage Waza has “some” of the other necessary elements (once again, more on that in Part 2), or if you hold your opponent down in Osaekomi for 10 – 14 seconds,  you score a yuko. The referee will hold their arm out to the side at a 45 degree downward angle. Action typically does not stop.


All things being equal, i.e. Waza-aris and Shidos (defined below),  if you have more yukos than your opponent you win. Just remember, a Waza-Ari counts as an actual score, so no matter how many Yukos you have or Shidos your opponent has over your total, if you have a Waza-Ari and your opponent does not,  you win. Speaking of shido…




During your match, you can do a variety of actions, or inactions as the case may be, to invoke a shido. First, the referee will usually stop the action; Not always, but more often than not. If action is stopped, the participants return to their starting positions. Either way, the referee will then make some sort of hand gesture to signal what penalty has been observed, point at the judoka invoking the penalty, and say “Shido”. If action was stopped, they will then say “hajime”, and we’re back to the business of trying to chuck each other.


You can have up to 3 Shidos. If you manage to get a fourth shido, you then receive Hansokomake/Disqualification. This is covered with more detail in Part 2. 


Okay, so how is this a score? If the match ends because regulation time has expired, and the scoreboard is tied in every other way;i.e. Waza-Aris and Yukos, then the player with the least amount of Shidos will be the winner. No matter how many Shidos a judoka has, having at least one more Yuko than your opponent is still a better score, so you will get you the win. To reiterate though, all things equal, a Waza-Ari beats all other scoreboard shenanigans, no matter how many Yukos or Shidos there are.


In Part 2, Victory Conditions, we will go over how to win a Judo match in more detail.

Page 1: Introduction
Page 3: Part 2, Common Victory Conditions 

Page 4: Part 3, Other Victory Conditions(Coming Soon)

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