Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Reverse Seoi-Nage

The reverse seoi-nage is one of the hottest trends in world judo today. As its name implies, it is derived from a seoi-nage movement.

However it results in uke being thrown to the "wrong side" or sometimes even to the back.

In the early days, it was often referred to as the "Korean seoi-nage" because it was associated with Olympic Champion Choi Min-Ho (KOR) who started using this technique in the early 2000's.
Today, this technique has spread the world over and many other Asian as well as European playershave come to specialize in it.

In this Superstar Judo feature, Olympic and triple World Champion Jeon Ki-Young demonstrates exactly how the South Koreans do it.

And the end of the feature we have a special compilation video of several South Korean champions doing this technique in competition.

Read the feature article in the JudoCrazy E-mag

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Monday, January 23, 2017

The origins of the English Hold-Down

The English Hold-Down (sometimes referred to as Ecky-Gatame), was created by Neil Eckersley in the early 80's. Read all about this and what he's been up to lately in JudoCrazy e-mag.

Text by Oon Yeoh
Pics by David Finch
Videos by Fighting Films

Read the feature article in the JudoCrazy E-mag.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Exit Poll: Paischer

After 16 years of high-level competition, four Olympic Games, nine World Championships, 13 European Championships and too many IJF World Tour events to keep track of, Austria's Ludwig Paischer retires. 

Text: Hans van Essen
Pictures: David Finch

What made you decide to retire?
I’ve competed in four Olympic Games and it would be nice to compete in home of judo in Tokyo 2020 but as an athlete you have an expiration date. Mine has arrived. I love competing but my body and mind can no longer do it. I’m too old. It’s a torment every day. Besides, training means 100% commitment. So, you miss weddings, birthday parties, spending time with friends. I’ve had enough of that.

The most memorable moment of your career? 
Getting an Olympic medal is something rare and special, so I’ll say that’s the one. But winning the World Cup in Oberwart (Austria) this year was very satisfying too as I won in front of the home crowd.

Who contributed most to your success?
There are so many people to be thankful to. My training partners, my family – they were all very supportive but if I had to single out one person who helped me the most, I would say it’s Gerhard Dorfinger, the coach at my home club.

Read the rest of this interview in the JudoCrazy E-mag.

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Hanging up their competition judogi

These world and/or Olympic champions have decided to call it a day.

Text: Oon Yeoh & Hans van Essen
Photos: David Finch

Read about them and view a multimedia gallery of these players in the JudoCrazy E-mag.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Important clarification on leg grab shido

This is an important point.

What this means:
a) Tori attacks Uke with uchimata
b) Uke grabs Tori's leg
c) Tori manages to land Uke on his side
d) Waza-Ari for Tori and shido for Uke

What this does NOT mean is that Uke can do a leg grab and score with it. A first-time leg grab will get you shido but it will not ever get you a score even if you counter Tori. You can't score with an illegal technique. So, what this means is:
a) Tori attacks Uke with uchimata
b) Uke grabs Tori's leg
c) Tori falls on his side
d) No score and Uke gets shido

The switch

Text by Oon Yeoh & Hans van Essen
Pictures by David Finch

It's interesting how some players have managed to switch nationalities in order to have a better chance – or in some cases, the only chance – at competing internationally. Switching nationalities is not something new in sports and judo is no exception. In the mid-90s, we saw Maria Pekli of Hungary and Sergey Klishin switch to Australia and Austria, respectively. But the recent Olympic cycle leading up to Rio 2016 saw quite a few players making the switch – enough to possibly call this phenomenon something of a trend.

Sometimes the switch happens for non-competition-related reasons. Angelo Parisi, who had won an Olympic bronze medal for Great Britain in 1972, moved to France and took up citizenship there after marrying a French woman. Britain’s loss was France’s gain for Parisi would go on to win gold and silver medals (+95kg and Open respectively) at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and a silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Sometimes the switch is due to patriotic reasons. South Korea’s An Changrim was born to second generation Korean parents in Japan. His top-level training began at University of Tsukuba where he was teammates with current World Champion Takanori Nagase.

There, An showed a lot of promise and was 2013 All-Japan University lightweight champion. He was actually talent-scouted by the Japanese national team but he opted instead to fight for South Korea, as he identified himself as being more Korean than Japanese.

An’s case stands in stark contrast to Yoshiro Akiyama (also known as Choo Sung-hoon), a fourth generation Japanese of Korean descent. Akiyama, who had won the gold medal for South Korea at the 2001 Asian Judo Championships, became a naturalized Japanese citizen that year and subsequently won the gold medal for Japan at the 2002 Asian Games. He also represented Japan at the 2003 World Championships in Osaka where he narrowly missed out for the bronze medal.

More often a switch is made because it gives the player a better shot at qualifying for the Olympics. An interesting case involves not two but three Dutch players at -70kg. The top-ranking player was Kim Polling but there were two other strong players in that category: Linda Bolder and Esther Stam. Bolder would eventually go on to represent Israel while Stam would fight for Georgia. Ironically, Polling now trains in Italy. Which country she will compete for in the future is uncertain.

Read the rest of this article in the JudoCrazy E-mag.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Shohei Ono: Mr Excitement

Japanese superstar Shohei Ono used five different techniques in five matches in Rio 2016 to win his gold medal at -73kg. He is the epitome of versatility. He is without question the most exciting player in the world circuit today.

Text by Oon Yeoh
Pictures by David Finch
Video by Fighting Films

Read all about him in the JudoCrazy E-mag.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Kelmendi trivia & images


Some nice Kelmendi trivia (by Hans van Essen), pictures (by David Finch) and graphics (by Jacob-Jan Van Heesvelde)

All this and more in the JudoCrazy E-mag.

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1. Majlinda KELMENDI (KOS) -52kg
Rio 2016 Olympic champion

For me the Paris Grand Slam is the most beautiful competition in judo. I really like to fight there because the crowd is amazing and also there comes a lot of Olympic and World champions which makes this competition even more interesting. For me personally it is really important because since 2017 Paris is my first competition of the year and the last three years I won it so it means a lot to me.

2. Rustam ORUJOV (AZE) -73kg
Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist

In Paris at the Grand Slam there has always been a very good level of organisation and I like the arena with there being so many people! I would like this year to win gold in this tournament.

3. Rafaela SILVA (BRA) – 57kg
Rio 2016 Olympic champion

I think that fighting in Paris is like playing in a huge soccer stadium full of fans and athletes. This kind of thing excites me a lot. For me it is a special competition because I enjoy fighting for a crowd and they are good hosts. I am always well received by the French girls, (Audrey) Tcheuméo, Clarisse (Agbegnenou), Fanny (Estelle-Posvite), Madeleine (Malonga), (Priscilla) Gneto.

4. TAKATO Naohisa (JPN) -60kg
Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist

Just as strong as the World Judo Championships, the Paris Grand Slam will be attended by extremely high level judoka from across the world.

The Paris Grand Slam is the most important tournament for me to be selected as a member of the National Team for the 2017 World Judo Championships. Not to mention that I should win, but the content of the match also matters.

5. YOSHIDA Tsukasa (JPN) -57kg
Five-time Grand Slam winner  

Since I have never stood on the podium of the Paris Grand Slam, I am highly motivated to win this time.

I take the Paris Grand Slam as an important competition, for getting qualified to the World Judo Championships 2017, and also to boost my confidence.

6. ABE Hifumi (JPN) -66kg
YOG 2014 winner and Tokyo Grand Slam 2016 winner 

The Paris Grand Slam is special because it’s a competition where a number of top judoka around the world gather which makes the level almost equivalent to the World Championships.

I think it’s very important as it is one of the most important events for the selection of the World Championships for the Japanese team.

7. Erika MIRANDA (BRA) -52kg
Three-time world medallist

Competing is possible everywhere, but Paris is a special event, where the stadium is always full and the spectators are competent in judo and love it. This is my first competition after Rio. I really miss the adrenaline of a competition and finally I can do what I love most.

8. Toma NIKIFOROV (BEL) -100kg
2015 world bronze medallist

At the Paris Grand Slam there is always a lot of people and with a good ambiance. It’s kind of interesting for me and people around me because it's close to Belgium so I can bring my own crowd.

9. Louis KRIEBER GAGNON (CAN) -90kg
2013 Cadet world champion

What makes the Grand slam of Paris so special is the crowd! In Paris, there is a really good atmosphere that we cannot find anywhere else. We really feel the love that the French people have for judo!

For me Paris is an important event in the journey of my goals. With the tournament and the training camp, I have the opportunity to face the world’s elite judoka.

10. Kelita ZUPANCIC (CAN) -70kg
Four-time Pan American champion

What makes the Paris GS so special is the atmosphere and energy of the competition venue.

The Paris Grand Slam is special to me because it has given me great judo memories of competing against the best in one of the most prestigious judo competitions in the world.

11. Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO) - above
Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist

The best judoka participate in the Paris Grand Slam, it is always a very strong competitions and also it's very remarkable with the people who attend. The hall is always full and the French people love judo and they are cheering very much.

12. Nick DELPOPOLO (USA) -81kg
Former Pan American champion

What makes the Paris Grand Slam special is the atmosphere and knowledge of the crowd. It's electrifying and with so many thousands of fans and TV cameras everywhere it is an awesome experience.

For me it was the first Grand Slam I ever competed in (I placed 5th) and also the first time I signed autographs for fans so it is a special memory. #JudoParis2017 will now be the first Grand Slam I compete in at my new category of -81kg so it is very important for me to try and make a good result to start the 2020 Olympic cycle off on a good note.

13. Distria KRASNIQI (KOS) -52kg
Junior world champion

For me the Paris Grand Slam is special because of a big crowd that understands judo and because it’s a very strong competition, the strongest from all other Grand Slams or Grand Prix.

14. Marti MALLOY (USA) -57kg
Former world silver medallist & Olympic bronze medallist

What I find so special about the Paris Grand Slam is the ambiance in the venue. It feels electric with the huge venue buzzing with people from floor to ceiling. Those people love judo so much and become a part of the competition. Coming from the US where we have never had a judo specific event that large is exhilarating.

15. Taciana LIMA-BALDE (GBS) -48kg
Five-time continental champion

The Paris Grand Slam is special because of the venue and there is so many people come to see the competition and they understand judo.

The stadium is amazing and it is one of the most traditional competitions in the judo world. For me Paris gives a projection in the athlete's career. A medal in Paris makes the world of judo not forget us.

16. Elvismar RODRIGUEZ (VEN) - above
YOG 2014 bronze medallist and Budapest Grand Prix winner

I feel good, I just want to give my best and do a good job and have a good result. I am very excited for Paris.

17. Natalie POWELL (GBR)
European bronze medallist and 14-time Grand Prix medallist

Paris is always one of the hardest competitions of the year, attracting all the world’s top fighters. I think the Paris Grand Slam has the best atmosphere of all the competitions on the IJF tour making it extra special to most of the athletes.

Paris 2017 will be really important to me as every competition is. It will be my first time competing internationally since the Olympic Games so I'm excited to get back on the mat and see where I'm at. I'll be looking to put in my best performance and hopefully end up on the podium.

18. Clarisse AGBEGNENOU (FRA)
Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist

For me Paris is so special because is at home and it's easy for my family to come support me and my friends.

Paris is a really big tournament with a lot of emotion. It's important for me to show to my fans that I am also here for them. I feel good, I just want to give my best and do a good job and have a good result.

19. Frank de WIT (NED) -81kg
Junior world champion

For me the Paris Grand Slam is special because at the 2015 Grand Slam I got my first big senior medal on the IJF World Judo Tour. Also the atmosphere makes it special to do judo there.

It’s an important tournament for me because I want to see where I stand after a long period of no tournaments after the Olympic Games.

20. Axel CLERGET (FRA) - above (blue)
Almaty Grand Prix winner

The Paris Grand Slam is really memorable and important for me because it is at home of course, and moreover because I have gone to see this competition since I was 10 years old. I remember that with my club friends, all the judoka made us dream. We were taking action to finance this journey months before. The French and foreign champions made us dream. So it is always a pleasure to fight at this tournament and I know that there are children who come from far away and dream by seeing us. After that there is of course this incredible public with more than 15,000 people who pushes us and gives us the power to surpass our opponents.

This year in particular is important to me because I decide to restart to Tokyo 2020 but at 29 years old, I want to enjoy every tournament and take medals in this event.

For French judoka, we need a good performance in Paris to be selected for the European championship so I want to be strong to get my qualification and moreover to win for the first time this amazing tournament.

21. Monica UNGUREANU (ROU) -48kg
Baku Grand Slam winner and Tbilisi Grand Prix winner

I think the public makes the Paris Grand Slam a special competition. For me this competition means the start of the next Olympic cycle and that is exciting to think of.

22. Daniel NATEA (ROU) +100kg
World Judo Masters winner

I think the Paris Grand Slam was one of the first competitions that I heard about when I was little. Everyone said that there comes the elite all over the judo world. I was very curious to get there and to see how it is.

Paris Grand Slam 2017 is important for me, because it is the first competition of this year where I participate and I hope I will win a medal there.

23. Astride GNETO (FRA) -52kg
Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner

Any athlete would dream of fighting in the Paris arena, because we have an extraordinary public, I think every athlete feels unique, and simply because Paris is magical.

The Paris Grand Slam is one of the biggest competitions, it will happen at home, it's awesome! It will be a good opportunity to score World Ranking Points and after that it can project me on the next competitions.

24. Max STEWART (GBR) -90kg
Qingdao Grand Prix winner

I am very excited for Paris and with it being my debut, I am looking forward to seeing and feeling the atmosphere as I have not yet competed at a tournament of this calibre.

Paris is important to me as it is the next level up in terms of competition and will give me a grasp of where I am and weather I am ready to compete with the best in the world.

25. Francisco GARRIGOS (ESP) -60kg
Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner

I think that the atmosphere of stands, the people, the organisation make this competition to be so wonderful. For me it is quite important because it is a Grand Slam, one of competitions that have more points, but the atmosphere of Paris makes it an incredibly special weekend.

Monday, January 16, 2017

20 Questions with Majlinda Kelmendi

JudoCrazy: Going into Rio 2016, were you convinced you'd be Olympic champion? 

Majlinda Kelmendi: After I won the semi-final  against Nakamura, I knew the gold medal was mine.

JC: You're the single most dominant player at -52kg. Do you still get nervous when competing?MK: It doesn’t matter how good you are, you always have some emotions when you get on the tatami. But I can manage them even if I don’t feel very good.

JC: Are you a very strategic player? Or do you just go into a match and do what comes naturally?
MK: When I get on the tatami I always have a plan for how to fight. It’s impossible to fight the same way against everyone. I never go into a fight without some strategy.

JC: In 2015, you had some serious injuries on your back and knee. What was the long recovery period like for you psychologically?
MK: That was the hardest time of my life.  I wanted to train and to fight so badly but I just couldn’t. I felt really bad and very weak at the same time. I thought I would not ever be able to get back into shape. Thank

JC: After recovering, you lost to Erika Miranda (BRA) at the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, your first defeat in a very long time. How did that impact you psychologically?
MK: I cannot lie. I felt very bad even though I didn’t let it show. Immediately after the match I told others that it’s normal for champions to lose sometimes. But I was burning up inside. After I returned to Kosovo, I trained really hard and told myself, this will not happen in Rio!

To read the remaining 15 Q&A, go to JudoCrazy E-mag.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

JudoCrazy Cover Story: Mission Accomplished

Driton Kuka was a promising judo player in the former Yugoslavia. At the 1989 European Junior Championships in Athens he got a creditable fifth placing, defeating Shay-Oren Smadja of Israel, along the way. Smadja would later go on to win a bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

In 1991, Kuka took part in his first – and ultimately, only – senior event, the Hungary World Cup in Budapest where he won a bronze medal in the -71kg category. 

The future seemed bright but war got in the way of his judo ambitions. “Sadly, that was my first and last competition as a senior because after that, due to the war, all Albanians from Kosovo refused to compete for Yugoslavia,” he says.

So at 19 years of age, his competition career was over. He never lost his love for judo though. “I cannot imagine life without judo,” he says.

Judo runs in his family. One of his brothers, Syla, was his coach while his other brother, Agron, is currently the president of the Kosovo Judo Federation. Together they built a private dojo called Ippon Judo Club.

In 1999, when the war in Kosovo ended, Kuka started coaching kids. Today, the club now boasts over 200 members, among them medallists at the cadet, junior and senior levels. 

His most famous student, of course, is Kelmendi, who started judo in early 2000 when she was only eight years old. “She was very serious for her age, very focused from the beginning,” he says. “She was my favourite student. I saw potential in her.”

Kelmendi was keenly observant. Although a natural right hander, during randori she tended to fight leftie. One day, Kuka asked her why she did so and her reply surprised him. “She said she saw me fighting left-sided and concluded that fighting left-sided must be the right way to do things,” he recalls.

To read the rest of this story, go to JudoCrazy E-mag.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Judo embarks on positive road to Tokyo 2020 and beyond

Judo ushered in a new area on Friday and Saturday in the 2018 World Championships host city of Baku in Azerbaijan as the newly-adapted rules were presented to coaches and referees. 

The International Judo Federation has acted quickly post-Rio 2016 to build on the momentum of the IJF World Judo Tour and the hugely successful London 2012 Olympics and Brazil’s triumphant first Olympiad.

An adapted set of rules (which will be trialled from January – August) was announced in December, following key meetings between the IJF Executive Committee – who were joined by media representatives – in Abu Dhabi and Tokyo, to drive the sport forward and make judo more dynamic and understandable and accessible to non-judo fans.

The two-day seminar, which was streamed live on the IJF YouTube channel and held at the IJF Baku Grand Slam venue (Heydar Aliyev Sport Palace), attracted 365 representatives from 98 nations. The coaches and referees will themselves present the new rules to their peers and national teams upon their return home to disseminate a uniform landscape and understanding ahead of new season.

Day one opened with a theoretical session on Friday morning as the adapted rules were outlined by IJF Head Referee Director Juan Carlos Barcos.

In the afternoon IJF Hall of Famer Neil Adams led the practical session on the tatami alongside former world champion and current IJF Sports Director Daniel Lascau. In addition to the aforementioned, a smorgasbord of legends shared the tatami including Olympic champions Yamashita Yasuhiro, IJF Development Director, Ki-young Jeon, IJF Sport Commissioner, Hosokawa Shinji, IJF Education and Coaching Commissioner, Inoue Kosei, Japan head coach, Kawaguchi Takao, IJF Referee Commissioner, and Giuseppe Maddaloni, Italian national coach turned IJF Fast Track Refereeing Programme member. 

Saturday saw a resumption of the technical analysis before a presentation of coach training opportunities and the Olympic solidary scheme by Mohamed Meridja, IJF Education and Coaching Director. IBSA Judo, the International Blind Sports Federation, who signed a second and expanded MoU with the IJF in 2016, presented their rules and their plans to implement the new IJF rules while retaining their specific nuances for visually impaired and deaf judoka. A final theory session reviewed several scenarios as 150 clips were presented to show situations such as pushing out, bridging, waki-gatame, ne-waza or tachi-waza, waza-ari or ippon. 

Mr. Marius Vizer, IJF President, was present in Baku and at sessions on both days while also hosting a live Twitter Q&A session on Saturday evening.

Mr. Vizer said: “Dear Mr. President, dear judo family members and colleagues, I wish you all a Happy New Year and wish you all a lot of success in 2017.

“We had a successful 2016 which had a lot of positives and we are now in a moment when all of the judo world, including media and sponsors, are expecting us to take the next steps. All IJF projects developed from 2009 will be visible to all sectors this year.

“When we speak about changes, they do not just impact the referees, coaches and judoka but also media, development projects, finances and the global development of judo. The changes will be major changes. We do this to open judo more to the public and to be an open sport to the entire world.

“Previously amendments to the rules have been met with some negativity because some individuals have a conservative mentality. Today we have different comments and attitudes. We have a different community who appreciates our vision and creativity.

“We will make an evaluation of the rule changes after the World Championships 2017 in Budapest. If there is something very significant then we will analyse it and make the necessary changes. The IJF strategy is based on the proposals of all national federation’s, continental unions and the IJF Executive Committee, to continue the growth of judo.

“Next year Baku will host the 2018 World Championships and I want to thank the Azerbaijan Judo Federation, and SOCAR, for their great support and for staging a very successful seminar.”

Mr. Rovnag Abdullayev, Azerbaijan Judo Federation President, said: “Dear Mr. Vizer, dear judo family members, I wish you all a Happy New Year. Judo is one of the most popular sports in the world. We are very proud to have hosted this seminar – which is key to the future of judo – in Baku.

“We currently have three Azerbaijan judoka who are world number ones and we are proud of our athletes and our contribution to this sport. It has been a pleasure to see you all here and I hope you have enjoyed our country.

“I thank Mr. Vizer for his support and for organising this event in Azerbaijan. I wish you all a wonderful year and hope to see you in March at the Baku Grand Slam 2017.”

IJF Hall of Famer Neil Adams (above - right) led the practical session alongside former world champion and current IJF Sports Director Daniel Lascau.

Adams, who received the IJF Expert award in December at the Tokyo Grand Slam, demonstrated examples of the new changes with an emphasis on the kumi-kata.

The double Olympic silver medallist said: “The new rules are a culmination of our research of the last Olympic cycle and create a path for judo to be more dynamic. I believe these changes will lead to less shidos, more ippons and overall a more positive presentation of our sport.

“I was pleased with the reaction of the coaches and referees to what was delivered. Coaches need to have a positive approach to the changes to enable their athletes to quickly adapt to them and show their best judo. The kumi-kata will be vital with the loosening of the gripping restrictions and judoka now have more freedom to engineer attacks and that will be very interesting to follow in this trial period for the rules.

“I feel that the seminar was very successful and I look forward to seeing the progression of our sport on the IJF World Judo Tour this year and in the next Olympic cycle.”

Watch the new rules in effect at the Paris Grand Slam 2017 from 11 – 12 February, the opening event of the IJF World Judo Tour 2017, live and free at www.ippon.tv #JudoParis2017

Click here to watch the IJF Referee and Coach Seminar in full

Click here for the IJF Rules 2017

Friday, January 6, 2017

Will they actually implement the "running away" rule?

The one and only time I've seen someone get a hansoku-make for running away during the dying seconds of a match is this match between Sven Maresch (GER) and Kim Jae-Bum (KOR) in the 2011 Moscow Grand Slam. Kim chose to run away and got a hansoku-make for it. Unbelievable.

If running away, which constitutes a refusal to fight, deserves a hansoku-make, what about dropping to your knees or doing a false attack in the dying seconds of a match? Isn't that also a refusal to fight? Does that get hansoku-make also?

How the rules will impact judo in 2017

Now that we have clarity on the rule changes let's look at how they will impact the way judo is played in 2017. Here are some predictions/scenarios based on JudoCrazy's reading of the rules:

1. Will there be less shido play?
Juan Barcos said that last year, you hear lots of coaches shouting "shido, shido, shido" rather than "throw your opponent". Which is true. There is lots of shido play going on in international judo. No less than 8-times World Champion and double Olympic Champion Teddy Riner excels in this. The rationale for making shido inconsequential during Regular Time is to encourage players to go for scores rather than shido play... or so the thinking goes. But will it actually discourage shido play? Let's say Teddy Riner is in the final of the World Championships or perhaps the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and he's up against some top Japanese or Russian player who can actually counter him. Will he go for the big ippon or will he try to get his opponent to accrue three shidos (and thus hansoku-make)? My guess is that it will be the latter. The reason why this new rule will not totally discourage shido play is that it is not true that you cannot win by shido during regular time. You can if you can get your opponent to incur three shidos. So you can still win by shido, it's just harder to do so than before (where one shido is enough to secure the win).

2. Fewer one-handed sode attempts.
One handed sodes used to be done with the free hand grabbing the trousers of uke. When that was banned, players still did one-handed sodes but often involving a drop and this sometimes resulted in uke's arm being straightened, and thus armlocked. Although this is not waki-gatame in the strictest sense, it is still penalized by hansoku-make. However, the IJF has deemed an arm-straightening sode as not being illegal if tori has two hands on uke. So, as long as you do drop sode with two hands on uke, even if uke's arm gets straightened, it's not hansoku-make. I think this will clearly lead to players being more circumspect in doing one-handed sodes.

3. Better techniques?
Quite possibly. With the relaxation of the gripping rules, there's more opportunity to set up for proper techniques. The old rules of having to attack immediately upon taking a cross grip or a belt grip wasn't the most conducive for setting up throws. With players being allowed to take a wider range of grips and having enough time to set up for big throws, it's more likely that we will see big throws.

4. Longer Golden Scores?

If a contest goes into Golden Score, it is likely that it will be longer. In the past, Golden Score were decided very quickly, usually via shido. Once a player gets one shido, the game is over. Now though, because of penalties are carried over, if Player A has two shidos already, Player B will have two free shidos to play with before the next shido counts. The new ruling is bound to extend the Golden Score period.

5. Will players stop running away in the dying seconds?
It's a common sight to see players -- even top champions -- run away from their opponents when they are ahead in points with only a few seconds left in the match. Almost all of them do it. They seldom get shido let alone hansoku-make for that. I would like to see the brave referee who gives a hansoku-make to a top player for running away with 5 seconds left in the match. I just don't see it happening.

6. Hansoku-make from leg grabs will drop to almost nil.

Getting a hansoku-make from leg grabbing requires a player to be a repeat offender. If a player accidentally grabs the leg the first time around, he'll get a shido. For sure, he will be more careful after that. It's highly unlikely he will do that again in the same match (if he does, he fully deserves the hansoku-make). I don't think you'll see that many leg grab hansoku-makes anymore. Which is a good thing.

Best & Worst of the 2017 Rule Changes

With the IJF Referee Seminar clarifying some stuff, we now have a fuller picture of what the new rule changes entail. Here's the JudoCrazy analysis.

Best Rule Change(s)

The relaxation of the gripping rules which now allows pistol grip, cross grip, belt grip etc.. as long as tori is seen to be setting up for an attack is a most welcome move. I haven't heard any quarters complaining about this. In fact, it seems to be universally welcomed. Previously the gripping rules were far too restrictive. This relaxation of the rules is a move in the right direction.

The rule that the first leg grab infraction will be given a shido instead of a direct hansoku-make is also something that seems to be universally welcomed. Sometimes these leg grabs happen by accident and it's only fair that the players be given a shido for doing it once. Of course if it happens a second time within the same match, it's also only fair that they be given a hansoku-make. This is a rule that everyone seems to be pleased with.

Most Confusing Rule Change
Without doubt the most confusing rule change has to be concerning shido. The role of shido in Regular Time is clear enough. Shido cannot decide a match unless it's three shidos for hansoku-make. Easy enough to understand.

But once we go into Golden Score, it gets a bit harder to grasp. Basically whatever shido that was on the board before is carried over. So if Blue Player has one shido, he will have one shido in Golden Score. That in turn gives White Player a free shido to play with (he is allowed to get up to one shido without losing the match). However, if he gets an additional shido after that and Blue doesn't, it becomes two shido for White and one for Blue, so White loses.

If Blue Player had two shidos in Regular Time, that gives White Player two free shidos in Golden Score. That means he can incur up to two shidos without losing the match. Then, whoever gets the next shido loses.

Here are the details of this complex rule change.

If they wanted to make things simple, they should just make it so that even in Golden Score, shido doesn't decide a match except when it is three shidos for hansoku-make. That would make things so much easier to comprehend.

Although players and coaches will soon be able to grasp the shido rules and play it to their advantage, for the casual spectator this is totally confusing. Why should there be a different shido rule for Regular Time and Golden Score. They should be the same, for the sake of consistency.

Most Illogical Rule Change
If uke falls on both elbows, the score is waza-ari but if he falls on one elbow, there is no score. This is supposedly designed to encourage safety. But doesn't this rule encourage falling on one elbow instead of two? Why would falling on one elbow be safer than falling on two? I do not understand. See this posting for the details.

Worst Rule Change Ever
Apparently, if time is running out and a player decides to run away from his opponent because he is ahead on points, he could be given a hansoku-make for going against the spirit of judo. What crap is this? If a player refuses to engage by stiff arming or bend over double or dropping to the mat or yes, running away, they should be given a shido not a hansoku-make. This is really a ridiculous, subjective ruling. We've all seen even great champions engage in "running away" behaviour when there's like 10 seconds left in the match. Should they be given hansoku-make? I'd like to see the first referee to execute this ruling against a top competitor in a major competition in 2017. There would be an outcry. This is some crazy stuff but I managed to find one example of this happening, way back in 2011.

Elbow rule doesn't make sense

The elbow rule has been clarified but it doesn't make sense. When uke falls on both elbows it is considered a Waza-Ari (see above).

However, if uke falls on one elbow, it is considered no score (see below). Does this mean this rule will encourage uke to fall on one elbow instead of two? Is that somehow safer than fall on both elbows? What is the logic in that?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Clarification on the role of shido

The IJF referee seminar is underway and there is now finally some very clear and definitive explanation of the role of shido in Regular Time and in Golden Score.

As was widely understood and expected, shido plays no role in determining the winner in Regular Time although it does in Golden Score. If there is no score (or equal score) on the board and no shidos either way, the first person to get a shido in Golden Score will lose. See below:

But what happens if there are no scores (or equal scores) and there is already one shido on the board and it goes into Golden Score? There was huge confusion on this one because no one really knew what role shido played in such a scenario. Now, it is clear. If there are no scores or even scores and White has a shido by the end of Regular Time, the match goes into Golden Score. During Golden Score, Blue is allowed to get one free shido because White already has one shido. Now, they are both even on scores and shido. If Blue gets another shido, he loses.

If Blue has two shidos going into Golden Score, White is allowed to get two free shidos as this would then even things up. Of course if White then gets another shido, it's three shidos and hansoku-make. But the important point is that if going into Golden Score, Blue has two shidos, White gets two free shidos.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Analysis of updated IJF New Rules for 2017

The updated IJF New Rules for 2017 have clarified some things but other things are still murky.

1. What's clear now is the role of shido during Regular Time. This time, the IJF has made clear that shidos will not in any circumstances decide the winner during regular time EXCEPT for hansoku-make (3 shidos). Previously, it was widely speculated or assumed that if both players had the same score (e.g. Waza-Ari each), a shido or shidos would determine the winner. The updated rules make clear that that is not the case. So, if there are no scores or the scores are even, it doesn't matter if there's a shido or two on the board for one of the players, the match goes into Golden Score.

2. What is still unclear is the role of shido during Golden Score. The IJF's updated rules still confusingly says that shidos from Regular Time will carry over into Golden Score AND the decision during Golden Score is determined by the "difference of scores or shido". What the hell does that mean?

If Player A has a shido and Player B has no shido during Regular Time, the match goes into Golden Score. Since shidos are carried over, that means in Golden Score, Player A has one shido while Player B has none. Doesn't that make a difference of one shido thus giving the match to Player B?

Perhaps what the rules mean is that Player A has one shido and Player B has none, so Player B is allowed to get one shido without losing the match. Then, if both players have one shido each, if either of them get another shido, his opponent will get the win. Is that what this rule means? I don't know. It's confusing.

3. It is now clear that gripping inside the sleeve is illegal (in its previous press release, the IJF confusingly said it was legal).

4. It's not stated whether breaking the grip with both hands or ducking the head in a high grip situation are illegal but presumably they are both illegal still as they are considered negative play.

5. There is something about safety and landing on elbows that is incomprehensible. It states:

- landing on both elbows is valid
- landing on one elbow is invalid

Can anybody please tell me what this means???

6. It says in the case of attack and counter attack, the first competitor landing on his own body will be considered the loser. If that is so, it will surely have an impact on counters like tani-otoshi where the person doing it will always land on his back first. Even with ura-nage, a lot of the times the person doing it will land on his back first. The same with yoko-guruma. So, how?

7. An interesting development is the rule that techniques done after the players have landed will not be counted as scores but as newaza action. For many years now, we have seen scores given for techniques done immediately after the players have landed on the mat. Now, it will just go into newaza (presumably).

So, a few things are clearer now but there are still many questions left unanswered. I guess we will have to wait until the Referees' Seminar in Baku from Jan 6-7 to find out those answers.

IJF New Rules for 2017 (Dec 26 Version)