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Referees are volunteers who give up their time to support competitions and gradings. They are found centre stage and ensure that the game is played fairly and safely.

What does the role involve?

There are various levels of referee and depending on their award they are able to referee at different levels of event.
[For further information please see the Tournament Handbook.]

Refereeing duties include:

  • Referee: – responsible for ensuring that the game is played fairly and safely. They observe the action and award appropriate scores and penalties.
  • Judge: - sit matside to provide support to the referee.  They work in teams of two and, often with the help of a care system, review decisions made by the referee and make recommendations on scores and penalties as appropriate.
  • Referee in Charge: – responsible for coordinating and supporting the referees at the events. They field any questions that referees, coaches, players or spectators may have regarding the refereeing at the competition.

Who does the role suit?

Refereeing roles suit anyone, with existing or prior judo experience, who is willing to give up their time to support events particularly those who enjoy taking control of contests, making decisions and wish to develop a better understanding of the precise technicalities of the sport.

What skills are required?

Common skills that referees require:

  • Ability to concentrate for long periods of time
  • Good ability to make decisions
  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to work as part of a team

Why should you get involved?

Referees are an integral part of the competition set-up and without whom competitions would not run. Reasons to get involved include:

  • To gain a better understanding of the sport
  • To make new friends
  • To be a part of a successful event
  • To help keep the sport running
  • To see all the action up close and personal
  • To put your matside refereeing skills to the test!

How do you get involved?

If you want to get involved in Refereeing you will need to be either a current judoka or have some prior judo experience. 

You will need to attend a course to develop your understanding of the rules and scoring criteria and complete a theory exam.  You will then be invited to complete a practical assessment to gain your award.  In the meantime you will be able to practice your Refereeing under the supervision of a fully fledged Referee.

Progression Pathway

Current Referee Testimonials

 β€˜It was recommended that I do a Junior award, an award that teaches juniors to referee in competitions. I decided to go along and do it to understand the rules a bit better if nothing else. After I had refereed a few club competitions I found that I actually did enjoy the refereeing side of judo and decided to do my junior level 2 and 3 awards, slowly progressing towards the higher grades and older groups.

As I’m now 17 I recently got my Area level refereeing which lets me referee adults, who do arm locks and strangles. It was slightly terrifying refereeing the heavy weights trying to do strangles on each other as I myself am only under 60kg.’

Alec Newton, Area Referee


"I had just started my international career when I had a serious back injury that stopped my competitive career.  I did not want to stop being involved in a sport that I started to love so I became involved as a coach and finally as a referee. It became apparent that I had a natural ability as a referee and surprisingly I really enjoyed refereeing, it was a close as I was going to become fighting again… 

My journey as a referee has been tremendous and not always been an easy path. There have been tears both of joy and sadness, jubilation, frustration, laughter….  But I was determined when I was awarded my NAT β€˜B’  Referee Award (formerly Provisional National ) that I wanted to become a Continental  Referee – it took me another 9 years before that became true and then in 2009  - 10 years later I was awarded my International Referee Award the highest referee level in the World."

                                                                                                                                                                       Elaine Down, IJF A Referee