Contest Rules Updates to be Implemented from 22 April

Following the recent EJU Refereeing and Coaching Seminar, the International Judo Federation’s contest rule changes will be adopted at all British events effective 22 April 2023.

As a major rule update to the contest rules was implemented in 2022 for the Paris Olympic cycle, this is a minor update, with the main change being to the criteria to score waza-ari.

An updated version of the BJA rule book incorporating the changes has been published here.  All existing BJA amendments (including technical restrictions) will continue to apply alongside these changes.

Update to Waza-ari Scoring

Old rule (2022): Side landings require a minimum 90 degrees landing to score, requiring the full line from shoulder to the hips to touch the mat at 90 degrees. The position of the arm or elbow is irrelevant.

New rule (2023): Waza-ari comprises landing on the whole side of the body at 90 degrees or more to the rear of the shoulder axis. Only the shoulder position must be considered. A score will be given for a whole side of the body landing even when the elbow is out.

The practical effect of this change is that uke will be unable to avoid a waza-ari score by twisting their hips forward toward the mat. A side landing reaching at least 90° at the point of the shoulders will be sufficient to score. We expect this to result in more scores being awarded overall.

Other Updates:

The rulebook has also been refreshed to incorporate the contest rule changes announced in 2022 as well as other rule and presentational updates made by the IJF over the last year. These include:

  • Clarifying the existing practice that a landing on or rolling across the very upper part of the shoulders (but not just the neck) is waza-ari
  • Clarifying the shido penalty for over-stretching the leg also applies to osaekomi-waza
  • It is hansoku-make to have inside the jacket a hard object – not just to wear one
  • It is hansoku-make to apply dojime (previously shido)
  • IJF wording for kata-san-gaku added, including hansoku-make for endangering the spine by blocking the legs (existing BJA specific rules continue to apply)
  • Confirming the practice that an athlete who commits a shido offence cannot then go on to take an advantage or score, although his opponent will be given the opportunity to do so
  • Confirming that sono-mama is not called to award shido to uke in osae-komi
  • For safety, referees should call mate after athletes in tachi-waza travel more than two metres beyond the contest area – remembering that mate can be called at any point an action may be dangerous, particularly relevant for smaller contest / safety areas.
  • Double ippon will not result in a score for either player or result in golden score
  • Clarification added on when decisions are final at BJA events, in particular that if no appeal is made or once the referee in charge has given their decision, the result of the contest cannot thereafter be revisited


As the change to waza-ari scoring is not complex we are implementing this change quickly so that athletes and referees can benefit from it immediately.

Referees in charge will include the change to waza-ari in their briefings to referees and coaches at the beginning of the competition day. Referees should familiarise themselves with the updated rulebook.

Further training on the rules, open to all BJA members, will be available at the National Refereeing Seminar – the date will be advertised later this year. This will feature the latest on technical interpretation of scoring and other situations from the latest seminar.  A number of refereeing and contest rules courses, again available for all members, are also being run by areas and will be listed in the BJA events calendar.

Further information

For those looking for a more detailed understanding, the recent EJU Refereeing and Coaches seminar is available to watch online. The technical explanation for the change to waza-ari and associated video examples is provided from 1:16:30 on Day 2.

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