Ref Training Program - The Rules (Articles 9-13)

III.   The Rules (Articles 9-13)

Article 9 - Start of the Contest

1. The referee and the judges shall always be in position to start the contest before the arrival on the contest area of the contestants.

In individual competition the referee shall be at the tatami centre 2 m back from the line from which the contestants start and shall be facing the timekeepers’ table and the judges will be seated at their respective table.

In team competitions, before the start of the contests from every encounter, it shall proceed to the bowing ceremony between the two teams as follows:

a) The referee will remain in the same place as in the individual competitions. At his indication, the two teams will come in on the side allotted, in line for the outer edge of contest area, in descending order and the heaviest weight being closer to the referee, standing face-to-face team.

b) On the order of the referee the two (2) teams will move ahead to the starting position on the mat.

c) The referee shall order the teams turn towards the technical table, extending his arms in parallel forward, with open palms, and will announce rei, to be held simultaneously by all components of both teams. The referee shall not bow.

d) Then the referee shall order, in a gesture of arms at right angles forearms up and palms facing each other “otagai-ni” (bow to each other), the two teams again be face to face, announcing rei, to be held the same way as in the previous section.

e) After finishing the bowing ceremony, the components of the two teams will come out through the same place which they entered, waiting, on the outer edge centred of the contest area, the contestants of each team must make the first contest. In each contest, they will perform the same procedure of bowing that in individual competition.A. 

f) After finishing the last contest of the encounter, the referee will order the teams to proceed as described in paragraph a) and b), announcing, then the winner. The bowing ceremony will be held in the reverse order of the start, bowing first to each other and, finally, to the technical table.

2. The contestants are free to bow when entering or leaving the contest area, although it is not compulsory. When entering the tatami area, athletes should walk to the entrance of the contest area at the same time.

The contestants must NOT shake hands before the start of the contest.

3. The contestants shall then walk to the centre of the edge of the contest area (on the safety area) at their respective side according the fighting order (judoka in the white judogi on the right side and judoka in the blue judogi on the left side of the referee’s position) and remain standing there.


At the signal from the referee, the contestants shall move forward to their respective starting positions and bow simultaneously towards each other and take a step forward from the left foot.

Once the contest is over and the referee has award the result, the contestants shall simultaneously take a step back from the right foot and bow to each other.

If the contestants do not bow or do so incorrectly, the referee shall direct the contestants to do so. It is very important to perform the bow in a very correct way.

4.  The contest always starts with the athletes in the standing position, wearing their judogi correctly with the belt tied tightly above their hip bones, then the referee announces hajime.

During the contest the judoka should always fix their judogi quickly between “mate” and “hajime”.

5. The accredited doctor may request that the referee stops the contest in the cases and with the consequences regulated in Article 20.

6. The IJF Supervisors and/or the IJF Refereeing Commission members may interrupt the contest and will interfere only when there is a mistake that needs to be rectified.

The intervention and any change to the decisions of the referees by the IJF Supervisors and/or the IJF Refereeing Commission members will be made only in exceptional circumstances.

The interventions of the IJF Supervisors and/or the IJF Refereeing Commission members should take place in three (3) cases:
• A mistake of awarding the action between the white and the blue competitor.
• On the awarding of hansoku-make for actions contrary to the spirit of judo or which may have further consequences for the athlete who has committed them.
• Exceptional cases.

There is no appeal procedure for coaches, but they can, after submitting a “request of coach to review a contest on video by IJF Supervisors and/or the IJF Refereeing Commission members”, at the end of the session, to watch the reason for the change to the final decision.

2.  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments
The Referee should assure the correct bowing procedures are followed and verify all is ready prior to starting the match.  Coaching at IJF events can only be done between Mate and Hajime, however in domestic U.S. events the coaches are allowed to coach their players (not the officials) during the entire match.  Since there is not a separate CARE system for the Commission at U.S. domestic events (the Jury can only review matches using the same CARE system that is actively being used by the 2 matside Judges), coaches are not allowed to watch the CARE system when they have questions about a particular decision.

Article 10 - Transition from Tachi-waza into Ne-waza (A) and from Ne-waza into Tachi-waza (B)

It is considered to be tachi-waza when both athletes are in a standing position and are not in any of the following ne-waza positions.

Both athletes must have two knees on the floor, for it to be considered ne-waza (picture 1). If there is a loss of contact between the athletes and there is no possibility of continuation, mate must be called (picture 2). Lying on the stomach on the ground, the blue athlete is considered to be in ne-waza (picture 3). Grip control from the standing athlete (white), we still consider the athlete (blue) on the knees to be in tachi-waza and consequently tachi-waza regulations would be applied (picture 4). However, if white does not attack immediately, then the referee must call mate! The kneeling athlete (blue) on cannot grab the legs to defend the throw with his arms, if this happens, shido will be given.

                    1                                              2                                                3                                             4



A1. The contestants shall be able to change from nage-waza to ne-waza as far as it is done by one of the cases referred to in this Article. However, if the technique used is not continuous, the referee shall announce mate and order both contestants to resume the contest from the standing position.


A1. Exceptions

Situations that are not allowed during tachi-waza
a) To apply kansetu-waza or shime-waza (alone or combined with a judo throwing technique) when both athletes are in a standing position or move with this technique from tachi-waza to newaza (See Article 18).

A2. Situations that allow the transition from tachi-waza to ne-waza
a) When one of the contestants, lands on the ground and there is no score or waza-ari is given, either contestant can, without interruption, take the offensive and continue in ne-waza.

Example: in this position tori can apply sutemi-waza that can continue into newaza.

Example: in this position tori can apply a throwing technique and can continue with kansetsu-waza, shime-waza or osaekomi-waza (not shown).

b) When one contestant takes his opponent down into ne-waza by the particularly skilful application of a movement which does not qualify as a throwing technique.

c) In any other case where one contestant falls down or is about to fall down, not covered by the preceding sub-sections of this article, the other contestant may take advantage of his opponent’s unbalanced position to go into ne-waza.

A2. Exceptions
When one contestant pulls his opponent down into ne-waza not in accordance with the above rules and his opponent does not take advantage of this to continue into ne-waza, the referee shall announce mate, and penalise with shido the contestant who has infringed Article 18. If instead, the opponent takes advantage of the action of tori, the ne-waza work may continue.

B1. The contestants shall be able to change from ne-waza to tachi-waza as far as it is done by the case below. However, if the technique used is not continuous, the referee shall announce mate and order both contestants to resume the contest from the standing position.

B2. The situation is not dangerous for both athletes with or without grips and both athletes are more or less face to face.

The kata-sankaku grip in ne-waza action is allowed (picture 1). It is prohibited to block the opponents body with the legs and must be mate (picture 2). If the katasankaku grip is used in tachi-waza mate will be called (picture 3).

                            1                                                                  2                                                                3

2.  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments
Click HERE for examples of Newaza vs Tachiwaza from the 2020 IJF Seminar (Doha, Qatar)

Article 11 - Application of Mate

1. General
The referee shall announce mate in order to stop the contest temporarily in the situations covered by this article. To recommence the contest, the referee shall announce hajime.

The contestants must quickly return after mate to their starting positions in the following cases:
• The referee will give shido for stepping outside.
• The referee will give a third (3rd) shido - hansoku-make.
• The referee will ask the contestants to adjust their judogi.
• The referee is of the opinion that a contestant(s) requires medical attention.

When a mate must be given for a shido to the athlete deserving it, contestants will remain in place, without having to return to the starting position (mate – shido – hajime).

The referee having announced mate, must take care to maintain the contestants within his view in case they did not hear the announcement and continue fighting or if any other incident arises.

2. Situations where the referee shall announce mate:
a) When both contestants go completely outside the contest area without continuous action that started from inside the contest area.

b) When one or both of the contestants perform one of the prohibited acts listed in Article 18 of these rules.

c) When one or both of the competitors are injured or taken ill. Should any of the situations of Article 20 occur, the referee, after announcing mate, shall call the doctor to perform the necessary medical attention according to said article, either upon the request of the contestant, or directly depending on the seriousness of the injury. In cases of “minor” injury, the medical intervention will be carried out outside the contest area, near the area itself or close to the medical facility; the Athlete will be accompanied by a judge or referee not involved in the trio.

d) When it is necessary for one or both of the contestants to adjust their judogi.

e) When during ne-waza there is no evident progress.

f) When one contestant regains a standing or semi-standing position from ne-waza bearing his opponent on his back, with the hands completely clear of the tatami and without his opponent being able to progress the action.

g) When one contestant in, or from ne-waza regains a standing position and lifts the opponent, who is lying on their back with one (1) or both legs around any part of the standing contestant, clear of the tatami.

h) When a contestant performs or attempts to perform kansetsu-waza or shimewaza from the standing position.

i) When one of the contestants starts or perform any preparatory moves of a kind of fighting or wrestling technique (not genuine judo) the referee shall call immediately mate, trying to stop and not to let the contestant who performs, finishes the action.

j) When tori applies shime-waza or kansetsu-waza by stretching uke’s leg.

k) When in any other case that the referee deems it necessary to do so.

3. Situations where the referee shall not announce mate:
a) To stop the contestant(s) going outside the contest area unless the situation is considered dangerous.

b) When there is a throwing that started inside the contest area and both judoka continue to go outside as part of the action.

c) When a contestant, who has escaped from osaekomi-waza, shime-waza or kansetsu-waza, appears in need of or calls for a rest.

These are valid actions and mate should not be called.

Mate should not be given as the action started in the valid area.

2.  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments
 – Click HERE for video of Jan 2014 IJF Rule Interpretation
Click HERE for Mate Situations from the 2020 IJF Seminar (Doha, Qatar)


Article 12 – Sono-mama

1. Sono-mama can only be applied in situations where contestants are working in ne-waza.

2. In any case where the referee wishes to temporarily stop the contest without causing a change in their positions, he/she shall announce sono-mama, making the gesture under Article 4.7 while he must ensure that there is no change in the position or grip of either contestant.

3. To recommence the contest, the referee shall announce yoshi making the gesture under Article 4.8.

2.  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments

Article 13 - End of the Contest

1. In regular time (4 minutes), a contest can only be won by a technical score or scores (waza-ari or ippon).

A penalty or penalties will not decide the winner, except for hansoku- make (direct or accumulative). A penalty never corresponds to a score.

The referee shall announce sore-made to indicate the end of contest in the cases covered in this article. After this announcement the referee shall always keep the contestants within his view in case they do not hear his announcement and continue fighting. The referee shall direct the contestants to adjust their judogi, if necessary, prior to indicating the result.

After the referee has indicated the result of the contest making the gesture under Article 4, the contestants shall take one step backwards, make the bow and leave the contest area by the sides of the mat, particularly around the security area.

When the athletes are leaving the mat, they must be wearing their judogi in the proper way and must not remove any part of the judogi or the belt before leaving the field of play.

Should the referee award the victory to the wrong contestant in error, the judges must ensure that he changes this erroneous decision before the referee leave the competition area; if this doesn’t happen the IJF Supervisors and/or the Refereeing Commission members can intervene to solve this mistake.

All actions and decisions taken in accordance with the “majority of three” rule by the Referees and agreed by the IJF Supervisors and/or Refereeing Commission members shall be final and without appeal.

2. Situations of sore-made:

a) When one contestant scores ippon or waza-ari-awasete-ippon (Articles 15 & 16).

b) In the case of kiken-gachi (Article 19).

c) In the case of hansoku-make (Article 18).

d) When one contestant cannot continue due to injury (Article 20).

e) When the time allotted for the contest has expired. 

f) Waza-ari from a throwing action in golden score.

3. The referee shall award the contest as follows:

a) When one contestant has scored ippon or equivalent, he shall be declared the winner.

b) When both players have no technical score, or the technical scores are equal at the end of the regular contest time, the contest shall continue in golden score regardless number of shido given.

4. Golden score period

In individual and team competitions when contest time ends with the circumstances of paragraph 3b. of this article, the referee shall announce “sore-made” to end the contest temporarily and the contestants shall return to their starting positions.

The referee shall announce “hajime” to restart the contest. There shall be no rest period between the end of the original contest and the start of golden score.

There is no time limit for golden score. Any existing score(s) and/or numbers of shido from regular time are carried into the golden score period and will remain on the score board.

Golden score can only be won by a technical score (waza-ari or ippon) or hansokumake (direct or by accumulative shido). If direct hansoku-make is given, the consequences are the same as those in regular time.

The referee will then announce sore-made.

In the golden score period osaekomi is going until the end (20 seconds). When one contestant is being held down and osaekomi has been announced, the referee shall allow the hold down to continue as long as possible (giving the athlete the opportunity to score ippon) or until toketa, mate or until shime- waza/ kansetsuwaza is applied by either contestant with immediate result. [That is, the technique that causes the match to end will determine the winner.]  However, if the hold is broken before ippon is scored but waza-ari has been scored the contest will be finished and the winner declared.

5. Special situations during golden score.

a) Should only one contestant exercise his right to participate in the “golden score” period, and the other contestant declines, the contestant who wishes to compete shall be declared the winner by “kiken-gachi”.

b) In the case where both contestants score ippon simultaneously during the time allotted for regular time, the contest shall be decided by a “golden score” period. In the case of simultaneous ippon during the “golden score” period the referee shall announce mate, continuing the contest without taking into account these actions for scoring purposes.

c) For direct hansoku-make given to both contestants, the IJF Ad Hoc Commission will decide.


6. CARE system

Viewing of the CARE system and subsequent communication with the referees as regulated in this article shall be up to the discretion of the IJF Supervisors and/or IJF Refereeing Commission Members that oversee the mat. The IJF Supervisors are responsible for all rules and decisions during the contest. In exceptional circumstances the decision will be made by the IJF Supervisors and IJF Refereeing Commission Members.

Supervisors with the collaboration of the IJF Head Referee Directors must intervene in extreme circumstances and let the referees do their work in accordance with the rule of the “majority of the three”. The intervention must be immediate without loss of time or hesitation as follows: immediately all agree, the decision is validated or corrected; the situation is not clear and there is no unanimity, no intervention is carried out (hajime).

Mandatory reviewing using the CARE system in support of the decision on the mat will be done under the following circumstances:

1) Any decision involving the end of the contest, during the contest time as well as in the period of “golden score”.

2) In a kaeshi-waza situation: the judoka receiving the attack and starting the counter attack, CANNOT use the impact of landing on the tatami to finish his kaeshi-waza action and have it evaluated. If the action allows it, he can however continue in ne-waza:
• If the two athletes land together without clear control for either one, no score will be given.
• Any action after landing will be considered as a ne-waza action.

There shall be no unauthorized use or request of use of the CARE system other than by the IJF Supervisors and/or Refereeing Commission members.

2.  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments

Click HERE for examples of Kaesha Waza from the 2020 IJF Seminar (Doha, Qatar) 


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