Ref Training Program - The Rules (Articles 1 - 14)

II.   The Rules (Articles 1-14)

A.  Article 1 - Competition Area

1)  IJF Rule
ARTICLE 1 - Competition Area Refer to section 9.7 of the IJF Sport and Organization Rules (SOR).
Refer to section 9.7 of the IJF Sport and Organization Rules (SOR). 

A minimum of three entrances to the FOP are need to run the competition and if there are less than this it has to be approved by the IJF Sport Commission. The competition area shall be divided into two zones: the contest area and the safety area and each shall be a different colour with sufficient contrast to avoid misleading edge situations. The IJF Sport Commission must agree the number of contest areas required. The contest area for IJF events shall be a minimum of 8m x 8m and a maximum of 10m x 10m. The safety area shall be a minimum of 3m. Where two or more adjoining contest areas are used, a common safe zone may be used to satisfy the minimum distance of 4m between them. A free zone of 50cm minimum must be maintained around the entire competition area. For Masters, World Championships Seniors and Olympic Games, the contest area shall be 10m x 10m with a minimum common safety area of 4m and a minimum exterior safety area of 4m. This size is also recommended for Continental Championships. The contest areas are numbered from left to right from the side where the technical table is located. The tatami need to be placed on a resilient floor at ground level. The elements making up the surface must be aligned without space in between; the surface must be smooth and fixed in such a way that the individual mats cannot be displaced. If the floor is concrete, there should be Taraflex (or similar) underneath the mats. The minimum height above the mats must be 5m. Depending on the sightlines in the sports hall the tatami may be placed on a solid platform. The platform must be made of wood or a similar material. It must be one metre wider and longer than the tatami dimensions and must be no more than 1m in height. When using a platform, it is recommended that the exterior safety area should be 4m. All tatami for IJF events must be IJF approved (the list of official suppliers is available at www. and the official colours are yellow (123C) and red (1795C). Any other colours proposed by the Local Organizing Committee must be approved by the IJF before use. Each mat should measure 1m x 2m x 5cm and be made of pressed foam. They must be firm under foot, have the property of absorbing shock during ukemi, and not be slippery or too rough. Any decoration on the tatami, such as the host city name, year or event logos, can only be placed on the safety area never on the contest area. The local organizing committee must give the IJF all TV feeds for the refereeing CARE system, live streaming and TV archives.

2)  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments

The Competition Area is composed of two areas – the Contest Area (standard minimum size 8m x 8m [26’x26’]) surrounded by the Safety Area (minimum 3m wide [10’].  These areas must be of contrasting color and a minimum of 4m [13’] Safety Area must exist between adjoining Contest Areas.  For Local and Regional Events the Contest Area may be reduced in size (if approved in the sanction) but the 8m x 8m minimum is highly recommended.  In no case is it permissible to reduce the width of the Safety Area.  Click HERE to view Competition Area layout

B.  Article 2 - Equipment

1.  IJF Rule

a) Scoreboards

For each competition area there shall be two (2) scoreboards that indicate the scores horizontally, placed outside the competition where they can be easily seen by the competitors, referees, commission members, officials and spectators.
The scoreboards must be manufactured with a device that indicates the penalties received by the contestants.
Whenever electronic scoreboards are used, manual scoreboards must be available as a backup.
b) Timing Clocks
There shall be timing clocks as follows:
     Contest duration  -  One (1)
     Osaekomi               -  Two (2)
     In reserve               -  One (1)
Whenever electronic timing clocks are used, manual timing clocks must also be used to check their accuracy (see Appendix Article 2).
Flags (Timekeepers)
Timekeepers shall use flags as follows:
     Yellow  -  Time out
     Green   -  Osaekomi duration
It will not be necessary to use the yellow and green flags whenever an electronic display clock showing contest duration and Osaekomi duration is in use.  However, these flags must be available in reserve.
 Time Signal
There shall be a bell or similar audible device to indicate to the Referee the end of the time allotted for the contest.
e)  White and Blue Judogis
The contestant shall wear either a white or blue Judogi.  (The contestant on top in the draw sheet shall wear the white Judogi; the one below shall wear the blue.)

APPENDIX Article 2 – Equipment
Position of Scoreboard Keepers / Contest Sheet Writers / Timekeepers -
The Contest Sheet Writers, Scoreboard Keepers and Timekeepers must be facing the Referee.
Timing Clocks and Scoreboards -
The timing clocks must be accessible to those persons responsible for maintaining their accuracy, and they must be checked for accuracy at the start of and regularly during the competition.
The scoreboards must meet the standards set out by the IJF and should be at the disposal of the Referees as needed.
The manual timing clocks must be used simultaneously with the electronic equipment, in case of failure of the electronic timing clocks.  The manual scoreboards must be available in reserve.



Example #1 - IJF Judo Scoreboard (electronic) - White has an ongoing osaekomi (8 sec so far) and Blue has 1 Waza-ari and 2 Shidos.



Example #2 - Electronic Scoreboard (Willis Software) - In "Golden Score" White scored Waza-ari to end match and win.  White's 2 Shidos could have been given in the regulation time or "Golden Score" period, or one in each.




Example #3 - Manual Scoreboard - Whitehas earned a Shido and Blue has scored a Waza-ari.


2)   U.S. Modifications and/or Comments
Ideally there will be 2 electronic scoreboards per mat area.  If not, the Judges and Jury should be located such that they can see the scoreboard.  An audible signal should be used and it should be loud enough to be heard over the ambient noise.  Unique sounds should be used for each mat area.  When electronic scoreboards are used, manual scoreboards, manual timing clocks (which should be used simultaneously with the electronic clocks), and yellow and green flags should be available.

C.  Article 3 - Judo Uniform (Judogi)

1)  IJF Rule
     Refer to IJF SOR Appendix C.  Click HERE to review (includes size requirements chart, color, material. etc.)

For a better efficiency and to have a good grip it is necessary for the jacket to be well  fitted in the belt, with the belt tied tightly. To reinforce that, the competitor shall arrange their Judogi and belt quickly between Mate and Hajime announced by the referee.

If an athlete intentionally loses time arranging his judogi and belt, he will receive Shido.


2)  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments
The first competitor called must wear a white gi and the second competitor must wear a blue gi and both competitors wear their regular color rank belt.  An exception to this requirement, in the U.S., allows the second competitor called, at most local and regional events, to wear a white gi with a blue belt instead of a blue gi, and in such cases the first player called wears a white belt.   
Click HERE for video of Jan 2014 IJF Rule Interpretation

D.  Article 4 – Hygiene

1)  IJF Rule

1.  The Judogi shall be clean, generally dry and without unpleasant odor.
2.  The nails of the feet and hands shall be cut short.
3.  The personal hygiene of the contestant shall be of a high standard.
4.  Long hair shall be tied up so as to avoid causing any inconvenience to the other contestant.  Hair shall be tied by means of a hair band made of rubber or similar material and be void of any rigid or metal components.  The head may not be covered except for bandaging of a medical nature, which must adhere to this one.
5.  Any contestant not willing to comply with the requirements of Article 3 and 4 shall be refused the right to compete and the opponent shall win the contest as provided for in Article 23 of these Rules, by Fusen-gachi, if the contest has not yet started, or by Kiken-gachi, if the contest has already started, according to the “majority of three” rule.

2)  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments

E.  Article 5 - Referees and Officials

1)  IJF Rule
Generally, the contest shall be conducted by three Referees of different nationalities to the two competing athletes.  For team competition same principle applies.
One Referee on the tatami with a radio communication system is connected to the two Judges at the table of the mat who will assist with a video CARE system under supervision of the Refereeing Commission.
A draw system will be implemented for the Referees to ensure neutrality.
The Referees shall be assisted by Scoreboard Keepers, Timekeepers and Contest Sheet Writers.
The Refereeing Directors and Supervisors who can eventually intervene, also seated nearby with his own CARE system must be connected with the Referee and Judges via headphones.  Which acting procedure is reflected in Article 19.6.

APPENDIX Article 5 – Referees and Officials
The Referee’s uniform shall conform to the dress code of the Organization.  The Organizing Committee shall ensure that the Timekeepers, Contest Sheet Writers and Scoreboard Keepers as well as other technical assistants have been thoroughly trained as technical officials.
There shall be a minimum of two (2) Timekeepers; one to register the real contest time and one to specialize in Osaekomi time.
If possible there should be a third person to supervise the two timekeepers to avoid any errors.  This is not necessary for IJF world Judo Tour events.
The overall Timekeeper (real contest time) shall start the clock on hearing the announcement of Hajime or Yoshi and shall stop it on hearing the announcement of Mate or Sono-mama.
The Osaekomi timekeeper shall start the clock on hearing Osaekomi, stop it on Sono-mama, and restart it on hearing Yoshi.  On hearing either Toketa or Mate he shall stop the clock and indicate the number of seconds elapsed to the Referee.
On expiry of the time for Osaekomi (20 seconds) he shall indicate the end of the Osaekomi by means of an audible signal.
Manual referring:
The Osaekomi timekeeper shall raise a green flag whenever he starts the clock on hearing the announcement and seeing the signal of Osaekomi or Yoshi.  He shall lower the flag when he stops the clock on hearing Toketa, Mate or Sono-mama, or on expiry of the time for Osaekomi.
The overall timekeeper (real contest time) shall raise a yellow flag whenever he stops the clock on hearing the announcement and seeing the signal of Mate or Sono-mama and he shall lower the flag when he restarts the clock on hearing Hajime or Yoshi.
When the time allowed for the contest has expired, the Timekeeper shall notify the Referee of this fact by a clearly audible signal (see Articles 10, 11 and 12 of the Refereeing Rules).
The Scoreboard Keeper must ensure that he is thoroughly familiar with the current Referee gestures and announcements, so that he can accurately indicate the progress and results of a contest.
In addition to the above persons there shall be a Contest Sheet Writer to record the overall course of the contests.
If electronic systems are used, the procedure shall be the same as described above.  However, manual timing clocks must also be used simultaneously with the electronic equipment to ensure their accuracy and manual scoreboards must be available in reserve.

2)  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments
At all events where the CARE System is utilized, there should be one referee on the mat and 2 judges sitting together at the side of the mat with a clear view of the CARE system, under the supervision of the Jury.  Neutrality of referees, judges and jury (with respect to the competitors) should be considered when possible.  The referee and judges should communicate via radio, if available.  If a CARE System is not used, we suggest having the judges sitting in chairs just outside opposite corners of the contest area (Note: this is not in the rules and is not necessarily the position of our national nor international referee commissions, but it does maintain having 3 different views of the action – a function usually accomplished by using 2 cameras as part of the CARE system.  Click HERE for details about the CARE system.  The standard referee uniform consists of a short-sleeve white dress shirt, dark gray slacks, black socks, black blazer and a referee tie (often black, although special event or organization referee ties may be authorized).  USA Judo has adopted an optional summer referee uniform, replacing the white shirt, tie and jacket with a black and gold “polo shirt”.  Several other organizations and some event organizers have also utilized special referee shirts.  When such variations to the standard referee uniform are used, all referees should be dressed similarly.  Click HERE to view some examples.  Scoreboard Keepers, Timekeepers and Contest Sheet Writers are additional tournament officials who assist the referee.  At many national and larger regional events these additional tournament officials also wear special uniforms, usually different than the Referees.

F.  Article 6 - Position & Function of the Referee

1.  IJF Rule
The Referee shall generally stay within the contest area.  He shall conduct the contest and administer the decisions.  He shall ensure that the decisions are correctly recorded.

APPENDIX Article 6 – Position and Function of the Referee
The Referee should ensure that all is in good order e.g. competition area, equipment, uniforms, hygiene, technical officials etc. before starting the contest.
The contestant wearing blue Judogi is to the left of the Referee and the contestant wearing the white Judogi is to the right of the Referee.
In cases when both contestants are in Newaza and facing outwards, the Referee may observe the action from the safety area.
Before officiating a contest, the Referees should familiarize themselves with the sound of the bell or means of indicating the end of the contest on their particular Tatami, and with the position of the doctor or medical assistant as well with headphones and CARE system.
When assuming control of a competition area the Referee should ensure that the mat surface is clean and in good condition, that there are no gaps between the Tatamis, and that the contestants comply with Articles 3 and 4 of the Refereeing Rules.
The Referee should ensure that there are no spectators, supporters or photographers in a position to cause a nuisance or a risk of injury to the contestants.
The Referee should leave the competition area during presentations or any lengthy delay in the program.

2.  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments
The Referee should generally stay within the contest area but may move outside the contest area to get a better view of the action when necessary. Prior to starting each match, he/she should ensure the competition area is in good condition (clean, no gaps between tatami and no tears or tripping hazards if rollout mats or a mat cover is used.  The Referee should scan the players (Blue on the Referee’s left and White on the Referee’s right) to verify they comply with Articles 3 & 4 of the Refereeing Rules

G.  Article 7 - Position & Function of the Judges

1.  IJF Rule
Two Referees, acting as judges, will be seated at the table of the mat that will be refereeing together with the Referee connected by earphones and will assist him with a video CARE system according to the “majority of three” rule.
Should a Judge notice that the scoreboard is incorrect he should draw the Referee’s attention to the mistake.
Should a contestant have to change any part of the Judogi outside the competition area, or need to temporarily leave the competition area after the contest has started for a reason considered necessary by the central Referee, giving this authorization only in exceptional circumstances, a judge must obligatorily go with the contestant to see that no anomaly occurs.
In the case that the Judges are not of the same sex, an official designated by the Refereeing Director shall substitute for the Judges and accompany the contestant.

2.  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments
When a CARE system is being used, two Judges should be seated at a table with the CARE system (to be used by them as necessary) and relay to the Referee via 2-way radio any changes required to comply with the majority of 3 rule.  The Judges may also sit together mat-side (at the direction of the Chief Referee) even if there is no CARE system, but we would suggest that they sit in chairs just outside of opposite corners of the Contest Area in order to provide the same views of the action afforded by the two cameras of a CARE system.

H.  Article 8 - Gestures

1.  IJF Rule
a)  The Referee
The Referee shall make gestures as indicated below when taking the following actions:
   1.  Ippon: shall raise one arm with palm of hand facing forward, high above the head.
   2.  Waza-ari: shall raise one of his arms with palm of hand facing downwards, sideways, to shoulder height.
   3.  Waza-ari-awasete-Ippon: shall give the waza-ari signal then drop the arm to your side and then give the Ippon signal.
   4.  Osaekomi: shall point his arm out from his body down towards the contestants while facing the contestants and bending his body towards them.

   5.  Toketa: shall raise one of his arms to the front and wave it from right to left quickly two or three times while bending his body towards the contestants.
   6.  Hikiwake: shall raise one of his hands high in the air and bring it down to the front of his body (with thumb edge up) and hold it there for a while.  (* See Appendix)
   7.  Mate: shall raise one of his hands to shoulder height with his arm approximately parallel to the Tatami and display the flattened palm of his hand (fingers up) to the Timekeeper.
   8.  Sono-mama:  shall bend forward and touch both contestants with the palms of his hands.
   9.  Yoshi:  shall firmly touch both contestants with the palms of his hands and bring pressure on them.
  10.  To indicate the cancellation of an expressed opinion: shall repeat with one hand the same gesture while raising the other hand above the head to the front and wave it from right to left two or three times.
  11.  To indicate the winner of a contest: shall raise one hand, palm in, above shoulder height towards the winner.
  12.  To direct the contestant(s) to re-adjust the Judogi: shall cross left hand over, palms facing inwards, at belt height.
  13.  To call the Doctor: shall face the medical table, wave an arm (palm upwards) from the direction of the medical table towards the injured contestant.
  14.  To award a penalty (Shido, Hansoku-make): shall point towards the contestant to be penalized with the forefinger extended from a closed fist.
  15.  Non-combativity: shall rotate, with a forward motion, the forearms at chest height then point with the forefinger at the contestant to be penalized.
  16.  False attack: shall extend both arms forward, with hands closed, and then make a downward action with both hands.

APPENDIX Article 8 – Gestures
When it is not clearly apparent, the Referee may after the official signal, point to the blue or white contestant (starting position) to indicate which contestant scored or was penalized.
To indicate to the contestant/s that he may sit cross-legged at the starting position if a lengthy delay in the contest is envisaged, the Referee should signal towards the starting position with an open hand, palm upwards.
The Waza-ari gestures should start with the arm across the chest, then sideways to the correct finishing position.
The Waza-ari gestures should be maintained for 3 to 5 seconds while moving to ensure that the score is clearly visible to the judges.  However, care should be taken when turning to keep the contestants within view.

     *7.  The Hikiwake gesture applies only to Round Robin Competitions.

Should both contestants be given a penalty, the Referee should make the proper gesture and point alternately at both contestants (left forefinger for the contestant on his left and right forefinger for the contestant on his right).
Should a rectification gesture be required, it shall be done as quickly as possible after the cancelled gesture.
There should be no announcement made when cancelling an expressed opinion.
All gestures should be maintained for 3 to 5 seconds.
To indicate the winner, the Referee shall return to his position at the start of the contest, take one step forward, indicate the winner and then take one step  back.

2.  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments

All gestures should be held 3-5 seconds and if a rectification gesture is required it should be done as quickly as possible after the cancellation gesture.  There should be no verbal announcement made when cancelling an expressed opinion.

A video display of these gestures can be viewed HERE.  (Note: the video shows waza-ari and pointing to the offender while awarding penalties somewhat higher than normally desired.)

I.  Article 9 - Location (Valid Areas)

1.  IJF Rule
The contest shall be fought in the contest area.  A throwing action to be valid must be initiated when both contestants are inside or at least Tori is in contact with the contest area or if this action is continuous.
Any technique applied when both contestants are outside the contest area shall not be recognized.
All actions are valid and may continue (No Mate) as long as either contestant has some part of their body touching the contest area.
   a)  When a throw is started with only one contestant in contact with the contest area, but during the action, both contestants move outside the contest area, the action may be considered for point scoring purposes if the throwing action continues uninterrupted.
        Similarly, any immediate counter technique by the player who was not in contact with the contest area when the throwing action started may be considered for point scoring purposes if the action continues uninterrupted.
   b)  In Newaza the action is valid and may continue outside of the contest area as long as Osaekomi was called inside.
   c)  Osaekomi outside the contest area: if the throwing action is finished outside the contest area and immediately one of the players applies Osaekomi, Shime-waza or Kansetsu-waza, this technique shall be valid.
If during the Newaza, Uke takes over the control with one of these nominated techniques in a continuous succession, it shall also be valid.
The Kansetsu-waza and Shime-waza initiated inside the contest area and recognized as being effective to the opponent can be maintained even if the contestants are outside the contest area.

APPENDIX Article 9 – Location (Valid Areas)
Once the contest has started, the contestants may only leave the competition area if given permission to do so by the Referee.  Permission will only be given in very exceptional circumstances, such as the necessity to change a Judogi which has become damaged or soiled.

2.  U.S. Modifications and /or Comments
– video examples – The contest must be fought in the Contest Area, however any technique (or continuous sequence) started in the Contest Area but completed in the Safety Area shall also be allowed, unless the safety of the competitors is jeopardized.  Click HERE for video of Jan 2014 IJF Rule Interpretation  Click HERE for video examples from the 2016 Ref/Coach Seminar in TokyoJ. 


Article 10 - Duration of the Contest

1.  IJF Rule
1.  The duration of the contests and the contest form shall be determined according to the rules of the tournament.
For all Championships held under the responsibility of the IJF the time duration of the contests and resting time between contests will be referred in these Rules.
This regulation will provide guidance and guidelines to follow both National Championships and the rest of Official Tournaments.
     Senior Men / Team:                                                4 minutes real contest time
     Senior Women / Team:                                           4 minutes real contest time
     Junior under 21 Men and Women / Team:              4 minutes real contest time
     Cadet under 18 Men and Women / Team:               4 minutes real contest time
2.  Any contestant is entitled to a 10 minute rest between contests.
3.  The Referee should be aware of the duration of the contest before coming into the competition area.

2.  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments
– IJF match times are 4 minutes for men, women, Juniors (under 21) and Cadet (under 18).  The reason the length of the men's matches was reduced from 5 minutes to 4 minutes was to "Respect for parity as wished by the IOC and fight time unity for the Olympic mixed team event".  Typically for Regional and Local events in the U.S. the times are 4 minutes for advanced men and advanced women, and 3 minutes for novice men, novice women, masters and all competitors under the age of 17.  Occasionally these times may be modified but that should be noted in the event flyer.   Typically, competitors are allowed a 10 minute rest period between matches (in the same division).


K.  Article 11 - Time Out/Sono-mama/Mate

1.  IJF Rule
The time elapsed between the announcement of Mate and Hajime and between Sono-mama and Yoshi by the Referee shall not count as part of the duration of the contest.

2.  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments

L.  Article 12 - Time Signal

1.  IJF Rule
The end of the time allotted for the contest shall be indicated to the Referee by the ringing of a bell or other similar audible signal.

APPENDIX Article 12 – Time Signal
When using several competition areas at the same time – the use of different audible signals is required.  The time signal must be sufficiently loud to be heard over the noise of the spectators.

2.  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments
Each mat area should use a unique sound and be loud enough to be easily heard by the Referee above the ambient sound level.  At local events, occasionally bean bags might be used.

M.  Article 13 - Osaekomi Time

1.  IJF Rule
1. Equivalences
   a) Ippon: Total of 20 seconds.
   b) Waza-ari: 10 seconds or more but less than 20 seconds.

2.  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments


N.  Article 14 - Technique coinciding with the Time Signal

1.  IJF Rule
1. Any immediate result of a technique started simultaneously with the time signal shall be valid.
2. Although a throwing technique may be applied simultaneously with the bell, if the Referee decides that it will not be effective immediately, he shall announce Sore-made, without any value for scoring purposes.
3. Any technique applied after the ringing of the bell to indicate the expiry of the time of the contest shall not be valid, even if the Referee has not yet announced Sore-made.
4. Simultaneous Osaekomi with the time signal
When Osaekomi is announced simultaneously with the bell or similar audible device indicating the time signal allotted for the contest, or when the remaining time is insufficient to allow for the completion of the Osaekomi, the time allotted for the contest shall be extended until either Ippon (or equivalence) is announced or the Referee announces Toketa or Mate.
During that time the contestant who receives the Osaekomi (Uke), can counterattack by applying Shime-waza or Kansetsu-waza. In case of getting a give up or incapacity of the contestant making the Osaekomi (Tori), the one who’s under Osaekomi (Uke) will win the contest by Ippon.

2.  U.S. Modifications and/or Comments
– Click HERE to view an example from the 2015 IJF Seminar (Malaga) 




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