T Nation

USJA Eliminating Attacks Below the Belt?


At practice last night, my coach was telling us that the USJA is going to make it illegal to attack with your hands anywhere below the belt. No more single leg or double leg takedowns, etc. We're not a USJA club... he thinks if they go this route, the AAU Judo membership (we're AAU) will jump dramatically. Anyone here a USJA member and have any idea if this is true? What are your thoughts on this?

On a side note, my coach said he's trying to get some FILA stuff going on down here. He was competing in Canada last week and really liked how FILA is set up.


I think the premise is to put Moroto Gari (double) and Kuchiki Taoshi & maybe Kibisu Gaeshi
in the category of unskilled throws like Tomo nagae, ( like what Captain Kirk used).

There was also a rule change about Pants- grabbing of Pants can no longer happen before the throw,
if you grab pants During a throw or to complete a throw that is ok. If pants are grabbed to initiate a throw or take down they will call penalty and give Shido.

That is my understanding of the rules change additions.

maybe Im not completely aware of whats new and there is more?

I do know there has been some noise in the past few years to eliminate singles and doubles as not "pretty" judo.

coming from a kodokon school for years,I can understand the purist veiw but really I think they are fine for competition, but I dont get to make rules.



I actually think I am on board with this if it separates away all of the wrestling I've seen at recent tournaments.


FWIW I'm not USJA, but am USJF in as much as it allows me to join tournaments. Our actual dojo has no affiliation with USJF.

Last January in the tournament where I dislocated my shoulder, the pants rule was used for the first time. The way it was described to us at the pre-match meetings was that if you grab a leg it has to be part of an immediate throw. One cannot grab a leg and then try to work some offense. If the throw didn't work, you have to release.

I don't grab pants often, but I will if uke slides around my hip on seoinage or as a counter if someone messes up and tries hiza guruma on my back leg.

Another new rule that was being enforced was using the collar grip to ground your opponent, thereby "stalling." I actually got called for this and was not too happy, because I was using it to try to get uke to pop up for a sweep.


It is changes like that, though, that appear to castrate the arts.


x2 Great way to take the sport and pigeon hole it even further while reducing it's effectiveness. Ugh.


I dont make the rules, I just explained what they be...:)))

internationally this is less of an issue, here in the states we are kind of backwards with with how we roll.

If judo goes the route of TKD it would suck, but its getting there.

this is as bad as the greco rule change that Rulan Gardner was able to win by, now Rulan was a stud fo sho,
but the rule change seemed minute and led to one of the biggest upsets ever.

so word the new rules are making Judo like TDK..


Hahah I ain't shootin the messenger.

But if you research boxing back in the day (1800 and before) it was more or less a complete art- there was grappling moves, elbows, dirty shots, sometimes bareknuckle, etc. It was probably like two big Ricky Hattons going at it, just blatantly dirty and brutal like they teach you in North Philly.

Obviously there were rule changes to make it more "civilized," and unfortunately the art loses something when they do that.


you almost hurt my feeling.

Its true, "catch wrestling' was very popular in the 1700's too and that certainly got toned down
much like boxing.

one of the Japanese, told me about what Judo was before Kodkon part of other stuff.
Any one who plays Akido will tell you that too.



I don't think it is making judo less effective or castrating it. How many times have you seen a match where one guy keeps shooting double legs, and uke turns enough to land on his belly every time, so no point is scored.


That's enough part of judo I can't stand. I know it is a sport, but turtling is an extremely bad habit to form if one were to use it in a real life situation. As far as the rule change, I think it partly has to do with the fact that a lot of purists were upset after the Mongolian heavyweight and ex-wrestler (can't think of his name) won all of his matches by double legs aka "ugly judo" en route to his gold medal.


Ugly judo is often winning judo


True for many arts. If it gets the job done, it gets the job done.


There is a good discussion on the judo forum about this very topic.


Rhadi Ferguson... makes some good points about how a rule change like this affects elite players.



Rhadi said it right


Thanks for that link kmc. Excellent argument from Rhadi. What he said right here is spot on for me,

"You and I know that it is a common colloquial belief that it takes 10,000 hours to perfect a technique. Could you imagine training all of your life for the Junior World Championships and perfecting a technique only to have it removed from your arsenal. Unbelievable. Or to have it removed during the 4 year cycle of training after sacrificing your whole life. Unreal. Such a decision is just flat out harsh and insensitive. If you've never trained at such a level, you couldn't possibly believe how earth shattering this can be for some."

Basically I was raised from birth with "Ugly Judo", I couldn't change what's been welded into my DNA even if I wanted to. I've experienced alot of bias from referees throughout my playing days because of this already unfortunately. This is a big reason why I've drifted over more and more to submission grappling, where there's nobody telling me I can't do this or that technique. And that's sad because I love Judo, and all it's styles and variations, I have no prejudice towards someone who is a "purist" just because I fight differently than they do. To me, the proposed rule changes just seem contrary to what the spirit of Judo is all about.


you couldn't possibly believe how earth shattering this can be for some."

this Phrase so close to home.

I like the "purist" judo in the dojo when I am being "free" and getting my metaphysical on.
as far as playing in a match I like winning. Sometimes too much :slight_smile: thus the sneaky guy bag of tricks that I enjoy so much.
after greco, needless to say my judo changed allot. I can be guilty of some ugly judo.



I think the beauty of judo is that if you don't want to lose by morote gari, then you have every opportunity to plant your opponents back on the mat before it happens. There is nothing about morote gari that makes it any better than any other throw, and like all throws, it can be countered.


You've pretty much hit it.

judoforum.com/index.php?showtopic=39957&hl= is a long discussion about it on the Judoforum -- well worth reading for the comments.

Dang, I thought your link was to the Jimmy Pedro/Ferguson discussion of the rule, not the same one I linked to.

Well, can't hurt to refer to this link twice and suggest people just find the other one.

Which is here: judoforum.com/index.php?showtopic=39766

Worth looking at for comparison.


If players start using other techniques besides leg take-downs then it is a successful albeit extreme solution.

The question is why they want players to refrain from using leg take-downs.

It could be because of influence from purists. If this rule is something that only the USJA is doing then maybe it is not about "pure judo". Maybe they feel too many US players are relying on their wrestling too much. So much so that is a crutch instead of an advantage.

If we consider the dearth of Olympic and World Championship success of US players then maybe the USJA believes eliminating attacks below the belt will force players to train techniques they are not good at instead of take-downs they may already be good at. They could make the point that players are winning at the local and national level with their wrestling reinforcing training of take-downs. But which leaves them vulnerable at the international level.

I don't know that this is the case, I am just throwing some ideas out there.

In regards to the purists, I have read debate about this in Japan. The debate does not concern which techniques are pure. The debate was about whether players were winning by ippon. There are the traditionalists in Japan who believe pure judo or Japanese judo is winning by ippon. There are some non-traditionalists who think that maybe this mindset should change and that we should accept winning by points or at least not throw out the possibility of winning on points.
Reading some of the traditionalists arguments could be summed up in three rules.

  1. You must win by ippon

  2. Losing is better than winning by points

3 Losing is unacceptable

Before the Beijing Olympics, Satoshi Ishii was heavily criticized for his propensity to win by points. I was surprised some sports publications were ignoring his chances of medaling at the Olympics. I think the traditionalists view of Judo influenced the media's view of him.

Ishii eventually won gold, and his performance was "acceptable". Ishii finally was doing real judo some pundits would say.

Maybe take-downs no matter how good you are at them are not enough to have sustained success(as a program) in Judo at the international level. Maybe the USJA thinks this and this is what they are doing to fix the problem.

I do not think simply take-downs are the source if US judo's lack of international success, it is a much more complex problem. But if one was to look at the sustained success of the Japanese players, like an Inoue who wins multiple world championships and Olympic gold, probably undersized for his division, with uchi mata. Or Koga's success with seionage. Maybe there are some US officials thinking "Why can't we do that?â??. And I am sure that the US could develop players like that.