Freestyle Judo

In a recent post, I lamented how the rules handed down by the International Judo Federation (IJF, the official governing body of world judo) were working to change judo from an adaptable, effective martial art to an isolated, fragile sport.  After reading around in the internet, I found out about Freestyle Judo, which uses a different rule set for competitions that helps get judo back to what it should be.  It is found as a part of AAU Judo, which also sanctions IJF-rules tourneys.

The short version of the differences:
  • First and foremost, they got rid of the crappy "no leg grab" rule
  • Most grips are legal (e.g., belt grips, cross grips, etc) as long as they aren't overly defensive
  • Ippons are harder to come by - no "rolling" ippons
  • For every score less than an ippon, you get various degrees of points; while there is no waza ari, you can still win by getting a 12 point spread on your opponent
  • More time is given for groundwork to develop
  • No ippon for osae komi (hold downs) - the best you can get is 4 points for a 20 second pin
  • You can get a point for passing guard, rollovers, and sweeps
  • You can get penalized for passivity/over defensiveness on the ground (e.g., turtling for too long)
  • Refs will give verbal instructions/warnings before assessing a penalty
With the exception of the no victory by osae komi rule, I like all of these.  It encourages creativity in the standing game, and discourages some of the garbage by-product behaviors that Judo has typically encouraged, like defenseless turtling.  They have also introduced a no-gi division, so there's that, too.

What do you guys think?  Do you like the changes?  Anything give you heartburn?  I may try to get a FSJ-rules tourney going around here (VA)... Anyone interested in competing?

You can learn more about Freestyle Judo at their website:



Josh said...

Chad, Freestyle is the best! It really gives a Judoka a chance to show what they can do without the fear of the rolling ippon, or the pinning ippon. With that freedom there is so much creativity and skill that naturally develops through the course of a match. It really plays well to this generation of submission wrestlers, but has the tradition of hardcore judo.

Chad Morrison said...

I certainly have nothing against getting rid of the rolling ippon, but I am a huge fan of the pinning ippon! Mostly because that is how I have gotten most of my victories. =:> But I see your point. It's that creativity that you mention that has me most excited about it, though. Forcing judoka to adapt and overcome will strengthen the art as a whole. I can't wait to give it a try.

kodokanjudo said...

I agree that these rules are an improvement over the IJF rules but still too "sporty" for my taste.