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.

Alwyn Freestyle Judo said...

I am Alwyn Grobbelaar,

I have created a Freestyle Judo South Africa Organization Alliance here in South Africa under the wing of the IFJA, with the guidance, assistance and mentored by Sensei Steve Scott Founder of International Freestyle Judo Alliance, which is great person and with all the knowledge and love for the Kodokan Judo.

Freestyle Judo is the Judo I used to know from 34 years ago, this is Judo throughout and as it ought to be, leg grabs no rolling Ippons. Ippon is a Ippon and should be treated as such.

With IFJA Judo Rules it also not only let you grab the leg, but get grip and work from there to get a throw or Ippon, then there is the Ne-Waza, which is also the best part of Freestyle Judo as well, there you have to really work for your points, and believe me you work for your points by using your knowledge and skills of Katame waza to obtain a submission, not even to to talk about the guard passing which will give you 1-point as well as the guard sweeps, etc., this is Judo.

Time on the ground in Freestyle Judo actually gives you enough time to change from an hold down to a submission without the interference by the referee, after 30 seconds of a hold in ne-waza gives you 4 points, but then you are instructed by the referee verbally to go for a submission, if not 1 point against you, this is Judo.

Best of all about the Freestyle Judo is, that other Martial Artists and other grappling sport participants i.e. from Gacie Bara Jiu-Jitsu, BJJ, Jui-Jitsu, Sambo, Wrestlers, Kurash, etc. can participate in the Freestyle Judo tournaments in the Gi and the No-Gi divisions and/or both, this keeps Judo recognized as the best Martial Arts Grappling sport in the world to my opinion.

This is my penny worth on Freestyle Judo, have a fantastic day further.

Best regards from South Africa.

Redd Kuma said...

Hopefully there will be more judoka that will get involved and help support this awesome sport.