Olympic Judo London 2012 (85 of 98)

Karina Bryant at the London 2012 Olympics (Photo credit: Martin Hesketh)

I have really enjoyed watching the Olympic Judo coverage this time. I recorded all of the sessions from the BBC, which filled up the DVR – much to my Wife’s annoyance. But hey – its only on TV once every 4 years. I have to put up with Wimbledon every year!
Besides which, I fully expected to be disgusted with the standard of Judo and be deleting the programming like in previous years.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. The rule changes have, in my opinion been of great benefit to the sport. Gone is the Koka. Gone are leg grabs.  No more scoring points for landing an opponent on his backside or for simply grabbing the ankle and pulling.

Although the Koka an Yuko were introduced in 1974, all the competitions (British Judo Council and Jitsu Foundation) appear to have recognised the traditional scoring system: Ippon = 1pt, Waza-ari = 0.5pt. Shido for a minor rule infringement, Chui for a major infringement and Keikoku for a grave infringement.

This opinion, I formed during the opening lightweight bouts – before the British Team gained some medals. Most of the athletes put on a great show with excellent spirit. However, for some they would not have survived the old rules. It used to be possible to be awarded a Keikoku (very nearly disqualification) for escaping your opponent by moving out of the contest area or for ignoring the referee. Both of these offences were committed in the 2012 Olympics and awarded shidos. Likewise, hansoku-maki (disqualification) was awarded for diving towards the mat during a throw or falling backwards on top of an opponent. Both of these were present in the 2012 Olympics and were both scoring techniques!

The BBC commentator also commented that he didn’t understand why the bouts didn’t just go to the golden score (sudden death) as so many of the fights were scoreless in the first 5 minute round.

In the bout between Travis Stevens and Bischof Ole a number of questionable attacks from Ole resulted in Stevens being bandaged for a split eyebrow and being poked in the other one. When Stevens put his leg in too centrally during Uchi Mata, it resulted in them squaring off toe to toe. The referee had to intervene and make them shake hands. This is a pretty rare sight in Judo, but again – under the old rules would have resulted in penalties.

Some of the highlights were the Japanese Judoka, Hiroaki Hiraoka, who scored a waza-ari and a clear ippon in 1 minute, 8 seconds. Of course, the performances by the British women, Katrina Bryant and Gemma Gibbons were great performances.

I also happened to see some of the fencing. It happened to be a controversial bout – not the one with the 90 minute sit-in protest by South Korea’s Shin A Lam, but the one where one contestant leapt into the and was thrown off of the podium by the other. After the referees consulted each other and the rule book it was decided that it was a legal move and that thrower (Tori?) had scored by slashing at the recumbent “Uke’s” neck!

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