Judo Kumikata - By Mel Appelbaum, Olympic Referee

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The worldwide extreme focus on kumikata has forced the IJF to adjust the contest rules to force players to do their judo rather than play a game of nonjudo. This nonjudo forces referees to hand out shidos quickly in order to encourage action. At the Nationals in Reno, Nevada, two weeks ago I saw many hansukumakes correctly handed out to players for total defensiveness. Why come to fight in the Nationals if you are only going to defend?


As an example... One highly anticipated Open Division contest was the match between two time All-Japan Champion and Olympic Gold medalist Ishii and Tenri's Takahashi. This was to be a rematch of last year's match which ended quickly with Ishii receiving hansukumake for a leg grab. It might be helpful if the athletes of this caliber would read the rules. This year Ishii did not grab Takahashi's leg but he was completely defensive with his kumikata. Ishii never attacked once during the match and received four shidos for defensiveness and then Hansokumake. A rather ugly match from the international champion. Ishii did not return to fight when called for his second match. To all observers it was very disappointing.


Travis Stevens (USA) Vs Ole Bischof (GER) at the 2012 Olympics in London

This focus on kumikata stems from instructors teaching beginners how to stop the other player before they can even do any judo. Defensive kumikata should not be taught until players have completed at least one year of Judo where they understand ukemi and can execute some throws and are comfortable in randori. The spirit of Judo is tied to the Ippon. The focus of Judo waza is the Ippon not how well you stop your opponent.

Randori is where one learns how to attack and throw and be thrown. If one only learns only how to defend then one will never be adroit in Judo.

Mel Appelbaum, NYAC Judo


About the author


Founded in 1868, the New York Athletic Club can boast of a unique history. The Club's founding premise was to bring structure to a sporting environment that was lacking in organization and uniformity of measurement. Quickly, the NYAC organized the first US championships in boxing, wrestling and outdoor track and…

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