I have posted previously on the proposed judo contest rule changes for 2010. Well, they are no longer proposed. They are now with us and running at international level for all events. As a result we can expect this to filter down to domestic events (more on that later).
The core of the changes are still the same. However, some leeway has been given to a judoka who finds that they are in ‘cross guard’ (Tori has forced Uke down by taking an arm over the back so it is on the same side as the sleeve grip). In such a situation Uke would not have many attacking options which did not involve contact below the belt. As a result, to add to the complexity, this is now allowed…..UNLESS (yes there’s more) Uke had deliberately put themselves in that position to begin with!
As always, based on the discretion of the referee team.
Actually, this is one good thing that has come out of this: The IJF is no longer insisting on a single referee per mat. They will continue to use three in conjunction with the video system. Business as usual. Some commentators feel they intended to backtrack on this one all along so it gave more of an impression of actually consulting the coaches and players that form the international circuit.
Despite this consultation there is still some absolutely dreadful use of the English language in the document. For example, ‘Judo is a physic and mental education system’. Physic?
Naturally the issue of referees having to decide whether a leg grab has been part of a genuine combination or that the opponent genuinely attacked first still stands. Or, in IJF words, that there was an attempt to ‘make fall’! This is where there has been an absolutely horrendous change to the previous draft: It is now HANSOKUMAKE ON FIRST OFFENCE. There is no warning of any kind. If it is judged you have fallen foul of the changes the contest is over for you.
Up to now, direct hansokumake was reserved for items such actions against the spirit of judo or use of a prohibited technique (where the technique was prohibited for safety concerns). Now it is being used for techniques deemed responsible for ‘untidy’ judo. Disgraceful.
Domestic judo organisations may take a different approach. As an example, the British Judo Association has announced that it will retain the shido for the first offence at all levels.
The IJF has released some video examples to help illustrate which sequences are still permitted and which ones would now result in direct hansokumake. Some are good examples of negative judo which of course are not attractive to watch. However, look at example 23. Hansokumake. Why though? White has put in an attack and blue has attempted to immediately counter which means they should be permitted to grab the leg. Yes, it ends up being a lame attack and it looks bad BUT they should be allowed to try that one still, surely? Part of the reason it doesn’t work is because white is diving for the tatami as soon as they can once they realise they are off balance. Also, wasn’t blue in ‘cross guard’ as well?
One more: Example 24. Deemed hansokumake. To my eyes, this was a good combination. Yes there was a slight delay between techniques but it was seamless. Perhaps the first attack was not considered ‘genuine’? Look at it again though, give the benefit of the doubt to Tori: Uke tried to attack at the same time so they had to perhaps change their strategy? The reason the throw was successful was due to Uke becoming vulnerable in that initial exchange.
Lafon has made a fantastic blog posting on this subject including some more analysis of the videos: Hansoku Make, IJF!. I strongly recommend it.
Finally, the last entry is curious:
Any action against the spirit of Judo can be punished by a direct HANSOKUMAKE at anytime of the contest.
This is not new. So why mention it explicitly here? I feel this is almost a ‘warning shot’ against coaches developing new strategies to work ‘against’ these changes. The IJF could identify such cleverness and issue an addendum declaring it as against the spirit of judo, and hey, hansokumake for you guys too!
These changes worry me. Referees already had the tools they needed to punish negative judo without having to resort to banning whole techniques. The fact is, for whatever reason, they weren’t using them at international level. Flop ‘n’ drops were being allowed to happen. If anything, I have seen domestic events be harsher!
The bottom line here is that the IJF needs judo to look dynamic and exciting for the Olympic Games. If it is not visually appealing to the layperson its place in the Games is at risk.
I’ve recently finished reading Judo Memoirs of Jigoro Kano which is excellent. It includes the story of how Kano ‘imported’ Kata Guruma into judo (he needed a technique to throw someone who he just could not throw). The sad thing is that you will not be seeing too many examples of that throw at international competition now…
Coaches will be priming their charges with alternatives (e.g. the above throw but with two hands on one sleeve) which in turn could also lead to ‘flop and drop’ attempts at it from some quarters. Aren’t we then back where we started? Won’t we need rules to guard against negative attacks? And for referees to identify and penalise these?
Isn’t this where we came in? We’ve had the tools for this for a long time. Bottom line: There is no need to restrict techniques to stop negative judo. Indeed, to gain maximum efficiency here, wouldn’t a simple tightening up have worked really nicely? Maximum efficiency… I’m sure that sounds familiar somehow…
For a comparison on how these changes have been brought in compared to rugby union, check out Lance Wicks’ excellent IRB ELVs Vs. IJF 2010 rule changes post.