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Judo Singapore 1

image credit: Guek Peng Siong/SportSG

Many may think that the sport of Judo is complicated, but scoring a contest boils down to three main categories: ippon, waza-ari and yuko.

Equal to one full point, and a win, an ippon is a full throw in which a contestant throws the opponent to the mat with considerable force and speed, such that the opponent lands on his or her back. Ippon is also awarded when a contestant immobilises his or her opponent with a hold for 25 seconds, or when an opponent gives up or passes out. If an opponent does pass out, only a doctor or trainer is allowed to administer resuscitation.

In the event of an ippon, the referee will signal the end of the match by putting his hand straight up.


Equal to a half-point, a waza-ari is a throw that shows power and superiority but isn’t clear enough to be an ippon, either because the opponent didn’t land primarily on his or her back, or because the throw lacked speed or force. Waza-ari is also awarded for immobilising an opponent for at least 20 seconds, but less than 25 seconds.

Two waza-aris end a match. When you earn a waza-ari, the referee will put his arm out at shoulder level to indicate it.

Usually called an “almost waza-ari”, a yuko is worth a quarter of a point. A common yuko is throwing an opponent on his or her side. Yuko is given for a throw that is lacking in two of the three elements of an ippon, namely putting the opponent on his or her back; doing so at a particular speed, as well as force.  Yuko is also given for immobilising an opponent with a hold for 15 seconds or more, but less than 20 seconds.

No number of yukos can equal a waza-ari in the final tallying of the fight’s outcome. To signal a yuko, the referee’s arm is raised 45 degrees out from the side.

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