How is Judo Scored in the Olympics?

Olympic Judo match between two men

If you’re a combat sports enthusiast, you‘ve probably tuned into the Olympics to watch the Judo matches. For those that have never practiced or competed in Judo, the scoring may be a little confusing.

That’s why we’ve put together this article to explain how Judo is scored in the Olympics. We’ll go over how an Olympic Judo match is won and how points are scored.

How is Judo scored in the Olympics? There are three different types of scores in Olympic Judo that include ippon, waza-ari, and yuko. An ippon wins the match, a waza-ari scores 10 points, and a yuko scores 1 point.

The ways to score in Olympic Judo

Competitors in Olympic Judo can score in three different ways. The three ways that they can score include:

  1. Ippon
  2. Waza-ari
  3. Yuko


An ippon is when a Judoka lands a perfect technique on their opponent. The Olympics’ definition of an ippon is a full throw that is done with considerable force and speed.

To be awarded an ippon, the opponent must land directly or largely on their back. Landing a perfect throw will result in an automatic win for the Judoka athlete.

There is another way that an ippon can be awarded within the Olympics. That is when an athlete is held down on the ground in a submission hold for 20 seconds.

Ippons are also awarded if the opponent submits or gets put to sleep from a Gi choke. Whenever an ippon occurs, the official will raise their arm straight up declaring the match over.

Example of an ippon by technique 

An example of an award by technique would be if a Judoka lands a perfect osoto-gari on their opponent. The opponent is tripped and falls flat on their back. Resulting in a win for the competitor that scored.

Example of a grounded ippon

An example of a grounded ippon could be where an opponent defended a takedown, but fell to the ground. The competitor that ends up on type locks in a Canto choke that puts their opponent to sleep. As a result, they are awarded an ippon and win the match.


A waza-ari is where a successful throw or sweep was landed, but the opponent did not land on their back. Also because the throw did not have the speed or force to be considered an ippon.

Another way to earn a waza-ari is by controlling an opponent on the ground for at least 15 seconds. But the opponent did not submit or get put to sleep within this time frame.

Landing a waza-ari will result in a competitor earning 10 points. If they score 2 waza-aris in their match, this will result in the match ending.

The referee will signal a win by waza-ari by raising their arm at shoulder level and straightening it to the side.

Example of a waza-ari by technique

An example of earning a waza-ari from a throwing technique could be successfully landing a seoi-nage. But the opponent did not land on their back or the throw wasn’t powerful enough to be considered an ippon. This will result in 10 points for the competitor.

Example of a waza-ari on the ground

A grounded waza-ari could be that an opponent fell to the ground and you ended up on top of them. You either held them down for less than 20 seconds or applied a submission, but they didn’t submit and escaped.


A yuko is considered an almost waza-ari. This is when a competitor lands a throw or sweep, but it wasn’t technical, nor done with speed or force.

The opponent also did not land on their back. On the ground, a yuko is awarded when a submission is held for less than 15 seconds.

A number of yukos do not equal a waza-ari or an ippon. The referee will put their arm out at a 45 degree angle to signal a point for a yuko.

An example of a yuko by technique

An example of earning a yuko could be by landing a sloppy uchi-mata throw, where the opponent fell on their side. The referee will award you one point for landing this technique.

An example of a yuko on the ground

When an opponent falls to the ground and the competitor secures an armbar. They have the submission, but their opponent escapes before the 15 second mark.


There are two different penalties that can be handed down by a referee in a Judo competition. They could either be a hansoku-make or a shido.


A hansoku-make is the negative equivalent of an ippon that results in an immediate disqualification of a competitor. Basically a competitor is sighted for unsportsmanlike conduct and loses the match.

Hansoku-makes can be handed down with one bad infringement or the rules or multiple small infringements. Either way, this results in the offending competitor losing the match.


Shidos are smaller infringements of the rules of competition that do not result in a disqualification. Although if a competitor receives 4 shidos, that equals a hansoku-make and results in them losing the match.

Types of shidos include:

  • Non-combativity
  • Intentionally stepping out of bounds
  • Playing defensively
  • Hands to an opponent’s face

Ways to win in Olympic Judo

A Judo match in the Olympics is won by 5 different ways.

  • Ippon
  • 2 waza-aris scored
  • Opponent receives a hansoku penalty
  • Opponent receives 4 shido penalties(adding up to a hansoku penalty)
  • Opponent gets injured and cannot continue.

An Olympic Judo match that goes the distance without an ippon or 2 waza-aris scored, the quality of scores are assessed. If both competitors have one waza-ari each, but one has more yukos, that competitor is declared the winner.

If both competitors have the same score, the winner will be who was given less shido penalties.

The golden score

When a match ends with competitors having the same score of yukos and shidos, the match goes to a golden score. A golden score is basically a sudden death round.

The clocks are reset and whoever scores the first point will be declared the winner. Anything from a yuko or a shido penalty will give a competitor the win.

Is Olympic Judo scored the same as in sport judo?

Yes, Olympic Judo goes by the rules of sport that were implemented by the International Judo Federation.(IJF) They are the main governing body that has worked together with the Olympics ever since Judo became an Olympic sport.

This includes the point system that both governing bodies use.

Also, anytime the IJF makes alterations to the rules of sport Judo, the Olympics adopts those rules into their competitions. For example, if a throw is banned in IJF competition, the Olympics also ban

Kano Judo vs Sport Judo

Olympic Judo in itself is sport Judo, which the founder of Judo, Jigoro Kano was strictly against. He wanted Judo to be seen as a martial art and not a sport.

This difference caused a split within the Judo community. Now, there are Judo schools that are traditional Kano Judo or sport Judo. The type of Judo that you see done within the Olympics.

Go watch Judo matches now with clearer eyes

Judo’s scoring system is rather simple to understand and makes watching a match easy to follow. Now that you have a better understanding of the scoring system, you’ll be able to watch Olympic Judo with clearer eyes!

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Let's Roll BJJ aims to be the leading source of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Grappling information and news on the web. Dorian, the owner and editor of Let's Roll BJJ is a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu and has been training and competing for over 6 years. Apart from being a BJJ geek, Dorian is a software developer by trade, a husband, and a father of two wonderful kids who he's recently began teaching Jiu Jitsu. When he's not training, coding, or writing, you can find him hiking, camping or occasionally binging on video games.


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