I've been watching the Olympic Judo matches and I'm confused.

I know that ippon is an instant win. And 2 waza-ari are the equivlent of an ippon. But then there is another number associated with the matches.

Additionally there is a gold mark (or multiple marks) that appear occastionally next to a participant's name.

A complete answer of all scoring, points, and mark meaning would be appreciated.

4 Answers 4


Judo rules and scoring have changed over the years, so I am providing an update for 2016. Differences from older answers are in pin times and treatment of penalties.


There are three positive scores:

  1. ippon - a match ends immediately if when an ippon is scored. Referee signals with arm pointing to ceiling.
  2. wazari - if a player scores two wazari, the match immediately ends (wazari awasete ippon). Referee signals with arm out to side, parallel or higher to ground.
  3. yuko - these only count if match time expires. Referee signals with arm out to side and angled down.

There are four ways to score:

  1. throw
  2. pin (osaekomi)
  3. choke (shime)
  4. arm lock (kansetsu)

Chokes and arm locks are all or nothing; they can only score ippon. Throws and pins have their own criteria for determining scores.

Throw scoring

The criteria for judging a throw score are:

  1. opponent lands largely on the back
  2. speed
  3. force
  4. control

If a throw meets all four criteria, it is an ippon. It if it missing one, it is a wazari, including if the player being thrown rolls across their back instead of landing on it. A yuko is a throw where the player lands on their side. There is no score if someone lands on their front.

In order to score, a player must perform a throwing action. It is not sufficient for an opponent to land on their back, as they would, for example, while attempting a sacrifice throw. In situations where one player is attacking and the other counters, either player may score. It may be very difficult in these situations to determine who has scored, as in the 2000 Sydney Olympics heavyweight final.


Pins require control of the opponent with the back of at least one of their shoulders on the mat and the requirement that the legs of the pinning player must be free of the player being pinned.

The duration of the pin determines score:

  1. 10-14 seconds - yuko
  2. 15-19 seconds - wazari
  3. 20 seconds - ippon

Matches can continue on the mat before a pin while the referee considers that progress is being made, which is subjective. If the situation stalls, the referee restarts the competitors in a standing position.


Sadly, penalties are a very important component of competitive judo. There are two types of penalties:

  1. major (hansoku make) Major penalties result in automatic disqualification and are relatively rare. These are for grabbing the legs from a standing position, punching, or safety violations.
  2. minor (shido) Minor penalties include for stalling, false attacks (which are a form of stalling), not taking a grip, pulling off a grip with two hands, holding onto one side of the opponents gi with two hands without attacking, stepping out of bounds, or pushing your opponent out of bounds. Four shidos in a match result in disqualification.

Penalties do not accumulate into positive scores before disqualification. They used to, but this was changed to encourage "positive judo" so that positive scores count above penalties. Towards the end of matches, you will often see the player in the lead stalling and accumulating penalties to preserve their lead.

The referee signals a penalty by stopping the match, making a motion to indicate the violation, and pointing a finger at the offending player.

End of time

When time expires, scores and penalties are compared to determine who wins. If one player has a wazari and the other does not, the player with the wazari wins. If the number of wazari is the same, yukos are compared. If one player has more yukos, that player wins. If the number of yukos is also the same, the shidos are compared. If one player has fewer shidos, that player wins.

When time expires and the players are tied (same scores and penalties), the match continues in golden score. The players compete until one player either scores or exactly one receives a shido, and a winner is declared.

Scoring examples

The score format is now (ippon)(wazari)(yuko)s(shido). Leading zeros may be omitted.

  • 100-0s1 Player 1 has an ippon, and player 2 has a shido. Player 1 wins
  • 1s1-0s2 Player 1 a yuko and a shido, and player 2 has 2 shidos. Player 1 wins.
  • 2-10s3 Player 1 has 2 yukos. Player 2 has a wazari and 3 shidos. Player 2 wins.
  • 0H-100s1 Player 1 has a hansoku make. Player 2 has an ippon (because of player 1's hansoku make) and a shido. Player 2 wins.
  • 0s1-0s2 Player 1 has a shido. Player 2 has 2 shidos. Player 1 wins.

Ippon will win the match (throw where they land mostly on their back, done with speed, force and control, or osae komi of 25 seconds, or a submission)

2 waza ari = ippon (throw where they land mostly on their back, with one of the other criteria missing, or osae komi of 20-24.9 seconds)

Yuko (for throws where they land on their side, or osae komi (pins) of 15-20 seconds). No amounts of yuko will add up to waza ari or ippon.

The gold marks I believe are penalties. The first penalty is recorded but no score is given to the other player (i think, it's been a bit since i competed, and when i did, the first penalty got you a koka, which no longer exists). The 2nd will give the other player a yuko, and the 3rd will give them waza ari), The 4th will disqualify the athlete being penalized.

The most common penalties are:

  • non combativity(not attacking with a real attack for to long),
  • false attacks(doing a lame throw attempt that gets you to the ground),
  • defensive posture (standing with your arms locked out usually),
  • illegal grips (2 hands on one side of the opponents gi for more then 2-3 seconds without attacking).
  • I was under the impression that no amount of waza-ari would add up to an ippon either. Is that an outdated rule?
    – Robin Ashe
    Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 16:49
  • 1
    I don't think that has ever been the rule, as far back as I can remember (about 15 years), 2 waza aris equaled ippon.
    – Patricia
    Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 17:12
  • @RobinAshe No number of yuko or koka (an outdated sub-yuko score) can add up to anything greater than themselves; waza-ari have always added up to ippon as long as there has been judo. Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 2:50
  • Ahh, that's what I was thinking of.
    – Robin Ashe
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 3:37
  • ippon
  • wazari
  • yuko
  • koka (deprecated)

It was explained in the past as ippon = 10 points, instant win, wazari = 7 points, yuko = 5 points, koka = 3 points. But since you cannot simply add the points (like wazari + koka = ippon)

So, now the scores are displayed

ippon, wazari, yuko, (warnings/penalties)

the yellow card is a warning, the second is a shido. so the penalty's are:

  • shido
  • chui
  • keikoku
  • hansoku-make (you have lost the match and are banned for the rest of the tournament)

but since the scoreboard cannot hold those penalties, it is a point for you opponent. so if you have your second yellow card, your opponent 'scores' a yuko. Your third 'yellow card' gives your opponent a wazari and a fourth yellow card gives your opponent an ippon.

it does not matter how many yuko's you score, they won't become a wazari. If your opponent scores a wazari and you have like 4 yuko's, you are still in losing position. I hope this makes it a bit more clear. I have heard more people struggling with the scoring-system of judo.

edit lol, my answer is from back in 2012 and I'd like to add some more detail for people who are watching the games in Rio at the moment.

the scoring board can show values like:

100 = 1 ippon, 0 wazari, 0 yuko

010 = 0 ippon, 1 wazari, 0 yuko

001 = 0 ippon, 0 wazari, 1 yuko

it will never display:

020 because a second wazari is equal to 1 ippon (waza-ari-awasete-ippon)

but this is possible:

004 because no matter how many yuko, it will never become a wazari



Since this question was asked the IJF scoring rules have changed multiple times e.g:

  • Koka, Yuko no longer exist

  • Chui, keikoku no longer exist

  • 2 waza-ari = waza-ari awasete ippon

  • 3 shido = hansoku-make

The following information is current as of 2019.

1. Default board

  • Neither White nor Blue have scored any points (score shows 0).
  • Neither have any penalties (no card icons).
    enter image description here

2. Waza-ari

  • White has scored one waza-ari (score shows 1)
  • Neither have any penalties
    enter image description here

3. Ippon

  • White has scored ippon (or scored two waza-ari = ippon) and won (score shows Ippon)
  • Neither have any penalties
    enter image description here

4. Shido

  • White has one shido, blue has two shido (minor penalties, yellow-card icons 🟨)
  • Neither have scored any points
    enter image description here

5. Hansoku-make

  • Blue has been disqualified (hansoku-make - 1 severe penalty or 3 shido, red-card icon 🟥)
  • White wins by default
    enter image description here


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