In the Kodokan Goshin-jutsu kata, a variation of osoto-gari grabbing uke's neck (as opposed to their collar) is taught as a defence from a punch/strike by uke (naname-uchi):1

enter image description here

One can also perform osoto-gari by grabbing the uke's hair to break their balance backwards:2

enter image description here

Are such grips legal in competition? Though they seem intuitively to be 'against the spirit of judo', the only explicit references in the IJF rules to similar grips is prohibiting touching the face,3 and enforcing that long hair be tied up so as not to inconvenience the opponent.4


1. Mastering Judo, Masao Takahashi (p.55, table 4.3.ii.1.); Kodokan Goshin-jutsu
2. WC Tokyo 2019 | Women | U48 | Bilodid vs. Martinez Abelenda
3. IJF SOR: Article 18.5 - Prohibited Acts and Penalties

To put a hand, arm, foot or leg directly on the opponent’s face. The face means the area within the line bordered by the forehead, the front of the ears and the jawline.

4. IJF SOR: C1.1.4.10 Judogi Control Procedure

Long hair must be tied up out of the way and not prevent the grip of the opponent.


1 Answer 1


Grabbing neck to throw

This is illegal. Judo kata has many techniques that are forbidden in sport judo because it is only safe to practice them in controlled situations.

As a referee I would call hansoku-make for IJF SOR: Article 18.5 (hansoku-make) - Prohibited Acts and Penalties

  1. To make any action this may endanger or injure the opponent especially the opponent’s neck or spinal vertebrae or may be against the spirit of judo.

This situation is also covered by IJF SOR: Article 18.29 - Prohibited Acts and Penalties, which also mentions hansoku-make for dangerous actions.

  1. If both of the athletes are in a tachi-shisei (standing position) and one or both apply kansetsu-waza or shime-waza, mate and shido should be announced. However, if the action is dangerous or can injure the opponent, it will be hansokumake.

Grabbing hair to throw

I would call this a hansoku make according to IJF SOR: Article 18.11 (hansoku-make) - Prohibited Acts and Penalties

  1. Any action against the spirit of judo (this includes anything that can be described as anti-judo) may be punished by a direct hansoku-make at any time in the contest.

This rule I believe is purposefully vague to avoid having to enumerate all possible illegal activities. Punching the opponent, for example, would fall under this rule as well.

As explained to me orally, the following rule means that you can grip the hair incidentally when gripping normally. You cannot grab the hair directly, but if in gripping the lapel or collar you also happen to grip hair (because it has not been tied up out of the way), that is legal. This rule only makes sense if grabbing hair directly is illegal. Otherwise you could always grab long hair.

Long hair must be tied up out of the way and not prevent the grip of the opponent.

  • 2
    I find it maddening that you can win a world championship with illegal techniques despite instant replay. But it's not the first time and probably won't be the last; after Gerbi won with her choke, there was a black belt who instructed her choke the next class before we decided this was in fact illegal and then received further rule clarifications.
    – mattm
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 15:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.