After its use to success by Yarden Gerbi in 2014, the IJF clarified that the "Gerbi choke" (suso-jime1) is illegal in judo:

Shime-waza - forbidden
Shime-waza is not allowed with either your own or your opponents belt or bottom of the jacket, or using only the fingers.
enter image description here

Is the Gerbi choke legal if you use your opponent's jacket?

I had assumed not, given the wording of the rules, but my coach demonstrated it recently and said it was legal and he had personally used it/seen it used multiple times in competition.

Is there some subtlety between applying the choke with your wrist/the skirt itself (similar to the justification for the baseball choke being legal), or between using the 'bottom' of the skirt or a portion higher up while just gripping the bottom?

1. Fighting Judo, Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki (1985) (47. Suso-jime (裾絞 "apron choke"))

  • 3
    I think the Gerbi choke was illegal at the time it was used, but the referee did not call a penalty. Rules were reclarified, but if you check the old version, the Gerbi choke should still be illegal. Just because a referee does not penalize something does not mean it should be legal; referees make mistakes too.
    – mattm
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 13:01
  • @mattm true, I have reworded the first paragraph to make this clearer. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 13:30

1 Answer 1


I assume that you refer to the technique where you pull uke's lapel under his armpit, diagonally across their upper back and around their neck.

The rule says clearly that we are not supposed to apply the choke with the belt or bottom of the jacket, which is different from using them.

The essential thing here is how far around uke's neck you go: if you grab the lapel at the same side where it is coming to the neck (side opposed to the armpit the lapel is pulled hnder) and having your own arm/wrist at uke's trachea, no harm done. If you grab the lapel on the other side, pulling it across the trachea, you are using it as a garotte and no matter how you do it, I'd consider it basically the same as shown in the pictures. The rules say your own or your opponent's jacket, so applying the same thing with a different jacket does not change anything.

The tricky part here is that it is really hard to make out from the outside what you do exactly, especially in real-time. It is only some inches (or one inch even) between legal and illegal. Additionally, your body covers the whole thing almost completely so that there are few angles from where you would even have a chance to see a violation of rules. This makes it hard for a referee to sanction in this particular case if it is not very obvious, eg. someone violently pulling with a grip at the very end of or extremely low at the lapel.

That being said: One may well encounter techniques many times that are technically illegal since there are levels of competitions where the referees are not exactly high level and only visit one seminar every few years (if they are licensed at all).

  • Yes when demonstrating it did indeed appear to use the wrist itself to apply the choke (I tried to find a video demonstrating this version to no avail, the skirt is brought up round the back, over the shoulder, and under the neck), but I agree it seems it would be very difficult to distinguish between a legal/illegal version in a live environment. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 21:01
  • @ukemi I know this one, wait a sec for edits... Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 21:10
  • Thanks - yeah it makes sense that using it as purchase for the wrist / using it itself as a garrote is the key distinction. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 21:26

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