Judo Terms

People, place  and equipment

Dr Jigoro Kano was the man who developed judo and founded the system of instruction and ranking.

Judoka is a person who does judo, though in English speaking countries, “player” is often used. 

Dojo is the formal judo practice space, a place to treated with respect - in terms of personal behaviour and etiquette and also in terms of keeping the space clean and tidy.

Sensei is the instructor or teacher.

Sempei are the seniors within the club

Otagai are the other judoka who participate in the judo sesssion. It’s easy to remember: it sounds a bit like “other-guy(s)”  

Judogi or gi is the judo outfit.

Obi is the judo belt. Learn how to tie your belt here (yes, it's from a ju jitsu website, but it's a good teaching video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-shq5oDSCs4 



There is ritual and etiquette that is part of judo, although the extent to which it is adhered to varies from country to county and from dojo to dojo.

Rei is the traditional and respectful act of bowing to express thanks. ‘Thank you for accepting me as an opponent’; ‘thank you for the bout’; ‘thank you for the instruction and guidance’;  Judoka bow in a kneeling or standing position, depending on the circumstance. Individually, judoka may bow onto and bow off the judo mats. At the start of a training session, the group will ‘bow in’ and ‘bow out’ again at the end. Judoka bow to their partner/opponent at the beginning and end of a training or competition bout. The call to bow at the end of a training session would typically follow this sequence:

Mokuso (pronounced "moh-kso") is a Japanese term for meditation, a short period of which is practiced at the end of the judo session, prior to the call to bow. The purpose is to clear the mind

Shomen ni rei - bow to the founder of judo (Dr Shigaro Kano) and the teachers who have gone before.

Sensai ni rei - bow to the instructor

Sempai ni rei - bow to the seniors

Otagai ni rei - bow to the other judoka


Training judo

Learning judo is not only about learning self defence and gaining fitness; it also builds character by teaching the values of respect and leadership. In the classes students learn all about the principles of judo in a comfortable environment where they all learn off one another and are constantly pushing each other to get better. In training the students will learn the fundamentals of each technique, constantly drilling them and committing them to their memory. They can then apply the techniques in fighting, where both stand up and grappling is practised. In these classes we want to push the students to constantly improve and challenge themselves, so that they will be able to perform in competitions. To build experience of what real judo is about, entering competitions is the key. There are frequent competitions suitable for beginners which is an excellent way for the students to develop their judo. 

Competition judo

It is in these world scale competitions where the fighters strive to become world champion or continental champions; however the competition layout is always the same from the lowest level competitions all the way up to the Olympic Games standard. 

Competition judo is based on scoring points from throws, or hold downs and submissions. The aim of each fight is to get an ‘ippon’, which means a winning technique. However there are other terms that one must recognise, listed below:


Calls made by the referee during competition

Rei: At the beginning of a match a referee may say ‘rei’, this means bow. Both judoka are to bow to each other. 

Hajime: Hajime means start. When it is called then the judoka can begin the match.

Matte: This is the most important call to learn. Matte means stop, and when it is called then both judoka must immediately stop and return to their starting positions. Any technique done after matte has been called is void.

Ippon: When this is called by the referee, the fight is stopped regardless of time elapsed and the person who is awarded ippon is declared the winner. An ippon is achievable in three ways; the first is by throwing/sweeping an opponent cleanly with control and force flat onto their back with both shoulders on the ground. The next is by a hold down, if a judoka can hold an opponent down on their back for a total of 20 seconds without the opponent escaping then it is considered an ippon. The final way to earn an ippon is by submission, by either an armlock or strangle. Leg locks are illegal in judo. 

Wazari: When wazari is called, the fight does not get stopped. Wazari is considered half an ippon, meaning that if a throw was lacking in a certain aspect such as force, but had control and technique, it was not considered an ippon but still was worthy of a decent score. Two wazaris add up to become ippon, so if a judoka was to earn two wazaris during a fight then when the second wazari is awarded it becomes ippon and the fight it stopped. The referee would call, ‘wazari awasete ippon’. A wazari can also be earned by holding down an opponent for 15 seconds.

Yuko: The lowest point that can be awarded is a yuko, which is given to a technique which was capable of bringing an opponent to the ground on one of their shoulders however was unable to plant them on their back. No amount of yuko will equal a wazari or ippon, for example if one judoka had one wazari and the other had four yukos, then the one wazari beats the four yukos. A yuko can also be earned by holding down an opponent for 10 seconds.

Shido: A shido is a warning, and can be given for a variety of reasons such as passivity, leaving the contest area and being too defensive. Up to four shidos can be given, however when a judoka is given a fourth shido then that judoka is disqualified from the match, it becomes a hansoku-make

Hansoku-make: This means disqualification. When a referee calls a hansoku-make to a judoka, that judoka is disqualified from that match. A hansoku-make can be given for grabbing the leg, getting four shidos and other rule infringements. 

Osaekomi: This indicates that a hold down has been applied, and the hold down timer begins.

Toketa: When a hold down has failed, the referee will call toketa to indicate that the hold down is no longer working and the hold down timer will stop.



Judo involves various belts, expressing the skills, knowledge and rank of the judoka.  Twice each year, club members have the opportunity to demonstrate their improved level of skills and knowledge at a judo grading, to gain their next belt.

The colours of the belts in the Kardinia Judo Club are those established by the Judo Federation of Australia, shown below:

Seniors may ultimately progress beyond Brown to Black belt (Shodan grade)

For each belt, there is a variety of criteria that must be met in order to achieve the next belt. In order to achieve the next belt the judoka must demonstrate various throws (waza) and hold downs (osaekomi). The judoka who are in Grade 4 and above must also earn points in the ‘batsukan’ to be awarded their next belt. The batsukan is a demonstration of fighting ability, and judoka engage in competition-style bouts to earn points. All judoka wanting to achieve the next belt will line up in order of age and rank, and beginning from the youngest age/lowest rank they will consecutively fight each other: each win earns 1 point. The winner of the bout remains on the mat and will then face the next  judoka in age/rank. Once again, the winner remains on on the mat and the process continues until the highest ranked judoka up to shodan (black) has fought.