The scoring system in judo has changed dramatically since it was invented by Jigoro Kano back in 1882. Kano laid the steps for a scoring system that has evolved and made competitive judo much safer than it was back in the day.

The scoring system in judo nowadays is very strict and it ensures fairness in judo competitions.

No matter if you are beginning to train in judo or you just want to watch judo competitions on TV, understanding the scoring is essential.

So, here we will explain how a judo scoring system works and how can a judo match be won.

Judo Scores: How are they Awarded?

In order to understand the scoring system in judo, first we need to know what is judo all about.

Judo is a Japanese martial art founded by Jigoro Kano, and it focuses on throws, pins, and submissions. It’s a gentle art, which means that it doesn’t rely on brute force, rather than on techniques that use your opponent’s strength against them.

You can learn more about judo in our article “What is judo?“, where we dive into more details about this Japanese martial art.

Now that we have a general idea about what judo is, we can look at how judo matches are scored.

Scoring in judo is divided into three types:

  1. Ippon 
  2. Waza-ari
  3. Yuko

Winning an Ippon

Ippon is the highest possible score that you can get and it awards you with a win. To get an ippon, you must execute a flawless throw that has considerable power and speed and the opponent falls on his back or you can also get an ippon by submitting your opponent for 20 seconds. Points-wise, executing an ippon gives you 100 points.

Winning a Waza-ari

Waza-ari is the second-highest possible score. You will be awarded a waza-ari if you execute a near-perfect throw, with the throw having considerable force and speed but the opponent didn’t land perfectly on his back. It’s also awarded if the opponent land’s on his back but the throw didn’t have the power and speed needed to win an ippon.

Submission-wise, you can win a waza-ari by holding your opponent on the ground for more than 15 seconds but less than 20 which is required for an ippon. In terms of points, waza-ari gets you 10 points.

Winning a Yuko

Yuko is the lowest possible score and it gets you 1 point. Yuko is awarded for a throw that has an absence of 2/3 of the elements needed for an ippon. You can win a yuko by a slower or less powerful throw of the opponent without getting him on his back. This means that it is not a perfect throw or a waza-ari.

You can also win a yuko by holding your opponent on the ground for more than 10 but less than 15 seconds.


Penalties can be awarded during a judo match and they vary in terms of severity. There are two different types of penalties in judo:

  • Hansoku-make – Getting a hansoku-make means immediate disqualification. It can be awarded for unsportsmanlike behavior or trying to injure an opponent intentionally. Not only can getting a hansoku-make disqualify a judoka from a match, but it disqualifies a judoka from the whole tournament.
  • Shido – This is a less-severe infringement and can be given to any judoka for various reasons. This includes: playing too defensively, intentionally not engaging in action, false attacks, and more. Shido’s are often used to give the offending judoka a chance to clean up their act before they get penalized with a penalty. Getting three shidos makes a hasoku-make and you are disqualified.

During Judo Matches, What is the Role of the Referee?

The referee is an authority on the tatami and he is the one responsible for the match being fair. The referee is also the one who awards judokas with points and penalties.

How Long does a Judo Match Last?

A judo match lasts five minutes for men and four minutes for women. Once the match ends, the judoka with the higher score will win. If both judokas end up tied at the end of five minutes, then the “golden point” will determine the winner.