What's it all about?
You know when the hero just tosses the bad guy to the ground with some super slick moves? Well there are some real-life athletes who can do the same thing! We’re talking para judo and you should check it out.
How it's played
The categories: Women are divided into six different weight categories and men are divided into seven. Para judo is only for athletes with visual impairment.
The match: Matches are four minutes long with no breaks. First athlete to reach the highest score wins!
The equipment: Athletes wear either a white or blue judogi (judo uniforms) and they compete on a 10-metre x 10-metre mat.
The strategy: Get your opponent down on the mat with one of 32 grappling techniques to win points. Perfectly throw your opponent onto their back and win the match automatically! As athletes have different levels of visual impairment, referees and coaches interact with them more to make sure they know how much time is left in the match and where they are on the mat.
The points: The highest score is an ippon, which means the match is over. The second highest is waza-ari, which is a half-point. Penalties can also be awarded. Two waza-ari equal one ippon.
The athletes: It's all about power, speed and agility! You might think that blind competitors are at a disadvantage, but they aren't. They can sense their competitor's moves from their grip, how they breathe and their movements.
Did you know? Most of the instructions in judo are in Japanese: to start a match, the referee yells “hajime” and to stop he yells “matte.”
Things to watch for
- You might see that there are red circles on the sleeves of some of the athletes.
- These make it easier for the referees to see which athletes are completely blind.
- These athletes are not penalized for leaving the mat unless it's intentional and they might need help to get back to the centre.
- In para judo, there are two types of techniques.
- One of them is nagewaza, which are throwing moves. Although the action is quick, you'll probably catch quite a few of the over 50 throwing techniques during the events.
- The other of the two judo techniques is katamewaza, which refers to the grappling moves.
- These include pinning, choking (only until subdued) and joint locking techniques.