Learning Judo by Refereeing


If you’ve ever considered refereeing, do it. You’ll get to learn a bunch about the sport rules, what the referees are looking for from players, what techniques people are getting to work (and how), and some pretty cool theory stuff. I’m pretty sure this is across the board true for any sport, but I can definitely say it about judo.

Just from yesterday I learned:

  • When you have someone off-balanced forward, the color of their toes changes. I’ve never even thought about this. I’m not sure how practical it would be to look at uke’s toes in the match as I’m getting ready to throw, but being able to visually see when someone’s actually off-balance based on the pressure in their toes is pretty cool.
  • There is a lot of going down into turtle without successful throwing. The snap-down (modified to be with the jacket so-as to not risk the neck), twisting to take them into turtle off of a collar-and-elbow, tori flubbing a seoi nage and just turtling.
  • You can tell who went to the seminar recently because no matter what club they’re from, they’re all doing the same technique.
  • Seoi nage and tai otoshi seem to be the most popular big throws in my area. People still work for foot sweeps, but those two are what they give everything to try.

I’m still nervous when I start the day as a referee. I just don’t do it frequently enough to relax off the bat. I’m hoping to break that. It’s actually a lot of fun once I relax and am confident in my calls. Those first couple of matches are still nerve-wracking though.

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