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Judo is Equally Suitable for Women and Men

Here are a couple of excellent articles written by Nicolas Messner and video 1 / video 2 that were recently featured on the IJF’s website that I wanted to share as my Black Belt Blog for this week.

Every year, International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8th. This year, once again, the IJF and the entire judo family are associated with this day that celebrates women's achievements and helps raise awareness of discrimination.

Sanda Corak is the President of the Croatian Judo Federation. She is also an IJF Executive Committee member and the chair of the Gender Equality Commission. Today she told us what she thinks about women's judo.

"During the last decade women's judo made significant progress in every aspect. Today, every competition on the national or international level is organized both for men and women. Through the IJF World Judo Tour, women’s judo is promoted all over the world and today we witness that the audience is interested to watch women’s matches on the tatami as much as the men’s.

Every national judo federation would like to see their female athletes with medals and when those athletes finish their active sport career, we need to retain them in judo. Today, we are used to seeing women in judo as referees and coaches and also in various technical positions. As Dr Lisa Allan pointed out, though, we need more women in leadership positions.

In order to empower women, the IJF made statutory changes and recommends that the gender representation in governing bodies of member national federations and continental unions should be at

least 25% for the less well represented gender. It has been proven in many cases that diversity results in better decisions.

Judo as an Olympic combat sport has become more popular in many countries and the number of active judoka has risen. With the changes of the rules, judo is easier for non-judoka to watch on TV and with all the values and its moral code, judo is also promoted as an educational method. So many parents find it useful for their children, both boys and girls.

© European Judo Union

Judo is an example of sport where the genders are equal in every aspect of competition, from rules, prize money, competition opportunities and mixed team events, making judo appealing for girls and women. National judo federations together with the IJF are working hard to always highlight the benefits of judo. The IJF is continuously working on different projects with the aim of helping local and national federations to improve conditions in their regions and countries: Judo in schools projects, Judo for Peace. That is also helping women’s judo. With all those joint activities, young girls practicing judo now have plenty of role models who they can follow.

Judo is still perceived as predominantly a sport for men in many more culturally traditional societies though, so we all have to continue working, first to attract more girls to judo and then to help them so they can apply and become candidates for various positions, especially leadership positions. Numbers are reliable for making conclusions, although we have only 12 women as national judo federation presidents. However we also have 60 women as general secretaries (Gender statistics, IJF Judobase, 2022) and those are positions that can influence policy and decision-making.

I would like to point out that judo has many different aspects and to promote it better we need expertise and knowledge from many fields, such as psychology, kinesiology, medicine, economy, technology, arts etc. Education is an important part of life and educated women in judo can find their roles in developing judo, I am sure.

As the situation is different in different parts of the world, besides constant effort to promote female athletes and supporting coaches, at the Gender Equality Commission we think that the exchange of good practices will help all those national federations that do not have enough resources, either human or financial ones, to support women's judo, to see what kind of activities are more successful. So, we plan to start organizing online round tables on gender equality in judo, inviting only a small number of countries to each of the meetings, so we can discuss the pertinent obstacles and ways to overcome them.

Recently, the GEC launched a new version of the Gender Equality Strategy, not only as a strategic document for the IJF but also as a suitable framework for all the national federations. We would also like to create a positive atmosphere for women's judo in those countries that are not supporting women in judo, because we know that simply giving both genders the same chances is not enough, as Dr Lisa Allan always highlighted, “we need equity to achieve equality.”

Basic problems regarding gender inequality in sports stem from social boundaries such as tradition, culture and the related family or social expectations. Although we cannot remove those barriers through sport systems alone, with judo as a sport focused on the individual but also on the betterment of society, through judo we can make a significant impact on minimizing those barriers.

We have to be aware that the social norms in the world are changing fast, so today we have 'the floor' so that through judo we can encourage those changes. Judo needs to be perceived and recognized as a sport equally suitable for women and men."

This past Wednesday was International Women's Day. The IWD is celebrated annually on 8th March and is aimed to be a global day for raising awareness of the women's rights movement. Every year, it brings to our attention issues such as gender equality and equity, reproductive rights and violence and abuse against women.

The International Judo Federation has been participating in the campaign for many years, while the international judo family is not only focusing on one day, but works throughout the year to guarantee that everyone has equal rights to participate in the sport, while respecting Human Rights and all basic principles and values that help to build and maintain a balanced and positive society.

During the Tashkent Grand Slam 2023, we have published many stories and testimonies of representatives of the international judo family, where they expressed their point of view on women's judo. These stories will continue through the week, highlighting women’s achievements and the progress made to ensure all people have the right to progress, work and achieve.

To underline the evolution of judo and the non-discrimination policy of our organization and to mark the upcoming IWD, it was noted that women present in the sport hall formed almost 50% of the amassed community, in positions of leadership, as coaches and of course as athletes. Beyond traditional symbols for celebrating women, the judo community reaffirms that there can be no discrimination within our sport. Opportunity here belongs to those who work and commit, regardless of gender.

Judo, Just Do It! Like Tina Trstenjak, Nuša Lampe is from Slovenia. After her sports career, she became involved in refereeing and also in coaching and teaching judo. Here in Uzbekistan, on the occasion of the Tashkent Grand Slam 2023, she officiates behind the scenes, controlling the judogi. We asked her to share her experience of women's judo, as she herself says of judo that it is more than just learning combat techniques. She says it is a comprehensive and wonderful system of physical, intellectual and moral education. It has its own culture, system, legacy and tradition. It teaches judoka principles of ethics and a way of life.

Photograph by Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

"I don't see any difference between men and women in judo, because I believe that judo is giving us something very special: equality and equity. On and off the tatami, behind the scenes, everywhere in our lives, we learn that we are equal, in judo.

No matter if you are an athlete, a referee, a technical official, the president of a club or federation, an executive board member of the International Judo Federation and of course ‘just’ a judoka, we are equally treated. As women, we feel accepted by everyone and I cherish that.

Having said that, yes, sport has been a man’s world and there are always issues but after more than 40 years in judo, I can say that in our sport, those issues are rather small. We can find solutions for all of them.

To girls who want to start judo, I have only one thing to say: come on, get in, just dig in! Judo is not just a sport and once you start, you can go all the way. You can even get job opportunities, build a career as an athlete, as a coach or a referee."

To paraphrase a celebrated slogan, as Nusa says,

‘Judo, Just Do It!'

Taishi’s Tournament 600 competitors with 26 referees provided for an outstanding nationals-like tournament this past Sunday at Cerritos College in Norwalk, California. The results can be found on Smoothcomp. Here are some photos taken by Jerry Hays and myself. Congratulations to all participants and helpers!


March - 2023 18th Saturday & 19th Sunday - Youth National Championships, Lubbock, TX

25th Saturday - Shoshinkan's Annual Kosen Tournament, Las Vegas, NV

26th Sunday - Shoshinkan's Shintaro Higashi Clinic, Las Vegas, NV

April - 2023 1st Saturday & 2nd Sunday - High School & Collegiate Nationals, San Jose, CA

2nd Sunday - Mojica Tournament (16 & Under), Baldwin Park, CA

15th Saturday - Couchigian Memorial Tournament, Las Vegas, NV

16th Sunday - Ryoku's Amarilis Savon Clinic, Las Vegas, NV

16th Sunday - Garden State Open Judo Classic, Wayne NJ

22nd Saturday - Arizona State Championships, Tucson, AZ

29th Saturday & 30th Sunday - Golden State Open, Azusa, CA

May - 2023 7th Sunday - CJI State Championships, San Francisco, CA

20th Saturday & 21st Sunday - Senior National Championships, Spokane, WA

June - 2023 4th Sunday - Nanka Spring Tournament, Westminster, CA

16th Friday to 18th Sunday - USA Judo Junior Olympics, Shreveport, LA

24th Saturday - Sensei Gary's Birthday Scrimmage, Claremont, CA

25th Sunday - U.S. Adaptive Judo Championships, Riverside, CA

July - 2023 7th Friday to 9th Sunday - USJF & USJA Summer Nationals, New York, NY

16th Sunday - CA State Games, San Diego, CA

August - 2023 6th Sunday - Nikkei Games Budo Tournament, Cypress, CA

September - 2023 17th Sunday - Nevada State Judo Championship, Las Vegas, NV

24th Sunday - Nanka Fall Tournament, Westminster, CA

October - 2023 1st Sunday - Capitol Open Judo Championships, Sacramento, CA

22nd Sunday - Fresno Invitational Tournament, Fresno, CA

29th Sunday - Fight for a Cure Women's Tournament & Clinic, Riverside, CA

November - 2023 1st Wednesday to 3rd Friday - IJF World Veterans Championships, Abu Dhabi, UAE

5th Sunday - Nanka Team Tournament, Westminster, CA

19th Sunday - Presidents Cup National Championships, Irving, TX

December - 2023 8th Friday to 10th Sunday - Nanka Winter Nationals & Clinics, Azusa, CA

April - 2024 7th Sunday - Nanka Spring Tournament, Westminster, CA May - 2024 5th Sunday - Nanka West Coast Invitational, Westminster, CA

June - 2024 28th Friday to 30th Sunday - USJF & USJA Summer Nationals, Tacoma. WA

September - 2024 29th Sunday - Nanka Fall Tournament, Westminster, CA

October - 2024 20th Sunday - Nanka Team Tournament, Westminster, CA

December - 2024 6th Friday to 8th Sunday - Nanka Winter Nationals & Clinics, Azusa, CA

I’m always looking for new subjects to write about regarding judo as well as contributions from my readers. Please send them to, thanks.

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