Grabbing the Leg is Legal Again

In 2010, grabbing the leg in judo was made illegal, resulting in a disqualification. The exceptions are:

  • If the leg grab is part of a counter attack
  • If the leg grab is not the initial attach, but is part of a combination
  • If the opponent has an over the back cross grip (with or without the belt)

I just finished watching all of the 2010 Tokyo Grand Slam. That’s about 10 hours of footage with commentary. I did not see a single disqualification for a leg grab. Moreover, I did not see a single clear case where there should be such a disqualification. The international competitors have done a remarkable job of adjusting their game to the new rules. However, it appears that there were a lot of close calls that the refs ignored. One example is the following video:

I guess you could argue that Blue was countering an attack by White, but according to the rules the “attack” needs to threaten the opponent in order to count as an attack. I don’t think under that definition White makes any initial attacks.

There are many other such examples. I suppose the referees are erring on the side of not disqualifying judoka when it’s at all a close call. However, what was weird to me is that in those 10 hours of video, the commentators never once mentioned anything related to leg grabs or the changes in the rules. They talked about everything under the sun except that. Given how hot of a topic of discussion it was this year, it seems strange that they would not mention it, especially in the attacks such as the one in the video.

I titled the post “Grabbing the Leg is Legal Again” because based on the footage and commentary of the Tokyo Grand Slam, it is as if this major change in the rules has become a non-issue, because:

  • Competitors adjusted their judo
  • Refs are not at all zealous in enforcing this new rule
  • Commentators are not talking about it

0 thoughts on “Grabbing the Leg is Legal Again

  1. Eric

    If you pause the video at :02 seconds (the very start of the leg grab) you can see blue reaching for the leg grab just prior to white getting into the attack. Based on that I agree it should have been an illegal technique. Of course the refs did not have the advantage of play back so I think erroring on the side of not calling it is the way to go, especially since it did not end up in a score. Had blue hit a big ippon they probably would have needed to discuss it.


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