Para judo was first introduced as a competitive sport in the Paralympic programme in 1988 at the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games, for athletes who are visually impaired. Para athletes across more than 40 countries now practice the sport.
Para judo is great for athletes with visual impairment because these Para athletes tend to possess highly-developed qualities such as balance, touch proprioception, and combative instinct. This sport also requires an extreme physical and strategic performance, and competitors must use different techniques to overcome or immobilise their opponent.
Para athletes compete in various weight categories for men and women. The only two differences between Para judo and Olympic judo are that: 1) Combatants (also called ‘Judokas’) can have contact with the opponent at the start of the match and 2) The mat has a different texture in order to assist competitors in knowing where the boundary is.
Contests last five minutes and the Para athlete who scores the higher amount of points wins. The aim of the sport is for Para athletes to score more points than one’s opponent. Executing a skill with a perfect technique scores an immediate win (‘ippon’ – a perfect point in Japanese). Fewer points are awarded when a technique does not merit an ‘ippon’. If by the end of the five-minute match neither ‘Judoka’ completes an ‘Ippon’, the winner is the one with the highest score.
At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, 129 Para athletes from 36 countries competed in 13 different medal events.
For more information on Para judo visit the International Blind Sports Federation.
Para judo is not currently delivered widely in New Zealand, but register your interest now and we will help you to find a Para sport for you in your local area!