What Are The Judo Rules For Arm Locks And Strangles?

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Judo is a fascinating martial art that has gained popularity all around the world. It is a sport that involves strategic movements, throws, and pins to get the upper hand over your opponent, and it’s not just about physical strength. Judo focuses on mastering techniques and precision, rather than sheer force. As per the International Judo Federation (IJF) rules, the prime aim in a judo contest is to throw or takedown one’s opponent and immobilize them into a pin position, or coercing them to submit via an armlock or strangle.

In this article, we’ll discuss the Judo rules for armlocks and strangles, which are both effective ways of forcing your opponent to surrender. We’ll also explore various sub-questions to help you better understand the process.


What are Armlocks and Strangles in Judo?

Armlocks, also called Ude-hishigi in Japanese, involve manipulating your opponent’s arm by applying pressure to a joint. This maneuver is designed to cause intense pain, forcing the opponent to concede the match. The armlock is only allowed when the opposing fighter is on the mat (known as newaza) with their back or stomach touching the ground. A typical example of an armlock is juji-gatame also known as a cross arm-lock. It is a submission technique that hyper-extends the opponent’s elbow joint and is usually applied when your opponent takes an overly aggressive approach.

Strangles, on the other hand, are choking maneuvers, which in judo are also called shime-waza. They involve two main techniques – the blood choke, aimed at cutting off the blood supply to the head, and the air choke, which focuses on constricting the windpipe. Strangles are most effective when used tactically. Fighters may apply it in situations where their opponent slips up or shows signs of weakness. There are strict rules surrounding the application of strangles. An illegal strangle (jugoku-jime), for instance, involves applying pressure in ways that can lead to serious injury or death.


Which Judo Techniques are allowed in Armlocks and Strangles?

In judo, there are various techniques that one can use in armlocks and strangles. However, these techniques must not go against any of the IJF’s rules and regulations. Listed below are some examples.

– Juji-gatame – It’s a technique that involves extending the opponent’s arm over one’s own leg to apply pressure on the elbow joint. This move is commonly used in both the newaza and the tachi-waza (standing techniques) segments of a judo match.
– Ude-garami – It involves applying an ude-hishigi or armlock by using the legs to trap the opponents’ arm. It is a move that commonly targets the elbow joint.

– Hadaka-jime – This technique involves wrapping your arm around the opponent’s neck and cutting off the air supply to the lungs.
– Okuri-eri-jime – It is a chokehold that controls the opponent’s blood flow to the brain by constraining their carotid artery.


What is the Legal Position in Armlocks and Strangles?

The IJF dictates a clear set of rules for the legal position in armlocks and strangles. In a match, the opponent must be on their back or stomach for an armlock or strangle to be valid. While one may successfully catch their opponent in a submission hold, if it does not begin from this position, it will be deemed illegal. The athlete must keep their wrist, forearm, and feet within defined boundaries throughout the submission move. Failure to do so will result in the match being paused, and the athlete warned.


How do Judo Referees decide if an Armlock or Strangle is Blocked?

Judo referees, known as shushin, keep a keen eye on the match and study the fighter’s every move. When an athlete initiates an armlock or strangle, the shushin, who is usually situated at the match’s side, looks at how the defending player responds to the submission hold. When a fighter submits, the shushin will signal the referee to stop the match, and the win will be awarded to the fighter who applied the submission. If a fighter fails to submit, the referee may pause the match and check the positioning of the athletes to ensure that they have adhered to the IJF’s rules and regulations regarding submission moves.


What are the Penalties for IJF’s Armlock and Strangle Rules Violation?

Penalties usually apply when an athlete violates the IJF’s armlock or strangle rules. Below are some of the consequences you may face.
– Category 1: Shido or the warning from the referee – It plays no significant role in the awarding of scores, but athletes who receive more than two shidos are disqualified from the match.
– Category 2: Hansoku make – Disqualification from the bout for severe rule violations like intentionally applying illegal submission moves or using aggressive moves filled with ill intent.
– Category 3: Direct hansoku make – This is a lifetime ban from any judo event, including coaching or officiating, for serious offenses such as kicking, punching, or biting an opponent during a match.


How Can Athletes Train for Armlocks and Strangles?

Athletes who train for armlocks and strangles should create a specific program that emphasizes the techniques they wish to master. A well-fitting judogi that’s comfortable to wear would be ideal for the training. Techniques for armlocks and strangles, in particular, require precision, balance, and control. The following are vital skills to develop:
– Body positioning – Athletes must know how to correctly align their bodies for each technique, including where to place their bodies in relation to their opponent.
– Grip strength – Holding onto an opponent while executing a submission hold can be physically demanding, so strength in the hand and forearm muscles is critical.
– Timing – Moving too quickly or too slowly when trying to pull off a submission technique can lead to a missed opportunity or a counter-offensive by the opponent, so timing is essential.
– Stamina – Enduring long submission sections requires a great deal of strength and stamina, including the ability to stay focused throughout the bout.



In summarizing the particulars of Judo rules for Armlocks and Strangles, it is vital to take note that these are meant to come into play once a player has thrown the opponent to the mat. They are techniques that the player must have mastered and require substantial strength, positioning, grip strength, and timing to implement. Anyone seeking to play competitively must establish a rigorous training program that includes a focus on these tactics. As with all sports, judo rules will always prioritize the safety of the athletes. Violations of these rules will lead to notable bans from all judo events.

Maxim Tzfenko

Maxim Tzfenko

"I live and breath Martial Arts"

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