Competitor Categories in Judo Shias

In general, there are five kinds of judo tournaments and they are:

1. Local – Cupertino, Santa Clara, San Jose Buddhist (non-black belt divisions), etc.
2. State – California State Judo
3. National - San Jose Buddhist (black belt division), USJF/USJA, US Junior Open, USA Judo National Scholastic, USA Judo Junior Olympics, etc.
4. International without qualifiers – Pacific International, Sanix International, etc.
5. International with qualifiers – Infantil Pan American, Junior Pan American, Worlds, Olympics, etc.

Competitor Categorization

Of the five tournament categories above, tournaments 2-5 follows the standard competitor categorization by age and weight only. Belt color or rank is not considered. Additionally, age is determined by the year in which the competitor was born – the actual age does not matter. For example if the competitor’s birthday is October 12, 2001 and the competition is to be held on June 6, 2016, for purposes of this type of tournament, on June 6th, the competitor is considered a 15 year old. As such, a green belt 15 year old male who weighs 65 kilos can only compete in the Juvenile B (under 17) -66kg or the Junior IJF (under 21) -66kg divisions. Note, because of the age ceilings in the Juvenile B and IJF divisions it is possible that there will be brown and black belt competitors.

Local tournaments categorizes by age, weight and also belt color or ranking. However, there is no standard as far as the categorization factors. Meaning, in one tournament an orange belt will compete in a pool of yellow, orange, and green belts. While in another tournament, the same orange belt can compete with up to purple belt competitors. Another example will be a 14 year old will not be allowed to compete with a 16 year old in tournaments 2-4. However, in a local tournament, with an age waiver, this would be allowed. This is also true with a weight situation.

Novice Divisions

Novice divisions are now available in most tournaments (1-3). Generally the limitations are rank (up to yellow belt) and less than a year of Judo (this requirement varies by tournament).

National Tournaments

National Tournaments are qualifiers for spots in the US National Team. As such, these tournaments are well attended by elite judo athletes. Top 3 finishers of these events are listed in the national roster of elite athletes.

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