There is only one official event in the sport of judo ? individual judo contest. Athletes choose to start in either a "tachi-waza" (standing start) or "ne-waza" (kneeling position, or sitting next to each other, both with their hands in basic "kumi-kata" (grip-position) and the legs stretched forward.


Special Olympics Judo is a form of martial arts where all competitors have a physical or mental disability. Special Olympics judo is a form of judo meant for athletes with physical and mental disabilities. It originated in Japan as a derivative of martial arts used by the samurai and feudal warrior class. By gripping the judo uniform or judogi, individuals use the forces of balance, power and movement to attempt to subdue each other. Because several techniques (e.g., sacrificial throws, arm-locks) are not allowed in Special Olympics practice and competition, judo is a safe sport for eligible athletes. In addition, in order to offer this sport, a Special Olympics Program coach must have current National Governing Body (NGB) certification. As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped in competition divisions according to ability level, weight class, age and gender.


Special Olympics judo is based on the principle of the founder of Kodokan Judo, Jigoro Kano (1860-1938): jita kyoei, commonly translated as "mutual benefit and welfare." Judo made its debut at the Special Olympics European Games in Groningen, the Netherlands in 2000 as a demonstration sport. Again in 2003 at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin, Ireland it held demonstration sport status. It was not until the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China that judo was contested as an official sport.