New rules clarification

Hi guys, question on the new rules. If I throw my opponent and he is on his back, can I grab his legs and start a standing guard pass or am I in "stand up".


The short answer is hansoku make.

Any touching of the leg in transition to newaza will be penalized with hansoku-make. Both players must be in newaza before a leg can be touched. It is a risky business, and you will be shocked at some of the examples that will lead to hansoku-make. The best advice I can give is just don't touch the legs at all.

Here is a link to the IJF documentation. Check out section 5 and view all the videos that lead to hansoku-make. You will need the Chrome browser.

IS this new rule not well known with the refs? I watched last week's Samsun Grand Prix's stream and several women players did several beautiful standing guard passes that involved grabbing the gi pants. The refs also seem to let several ouchi/kouchi garis with leg grab follow ups slide a couple of times.

Thank you for providing the link. It's very disappointing to see so many skills that have been mastered now banned. It's interesting that if you are on both knees you cannot go to morote gari as you are now technically in newaza.

So, it's best in an open guard, if you are standing to just back up. but, if you start closed guard or on both knees you can pass by grabbing the legs correct?

If you are both in newaza, you can attack morote gari. It isn't really considered morote gari because morote garti is technically a tachiwaza technique.

Closed guard, there is absolutely no issue about grabbing the leg and passing.  You are both fully transitioned to newaza.

open guard would depend on if you had both transitioned to newaza. If the open guard position was caused by a failed tomoe nage attempt and you were still standing, then it would be hansoku make. If it was the same failed tomoe nage attempt, and you both fell into newaza, and you now grab the legs as you stand and transition to a pin or other position, then it should not be hansoku make. However, even there if the referee believes you have now fully transitioned your position to tachiwaza then you would receive hansoku make.

You are relying on the judgement of the referee.  The safest play is not to touch the legs at all unless you are 100% positive that a newaza transition has been obtained by both contestants.

Scramble City,

There is nothing I'm more sure of in this life than IJF referees will not allow ouchi/kouchi garis with leg grab follow ups.  It is a very clear hansoku make.  Standing guard passes will be situational.  You better be sure that the referee does not believe the competitors have transitioned back to tachiwaza from newaza.

IF incidental contact with the hand is made with the leg without any intention to attack, then the referee does have some very small discretion in letting it go. When I say very small, I definitely mean very small.  You can also touch the leg PROVIDED that the hand or  hands are on the opponent's gi top, which usually means the leg is being touched by the hand controlling the sleeve.  Notice that I said touch.  There is no way you are allowed to grab the leg in any circumstance that you described.

OC Judo, thanks for the responses. We are taking a youth to nationals this year and this really helps.

Just a few more...if I am in closed guard and I break guard (start with both knees down) and post by raising one knee to foot (bent at 90 degrees-hope this makes sense), then I'm still in newaza right?

I agree, though, we will probably just take a step or two back.

The other side of this is if I'm the one playing guard. If I get taken down for yuko etc, and have guard, and my opponent is standing, can I proceed to sweep by grabbing a leg(s)? I'm assuming I can because I'm in newaza.

Of if my opponent is in my closed or 1/2 guard and stands, I'm assuming I can sweep with grabbing the legs provided the ref doesn't call matte.

Finally, even in turtle, it would seem as if I can hip ride but can only break down by attacking the upper half of the body? correct?

sorry for the million questions but it's convoluted and I would hate for one of our kids to get DQ'd. Thanks!

Hi Tortosa,

I'm not an IJF referee, so I'm reluctant to give a definitive answer to your questions.  Also, the rule interpretations are a work in progress.

If you are going to Nationals this week, they will probably tell you about the latest interpetations on "normal kumikata" which makes a whole lot more sense than what was often the view of referees. What I would have told you 3 weeks ago, according to many USA Judo refs would have been incorrect.

The best thing you can do for your competitor is go to the coaches and ref meeting. Ask all your questions there because at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter what I feel is a transition to newaza. It is what they think it is.  I would hate to give you advice for a national level tournament that ended up with hansoku make for your athlete.

We have taken the low risk strategy of telling our competitors not to touch the legs unless a) they have firmly established a closed guard position.  b) they have firmly established a half guard position.   I don't believe that is all inclusive of situations.  But I am like you, and I would not want our competitors to get disqualified, so I take a very conservative approach to it. 

The current IJF rule interpretation is that grabbing the leg while in tachiwaza OR transitioning to newaza will result in hansoku make.

There is another document that will be helpful but I do not know how to directly link to it.

Go to

Go to News Archives and select the story from 2/24/13.  It will take you to a 4 page document about the rule changes.  In that document it says that your opponent must be fully transitioned into newaza.  It was my understanding that both competitors had to be transitioned to newaza.  So, don't even rely on my advice in my first post.

You might also find USA Judo's notes helpful.

I have not seen the two hour Neil Adams video on the new rules, but the one hour video was helpful.  It costs 4.99GBP to view. I think you get 3 viewings for the price.  You can link to that at his Facebook:


OCJudo, thanks for the links and good advice. much appreciated.