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Judo Weight Classes: Full Guide and FAQ

Here is our post on judo weight classes and judo age categories. We’ve also included junior judo weight classes in this guide too.

Judo Age Categories

Below are the judo age categories as defined by the IJF (International Judo Federation):

Note: In divisions F7/M7 and above, shime-waza (choking techniques) are not permitted.

Again, shime-waza means choking techniques – some of these techniques are:
Gyaku Juji Jime (Reverse Cross Choke)
Nami Juji Jime (Normal Cross Choke)
Kata Juji Jime (Half Cross Choke)
Hadaka Jime (Rear Naked Choke)

Note: Always check with your local competition to confirm weight classes, age groups, and rules. Eve

Judo Weight Classes

“Cadet” refers to The World Judo Cadets Championships which are are the highest level of international judo competition for juniors who are 18 years of age or younger

Note: Kilograms (kg) doesn’t translate exactly to pounds (lbs). For example 60kg = 132.277 lbs (so organizations may round up or down for the weight in pounds).

The weight classes for Judo are most often are categorized as follows:

  • Extra Light: up to 121lbs (55 kg)
  • Half-Light: 121lbs (55kg) – 145lbs (66kg)
  • Light: 145lbs (66kg) – 160lbs (73kg)
  • Half-Middle: 160lbs (73kg) – 178lbs (81kg)
  • Middle: 178lbs (81kg) – 198lbs (90kg)
  • Half-Heavy: 198lbs (90kg) – 220lbs (100kg)
  • Heavyweight: 220lbs+ (100+ kg)

Before each competition or tournament, you must weigh-in usually either the day before or just before the event starts. So knowing your weight class before signing up to the tournament should be the one of the first goals for anyone looking to compete in judo.

It also makes sure that no competitor has an unfair advantage over another. So with this system in place, Judo remains a safe and exciting sport for all involved.

Here is the average men’s judo weight classes once more

How Many Weight Classes Are There in Judo?

Judo is a martial art that has been around for hundreds of years, and its weight classes have also evolved over time. Today, there are seven distinct weight classes in Judo, from extra light to heavyweight.

The weight classes are determined by the body mass of the competitor. This ensures that each athlete is competing against opponents with similar physical abilities. The International Judo Federation (IJF), the sport’s governing body, is in charge of establishing and enforcing weight classes.

Judo Weight Classes Male

Depending on the organization, they may have only a few weight classes or many different weight classes (in the image shown below).

It’s not uncommon to see the Judo weight classes for males divided into two groups: lightweight (60–81 kg) and heavyweight (90–110 kg). The +100 kg class is open to all weights above 110kg.

In Judo, athletes compete against opponents of similar body mass to minimize the risk of injury. Judokas must compete in the weight class corresponding to their body size and cannot suddenly gain or lose large amounts of weight for competition.

Additionally, those who fail to make a weight class may be disqualified from the competition. So athletes need to understand their Judo weight classes and plan accordingly.

Judo Weight Classes Female

Judo weight classes for females range from 48kg up to 78kg, with seven divisions in total. These classes help ensure a fair and even playing field for all athletes competing. The divisions are split into the following:  48kg, 52kg, 57kg, 63kg, 70kg, and 78kg.

These Judo Weight Classes Female are set out in the Judo rules and regulations by the International Judo Federation (IJF). The IJF also states that all Judo competitors must be weighed in wearing only a Judo gi (uniform) and undergarments, no later than two hours before their match.

How Many Weight Categories in Olympic Judo?

At the Olympic level, there are seven weight categories for men and five for women. The men’s categories range from 60 kilograms (132 pounds) to over 100 kilograms (220 pounds).

On the other hand, the women’s categories begin at 48 kilograms (106 pounds) to over 78 kilograms (171 pounds). This means that athletes of all sizes can find a weight category that suits their body type, making it easier to compete.

Furthermore, it means that Olympic Judo is accessible to everyone; regardless of size or weight, everyone has a chance at winning gold.

What is Lightweight Judo?

Lightweight Judo is a relatively new form of judo, where the judoka (judo practitioners) compete at a lighter weight than they normally would.

The main difference between lightweight judo and regular judo is that in lightweight judo, athletes are limited to a specific weight class (generally men 60kg – 66kg and women 48kg – 52kg). This form of judo emphasizes technique, speed, and agility, rather than strength.

Judo Junior Weight Classes (Under 21)

Judo Junior Weight Classes are the weight classes used for Judo competitions among Judokas who are under 21 years old. These weight classes help to ensure that no participant is placed at an unfair advantage due to their physical size and strength.

Additionally, Judo Junior Weight Classes are specifically designed to create a fair environment for younger Judokas. How? By balancing the competition according to their size and strength.

Moreover, it helps Judokas become more competitive, as they will be able to learn and practice Judo techniques with opponents of the same age and size.

How to Choose the Best Judo Weight Class for You

The fact is most Judo practitioners will attempt to lose 5-10 pounds to find the appropriate weight class.

Let’s say you want to be strong and correctly sized for your weight. However, the majority of competitors in your weight class most likely will be coming down from 10-20 pounds heavier than their normal weight.

So you’ll probably want to lose some weight as well to avoid being undersized for your weight class. Moreover, some practitioners also prefer to be as lean, muscular, and athletic as possible. After all, the weight class will naturally sort itself out.

Do Rules Change in Judo Based on Weight Class?

Yes, there is a resounding yes to this question! When it comes to weight class, judo rules change.

These changes are intended to make competitive matches fair for both fighters and to help ensure the safety of all participants.

For example, lighter-weight classes may have shorter match times. They might also use techniques that require less force than heavier-weight classes.

Furthermore, lighter weight classes may have more lax rules regarding how much time a fighter can spend on their back. These distinctions help to balance out competitors’ natural size and strength disparities. Thus, ensuring that all matches are fair and enjoyable for all involved.

How Does Judo Compare to Jiu-Jitsu Weight Classes

Judo and Jiu Jitsu are two of the most popular martial arts. Both have different weight classes, which determine the categories in which participants can compete.

Judo categorizes competitors by their body weight, while Jiu-Jitsu divides them into divisions based on their skill level.

In Judo, the weight classes range from below 40 kilograms for Junior Boys to over 100kgs for Senior Men. Each class is further divided into two groups: lightweight and heavyweight.

This system of weight-based divisions allows Judo athletes to compete against opponents with similar body types.

In conclusion, Judo and Jiu Jitsu have different approaches when it comes to their weight classes. Judo separates participants by their body weight, while Jiu-Jitsu categorizes competitors based on their skill level.

Both systems ensure that athletes can compete in categories with opponents of similar size and ability.  This allows for fair competition and the best chance for everyone to succeed.

n though the IJF rules influence many Judo organizations that hold events its always best to verify*

Other Frequently Asked Questions:

What Does Judo Open Weight Mean?

Judo Open Weight refers to a weight class with no weight restrictions. This means someone of a much smaller size can potentially compete against someone much heavier.

In fact, Judo never used to have weight classes until 1965 when the World Championships added multiple weight classes to better match the Olympic rules.

What Are the Judo Age Divisions?

Age DivisionAge Range

What is the Judo Olympics Age Limit?

As of this writing, Judo athletes must have been born on or before December 31, 2009, to qualify for participation in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Who Are Some of the Judo Olympics Winners?

Here is a table on the Judo Olympic winners:

YearCityGold MedalistCountrySilver MedalistCountryBronze Medalist(s)Country
1980MoscowThierry ReyFranceJosé RodríguezCubaTibor Kincses, Aramby EmizhHungary, Soviet Union
1984Los AngelesShinji HosokawaJapanKim Jae-yupSouth KoreaNeil Eckersley, Edward LiddieGreat Britain, United States
1988SeoulKim Jae-yupSouth KoreaKevin AsanoUnited StatesShinji Hosokawa, Amiran TotikashviliJapan, Soviet Union
1992BarcelonaNazim HuseynovUnified TeamYoon HyunSouth KoreaTadanori Koshino, Richard TrautmannJapan, Germany
1996AtlantaTadahiro NomuraJapanGirolamo GiovinazzoItalyDorjpalamyn Narmandakh, Richard TrautmannMongolia, Germany
2000SydneyTadahiro NomuraJapanJung Bu-kyungSouth KoreaManolo Poulot, Aidyn SmagulovCuba, Kyrgyzstan
2004AthensTadahiro NomuraJapanNestor KhergianiGeorgiaKhashbaataryn Tsagaanbaatar, Choi Min-hoMongolia, South Korea
2008BeijingChoi Min-HoSouth KoreaLudwig PaischerAustriaRishod Sobirov, Ruben HoukesUzbekistan, Netherlands
2012LondonArsen GalstyanRussiaHiroaki HiraokaJapanFelipe Kitadai, Rishod SobirovBrazil, Uzbekistan
2016Rio de JaneiroBeslan MudranovRussiaYeldos SmetovKazakhstanNaohisa Takato, Diyorbek UrozboevJapan, Uzbekistan
2020TokyoNaohisa TakatoJapanYang Yung-weiChinese TaipeiLuka Mkheidze, Yeldos SmetovFrance, Kazakhstan

Who Are Some of the Most Popular Judo Practitioners?

The below represents some of the most popular Judo practitioners of all time along with their biggest achievements in the sport (including Judo’s founder Kana Jigoro):

  1. Kano Jigoro (Japan)
    • Country of Origin: Japan
    • Biggest Achievement: Founder of Judo, first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee.
  2. Yasuhiro Yamashita (Japan)
    • Country of Origin: Japan
    • Biggest Achievement: Olympic Gold Medalist, four-time World Champion, undefeated in 203 consecutive matches.
  3. Ryoko Tani (Japan)
    • Country of Origin: Japan
    • Biggest Achievement: Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, seven-time World Champion.
  4. Teddy Riner (France)
    • Country of Origin: France
    • Biggest Achievement: Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, ten-time World Champion.
  5. Tadahiro Nomura (Japan)
    • Country of Origin: Japan
    • Biggest Achievement: Three-time consecutive Olympic Gold Medalist.
  6. Anton Geesink (Netherlands)
    • Country of Origin: Netherlands
    • Biggest Achievement: First non-Japanese judoka to win World Championship, Olympic Gold Medalist.
  7. Masato Uchishiba (Japan)
    • Country of Origin: Japan
    • Biggest Achievement: Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist.
  8. Ilias Iliadis (Greece)
    • Country of Origin: Greece
    • Biggest Achievement: Olympic Gold Medalist, three-time World Champion.
  9. Lucie Décosse (France)
    • Country of Origin: France
    • Biggest Achievement: Olympic Gold Medalist, three-time World Champion.
  10. Kayla Harrison (USA)
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Biggest Achievement: Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist.

What Is Half Middleweight in Judo?

In Judo, the term “half middleweight” refers to a specific weight category for competitors.

In the past, weight classes were slightly different and the half middleweight class was previously set at 70 kg/155 lbs (1972-1976) and 78 kg/172 lbs (1980-1996). Since the year 2000, however, the International Judo Federation restructured the weight classes and the half middleweight class is now set at 81 kg/178 lbs.

This means that in order to compete in the half middleweight category, judoka must weigh 81 kg or less.

How Do Judo Weight Classes Compare to Karate Weight Classes?

Here is a table comparing the judo weight classes and karate weight classes. Note these are based off the Olympic Judo Weight classes and World Karate Federation (WKF):

Weight Class CategoryWorld Karate FederationInternational Judo Federation
Cadet Female-47 kg, -54 kg, 54+ kgN/A
Cadet Male-52 kg, -57 kg, -63 kg, -70 kg, 70+ kgN/A
Adult Female-50 kg, -55 kg, -61 kg, -68 kg, 68+ kg-48 kg, -52 kg, -57 kg, -63 kg, -70 kg, -78 kg, +78 kg
Junior Female-48 kg, -53 kg, -59 kg, 59+ kgN/A
Junior Male-55 kg, -61 kg, -68 kg, -76 kg, 76+ kgN/A
Adult Male-60 kg, -67 kg, -75 kg, -84 kg, 84+ kg-60 kg, -66 kg, -73 kg, -81 kg, -90 kg, -100 kg, +100 kg
U21 Female-50 kg, -55 kg, -61 kg, -68 kg, 68+ kgN/A
U21 Male-60 kg, -67 kg, -75 kg, -84 kg, 84+ kgN/A
Mixed Team FemaleN/A-57 kg, -70 kg, +70 kg
Mixed Team MaleN/A-73 kg, -90 kg, +90 kg