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How to Score Ippon More Often

How to Score Ippon

How to score an ippon? How to commit to your attack 100%? Nik Fairbrother believes it starts with a change of attitude during training.

How to Score Ippon

You grip up.

You move.

You feel it’s on.

But something holds you back, you don’t go for the ippon.

Not 100%.

And this is just randori at your dojo.

So, how on earth do you go for it, commit 100% during a contest?

How to score ippon

The Ippon

You will never explain it to those who have never done judo. You will never need to explain it to those of us who have…

What they feel like, those perfect judo ippons; when the timing is bang on, the opponent’s weightless, there is no resistance. Everything just flows. A perfect ippon, stylish, effortless, spectacular, elegant.

Watch ippons on ippon tv.

See Ilias Iliadis score ippon with Yamarashi.

It looks easy.

It isn’t.

A centimetre off-balance or a split second late and it will be you who ends up flat on your back. So, how do you get the confidence to just go for it? To attack with one hundred percent commitment regardless whether it’s a randori down the dojo or the final of the Olympic Games?

If you’re wondering how? The answer can be wrapped up in two parts: but you’re not going to like either of them.

Ippon Training

First, the bad news…

There’s no getting away from it. First, to improve your throwing power you are going to need to put in the mat time.

Lots of uchi-komi. Lots of nage-komi. Lots of repetitions.

And those repetitions need also to be meaningful; the drills need to be specific for you; the technique itself must be analysed; every nuance understood until movement has become instinctive until they call it talent.

And then, the really bad news

You must first fail. 

To learn how to score ippon, the perfect ippons when your timing is instinctive, your balance is perfect and your opponent is weightless – you first must fail.

Before you throw you must be thrown. 

There is no getting around this. There are no short-cuts. You must first get it wrong to later get it right. You must be prepared to be countered as you go for the attack.


Because, only by failing will you understand the technique absolutley.

The Fear

And anyway, what’s the big deal with being thrown, anyway?

It’s simply a part of the learning process.

Each time we are thrown we get information.

And that information is gold dust.

What if we realise by failing we are actually improving?

That the more we can fail the more we can learn.

What if we change our attitude to failure?

People’s biggest obstacle to learning is their fear of being countered. And so, they cut corners. They attack half heartedly. They play it safe.

Sound familiar?

You keep your supporting leg a few inches wide to stay safe? You can’t throw them like this, but neither can they throw you. Or you attack only near the edge of the mat?

You don’t push beyond that point: you minimise the risk.

Change the Ippon Attitude

The best way to destroy this fear is to realise one thing.

Realise that the objective of training very rarely is to win, or to beat your partner. 

The objective of training is to learn.

That’s it.

If you begin to think in this way you win the randori no matter how many times you get thrown.

And with this new mindset, the fear of failing disappears. You can leave your ego with your zori at the side of the tatami.

So, next time you’re on the mat.

And you’ve got your grip.

And you’ve set them up.

And you feel it’s on.

Go for it.

And when you do, go for it 100%.

Because, at best you will learn. At worst you will throw for ippon.


Ippon Tshirt Go For It 100%

ippon tshirt

Ippon Judo tshirt: Go For It 100%

Warning: This Ippon JudoT-shirt Can Seriously Increase Your Chance of Scoring Ippon.

How the Olympians score ippon

Get tips on scoring ippon from Team GB London 2012 Team members, Karina Bryant, Gemma Gibbons, Winston Gordon, Euan Burton and Ashley McKenzie by reading this post: Tips on Scoring Ippon by Five Olympians.

Which is the best judo technique for scoring ippon at an Olympic Games? Find out here.