2018 Shufu Rules Clinic Scores an IPPON!

February 17, 2018

Bobby Donaldson presenting the Referee of the Year award to Sharon Landstreet


Georgetown University, February 11


53 coaches, referees, tournament directors, and competitors from as far away as Massachusetts, Connecticut, and South Carolina gathered on Sunday February 11th at the Yates Fieldhouse at Georgetown University for the 33rd annual Shufu Rules Clinic.  The Rules Clinic was originated and led for the first 11 years by Shufu’s Gaile Spadin, who was the USA’s first female Olympic referee.


For the 2018 edition, led for the 22nd time by Roy Englert, the clinicians were two of Shufu’s own, Ms. Sharon Landstreet and Mr. Bobby Donaldson, both IJF-A international referees.


Just prior to the start of the day, both clinicians shared their thoughts about the importance of this clinic:


Bobby Donaldson: “With the new rule changes, most coaches need to understand what the new rules mean to their players so they can create winning strategies within those rules.  Two waza-aris equaling an ippon is back, there are new limits on gripping, new definitions on what an ippon is and what a waza-ari is, so it is critical that coaches know so they can better inform their students and create better matches.”



Sharon Landstreet: “The most important message that is coming from the international referees is that we (the referees) are working as a team to learn the rules and give the best performance that we can as a team, and making sure that the people that we work with in the PJC, the other unions, and the United States are all on the same page so that we do well.”


The day began with a surprise presentation by Mr. Donaldson, who awarded Real Judo Magazine’s Referee of the Year to Ms. Landstreet, and was met with great applause and cheers for Sharon and for her accomplishments not only as an international referee, but as the USA’s referee at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.


Early in the day, Roy Englert, also an IJF-A referee, reminded the audience and spoke of the incredible tradition in Shufu, having developed 14 IJF-A referees including Spadin, Dick Hugh, Jim Takemori, Karl Tamai, and others.


An interactive presentation by both clinicians then followed, with a number of major points including the importance of maintaining the safety of the competitors, knowing the correct interpretation of the rules, definitions of ippon and waza-ari, bridging vs. involuntary and voluntary head contact with the mat and the scores or penalties that accompany them, falling back on hands and/or elbows, and the concept of the double hansokumake.




But that was just the beginning.  They explained how penalties are not considered a score, cannot end a match, and how penalties are considered when deciding whether or not to enter into Golden Score (extra time) matches, and how to adjudicate them for Golden Score results.



Leg grabs and blocks below the belt were also discussed, and stretching vs. hooking the leg in newaza was emphasized.


Other topics included hints for anticipating how to position oneself as a referee based on identifying the dominant kumikata (gripping) and the hunter vs. the hunted competitor, and rules governing protests.


They then talked about considerations one should make to become a referee (at all levels), a discussion of payment vs. compensation of referees, the decision to referee at a particular tournament, and attracting referees to your events.


They also included information regarding the increased influence of the central on-mat referee, and that the CARE (instant replay) system had been removed from the corner judges.



We were also reminded that many of the new rules have been designed to minimize dead time and avoid boring matches, which affects TV viewership, important to the International Olympic Committee.



Also discussed was how to appropriately adjust the rules, or their application, to different age and skill levels, with the confirmation that we cannot referee all levels the same way.


USA Judo is the entity that will decide to accept or reject the IJF’s rule changes for the United States. Bobby and Sharon emphasized that referees must be aware of variations in the rules when working a local, regional, or national tournament, or even a different country’s adaptations.


The morning session was followed by a pizza lunch donated by the Washington Judo Club, and then a hands-on session on the mat, with Sharon and Bobby giving a large number of concrete examples of technical scoring, forbidden techniques, determinations of in vs. out of bounds, etc., with additional questions from the attendees.



Finally, Sharon ran the video examples with lots of audience interactivity, firming up the concepts from the lecture and hands-on mat sessions.  Her use of the video examples from the IJF, with expert analysis and explanations by both clinicians, and the use of slow motion had the audience fully concentrated on the rapid action demonstrated by the international players.


The 2018 Shufu Rules Clinic was clearly one of the most outstanding judo clinics in memory.  The combination of venue, clinicians, enthusiastic coaches, referees, and teachers created a great day of interactive learning.  The technical knowledge, analysis, and teaching techniques employed by Sharon and Bobby made this one of the most informative and enjoyable events we have had.



After the clinic, Roy Englert also expressed his feelings about this event in particular:


“As the Shufu Referee Chair for the last two decades, I could not be more pleased with the presentation Ms. Landstreet and Senior Chief Donaldson made on February 11. I believe this to have been the single most informative clinic in the 33-year history of the Shufu Rules Clinic, building on a string of outstanding past clinics. Those in attendance received a rare treat, and are to be commended for their own participation. I only wish we could have shared this information with even more coaches, tournament directors, referees, and prospective referees. Ms. Landstreet, Senior Chief Donaldson, hosts Tad Nalls and Georgetown University, and Shufu have my great thanks.”

Roy Englert, Sharon Landstreet, and Bobby Donaldson


Finally, a special thanks to Tad Nalls, Rachel Friedrich, and the rest of the WJC crew that prepared and managed the event.

Event Director Tad Nalls

But importantly, and with the assistance of retired fire marshal Michael Landstreet, Tad was able to convince the Yates Fieldhouse administrators to allow the clinic to take place despite significant flooding that morning that cancelled all other activities and closed the building to all except the judo clinic attendees.

Chuck Medani



Coach Certification

SafeSport Certification is now required for all USJF registered clubs. If you have already completed the course and submitted a copy of your certificate, you do not need to resubmit. For more information or to take the course, please visit www.safesport.org.

Heads Up concussion training, through the CDC's website, is a requirement for all members of your USJF registered club who function as teachers at any time. Please advise all of your instructors and assistant instructors of this requirement. The training can be accessed at: http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/