IJF Head Referee Director Florin Daniel Lascau heads up the commission looking after all refereeing decisions at these world championships. On day one in Abu Dhabi, the technical analysis is his.

“There is an amazing hall layout and a really great atmosphere. The set-up is conducive to an outstanding experience for both the live spectators and those watching at home on JudoTV or on the move via the JudoTV app. The world is watching their judo heroes on the way to winning their world medals and it feels like a shared moment, it’s really special. This is the prelude for the Olympic Games in Paris and adds to the excitement of this huge occasion too.

The Mubadala Arena, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Athletes are clearly motivated by a number of factors but ultimately, whether they want world ranking points, seeding at the Games, the world medals themselves or to dominate internal qualification discussions, the energy they all bring pushes the level extremely high.

There are some key points that should be noted across all three categories today. The first is that the athletes are demonstrating that taking kumi-kata is essential. Those who seek out their dominate grip, not holding back, are the ones who begin each exchange with the advantage. It seems like a simple concept but to arrive with the first grip is not so easy. It is essential, but not simple.

Kurbanova (TKM) and Salens (BEL) gripping up to compete.

All the judoka here are fighting with determination all the way to the end of their contests. No-one is giving up. There have been several escapes from osae-komi on day one, escapes which proved to be decisive, giving a new chance to someone who had looked like they were out. For example, Smetov (KAZ) was holding Bliev (AIN) in the -60 kg quarter-final, secured at exactly 4 minutes and with no other scores on the board, but a second before the waza-ari was registered, Bliev escaped and then threw Smetov in golden score. This attitude belongs to the biggest champions! He was not alone. Tara Babulfath also came close to holding Scutto (ITA) in the -48 kg semi-final but the Italian refused to give up and eventually won the contest.

Bliev (AIN) vs Smetov (KAZ).

Speaking of the young Swede, her transition from tachi-waza into ne-waza is an excellent illustration of why training this phase of the contest is so important. She won almost exclusively on the ground, taking control in the transition phases over and over again. We have seen many examples of successful tori-tori transition but also uke-tori examples. Katame-waza has really been dominated by osae-komi techniques. Babulfath’s bronze medal, making history for Sweden, is a good example for all of the need to take seriously the need for ground work in training and in competition.

Babulfath (SWE), world bronze medallist.

Babulfath was the exception in the -48 kg category, a group in which three of the four medallists were seeded in places 1-4 and during the day their technique and their ability to apply their tokui-waza from many different situations, gave them advantages and those translated into medals.

Just as I have mentioned the attitude of never giving up and then noting examples from ne-waza, it is just as true in tachi-waza. For example, Saddiki (MAR) was trailing Lin (TPE) by waza-ari in the -60 kg preliminaries but at 3:58 on the clock he threw using a combination that ended with tani-otoshi and scored waza-ari. He kept going right to the last second and gave himself a second chance. Eventually he was thrown again but his fighting spirit was incredible.

Lin (TPE) vs Saddiki (MAR).

We have also seen a huge range of nage-waza on day one, especially the expert use of ashi-waza and te-waza. This mix is impressive and also inspiring, leading the young judoka watching to try more techniques and aspire to be like the stars they see here. This is important. Not many contests have been decided by shido today, showing that the athletes are ready to take risks to achieve great things, to demonstrate their best. At this event they have come to win and to win well, not simply to try.

Unfortunately we have seen several hansoku-make situations on day one, 7 in the preliminaries alone. There have been a mix of infringements from using the head to throwing across a straight arm and even reaping the support leg. We must continue with a programme of education among coaches and athletes to ensure the safety of all of our judo family, promoting the highest quality judo throughout the world.”

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