Kusabi Dome … Now Illegal??


I just learned at last practice that Kusabi Dome (shown here by Anton Geesink), the ‘wedge block’ technique used to block Harai Goshi (and other similar forward throws) has now been made illegal in the U.S. This news was given to me by a nationally ranked referee.

While this technique has always been illegal if used as a throw, or if your calf was touching uke’s shin (as if you were even looking like you wanted to throw uke forward), it was always legal if done in the proper fashion. As shown in the photo, you must turn your leg so that your shin is all that is touching uke’s shin, and then this technique was perfectly legal.

Now, I only have the word of one referee that Kusabi Dome is no longer legal - but what makes this an interesting story is the reason that was given. I’ve been informed that the reason even the previously legal form of Kusabi Dome was made illegal, is the inexperience of referees to be able to differentiate between the legal form, and the far more dangerous form that could lead to locking up Uke’s knee as he fell forward. The comment was made that because you do not need to hold a Black belt to attain national ranking as a referee, that many referees simply didn’t know enough to be able to make the judgment call. Now, I don’t know if this was an opinion being expressed, or if this is what this referee was told in referee training - but it seems that, if true; this is a sad state of affairs for Judo.

The basic problem, as I see it, is the constant lack of enough referees - and the solution seems equally clear: U.S. Judo must make refereeing to be a more desirable goal for Judoka. Perhaps more points toward promotion, or financial incentives … I’m only tossing out ideas here. I confess that with the exception of the rare club shiai, I’ve never spent any time refereeing. Do we have any referees here that can add their thoughts?

The seemingly constant accumulation of new rules is bad enough - but if it’s being influenced by the problem of getting enough qualified referees, perhaps it’s time that this problem is addressed at the root causes… just my two cents worth.