DEATH to the AJA Agreement!

DEATH to the AJA Agreement!

The American Judo Alliance Agreement is the the agreement between the United States Judo Association (USJA), United States Judo Federation (USJF), and USA Judo. Each of these entities are separate bodies, but with this agreement, they recognize each others' ranks as valid. So, if you wanted to compete at a USJA hosted tournament, but you were a USA Judo member, you could! 

Now, that is no longer the case... And is that a bad thing?

Forever and a day has passed where the "Big 3" have governed Judo. USA Judo has the center stage to represent Team USA at the Olympics. If you want to do Olympic level Judo, you gotta go through them. For Olympic level sports, that makes sense! But what about the little guys? What about recreational players?

Should recreational players spend hundreds of dollars to maintain memberships? Why aren't there more recreational, or otherwise "unsanctioned" tournaments? Why do they have to be sanctioned by the big dogs?

There could be several reasons why there aren't as many unsanctioned judo tournaments compared to sanctioned ones. Here are a few possible factors:

1. Safety and standards: Sanctioned tournaments generally follow established rules and regulations that prioritize participant safety. They often have specific standards in place, such as qualified referees, medical personnel, and appropriate equipment. Unsanctioned tournaments may not have these safety measures in place, which can be a concern for participants and organizers.

2. Recognition and legitimacy: Sanctioned tournaments are often organized or endorsed by official judo governing bodies or organizations. This recognition provides a level of legitimacy to the event, attracting participants, sponsors, and spectators. Unsanctioned tournaments may lack this recognition, which can impact their credibility and participation.

3. Ranking and qualification: Sanctioned tournaments may contribute to ranking points and qualification for higher-level competitions. This incentive encourages athletes to compete in sanctioned events to improve their rankings and increase their chances of participating in prestigious competitions. Unsanctioned tournaments generally do not provide these ranking or qualification opportunities.

4. Insurance and liability: Sanctioned tournaments often have insurance coverage and liability protection for organizers and participants. This helps ensure that any injuries or accidents that occur during the event are adequately addressed. Unsanctioned tournaments may lack such insurance coverage, which can pose legal and financial risks for organizers.

5. Uniformity and consistency: Sanctioned tournaments adhere to standardized rules and guidelines, promoting uniformity and consistency in competition. This allows athletes to have a clear understanding of the rules and expectations, fostering fair competition. Unsanctioned tournaments may have variations in rules and practices, leading to potential confusion or disputes.

These factors contribute to the preference for sanctioned tournaments within the judo community. However, as stated earlier, if you're not trying to compete at the Olympics, how serious are all those points?

I think the Judo community should take MAJOR notes from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. You can throw a rock and hit a small BJJ tournament. It doesn't have to be governed by some major entity.

The point of a tournament is to bolster the grass roots of the respective martial arts, and give recreational players a reasonable opportunity to test themselves on the mat in shia. Is a Judoka any less competent for winning an event, compared to winning an equitably sized event hosted by USA Judo? In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, if I can submit my opponent, am I a lesser qualified practitioner because my belt isn't certified by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation?

I believe we owe thanks to BJJ. Gone should be the days of over-emphasis on lineage. In the world of fighting, capability matters. Wasn't that the point of the UFC? When the Gracie's flexed their fight prowess on the world on an even stage, nobody could doubt the fighting talent.

If you have a belt from a small garage dojo in the middle of nowhere rural town, and you can defeat most other black belts in your respective martial art, who you send you membership is only important in the sense that I may want to train with your Sensei vice whomever I'm with, because you're trained better.

All tournaments should have reasonable safety and standards. In fact, it is arguable that an insurance company wouldn't cover the event if it wasn't well ran. Ranking should be handled at the dojo level. I don't care if the Kodokan in Japan doesn't acknowledge my Judo black belt. If one can use their fighting skillsets, that is the standard. It would be a shame if a "recognized" black belt got crushed by unsanctioned black belts in grass roots tournaments, and still denied the legitimacy of those black belts.

I hope we see more unsanctioned Judo tournaments across the United States. It's about time Judoka stepped up and provided the people want they want- a chance to compete without bureaucracy, and focus on having FUN!

Back to blog