It’s only Monday, and I have have already gotten my fill of gymnastics. We get it, the girls are flexible and the men have great upper body strength. In an attempt to not watch 16-year-old girls dance around for fear of Chris Hansen popping out from behind my love seat, as the consummate curious sports fan, through NBC’s billionty hours of live streaming coverage online I’ve wandered into the more obscure sports that rarely see the light of prime time coverage.
Enter the revered martial art known as judo. It’s like boxing, but instead of gloves, there’s entertainment value.
Much like curling does it for me during the winter, judo keeps finding my way back onto my video player. This could be the latent result of Mortal Kombat deprivation as a young child, but the fact that (a) I’m not really sure what was going on, (b) I don’t know who any of these guys are, and (c) sometimes I don’t know some of these countries existed (Tajikistan? There’s a Tajikistan now? Carmen Sandiego never told me about this) doesn’t stop me from tuning in almost obediently.
Maybe it’s the Olympic judo logo. Look at that thing. For a monochromatic simplification of the sport, that thing’s pretty badass. I’d feel safe wearing this lapel pin alone in a dark alley.
After a day of zoning into the hypnotizing flips and grips, I had to check out the rules. Different kinds of takedowns and pins have a rather subjective scoring system, and the highest score — judo’s “knockout,” if you will — is called ippon. The fact that it rhymes with “own” should definitely captivate the World of Warcraft audience to no end. “zOMG, d00d, that Korean just got ippwn3d!!1″
All the takedowns are based on how close you get your opponent on their back. If you get them on their stomach, it’s no points. I might be able to excel at this, since in fights I’m always cowering in that position.
There’s probably way more to it than that to compete, but to enjoy watching it, the learning curve is much easier to climb. Nailing down the nuances of scoring may be the toughest part. In fact, in the streaming video commentary box, some guy (who I’m assuming is an analyst) said he has refereed with someone of these guys and even he would admit to being confused at some of the calls.) The blog Total MMA probably put it best regarding the scoring: “if you see what looks like a particularly awesome throw, the match will likely end with that throw.” So if it looks like severe ippwnage, it probably was.
Other ways to see if they won: reaction of the judo combatant (judist?), or reaction of the coach, the latter of which is only applicable if you know what their country’s flag colors are. Mind you, I’m just learning Tajikistan actually existed.
The judo commentators noted that the sport is the fourth most watched sport online on NBCOlympics.com — behind swimming, gymnastics, and basketball, perhaps? — so I’m inclined to believe that, much like in real life, I’m not exactly ahead of the game here. But I did just see a French girl and an Israeli girl lock arms, presumably, in an argument over me.