Three Minutes of Bravery: Part 1

by Adelyn Koh (16S06H)

Before we begin, we must first understand how judo competitions are held.

This year, as the Raffles Judokas returned to Hougang Secondary School where their finals have been traditionally held, there was an excited sort of zing in the air that made the hair on our arms stand in anticipation of what’s to come. Most of the finalists, wore not expressions of tension and nervousness, but rather were the picture of calm and serenity. When asked about this, Nicolette Ang Yu, said that she had already spent the previous day “getting rid of any nervousness” and “what-ifs and doubts” in herself, that she was “just excited to play her best”.

In Judo, individuals have 3 minutes in a bout to score as many points against the opponent in the same category as possible. This can be done in three ways:

  1. yuko, where one only manages to throw the opponent to the floor, lacking in two of the following: speed, force or throwing largely onto the back, and hence counts only as a partial point;
  2. waza-ari, which is the same as yuko, but lacking in only one aspect, thus scoring a half-point;
  3. ippon, a “perfect” throw, earning a full point.

If a throw is unable to be executed, pinning down one’s opponent also earns points; 10-15 seconds for yuko, 16-20 seconds for waza-ari, and over 20 seconds for ippon. Penalties, called shido, may be given for excessively rough play, and can be used to determine the outcome of the match if no full points are scored.

The thought that all the gruelling hours of training boiling down to those three minutes on the mats would be scary to some, but to a judoka, that is just one of the many aspects which make the sport so beautiful.

Extra Lightweight Category (Girls): Yang Ningchen (16S06J)
Ningchen was up against Kesia Lim (HCI), one of Hwachong’s star players. However, she managed to put up a good fight, and was tough competition for Kesia. Ningchen did not concede a point until about two minutes into the bout, when Kesia had thrown Ningchen with an ippon, thus winning the match. We would like to laud Ningchen for her unrelenting determination and perseverance.

Lightweight Category (Girls): Jolene Song (17S03G)
Jolene was up against Zhu Xin Yu (HCI) when a mini-cheering competition between Hwachong and Raffles erupted. With both schools screaming their hearts out for their players, a certain camaraderie was reached in those moments, a pocket of time in which all our hearts swelled with immeasurable pride for our Judokas. With Rafflesian support acting as her fuel, she went on to successfully throw her opponent, warranting her a yuko. However, when the referee gave her a shido (penalty), her spirits were visibly dampened. Even though her opponent eventually managed to overcome her in the end, throwing her with a wazari, we felt that Jolene put up a good fight, and that there is not a single shred of doubt in our minds that Jolene will come back stronger, faster, and better next year.

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Jolene (left) grapples with a competitor from HCI

Middle weight category (Girls): Nicolette Ang (16S03P)
When Nicolette stepped on to the mats with her foot tightly wrapped with tape to stabilize it, she knew that she had to be very careful with her injured ankle. Nicolette was light for her weight category, but in spite of that, the disparity in weight did not faze her– even as her opponent, Yip Lew Ching (HCI) managed to throw her with a yuko in the beginning. Soon enough, Nicolette managed to get it back, and one up her opponent by scoring a wazari by effectively countering her opponent’s throw. Following that, came a yuko from Nicolette in succession. Without a doubt, her opponent was very strong, as there were several times when her opponent nearly flipped her over, using sheer strength itself. However, Nicolette persevered, and by standing her ground (both literally and figuratively), she managed to secure the gold medal for herself.

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Nicolette (left) stands her ground in the heat of the match

Heavy weight Category (Girls): Chan Jia Yi (17A03A)
Before the bout started, we knew that Jia Yi was nervous. Later, when the bout started, the nervousness dissipated. She was immersed in the moment, and the adrenaline and excitement on Jia Yi’s face was plain for all to see. It was obvious that she was where she loved the most. Initially, Jia Yi faced some difficulty in getting her grip. In her words, “She’s more experienced so I was trying to get an opportunity to enter (for my throw) but it wasn’t very successful”. Even though her opponent managed to secure two wazaris near the end in quick succession, we would like to commend Jia Yi on her perseverance and incredible fighting spirit against a formidable opponent.

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Jia Yi looks on, poised and ready

We are extremely proud of our girls for lending their amazing tenacity to the fray, but this is not the end yet. You might be thinking, “What about the guy categories?” Don’t you worry — for what’s left of the event, remember to check out Part 2 of this coverage, to be released tomorrow!

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