Wearing BLUE Increases Judo Wins

November 3, 2005

In May 2005, Neuroscience for Kids discussed how researchers at the University of Durham found that fighters who wore RED were more likely to win their matches. Scientists reported that the color red influenced human aggression and gave some advantage when competitors were closely matched in skill level. New studies examining data from judo matches at the 2004 Olympics provide an alternative explanation for the color effects.

In Olympic judo matches, one competitor wears blue and one wears white. In new studies, researchers found that the fighter who wore a blue uniform was more likely to win. These data led the scientists to conclude that there is nothing special about red. Rather, they explain that the higher chance of winning is related to the ability to see an opponent. In judo competitions, fighters wearing white are easier to see than fighters wearing blue. Therefore, blue-wearing fighters can see the moves of opponents easier and anticipate what to do next.

The scientists who published the original research about the advantage of red uniforms do not agree with this new interpretation. They argue that the visibility of a competitor would be of little use in a sport where fighters compete close together in a bright arena. Moreover, they state that wearing blue may provide competitors with some psychological advantages over those who wear white.

Both studies agree that color may affect the outcome of combat sports. However, the exact mechanisms that are responsible for the color advantage are not known and research continues.

Let the games begin.


  1. Rowe, C., Harris, J.M. and Roberts, S.C., Seeing red? Putting sportswear in context. Nature, 437:E10, 2005.
  2. Barton, R.A. and Hill, R.A., Sporting contests. Hill and Barton reply. Nature, 437:R10-E11, 2005.
  3. Seeing Red - Neuroscience for Kids

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