Friday 17 October 2008

Good Refereeing

I was really pleased to be given the responsibility of Shimpan-Cho (Chief Referee) at last week’s JKS (Japan Karate Shotorenmei) regional kata championships. Whilst the tournament was only for youth competitors, it was still a great honor to have the top job.

Initially I was a bit rusty, as I have not judged/refereed for nearly two years, however everything was back up-to-speed after ten minutes. The entire time, in between rounds, I received constructive feedback from Tachibana Shihan (8th Dan JKS) who sat behind me as the arbitrator. It was really great to learn some new skills/"tricks" from such a highly experienced JKA/JKS Japan/International referee. Such tips can only lead to greater professionalism as a competition official.

Another personal highlight for me was the use of Asai Shuseki-Shihan’s kata in the competition. It was great to see the 10th kyu competitors having to use Jo no kata, and the higher grades also needing to pass through a round of Junro (relevant to their kyu or dan rank). For all of the rounds we used the JKA/JKS flag system; that is, with both competitors doing the same 'randomly called kata' simultaneously. The finals for the black belt division were from the sentei kata (Bassai, Kanku, Enpi and Jion).

I was really pleased that all the spectators, especially the parents of the children, seemed pleased with my refereeing. As a fairly seasoned competitor, coach and Japan qualified referee, I fully understand the value of referees, who are unbiased in karate tournaments. It is really satisfying, when as an official, you sense that the crowd can detect your impartiality. Tournaments must first and fore mostly be for the competitors, and the development of their karate. A referee who maximizes this opportunity, within the rules, truly is a good referee. _________
As an off-beat comment I have to say that it is 'always special' when asked to referee in Japan, and especially so, when entrusted with the position of 'Shimpan-Cho ('Chief Referee'). I'm sure those who regularly train in Japan, and have the honor of being asked to judge at competitions, fully understand my sentiments.

Overall I had a great time, and are thankful to Tachibana Shihan, and the Japan Karate Shoto-renmei Oita-Prefecture Headquarters for making me the shimpan-cho at this tournament. Regardless of winning or losing, I hope the boy’s and girl’s who competed in this event, view it as merely another benchmark, along their respective karate path's.


© André Bertel, Japan 2008

No comments: