Last weekend's course was run by O'Sullivan and Mano sensei assisted by senor squad members. Sensei opted for a relaxed style of teaching, encouraging plenty of Q&A audience participation. They focused on the topic of 'What is ippon' as opposed to the actual mechanics of reffing a shiai-jo (e.g. flag signals and commands).
We spent the next few hours learning what a ref should look for in regards to the five elements of Yūkō Datotsu, which we all know is:
- Fullness of spirit and intention;
- Striking a datotsu-bui (striking zone);
- Correct striking region of own shinai;
- Correct ha-suji; and
- Correct zanshin.
Sensei also suggested there was a 6th unofficial requirement of maintaining correct posture during the strike. Basically no body contortions or spinning around after a kote cut.
We also discussed the tricky subject of 'grey zone' situations which are open to interpretation. For example, high level oji waza which may appear weak in power can be given credit in order to encourage the use of complex techniques. There are too many to list (not that I can remember them all).
Finally, sensei outlined different fouls and which warrant hansoku.
The afternoon session consisted of a fighting group who were refereed by a rotating shinpan group. I was part of the first reffing group up and found it very difficult to maintain triangulation with the Shushin (main ref), while paying full attention to the fight.
As the fight progresses, it's very easy to find yourself 'ball watching' and miss something important. I also found acting as Shushin quite stressful, first of all you need to make yourself heard, you have to be aware that the other shinpan are triangulating off you and you have to act decisively with quick commands. Any delays confuses those fighting.
This experience demonstrated to me how tough acting as a ref can be, especially for those who are relatively inexperienced and are 'press ganged' during a competition. It's very easy for a competitor to slate a dodgy decision but it's a bloody hard job!
Due to my bad ankle I didn't fight during the seminar and I'm going to give it another week of rest. However, during my time off i've managed to sell my house and have an offer accepted on a new one, at least this dead time hasn't been wasted.