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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Fair Judging or is it just me?

By Cristian Langenscheidt

I attended a seminar held by Kagawa Sensei and his Teikyo University team in Germany. This seminar was fantastic. Kagawa sensei had gone through basic and advance kihons with the Dan grades with full emphasis on hip rotations particularly in the execution of kukutso dachi. On top of this, I had the privilege to be personally instructed by Sensei, his delightful kicks were amazing to see. second part of the training covered the Heian Katas (from Shodan-Godan) talking about going back to the root of basics…We finished off with a round robin Kumite training with his Teikyo University Teams. 1 and ½ hours of pain…good pain that is.

This seminar was particularly unusual since it was also what you call a “challenge fight”

Kagawa sensei brought with him the Teikyo University team to fight against the German National team. The fight was arranged like a regular tournament with official mats and with official “WKF” judges. With a full audience, there must have been about 100-150 people in the gymnasium. I guess the Germans have publicly advertised it. What I have also noticed is that these “WKF” judges seemed to be ALL Germans, at the time I thought nothing of it, just a friendly competition… The first fight was the women’s team Kumite, just as expected the Japanese fighter blitzing in with combinations of kizami and gyaku tsuki and obliterating the German fighters. The second competition was a little rougher but, in a competition you have to expect that. “Keikokus” was given to both sides---again the Japanese winning the second bout. As for the 3rd and 4th fights it went the same. The women’s competition went fairly well a little bad call here and there but not the obvious.

Next bout was the men’s team Kumite.  Here was the obvious and probably to me as spectator and competitor the most deniably heartbreaking. Well to sum it up, Japanese attacks with uncontested 2-3 barrages of punches (tsukis) and kicks (geris) to the body and to the head no call or point was called by the judges. Same thing happened to the later fights 2nd, 3rd, 4 4th uncontested punches and kicks.  These WKF judges called it too hard and a warning given to the Japanese and automatic points given to the German fighters. The Japanese university Team was graciously accepting each of these charges—here’s the kicker they were also bleeding from the nose and the mouth. Yet their punches were not called since they were not whining about the punch or the kick. In one incident, the German fighter blitz in, totally missing the Japanese fighter who scored in with the gyaku and point awarded to the German fighter and warning given to the Japanese fighter. The Germans were throwing punches that are a foot away and scoring…It didn’t matter how many punches the Japanese fighter threw if it was only a little hard it was a point to the German fighters.  I’m not denying that there were not excessive contacts, yes, but it was expected.  If you run toward an incoming punch or hesitate for a second you’ll get hit and will be hit hard.  What I don’t understand is if you score and no calls are being made; does not that make you hit a little harder?  That’s my opinion, but the judges didn’t see that—instead techniques that didn’t deemed to look like a karate technique, (to me) looked more like a jumping shrimp, scored and any acting (might as well win the OSCAR) scored- that in my eyes didn’t look fair.  I admit that there were lots of good hits coming from the Germans.  Hits that deserved points to be awarded and it was.  There should have been other judges of different nationalities besides the Germans.  The whole fight seemed pretty lopsided, was it Fair judging or is it just me?--Maybe the latter was the case, but call it what you want the audience who were there knew who won this little challenge.