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    Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

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    NBK

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    Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by NBK on Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:16 pm

    I attended the 2014 Kōdōkan Kata Kōshūkai (class, or training course).

    The instruction was excellent, even better than the last time I attended, which was too many years ago.  Well paced, in most instances, with juicy details in many areas.  

    Interpretation into English remains problematic.  It ranged from dysfunctional or simply not done (sometimes because the instructor didn't pause, or mike problems and the interpreter couldn't hear, or the interpreter simply couldn't keep up with the pace or the level of the instructor's comments, which ranged from purely mechanical to almost poetic), or in the case of Iura sensei, was simply worn out from a very long couple of stretches, entire days.   People who don't perform interpretation simply have no idea how hard it can be, and how tiring it can be.  

    Daigo sensei teaching Koshiki no Kata proved near impossible to interpret in large part because he almost didn't stop talking the entire day, providing a tremendous amount of detail lost in the translation, when there was translation.  I have only met a handful of people who could have handled that and most professional simultaneous interpreters won't do it more than a few minutes at a stretch, hence work in teams.  (It would have been a lot easier to simply say, excuse me, sensei, I need a couple of minutes here to catch up..... but no one seems to be able to do so.)  

    I made the point with a couple of senior sensei that it struck me that the less than stellar interpretation into English creates a very false impression of the senior Kōdōkan instructors.  They spoke in very polite, well educated Japanese, often with humor, and with striking humility.  The English interpretation I heard (I missed a day) would leave non-Japanese speakers with the impression that they were almost to a man blunt, almost without courtesy.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  

    The instruction included an implicit richness of Japanese jūdō culture that was lost on the non-Japanese speakers, and it was sad to me to hear the collective wisdom of a three to four hundred years of jūdō experience filtered down to 'hand goes here.... practice now' and I wish that more people could hear what I heard in Japanese.   I think that it would be very welcome by the attendees from around the world and there would be a much greater appreciation and assimilation of the instruction.  

    Perhaps I missed it but there didn't seem to be a handout explaining the kata certificates, and I was asked by a couple of people, so here's a quick reference.  My interpretation, not authoritative.  

    習得証 - Shūtokushō - certificate of learning / acquisition.  Initial level, could be said to indicate mastery of (at least most of?) the basics.

    精塾証 - Seijukushō - certificate of proficiency / skill.  Intermediate level.

    熟達証 - Jukutatsushō - certificate of mastery.  Advanced level.  

    There was only a single pair awarded the jukutatsushō - IIRC a couple of gents who performed Ju no Kata.

    NBK


    Last edited by NBK on Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:22 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Sat Jul 26, 2014 2:48 am

    Some footage here to accompany the comments made by our friend NBK ...


    Goshinjutsu:



    Unfortunately most is out of focus. They're a bit more active than often is the case, despite the mannered posing at the end.





    At least here the imae is clear although at occasions it looks like it was recorded from a boat in the Tôkyô bay.





    Performance by a female. One's immediate impression is that she has never been attacked before and has no clue how to defend herself; she goes through the motions.





    Koshiki-no-kata during the test day, which our friend NBK mentioned, here showing one of our forum friends:





    Another Koshiki-no-kata performance. Where on earth the caricatural jerky opening step comes from, I have no idea, but everyone seems to be slavishly copying it, pretty much like the awkward posing sequences we see today in kime-no-kata and goshinjutsu





    Sequence from the itsutsu-no-teaching day. I am starting to wonder if this traditional model of having these demonstrations is a proper teaching tool, as essentially demo's are done either by those who do not have the ripeness for this kata or those who are too old. Verily, verily, a true conundrum ...  One notices the absent of the Kôdôkan's Itsutsu-no-kata specialist Ôsawa Yoshimi, 10th dan ...





    Some strange itsutsu-no-kata demo's (starts only at about 01:34, preceded by some jû-no-kata images)





    Itsutsu-nokata post-kata-test explanation of "mistakes" by instructors, which is somewhat ironic as it suggests that what the instructors are doing would be correct, which is hardly the case. On notes the absence of Ôsawa Yoshimi, 10th dan, usually responsible for this item.





    Pomp and circumstance for the end of the kata course and proclamation of winners (sorry, the maximal volume on my laptop still does allow me to hear the comments loud enough to be able to translate them here the applause is the only thing audible for me)


    Some further personal thoughts with regard to NBKs comments, and to avoid any misunderstanding I want to make it clear that I was not present this year contrary to NBK and wdax ...

    There have been prior instances of some of the things which NBK highlights, and I am particularly thinking of a lecture on bushidô a couple of years ago by a Japanese professor who didn't speak a word of English. There was a richness in information, no doubt, that was lost on the foreigners, both because the English translation being totally inadequate, but also because it was over the head of the foreigners. The question though is whether this is sufficient as justification, for teaching has to be done in such a way that it realizes its objectives and goals, specifically when you can't provide a proper translation and when it is over the head of your audience, your teaching has failed. I could have have done the same lecture simultaneously in Japanese/English and customized to the audience. You can't talk  --sadly enough--  before an average group of foreign jûdôka and mention things like Yamato-damashii without clarifying what it is ...  realizing they don't even have their good friend Google at hand when they are listening. If one can't achieve that, one is simply having the wrong people teach that that particular topic.

    As to the translation particularly of the comments Daigo provides* --and I choose Daigo as an example because his comments are the most important in that they are the most detailed and most remote from the typical nonsense in Western populist jûdô kata books--  two comments need to be made:

    1. NBK is very correct that one would need to interrupt now and then to provide a summary or more than a summary, so I totally agree with what NBK says, and this has been so for years. Where I maybe differ, is that it would be acceptable to simply conclude that and give each other a pat on the shoulder. When we had teaching evaluations in college and we received comments from students, peers and senior colleagues the outcome was never "well this was a problem, and this and this, and this, and here is our pat on the shoulder and next year we will meet again and give the same comments". No. Comments are then a guide to improvement and growing in your skills so that you become an effective teacher. To put it more bluntly ... you have a year to improve or you're out.

    2. NBK mentioned "I have only met a handful of people who could have handled that and most professional simultaneous interpreters won't do it more than a few minutes at a stretch, hence work in teams.", no disagreement here either, but ... again, I don't think it is sufficient to be able to conclude that now realizing it is the same conclusion we made 7 years ago and the same we will be able to make over 5 years. In other words ... there is no evolution, no accountability, no learning from one's mistakes, no personal growth of teaching staff. It is perfectly possible to accurately translate (and teach Daigo's comments), BUT ...  it requires a triad of abilities, i.e. (1) being fluent in Japanese, (2) being familiar with the historic contents and details so that one can also provide oneself definitions in English of Japanese concepts which Daigo mentions without definition because he does not need to for Japanese people, and (3) having the advanced level of jûdô commensurate with the material being taught so that one has already grasped the essence of what is being taught.


    In conclusion, when evaluating teaching one has to be careful not to conflate the uniqueness and privilege of one's experience with the actual effectiveness of the teaching. I am sure that most of us would feel excited having had class from some superstar or extremely famous person, or knowledgeable teaching. As long as one's teaching is not effective, it is not good teaching. In that respect, and when reflecting on the pedagogy, the question to ask is what is done to assess the effectiveness of one's teaching ?  Simply holding a kata test misses the point, since you can participate in that test even without participating in any of the prior days, and oftentimes it is just a lottery. There are other concerns. So, from a pedagogical point (based on my experiences from having been present many times during past years, and from the video fragments I saw and comments I heard about this year), really there is no evolution and it remains a process that is simply more steered by hierarchy and idolatry (being awe of the stellar dan-rank of the Japanese 'master(s)') than by rational goal-oriented evaluation of teaching effectiveness by a body that has the independent position and power to influence and change that process.


    Last edited by Cichorei Kano on Sat Jul 26, 2014 4:21 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : correction of typo)


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    Jonesy

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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by Jonesy on Sat Jul 26, 2014 4:27 am

    Was Osawa-sensei totally absent? He was down to be the chief instructor for InK?


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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by cokiee on Sun Jul 27, 2014 4:28 am

    Out of ignorance, and completely disregarding the fact that it would be quite pointless to go to the seminar just for that one kata, but is it a must to take the 'test' for all the Kata once one attends the seminar?



    Last edited by cokiee on Sun Jul 27, 2014 4:29 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : edited for clarity)
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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by finarashi on Sun Jul 27, 2014 4:38 am

    cokiee wrote:Out of ignorance, and completely disregarding the fact that it would be quite pointless to go to the seminar just for that one kata, but is it a must to take the 'test' for all the Kata once one attends the seminar?


    No you can go to seminar and not test. IMHO most attendees do it that way. Or you can pick just one kata to test. Or if you feel up to it you can test for several.


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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Sun Jul 27, 2014 4:42 am

    cokiee wrote:Out of ignorance, and completely disregarding the fact that it would be quite pointless to go to the seminar just for that one kata, but is it a must to take the 'test' for all the Kata once one attends the seminar?


    No, not only is it not a must, you are not even allowed to. I think you could do that until 2006. But they then had so many candidates that there was no end to the kata test. There were so many participants and some would participate in 3 or even 4 different kata. They then capped it to a maximum of 2 and there even have been years it was capped to only a single kata. Apart from that many people do not participate at all.

    There are other reasons. Over the years kata test and kata participation certificates have started to look cheaper and cheaper. There used to be time that the participation certificate was very nice, printed on large A3 size paper with gold framing. Then they changed it and until about 2006 or so it was then A3 manilla colored without the gold framing. Then in 2007 they made it look even more cheaper by reducing the format to just A4 and still manilla colored, quite ordinary looking. The test certificates just like the Japanese rank certificates look very cheap now and are just printed, no handwriting at all. Some other organizations use other really tacky stuff like writing your name with a black marker, really ugly.

    The time that Kôdôkan certificates were really nice and hand-caligraphed is long gone, and virtually no other federation except koryû does that anymore. It's routine, and the Japanese today oftentimes too prefer lots of money for little effort in return.


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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Sun Jul 27, 2014 4:44 am

    finarashi wrote:
    cokiee wrote:Out of ignorance, and completely disregarding the fact that it would be quite pointless to go to the seminar just for that one kata, but is it a must to take the 'test' for all the Kata once one attends the seminar?


    No you can go to seminar and not test. IMHO most attendees do it that way. Or you can pick just one kata to test. Or if you feel up to it you can test for several.

    Not anymore Finarishi, it was abolished several years ago that you could test in as many as you wanted. They have since capped it. Usually the maximum is 2, but there have been years it was just 1, and there also have been years where they couldn't make up their mind and they first said 2, then changed it to 1, then changed it back to 2, kinda of your typical Kôdôkan indecisiveness.


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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by wdax on Sun Jul 27, 2014 12:29 pm

    Jonesy wrote:Was Osawa-sensei totally absent?  He was down to be the chief instructor for InK?

    Osawa-sensei was there and watched the instruction from his honorary seat, not explaining or showing anything, I think his physical condition doe not allow this anymore. He also came up to the 7th floor to attend the closing ceremony.

    The itsutsu-no-Kata was explained by Yamamoto-sensei.
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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by NBK on Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:32 am

    Cichorei Kano wrote:
    finarashi wrote:
    cokiee wrote:Out of ignorance, and completely disregarding the fact that it would be quite pointless to go to the seminar just for that one kata, but is it a must to take the 'test' for all the Kata once one attends the seminar?


    No you can go to seminar and not test. IMHO most attendees do it that way. Or you can pick just one kata to test. Or if you feel up to it you can test for several.

    Not anymore Finarishi, it was abolished several years ago that you could test in as many as you wanted. They have since capped it. Usually the maximum is 2, but there have been years it was just 1, and there also have been years where they couldn't make up their mind and they first said 2, then changed it to 1, then changed it back to 2, kinda of your typical Kôdôkan indecisiveness.
    Perhaps that's based on number of attendees? There were a lot, the main dojo was packed.

    In fact, on the first day the administrative instructions in Japanese included something to the effect that while in principle folks who wanted to perform for evaluation on the last day were limited to one kata, there could be an allowance if someone desired to perform more than one; anyone who desired to do so should consult with a senior sensei, etc.

    The much more brief English interpretation said simply you can only test one kata. If the instructions were repeated and interpreted correctly later, I didn't hear it.

    I didn't notice if anyone tested more than one but I would bet that some of the foreigners would have if they had known. There was plenty of time; most the kata were complete by around 230 pm.

    NBK

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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by cokiee on Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:23 am

    thank you for the clarification. And would it also be necessary, once you decide to test, for a given pair to perform both tori and uke roles?

    I would think this would be a more complete evaluation of the ability.
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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:26 am

    cokiee wrote:thank you for the clarification. And would it also be necessary, once you decide to test, for a given pair to perform both tori and uke roles?

    I would think this would be a more complete evaluation of the ability.

    Yes, Kôdôkan kata certifications require you to completely show the role of tori and uke. Until a couple of years ago you had to do this back to back, but they have now changed this. Now, after you completed your tori part (or your uke part, depending on which role you choose to do first) they usually allow two other couples to do one performance before they call you back to do yours while switching roles.


    Last edited by Cichorei Kano on Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:40 am; edited 1 time in total


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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by cokiee on Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:29 am

    thank you sir.
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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by finarashi on Mon Jul 28, 2014 6:36 pm

    If I am right, your partner need not be the same and your partner might even not do the kata certification him/herself. If i remeber right one of my buddies did tori with one guy and uke with another.


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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by noboru on Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:30 pm

    Many thanks to NBK and CK for your clarifications and opinions.
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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by NBK on Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:41 am

    finarashi wrote:If I am right, your partner need not be the same and your partner might even not do the kata certification him/herself. If i remeber right one of my buddies did tori with one guy and uke with another.
    First, to Noboru, you're welcome. I think the Kata Koshukai to be very important, and only make suggestions in hopes to make it better.

    To Finarashi, there were a couple of examples of this year. Some of the Italian presenters / testees, IIRC, did not have partners of a suitable skill level, so at the request of their sensei a couple of talented Japanese judoka were recruited to play 'tackling dummy' / training foil to provide a partner. I don't know how that turned out, but it was announced beforehand and explained in a bit of detail.

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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by Lurker on Tue Jul 29, 2014 2:04 am

    NBK wrote:
    finarashi wrote:If I am right, your partner need not be the same and your partner might even not do the kata certification him/herself. If i remeber right one of my buddies did tori with one guy and uke with another.
    First, to Noboru, you're welcome.  I think the Kata Koshukai to be very important, and only make suggestions in hopes to make it better.

    To Finarashi, there were a couple of examples of this year.  Some of the Italian presenters / testees, IIRC, did not have partners of a suitable skill level, so at the request of their sensei a couple of talented Japanese judoka were recruited to play 'tackling dummy' / training foil to provide a partner.  I don't know how that turned out, but it was announced beforehand and explained in a bit of detail.  

    NBK

    This is useful to know. I attended the 2013 course, and at test time there were several people there who were looking for partners to do a specific role in a Kata, as their regular partner was not able to. I would like to attend again and do a particular Kata, but my regular partner (who is quite adept at the role of Uke) cannot do the Tori role due to some limitations.

    I also found your description of Fukushima Sensei’s poetic lectures on Katame interesting. I’ve been able to work with Fukushima Sensei on several occasions, and only one time when we had a very small group, and several people to translate, did I pick up more of the nuances of what he was trying to get across. Need to work on my Japanese....

    Thanks for your description – with both you and WDax there, sorry I missed it!
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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by NBK on Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:11 am

    finarashi wrote:If I am right, your partner need not be the same and your partner might even not do the kata certification him/herself. If i remeber right one of my buddies did tori with one guy and uke with another.
    Each performer is rated separately and the skill levels vary (in some instances quite a bit - there was a young shodan who tested with a 3 dan, and there was a clear mismatch of skills). In a number of pairs, only one person was rated successfully, in many, both demonstrators were not given certificates.

    The stand-in partners for the Italians were not 'tested' - even their names were marked on the roster to note that they were simply acting as foils for the visitors. I guess the point was that no one wanted to embarrass a volunteer trying to help a visitor without a partner by being critical of their performance, so they weren't even graded.

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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by NBK on Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:36 am

    Lurker wrote:
    NBK wrote:
    finarashi wrote:If I am right, your partner need not be the same and your partner might even not do the kata certification him/herself. If i remeber right one of my buddies did tori with one guy and uke with another.
    First, to Noboru, you're welcome.  I think the Kata Koshukai to be very important, and only make suggestions in hopes to make it better.

    To Finarashi, there were a couple of examples of this year.  Some of the Italian presenters / testees, IIRC, did not have partners of a suitable skill level, so at the request of their sensei a couple of talented Japanese judoka were recruited to play 'tackling dummy' / training foil to provide a partner.  I don't know how that turned out, but it was announced beforehand and explained in a bit of detail.  

    NBK

    This is useful to know. I attended the 2013 course, and at test time there were several people there who were looking for partners to do a specific role in a Kata, as their regular partner was not able to. I would like to attend again and do a particular Kata, but my regular partner (who is quite adept at the role of Uke) cannot do the Tori role due to some limitations.

    I also found your description of Fukushima Sensei’s poetic lectures on Katame interesting. I’ve been able to work with Fukushima Sensei on several occasions, and only one time when we had a very small group, and several people to translate, did I pick up more of the nuances of what he was trying to get across. Need to work on my Japanese....

    Thanks for your description – with both you and WDax there, sorry I missed it!
    Dpending on the kata you'd probably not have too much problem finding a partner. I'm not sure there are lots of senior volunteers for Nage no kata....

    How about using this site to recruit a partner ?  You've only got 11.5 months or so to go...

    I don't know if the International Division of the Kodokan would help as a section but perhaps the individuals would.

    NBK
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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:39 am

    Some additional information is warranted in order to get a realistic view, I think.

    One thing to consider is that you are testing for a certification. There are people for whom testing for a certification is "hit and miss". With some luck they might pass, otherwise they won't; there are others here on the forum who have won medals in national or continental championships or who are for other reasons devoted kata practitioners. They have  --justifiably--  personal pride and expect an award commensurate to their devotion.

    The point is ... do you really want to test for a kata certification with "just anyone" ?

    Finding A partner at the Kôdôkan is not very difficult, but finding A GOOD partner is quite a challenge. I certainly have skipped partaking in such kata certifications many times simply to avoid disaster and because potential partners who has asked to partner up had two left feet, or were clueless.

    Don't forget that many of the better kata performers attend the course in couples, people they have worked with each other for a long time.

    When I was younger I participated a couple of times when I'd better would not have participated, reason being that you have idiots who may exploit your achievement. An example of that is ... once partnering up with someone who had never done that particular advanced kata before. I devoted two or three days to teaching him after hours, and in two or three days I was able to bring him up to sufficient standard to pass the certification, but it obviously was not the top qualification as we had to compete with, for example, one couple who had been practicing kata before for more than 30 years. I thought it was an awesome achievement, but nevertheless you'll always find someone who is clueless about the true background of why and under which conditions you are participating and will turn things around and sneering at you "well, if you're that good, then why did you only obtain a lower certification". There are these situations where ... either way, you're dammed. Same happened to me when about 10 days before a World Championship Kata a participant whose partner had to undergo emergency surgery after a routine health check found a tumor, and the gent was looking for a replacement so he could still participate. So, I jumped it, even though we lived in a different countries and only had a chance to practice twice before the contest. We did a good kata but did not win medals. The gent was happy and it was his way for honoring his long-time kata partner in hospital. Same thing, there were people who had no idea about what transpired who used the event as basis for sneering and hurtful comments aimed at the person. For that reason you might want to think twice before participating, and not be guided by your obsession to return home with a kata certification.

    Although in theory both partners are judged independently, there are limits to it. Don't think for a second that if your partner has two left feet that he will fail while your name will be written in stone as the new God of Kata. Only in rare cases do both partners get a different level of certification or is one partner failed but not the other. In nearly all cases both partners get awarded the same level. This also means that if you're really good and your partner is really mediocre, you will likely either get the lowest level or fail.

    Another thing you have to realize is that the outcomes certain years are totally inconsistent. I have known years where virtually everyone in a certain kata got top qualifications, and I have known others when virtually no one got top results despite the performances not being much different. Also, there regularly is serious bias towards some participants. There have been regular cases where an one of the most senior sensei in the jury had been invited overseas multiple times by a certain judo federation, the result being that participants from that country received to awards for very mediocre performances.


    Last edited by Cichorei Kano on Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:32 pm; edited 2 times in total


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    Lurker

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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

    Post by Lurker on Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:19 pm

    Thanks CK - you raise some good points. While I'm not "obsess(ed) to return home with a kata certification", I do care very much about my Kata performance, and work very hard on them. I am most fortunate to have a partner of many years standing, and we've been through hell and high water together. I wouldn't trade working with him for the world. Occasionally I do perform Kata with someone else (we recently had a Yudansha grading here, and I was asked to be uke for several candidates) and of course I can always feel the difference between someone less experienced and my partner - even when the other new person is fairly adept at the kata they perform.

    Hadn't thought of what you raise - I will think about that. Merci!

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    Re: Kodokan Summer Kata Course 2014 and Kodokan kata 'certificates' meanings

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