For being a judge at my first competition, I must say it went fairly well. And the people at the kata and kumite tatamis really tried to help and gave me assignment that I could handle without trying to throw me in the deep end.
The day started early with a breakfast at the hotel at 7 am. The bus left the hotel for the competition at 8 am, and we were up and running with the kata competition at 9 am. My assignment here was to write up the winner of each bout and write up what kata everyone performed. It was fairly easy, at least the times I could hear what kata was announced. Not every karateka was good at announcing and a few times none of us judges or referees could hear the name. Why I had to write down the katas is so that if the karateka performs the same kata that person will be disqualified. Luckily no one did that mistake.
Around 11 am it was time for the walk in of all the competitors. All of us judges/referees lined up and clapped in the rythm of the music while all the clubs lined up behind us. Afterwards we walked in a single line and lined up behind all the competitors, and sang the Norwegian national anthem.
After this the kumite started. And I must say, I never thought I would be allowed to sit and flag as much as I did. I thought I would have to sit at the secretariat to observe mostly, and maybe taking a stab at filling out the forms and controlling the clock.
But they actually let me sit and flag for about 4-5 bouts at a time before they switched me out. I probably sat as a judge for 5 or 6 sessions. Thanks to this I learned a lot. I did a few errors, but I always asked if there was something I was wondering about.
Our tatami manager was brilliant, he was really bringing up the morale when we were getting a bit tired in the head and gave us feedback on how to approve and what was good about what we were doing. And he really made an effort to send everyone to lunch, but sadly forgot to send himself.
At the end of the day, my head was really tired and I asked to sit at the secretariat and handle the clock. This is a very good position as I could watch the bout, see the referees commands, and also have a dialogue with the person filling out the forms.
It seems like the veterans was impressed with our work, and they were all really supportive with trying to teach us noobs.
At the end of the competition they had something they called super finals, which means a few chosen finals were saved to the end of the day. We got to see the finals in senior female and male kata, senior female shobu ippon, two weight classes of full contact, senior female and male WKF- karate (can't remember what weight classes they were). In the male WKF-karate final we got to see Steffen Larsen, famous from the TV-program "Norges Beste Fighter".
Later that evening all of us judges from the club attended the banquet. At the end of the evening me and my sensei got stuck at the bar talking to a few of the kyokushin kai judges. We had a lot of fun, talking karate, comparing a few techniques. We didn't get back to our hotel until half 4 in the morning.
I must say, being at the Norwegian Championship to be a judge for the first time was a really good experience. We got to see how everything really works, without adjusting the rules as they sometimes do at local competitions. And I think everyone of us learned a lot during this weekend.
Picture by: Sofia Danielsson