I thought it would be useful to replicate those points here and they are almost as relevant for a European Iaido Championships (except the stuff about Uchidachi of course):
- Referee rotation system: This should be decided before the day of the taikai between the EKF, the host country, the ZNKR shinpan and the referees themselves. Rather than just talking about the procedure at the shinpan seminar, it should be decided how many bouts will take place before a rotation occurs. This shouldn't be decided on the morning of the taikai but in fact all referees should arrive at the taikai knowing completely how the day will run so that they can concentrate on judging only.
- Opening commands: It should also be decided and explained how the taikai will open with regards to the commands made by the shinpancho and the shinpan at the first match of the day. It should also be confirmed how the final matches will run with regards to the closing commands (how many shomen no rei to do for example). This needs to be confirmed with the competitors as well so that they don't have to listen to instructions before going out to the finals and they're not called back to the shiaijo after the last final has finished (as happens almost every year).
- What to judge on: This is a point for Jodo, it should be clearly agreed what the judges are judging on during the taikai with regards to it being either jo only, jo and tachi equally or jo mainly with a nuance of tachi.
- Restriction of dan grade of Uchidachi: While it may be written in the rules, it is important that the restriction of dan grade of the Uchidachi (within 2 dans of the Shijo) is clearly explained and confirmed. This is important as if a shinpan suspects that an Uchidachi is beyond the two grade limit then they have to stop the match and reset it possibly. There is no clear procedure for this so it is best that it never occurs through clear explanation.
- Match records: It should be clearly explained to each Shinpan Shunin how the matches will be recorded on the paperwork. Usually there are three Shinpan Shunin from the ZNKR and one from Europe and it might be constantly changing how the matches will be ordered and recorded. The host country with the EKF should ensure that this is confirmed with the Shunin each year.
I just also would like to mention something that happened at this year's EJC which was very interesting. When we got to the finals, Kurogo Sensei selected the finals shinpans. It was pointed out that some of the judges were of the same nationality as the finalists. Instead of replacing them, Kurogo Sensei explained that by the time we got to the finals, every shinpan should be able to judge fairly and accurately regardless as to whether they were judging their own country.
While I realise that this is currently against our regulations, I thought it was a nice touch and I would welcome a time in the future when all of our referees are able to judge without bias and take some regard for the extreme time and effort every competitor has put into their training to be there. Judging should be hard work and not simply an opportunity to sit back and wait to be impressed or see an obvious fault.