With the exception of the occasional spot of friendly banter with my Iaidoka chums, I have resisted the temptation to use my blog to discuss kendo politics. Today however, I am going to break the mold. I apologise to readers outside the UK, but perhaps this subject may have resonance with the way kendo is run in your own country.
I have always been of the view that kendo events are for the benefit of the participants and are not about making a profit. As my professional life revolves around recruiting senior executives for venture backed companies, I am clearly not unaware of the need for organisations to pay their way, however my thoughts on kendo, are that as a minority sport in the west, we need to use whatever funds we generate to facilitate the development of kendo.
We have recently changed policy in the British Kendo Association and there is now an imperative that every kendo event should generate a profit. With that in mind, today we ran the Sir Frank Bowden Taikai, which is effectively the British open teams’ competition and one of the main events of year.
In the past qualified referees were invited to attend and work throughout the day, ensuring the smooth running of the competition. In return their travel expenses were covered. We are not of course talking about payment for their time, but reimbursement of their bus fare or fuel costs.
The current regime decided that costs could be saved by asking competitors to referee in their spare moments and invited only two senior referees – Howell sensei 7th dan kyoshi and me. Everyone involved in the taikai gave their all, but it did not work.
Competitors finished their own shiai and then pulled off their bogu to referee. Not an ideal scenario as the adrenalin was still pumping, with the further pressure of trying to objectively referee the shiai of the team that they might have to fight next.
Taikai never run to time. Encho and fighting order changes always add to the planned running order. In this case the unforgiveable happened. We ran out of time. Today’s semi finals and final have been postponed until tomorrow. Instead of presenting prizes, Howell sensei and I had to apologise and tell people that they had to come back tomorrow to complete the competition,
Fortunately tomorrow is earmarked for an individual completion, so we at least have the venue booked, but all of today’s semi finalists have been seriously inconvenienced for the cost of a few referee’s expenses.
Guys, you all have my sincerest apologies.