I got home last night from the weekend’s European Referees’ Seminar in Brussels and we were discussing what we had learned from the ZNKR instructors during the car journey home. My kendo colleague John O’Sullivan suggested that I use my blog to reiterate the summary that the seminar’s leader, Iwadate Saburo sensei made on what is and what is not yuko datotsu, or ippon.
I made the point that I have written similar posts on numerous occasions and John’s reply was that the information needs to be constantly repeated because there is still a great deal of uncertainty from referees and competitors alike as to what constitutes a successful strike.
During his summary sensei referred several times to article 12 of the ZNKR’s “Regulations of Kendo Shiai”, the section that defines yuko datotsu. I won’t repeat or paraphrase this here as every kenshi should read it themselves, instead let me try to summarise Iwadate sensei’s instruction while it is still fresh in my mind.
Dou – Hasuji should be correct. It is not ippon if the point of the shinai slips down after hitting. You must have both hands on the tsuka of the shinai at the time of striking and of course the monouchi of the shinai must hit the correct target on the side, not the front of the dou.
Men – You must hit the men buton, the top of the men, with the mono-uchi. There is a tendency, particularly with hiki-men to make too shallow a cut, striking the mengane. It is also important that the zanshin for men has the shinai at the level where the strike finished. It should not be raised in the air in celebration.
Kote – You can’t score kote if you move across in front of your opponent to hit it. If you do this your posture crumbles and the point is not valid. Instead you should attack kote in a straight line and you should finish with the toes of your right foot in line with the toes of your opponent’s right foot. (Sensei made a general point at this stage about the importance of good posture to yuko datotsu.)
Nothing was said about tsuki.
In his closing remarks Iwadate sensei stressed that the only way to develop refereeing skills is to practise, not just as a referee, but to do lots of keiko. If you can’t do it yourself then it is impossible to judge the actions of others.