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It looks as if I will be back in Japan early in the New Year. I just heard that I have been included in the list of referees for The 15th World Kendo Championships and that we are required to attend a training camp in Narita in February and then a two day seminar in Novara, in Italy, just before the Championships.

Reassuringly the International Kendo Federation go to this amount of effort to ensure that referees are trained to a consistent standard. Whilst we are the people in the background, if we get it wrong, we potentially can spoil the outcome of the entire competition.

There will be 36 referees for the 15 WKC, drawn from FIK’s 3 zones – Asia, Americas and Europe. All are 7th or 8th dan and all have international refereeing experience. This year however, a number of us are new to the World Championships and whilst I know many of the other shinpan by name, I have never worked with them in a team. The smooth running and outcome of every competition depends on the accuracy of referees decisions. Not only does each individual have to deliver to the best of his ability, but the three referees on court at any given time, must work as a finely tuned team. FIK explains that the purpose of this pre-competition training is to harmonise the decision making process of the referee group.

Kendo typically calls for mix of self reliance and the ability to work with others. We depend on each others’ support and cooperation in our dojo and within our own local kendo associations. This type of international event widens both our own level of obligation to play our part and our dependence on the bigger team. The referees group includes sensei from Brazil, Canada, Chinese Taipei, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K and U.S.A. Whilst I have been on court with most of my European colleagues before, it will be a new experience to work with many of the other participants. It is going to be an interesting challenge to get to know everyone and to learn how to become part of an integrated refereeing machine.

Clearly the International Kendo Federation has risen to this challenge over the last 14 World Championships and has developed systems to get the best from us. It is now up to me and my new colleagues to prepare as hard as we can to deliver at the end of May.

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