In Kendo most of us will have the opportunity to participate in competition, or Shiai, whether it be at official tournaments, or informally at the Dojo. Of course, competing is an important element of Kendo, as it gives us an external validation of our technique, as the Shinpan (referees) will decide if our Waza meet the criteria of Yuko Datotsu or not by awarding Ippon. Thus, a large responsibility is also placed upon the Shinpan, as they are directly influencing the competitor’s understanding of Yuko Datotsu. It therefore follows that it is also important for all Kendoka to also practice as Shinpan - of course, this requires the correct environment, and instruction from an experienced teacher.
With that in mind, I would like to once again reference the ‘Kendo Written Exam Example Questions and Example Answers - Shodan to Godan’ (剣道学科審査の問題例と解答例（初段～五段）) , published by the All Japan Kendo Federation.
One of the questions that is presented as an example for those testing for 4th and 5th Dan is “Please outline the understanding required of referees”. I would like to provide you with the following translation of the answer the book gives:
- To judge with total impartiality.
- To completely understand, and correctly implement the rules and regulations of Kendo and refereeing.
- To have expertise in the application of the sword.
- To have mastered the correct refereeing technique.
- To be healthy and generally active.
Points to Note
- To be correctly, and tidily dressed.
- To have good posture, correct attitude, and proper conduct.
- To speak with a distinct, clear voice.
- To have experience of refereeing, and be continually reflecting and studying to improve.
- To often watch and learn from other experienced referees.
Of course some of these points may seem obvious, but I feel it is always good to give them another look. Without the Shinpan, there is no chance for competition - further, I believe that practicing refereeing must go hand-in-hand with other practice methods in the pursuit of Kendo, and it is vital for us to continually improve our mutual understanding of Yuko Datotsu.
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