Point, or no point?

It sounds so simple. I’m sure many spectators ask themselves “was that a point?” or “why was that not a point?” or “what does that hand signal mean?”

Well, it’s because a punch is not just a punch, and a kick is not just a kick.

Each time a competitor throws a technique, the referee instantly needs to compute several key items:

  1. good form
  2. marshall attitude
  3. vigorous application
  4. relaxed awareness (zanshin)
  5. timing, and
  6. distance

Suddenly it’s not so simple. To evaluate each technique on six criteria, when the fight is fast and the crowd is shouting, can be tricky.

But fortunately, Shihan Chris asked the magic question in his one sentence summary:

Was the technique effective?

If the answer is ‘yes’ then you’ll find that most – if not all – the above criteria have been met, which means it’s very likely a WAZA-ARI (1 point), or if all the boxes have been ticked an IPPON (2 points) will be awarded.

But here’s the key: the referee cannot award a point if they did not see it.

One of the most important things for the referee during the fight is his or her position on the tatami in relation to the competitors. If the referee does not have full line of sight, then he or she is unable to give the point, even if the technique deserved it.

Both the center ref and the shadow ref should ideally have a good line of sight, but it’s imperative that at least one of them sees the point. This means it’s critical for the refs to work together for the best outcome for the competitors. Some refs like to circle the fight, and others like to stick to one side, so good communication between them means good sighting and accurate scoring.

My journey as a competitive karateka has only just begun, but already I feel more prepared for my next tournament. Thank you Shihan Chris and the referee panel.

ANDREW BLIGNAUT | 2nd Kyu Brown Belt