My name is Nariman Ganief, and I’ve been training with Sensei Bruce since 2008. I proudly achieved my 2nd Dan Black Belt in 2019, and as I reflect on my journey at Samurai, I can confidently say that being a Table Official has played a significant role in my learning and growth.

As junior grades, we’re taught the importance of giving back to the dojo and growing together as a community. For me, this meant actively participating in all our events, including working as a Table Official.

I started in this role in 2009 and quickly realized that this was where I could witness the best fights, hear the referees’ commentary, and learn from the competitors in the ring. The senseis at the table would often share their knowledge about the fights, providing valuable insights and information.

For those who may not be familiar with the role, the Table Official holds crucial responsibilities during a tournament. This includes accurately documenting the points and penalties awarded to competitors, monitoring the time during timed fights, and providing logistical support for the tatami (ring) they are assigned to. Table Officials are also responsible for ensuring there are an adequate number of competition belts available, making sure the kata flags are properly positioned, and verifying that all competitors are present and ready.

The role of a Table Official presents its own unique challenges, however, particularly in a competitive environment. The noise level can be overwhelming, and there may be constant scrutiny from the audience. Additionally, there is often a shortage of available personnel, making for a long and demanding day for everyone involved. Despite these challenges though, Table Officials are dedicated and essential members of the team, diligently fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure a smooth and successful event.

My main focus right now is to make sure that our Table Officials are as comfortable and well-trained as possible. I’m lucky to have a great team of people working with me to help teach our new members. We’ve created some useful training guides and cheat sheets, and we’re also planning to have regular workshops to keep everyone up-to-date and address any issues that come up. We want our Table Officials to have the skills and knowledge they need to handle any situation that might arise during a tournament, particularly with the KSI World Championships coming up in July.

Being a Table Official has not only allowed me to contribute to the dojo but has also enriched my martial arts journey by providing unique learning opportunities and a deeper understanding of the sport. I am grateful for the invaluable experiences and knowledge gained through this role, from the best seat in the house, of course!

NARIMAN GANIEF | 2nd Dan Black Belt