Saturday I made the drive up to Fond Du Lac. There was a judo referee clinic and novice judo tournament. I figured, I could ref. Well, it didn’t go how I expected…
First off, it was a great clinic. Lots of information. Lots of good questions being answered. The only thing I would change would be us spending some time practicing the calls before a match. All of the presenters were really good. We spent what felt like a lot of time learning the difference between a yuko and no score, and a yuko and a waza-ari. Since it was a beginners tournament we were reffing, there were very few ippons anyway, so not a huge deal that we didn’t definitively cover an ippon. Generally, you know an ippon when you see it. If you’re at all curious about the IJF rules, I strongly recommend going to a local referee clinic, or spending some time talking to your referees.
When it came to reffing in practice… Well, by the end of the day I was confident in my calls for points. At first not so much – call and then immediately look to the senior ref as my hand half hangs there somewhere between waza-ari and yuko. What I was still struggling with when I left were the nerves. Bad nerves. Forgetting my Japanese so I called out “toketa” when I meant “osaekomi” nerves. They’ll pass. I asked. It’s like competing. The first few times are nerve-wracking, but at some point you have the confidence that you’re going to go out there and it’s just going to be what it is. All you can do is your best. Except in this case if I screw up, rather than breaking my foot, a more experienced ref can overturn my call. So there’s that – a solid safety net of some of the nicest and most experienced judoka Wisconsin has to offer.
The next tournament I’m planning to ref for is the Badger Open in Fond Du Lac on October 17. If you’re competing and I screw up, I’m sorry, someone will help correct it. It’ll be my second tournament ever, and first real tournament. I’m pretty excited for the opportunity.