Look inside and not to the outside, of course, the outside form should be correct, but people have different body types, and the point is not to judge how fancy and beautiful but rather how effectively one uses their bodies, how the whole body cooperates into one purpose, using ground reaction, proper body action and muscle action, and transferring this energy to the technique.
Judges should learn to see how well ones uses whole body snap, make strong and proper kime, pressure to floor and sharp total body contraction to line of technique.
In kata, one should project strong feeling and intention, but not make a show out of it, the purpose is knock down technique, so tensing the face and make all kind of expressions is not productive, keep the intention coming from your center.
Sensei Nishiyama warned me against over motion in technique, which is common in sport karate and is the opposite of budo principles. Kata should be like kumite, without spaces for the opponent to attack, without disconnections, which make the technique weak. Actually, our goal is to remove unnecessary movement, make more pure efficient technique.
Sensei Nishiyama told me that some people are great actors; they have good sense of movement and can imitate very well, but don’t have the inside.
Sometimes I will see a kata that look pretty, the person is busy thinking of what he looks like rather than have feeling of application. This kind of kata usually gets high score in our competition, it should not.
Sensei Nishiyama always told me: “don’t look inside, look outside to opponent” (when doing kata).
If you put a mask on Master Funakoshi or Master Nishiyama and put them in competition, they will probably receive the lowest score, since their movement is very simple, yet the quality of their movement is close to perfection.
I remember that once a sport scientist attached all kinds of wires to Sensei Nishiyama, and measured his efficiency in movement with some specialized software that is used to give feedback to athletes, he could not find any flows in Sensei Nishiyama’s techniques.
I wonder if it is possible to train judges to see deep as it is possible to train gymnastics judges. I believe that judges have to train properly first, they have to be there first, therefore every judges seminar should be accompanied by actual training digesting principles of technique, and also some discussions and constructive reflection on how one make decisions.
Scoring Ippon techniques should have 3 components, must be todome waza (finish technique), proper timing and proper distance, and if any of those elements is lacking slightly it can be wazari.
For todome waza total momentum has to go through target, must be pressure to floor at impact and must be zanshin, keeping mind, awareness of the opponent and situation, not giving chance after kime.
Snap back technique cannot score since energy is divided in two directions and it is qio. If no pressure no score, since only momentum is used, and no acceleration by reaction from floor.
Judges must be trained to see when the momentum stops, when the distance is controlled by technique arm or leg, which stops the momentum. The breath and feet should control the distance.
This can only be understood by actual training, and than one can judge.
Learning the procedures and all the signals is the easy part, but what really important is to train to see.
Judging karate competition is not easy, but if we want karate competition to be in line with budo karate and to be a mean of developing budo karate, we must make the effort. Other wise, competition will cause the opposite it will deteriorate karate and make it shallow.
We also owe it to the athletes who train hard and deserve good judging where there is common standard.