Referring a Kendo Shiai (match)

In a Shiai, there are three Shimpan (referees): One Shu-Shin (chief referee) who is assisted by two Fuku-Shin (sub referees). They determine Ippon (one point) or Hansoku (penalty). To get a point two of the three Shimpan must agree. A match is normally Sanbon-Shobu (three points). The only Shimpan that can give verbal instructions to the contestants during a match is the head Shimpan.

Proper Kiai is a must

In a match, the three Shimpan look for good form, strong follow through that leaves a player in a proper distance and position to be able to continue immediately. The contestant must show a proper Kiai (strong voice/yell) and Ki-Ken-Tai-Itchi (spirit-sword-body-one) meaning that spirit, body and mind must be in union when a valid Yuko Datotsu is delivered. The contestants must also show strong Zanshin (awareness). 

The flag system

A Shimpan show his decision with a red and white flags, corresponding to the red or white ribbon worn by each contestant, attached to their backs. They indicate points by snapping red or white flags over their heads. If a referee don’t see a Yuko Datotsu (valid strike), he waves the flags back and forth in front of him below hip-level. The head referee's word is final in all cases.

Hansoku (penalties)

There are different actions that get Hansoku (penalties): Stepping out of the Shiaijo (match court). Dropping the Shinai (bamboo sword), unnecessary roughness or poor sportsmanship ara a few examples that earn Hansoku. If a kendoka get two Hansoku the opponent earns Ippon.

The match

When the head Shu-Shin command “Hajime” (begin) the match begins. When a Yuko Datotsu (valid strike) is delivered the first time the head Shu-Shin shout i.e. “Men-Kote-Tsuki Ari” announcing a thrust to the throat. The match stop and the two Kendoka return to their starting lines.

When the Shu-Shin order “Nihon me” (second point) the match goes on. If the next score is 2-0, the match ends and the head Shu-Shin announces “Shobu Ari” (Winner in a match). If the second point means 1 -1, the Shu-Shin order “Shobu” (restart for match point). The kendoka that first get the third point is announced Shobu Ari.

If Aiuchi (points scored simultaneously) the points cancel one another.

If the Kendokas are locked too long in a Tsuba-Zeriai (close position with the Shinai crossed in a vertical position) with the Tsuba (sword guard) close to the opponent´s Shinai, the referee can separate the Kendokas.

 

  
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