Referee Training

This is a “beginner’s guide” for referees and judges. It is not complete, but it is a starting point for beginners.

Maybe there are some interpretations different.
Most important is the “spirit of refereeing”

Session 7-8 December 2018

The Referees

Enbu – Competition rules

  • 17-hon no kata
  • tanto 17-hon no kata
  • koryu no kata dai san (16)
  • free enbu

Enbu guidelines

The key points of this training was:

  • Posture – Shizentai
  • Eyes – Metsuke
  • Control of the opponent – Tsukuri/Kuzushi/Kake
  • Focus of mind & body – Zanshin

These key points were used as “marks” for judging the performance of Enbu, besides of course the correct waza and the correct order.

Training started with “How to use Flags” after the performance of the competitors.

Next step was how to use the key points during the performance of 17-hon no kata. The idea of how to evaluate “waza” as a referee when performing the techniques.

Some time was spent on questions and answers

Friday 5th October 2018

Session 1 : The role of the Corner Referee

Line up Corner Referees

The 1st training was an introduction to the role of “corner-referee”.
We used tanto strike to create the idea “what is a correct tanto strike”.
Basic information was provided and practised during the training session.
Scoring for waza was not an item for this training.
Some of the participants have some competition experience, and this created a positive feeling amongst the participants.


Organizing and ruling Tomiki Aikido Competition

Aikido related

Tomiki Aikido competition

Our aim is to encourage the use of pure Aikido techniques and the principles of Aikido rather than to submit to competitors natural desire to win at the expenses of showing Tomiki Aikido to have no resemblance to Aikido.

Aikido can be dangerous if applied without control and the competition atmosphere must be kept to a sporting attitude without dampening the enthusiasm of youthful and sometimes not so youthful Aikidoka.

General remarks for developing good competition results

Judges will check sleeve length (minimum 1 fist from own wrist with arm hanging straight down) and trouser lengths not below the ankles as well as cleanliness (body and gi).

Techniques executed with legs being held first will not count, similarly if legs are wrapped round an opponent. But a foot may used to stop the escape so long ass it is not used as a sweep and is kept in contact with the mat.

Techniques executed by means of dragging your opponent down from a static position with superior weight and strength will not count.

Organizers related

Competition officials

  • Tournament Director – overall responsible for the competition event
  • Mat Director – responsible for the events on a mat area
  • Recorders will record the results of the contest on the appropriate sheets
  • Timekeepers & electronic scoreboard – responsible for timing the contest and electronic scoring
  • Referees & Judges

Dress code

Officials are wearing t-shirt or polo-shirt provided by organisers. Trousers are black or dark bleu color.

First aid

Organizers have to provide a first aid team during the complete event.

Mat area

This covers an area of 50 tatami + safety zone

Remark: tatami in European countries are slightly bigger.


Scoring documents, scoring machine, clock, flags (red, white and yellow), red and white tape……

Randori & Enbu

Individual randori events & team randori events

Individual randori events are divided into

  • Womens category
  • Mens category

Team randori events

  • Women category
  • Mens category
  • Mixed category (2 men & 1 woman)

Choosing categories is depending on:

  • How many mat area?
  • Time scheduled?
  • How many competitors?
  • Other practical obstacles

Enbu events

  • 17-hon-no-kata
  • tanto 17-hon-no-kata
  • 16 taijutsu waza koryu no kata dai san – toshutachiwaza
  • free enbu

Mixed event

  • Kongodanteisen – enbu & randori

Individual Randori Events – General Information

  • All competitors must be registered for the event by the closing date stated.
  • Individual contest shall be of 3 minutes duration, with the tanto being exchanged after 1¹/₂ minutes. In the event of 8 points being scored in the first half by one competitor tanto kotae will occur. If 8 points are scored in the second half the contest is automatically ended.
  • For contest to decide where hikiwake would be given, one extension is permitted, this to be two 1-minute halves. (See also decision of contest).

Team Randori events – General Information

  • A match consist of 3 or 5 separate contests between members of each team.
  • Duration of contests as for Individual contests.
  • A substitute player is allowed for a team in the event of injury so long as the substitute player is a member of that team’s club and registered for the global event.
  • An individual can opt to fight for one nominated club if he or she is registered for the event by the closing date stated.
  • If both teams have an equal number of wins the decision is given as follows:
  • The team with the most points wins.
  • If the number of points is equal, the team that has the most “Aikido” points wins.
  • If Aikido points are also equal, an elected representative from each team will play a deciding match. The duration of this will be 2 halves of 1¹/₂ minutes each, superiority by the judge and referees will be awarded for this contest in absence of points and/or penalties.
  • The order in which individuals will fight in a team must be written down and handed to the Tournament Director before the start of the tournament matches and mus be adhered to throughout the tournament.
  • One member of each team shall be named as their representative to fight in decision matches and will be nominated on the fighting order list given to the Tournament Director.

Competition Rules

Referees and judges are not allowed to enter in an event they are judging or refereeing.

Refereeing Team

Each randori contest shall be conducted by 1 Chief Referee and 2 Corner referees, with all three having the same right to judge victory, techniques,……

Where a difference of opinion occurs between the Referees during a contest a discussion will take place to resolve it. However, when a unanimous decision cannot be reached the Chief Referee will decide the issue.

The decision of the Referees Team is final. In case of complains, this has to be solved before “Hantei”

The Chief Referee shall be positioned at the far side of the contest area, opposite the recorders’ table and facing towards it. A the start he will be in the centre of this line and will move laterally in order to view the contest.
 Direction chief referees

The Corner Referees will stand at the two corners opposite the Chief Referee facing him and will move in a L-shaped direction in order to view the contest.

The Corner Referees will hold red and white flags in their hands to correspond to the position on the mat of the red and white player.

 Direction corner referees

Protocol for Refereeing Team

Individual Contest

At the start of the competition the Referee Team for each mat shall walk to the outer edge of the contest area and position themselves facing the recorders’ table.

Al three shall bow in the direction of the table.

The two Corner Referees, in unison, turn inwards towards the Chief referee who shall take a small step backwards – all three officials then bow again together.

At the end of the final contest of the day, on that mat the reverse procedure to the opening procedure will be carried out to formally close the mat.

For the changeover of the Refereeing Teams during an event, the three officials vacating the mat stand in line and bow towards the mat from the edge of the contest area nearest to the recorders table and leave the mat.

The oncoming team will step onto the contest area near the recorders table and walk in a line to the outer edge and perform the opening etiquette.

 referee bowing

Team Events

The refereeing team take up their position first, in a straight line at the far side of the contest area facing the recorders table, and invite the teams to take up their positions on the mat.

Both teams line up on the contest area, approximately 3-4 meters apart and facing ech other. At the Chief Referee’s indication both teams turn and bow in the direction of the table. The 3 Referees are also bowing.

Both teams turn inwards to bow, the Referee Team follows the bowing etiquette described earlier.

The Corner Referees take up their positions and the first two contestants take up their starting places in the center of the contest area, approximately 3 meter apart and facing each other.

 referee and competitors bowing

Handling the tanto

For both Individual and Team contests the Chief Referee shall present the tanto to the competitor wearing the red belt, who will be standing to the Chief Referees right on the contest area.

The Chief Referee shall receive the tanto (generally from the white belt competitor) before the decision has been awarded.

Official Signals

Chief Referee raises one arm high above his head with the palm facing forward – the arm is raised to correspond to the side making the score.
Corner Referees raise appropriate colour flag high above head.

official signals

Waza Ari
Chief Referee shall raise one of his arms tp the side to shoulder height with the palm facing down. (The arm raised should correspond to the side making the score.)
Corner Referees raise appropriate colour flag to their side at shoulder height.

official signals
Chief Referee shall raise one of his arms to the side, palm down, arm straight, at 45° from his body. (The arm raised should correspond to the side making the score.)
Corner Referees raise appropriate colour flag to their side at 45° to their body.
official signals
Hiki Wake
Chief Referee shall raise one hand high in the air and bring it down, thumb-edge uppermost, to the front of his body at waist height.
Corner Referees shall raise both flags high in the air and away from themselves at about 45° to their midline.
official signals
Chief Referee shall raise one hand, palm inwards, above shoulder height towards the winner.
Corner Referees shall raise the appropriate colour flag away from themselves at about 45° to their midline.
official signals

Chief Referee shall raise one arm high above his head with its palm facing inwards.

official signals2

Fujūbun (insufficient)
Corner Referees wave both flags in scissor action several times in front of themselves with hands low.

official signals2

Shido/chui (penalty)
Chief Referee points towards the offending contestant with outstretched arm, index finger extended from clenched fist.

official signals2

Mienai (unsighted)
Corner Referees hold flags crossed in front of their body with hands held low for a short period.

official signals2

Gōgi yōkyu (attention)
To gain the attention of the Chief Referee, Corner Referees shall raise both flags in front of their face and tap them gently.

official signals2
Jogai (stepping out)
Wave the flag of the corresponding contestant up and down at 45° when stepping out of the area 
with 2 feet.
stepping out

Running the Contest

The Chief Referee shall control the contest using the commands of:

  • Hajime (begin)
  • Yame (stop)
  • Soremade (that is all – to end the contest)

The Chief Referee should explain briefly to the competitor the reason for awarding of a penalty.
The Chief Referee will award ippon/waza ari/yuko taking note of the opinion of the Corner Referees and use the other signals as appropriate.
The Corner Referees shall indicate tsukiari by raising the appropriate flag and use the other signals as appropriate

The 5-second rule if applicable.

When Toshu holds Tanto’s knife arm and Tanto braces his empty hand against Toshu while facing each other. The Chief Referee will call Yame after approximately five seconds.

When Toshu holds Tanto’s empty arm and Tanto braces his knife hand against Toshu. The Chief Referee will call Yame after approximately five seconds and give Shido (if applicable) to Toshu.

The Chief Referee must be careful to allow Toshu to persist with balance breaking attempts. Yame should only be called when there is no progress and Tanto is just blocking Toshu’s actions.

Decision of Contest

Please refer to the JAA rulebook for the explanation of the levels for awarding points of the waza. (Ippon, waza-ari and yuko)

Points are awarded as follows:

Positive points

Ippon 4 points
Waza-ari 2 points
Yuko 1 point
Tsuki-ari 1 point

Negative points
To be deducted from a contestant at the end of the contest

Shido 1 point
Chui 2 points

Disqualified competitor

Hansokumake 8 points


The competitor scoring the highest number of points shall be declared the winner.

Where the points are equal the competitor with the most Toshu points shall be declared the winner.

In the case of equal points and Toshu points, the decision will be given by the Chief Referee and the Corner Referees based on superiority, taking into account recognisable differences in skill and effectiveness of techniques and attitude during the contest. (extension is permitted if applicable).

When a contest cannot be continued due to Itamiwake (injury), the Chief Referee gives the right of play to the competitor able to continue if the competitor is able to continue in a reasonable time.

If the match is stopped early on and the uninjured competitor has fewer points than the injured player “hikiwake” is given. If late in the match then the one with the most points is declared the winner. (This depend on the responsibility of the Chief Referee).

If both competitors are injured and unable to continue due to injury, the opponent in the next match is the winner by Fusenkachi.

Where an injury is attributable to the action of a player he will be penalised with Hansokumake.

When a competitor has won a match by Hansokumake but is unable to continue due to injury, the opponent in the next match is the winner by Fusenkachi.


Prohibited Acts

The following are intended as a guide to the awarding of penalties for prohibited acts:


  • The use of techniques and its applications other than those found in the 17-hon no kata.
  • If a competitor intentionally tries to grip the others’ dogi.
  • If Toshu shows no avoidance and attempts to get near Tanto blindly.
  • If Tanto defends against Toshu by means other than tegatana.
  • If Tanto uses tegatana in a dangerous way such as the face, head etc.
  • If when using atemi or tsuki waza a competitor intentionally uses impact.
  • When Tanto drops the knife during the match.
  • If a competitor deliberately tries to go outside the contest area. Tanto is permitted to push the opponent out out the area as a mean of defence, but Toshu must try to stay within the area.
  • If Tanto deliberately escapes Toshu by retreating outside the contest area.
  • When Tanto does not make proper attempts to reach the target area.
  • When Tanto thrusts violently from a close distance.
  • When a competitor makes unnecessary calls, remarks or gestures derogatory to the opponent or Referees during the contest.


  • When Toshu applies techniques when off-balance or in a uncontrolled way or with the use of excessive force such as in wakigatame or maeotoshi.
  • When a competitor continues to apply force after a technique has been effective.
  • If a competitor applies a technique in such a way that ii is not possible for the opponent to do ukemi.

Penalties may be cumulative, or in a more serious instance higher penalties may be given according to the intent and attitude of the offender.

Kata & Enbu Competition

Kata for many people is something totally different from randori or other forms of practice. In reality, Kata is a part of the whole training system of Tomiki Aikido and other traditional Japanese martial arts. The origins of some kata are quite recent although there is some influence of much older traditional kata from different traditional Japanese martial arts.

The purpose of a particular kata can vary just as we can describe kata in different ways.

Find here the most popular definitions of Tomiki Aikido kata.

  • A formal demonstration of pre-arranged techniques.
  • A method of preserving and passing on to future generations.
  • A safe way of practising relatively dangerous techniques.
  • A training method.
  • A method of demonstrating principles or techniques which embody those principles.
  • A demonstration of the depth of knowledge of Tomiki Aikido.
  • A……

In other traditional Japanese martial arts we can find many kata for the same purposes as above. The point to remember is that one kata can be used or described in all of the above ways and therefore the many different interpretations of a particular kata.

Whatever your approach to kata, the basic principles are at the core of each kata and cannot be denied.

The passing on of the principles is the primary job of the Sensei. The teacher cannot pass on every existing techniques even if Sensei is aware of all the techniques from the system. By teaching the principles, Sensei will equip you with the means for finding out much more than just a choreography of techniques.

Unfortunately the present trend is toward learning a sequence of waza rather than just trying to figure out and utilise the basic principles involved. The innate spirit of a kata as well as the principles is intended to be demonstrating and must be known and understood. By practising correctly and thus improving your kata, you will also find that your randori improves and your understanding of Aikido in general is enhanced.

Kata like many Aikido activities is a paired exercise where both parties have to play their role.

Aikido can be translated as the “Way of Harmony” but in general terms that does not mean that Uke must let Tori win particularly if Tori does not deserve to succeed. Harmony in Aikido sense means a blending of roles, uke as attacker and finally the vanquished and Tori the victor.

In kata that means each player must know his role and how it should be played, the performers must also know the place of that role in the overall pattern of the kata.

The person playing the role of Uke must attack swiftly and have the intention to attack. In such a scenario, Tori will understand the truth of an attack and therefore can defend himself in the appropriate manner.

The judging of Kata & Enbu

Basically there are 2 ways for judging kata & enbu

  • The scoring method
  • The flag method

The scoring method

This method was used when kata & enbu competitions were introduced.

A score between 1.0 to 10.0 was given to every pair demonstrated their kata or enbu. The skill of the judges is extremely tested by this judging system.

The flag method

Two pairs are demonstrating their kata and are judged by in 5 judges with red and white flag. When the Chief Judge called “Hantei”, all the judges are raising the flag, red or white. The majority of red or white is winning this bout.

The criteria for judging Kata and Enbu

  • No mistakes in the sequence (if a known kata).
  • Correctness of techniques with convincing attacks and ukemi.
  • Ma-ai, taisabaki, kuzushu, timing, shisei, zanshin….
  • Pace and purpose of the kata reflected in the flow and speed.
  • Whenever possible, techniques to be executed in such a position that the table of officials (Kancho, Shihan and other Officials) can see clearly.
  • Reiho
  • Keeping within the competition area, but making maximum use of the space.
  • If applicable, demonstration within the time limit.

Management of Kata & Enbu contest

The Flag method

Competitors advance to their spot on the contest area. Bowing to the table with Officials after a command by the Chief Judge, they turn to their opponent, Uke to Uke and Tori to Tori. Turning to face the partner.

At he command of the Chief Judge, competitors bow and start their demonstration.

After both pairs finished their demonstratio, Chief Judge called “hantei’, all 5 judges raise red or white flag immediately to determine their choice. Chief Judge calls the flags of the 5 judges. Majority of the flags is called after the command “kachi”.

The bowing sequence is a reverse of the beginning.

Official Signals for Kata & Enbu Event

In case of the flag method


official signals

Published by

Eddy Wolput

A passion for Martial Arts since 1964

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.