Officially licensed referee’s and certificates


Second Dan Essay by Dominic den Drijver

In this essay I am going to cover 2 topics. The main topic will be about the licensing and certifying of referees in tournaments. And with that I want to address also why we shouldn’t be angry, upset or greedy in martial arts. I think these 2 topics combined will form a strong foundation in the future for the startup of an official training/workshop. And with that creating a safe place for people to train.

To start this essay I will first answer the question why we should have official referees. In this essay I will use both terms as the same: official and referee. I think the foremost answer to that question will be that we want to be a strong and trustworthy organization. When new students want to join they (or their parents) automatically look to how the organization (or dojang) works and looks. For that they will watch socials, YouTube and hopefully do trial classes. If they see a structured class or tournament this will gain trust in our martial arts and organization. So to answer this: we look more “professional” to outsiders and will create a safe place to train and compete for students .

We also want to be trustworthy to our students. They train hard for their grades and tournaments. They want to be first and perform at their very best (for either sparring or forms). When the group is small you have time to give every students tips, tricks and feedback as an official. But when you have a tournament of 50+ people it is working really hard as an official. When you have a strict set of rules (either how forms should be or sparring rules) and referees to support that you will have a very clear path for the tournaments (and exams) and for students to work to. This also means that there is less of an grey area where this might be correct, but this also might be correct. This automatically leads to less frustration and doubt during tournaments. If you educate your referees officially they should have the same opinion about situations (making them more secure in decision making). This would be exact regulations about how a form goes, but also an official set op sparring rules. Off course there can always be a difference in how a form looks or who was first with a strike, but when you are talking to an official you automatically have more respect towards that person.

This also translates into why we should be respectful in our martial arts as an organization. I am talking about the look of being trustworthy and structured. If parents or spectators come to a tournament when people are only arguing and talking about specific things that happened during a game then it doesn’t look professional at all. This also might scare students for a future participation on tournaments (or even joining our martial arts), or even worse encourage them to do also the next time to get what they want. This is not healthy for an organization, they want to attract people into a safe and structured environment.

It is inevitable that people will be mad or frustrated at a tournament. Since people train really hard there will be a lot of nerves and emotions going on. This is healthy and makes people stronger mentally. If students are well guided through this process it’s a very good learning process. But when they’re not guided this could result in anger issues, jealousy and disrespect to other students or officials. Competition is natural but should never be the only reason why students want to be “better”. This behavior could also result in different behavior at home, at work or at school.

Now this is where the officials training comes in. They will be guiding everybody through a tournament, but even officials can make mistakes. We are all human in this. If we however train officials via a structured course they will automatically feel more confident about their decisions and in this makes them more clear as well. Making them more clear deletes the grey area if they respond very strict. Students automatically will agree that the official is right. If the official for instance is insecure about their decision this might be picked up as a weakness or “he just doesn’t know how it works” and this will open the opportunity to respond with questions about the result of a decision. During a tournament students should be doing their best and not being busy with arguing or thinking if the official knew better then I would have won. Winning (or passing an exam) shouldn’t be a grey area, it should be a clear path for everyone.

As an example imagine yourself suddenly being a referee during a  football match. Everybody has seen a match and roughly knows how it works but when you’re put on the spot during a match without the proper training you will be very insecure about all the rules and terms during a match. This will result in a very insecure and doubtful referee. I think this applies to our martial arts as well. Making a course for refereeing during a match or form will make the officials more secure about the rules and their decision making. Rules can be explained beforehand very clear by the referee and when a situation happened everybody will agree that the official will know what to do. And this is what I wanted to say about officials guiding a tournament. Its not their only job to give a point here and there, it is their job to guide students through the tournament. Explain where needed and even be a coach where needed (if there is no official coach). I do really think that making a course/training for referees/officials will make us so much more professional and trustworthy as an organization.

Now also a little bit more about aggression, greed and being upset. A lot of times this will happen because a student is insecure or even over secure. It is a very common thing in martial arts that we compare ourselves to others and over time feel better than the other person. We live in a society where “ status “ is a very big thing. Especially with social media; because why would you post that you’re 4th in a tournament and not 1st? That doesn’t look good on social media. So a modern day student is probably only busy with being better because that’s required of them. Through that comes being upset that they’re not. Being aggressive when they’re told it is not good. Or being greedy to get their next belt faster than someone else.

It is our job as instructors, officials and even highly ranked students that we teach to be humble and willing. Willing to learn and willing to teach. Nothing good comes from always being first or the best or always right. It is very good to sometimes land with both feet on the ground and reflect and look back (relax and feel the energy). So in our teachings we also must be clear on etiquette and (dojang) rules. With this in our mind we as officials and instructors have the opportunity to create one of the best and open martial arts out there. But there will always be students who want to be the very best and it is our job to make them reflect on their behavior and correct them. This applies to the dojang but also at tournaments (when the officials become instructors).

I think these 2 pages really show my vision why there should be an official training for officials. Through this we automatically will get less aggression and greed in tournaments. But after the tournament also in the dojang. And then we will have a safe place where people want to train, make friends and be happy together.

Dominic den Drijver

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