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Examiners' Seminar (General Introduction)

  1. First of all, it is a great honor for us to be invited to this authoritative US Kendo Seminar as lecturers. We very much appreciate this opportunity and at the same time we feel a big responsibility. I hope we can be of any help to you for the success of Kendo in the United States.
  2. Well, let me start the main subject of the seminar. Though a lot of referees' seminars are held in many places, a seminar for examiners has not been held and it is a new experiment. Even in Japan, an examiners' seminar has not been officially held as far as I know.
  3. All Japan Kendo Federation (AJKF is currently engaged in revising the Dan Examination system as one of the most important issues.
  4. We also think about giving seminars to examiners in order to make the revised system known to everyone. What we have done is to review the examination result submitted by examiners and then give a careful consideration in selecting examiners afterward. We believe that can at least minimize the unevenness.
  5. So I respect the All United States Kendo Federation for planning and conducting this seminar prior to Japan. And I really hope this seminar will be informative and fruitful.
  6. As you may know, the referees at a match have a big responsibility of determining the victory or defeat. So they are So they are expected to have eyes to judge a Yuko-datotsu accurately. And besides that, they are of course expected to be fair and disinterested in judging.
  7. At a Dan-examination, the same attitude is required for the examiners. The examiners have a big responsibility to appraise the skills of the applicants and determines whether the applicant can pass the exam or not during a short examining time.
  8. Needless to say, on the occasion of the examination, the examiners are expected to have the eyes to judge the applicant's ability, and a fair attitude is required just like the case of referees at a match. Otherwise the Dan-examination collapses thoroughly.
  9. In this sense, the same nature as a referee is required for an examiner. But there is one big difference. A referee is the object of public attention and makes a judgment in the presence of spectators. The spectators give objective evaluation to the judgment. On the other hand, at a Dan-examination, the judgment by examiners is not disclosed and the result is not blamed on the examiners
  10. So an applicant not only is given no information on the judgment of his or her exam but also have no way to raise an objection to the result that the applicant is unsatisfied with.
  11. In old days, there were cases where some applicants passed the examination although their performances were not good at the examination. But it was because the relationship between the applicant and the examiners was so close and knew his/her ability so well that examiners were able to judge the real ability of the applicant.
  12. It was humane and tradition of good old days. But as the time goes by, it has become a bad convention and nowadays it is sometimes observed that examiners exercise authority and look down on the examinees. The substance of the examination has become unclear as well.
  13. It is obvious that a distrust of an examination or examiners arises, if this kind of things continue. I am afraid that there is a possibility of hindering Kendo development as a result of that. So there is room for reviewing the ways of the examination.
  14. The promotion examination has become more like a test just to pass. We need to preserve tradition and on the other hand we have to abandon bad old custom. It is required to establish a new examination system that meets the present needs and operate it properly.
  15. Although we are engaged in revising examination system in order to meet the present needs, it does not mean the current system has a major problem.
  16. As you know, the ratio of successful applicants for 8-Dan is about l%. We are even worried though, because there are only a very few people passing the 8-Dan examination. Each examiner and examinee attend not only very severe 8-Dan exam but also examinations for other Dan with very serious attitude. The examiners make every judgement with sincerity
  17. And needless to say, AJKF makes every effort to operate the examinations properly within the present system.
  18. However we feel some limitations when we think about the future development of Kendo in the coming 21st century. So we decided to establish a firm framework.
  19. Now I want to talk about “An ideal examination operation and practical matrix that is based on the policy of improvement of the examination system and its operation, which All Japan Kendo Federation is presently engaged in.
  20. The primary focus of the improvement is "to clarify the examination standards".
  21. Even in Japan, as the present Rules for Dan/Kyu Examination do not include clear standards, the judgments have been often made based on the experience of the examiners.
  22. However, it is necessary for examiners to have common standards to make a fair and appropriate judgment at an examination. Then both the examiners and the examinees can have the same viewpoint and it becomes possible to determine the objective value of Dan.
  23. Even if we make examination rules in details. it is of course impossible to conduct examinations with one hundred percent preciseness during a short time, say one or two minutes.
  24. As you learn Kendo, you would understand that it is difficult to demonstrate your real ability during a very short examination period due to your physical condition or due to the partner (opponent).
  25. Presently All Japan Kendo Federation examines the Dan and we expect the standards will be described in the Rules for Shogo and Dan Examination as follows.
    1. A person who is eligible for Sho-dan shall have learned Kendo basics and his/her skills are in a sufficient level.
    2. A person who is eligible for 2-dan shall have acquired Kendo basics and his/her skills are in a satisfactory level.
    3. A person who is eligible for 3-dan shall have acquired Kendo basics and applications and his/her skills are in a superior level.
    4. A person who is eligible for 4-dan shall have fully acquired Kendo basics and applications and his/her skills are in a superior level.
    5. A person who is eligible for 5-dan shall have well acquired Kendo basics and applications and his/her skills are in a excellent level.
    6. A person who is eligible for 6-dan shall have acquired a profound knowledge of Kendo principles and his/her skills are in an excellent level.
    7. A person who is eligible for 7-dan shall have fully acquired a profound knowledge of Kendo principles and his/her skills are in an outstanding level.
    8. A person who is eligible for 8-dan shall have fully acquired a profound knowledge of Kendo principles and mastered Kendo spirit, and his/her skills are in a perfect.

      As you can see, it is difficult to translate the contents from Japanese to other languages.

  26. It is quite difficult to describe the differences in skills of Kendo in written words, and the bigger problem than that so far is that we had no clear standards. Currently we continue the study for establishing the standards for examinations in three workshops at AJKF; they are "Shogo (Renshi/Kyoshi/Hanshi) workshop", "6-dan or above rank workshop" and '5-dan or lower rank workshop".
  27. Once the clear standards are established, an examinee who fails the examination would understand the reason and the cause to some extent. And we expect that it would promote examinee satisfaction.
  28. The second focus of the improvement is "to clarify the nature of Shogo and Dan”.
  29. In old days in Japan, a person was promoted from Sho-dan to 5-dan in order, and then the person was promoted to Renshi, Kyoshi and finally to Hanshi. That system changed in 1957 for various reasons and a different system, Dan from Sho-dan to 10-dan system, was adopted.
  30. Because the Shogo alone remained in spite of this change, we have, we have experienced various confusions.
  31. That means as the clear definition of Shogo and Dan was not shown, the order of ranking became ambiguous. For example, which is the higher rank, Kyoshi 6-dan or Renshi 7-dan?
  32. Based on the priority to Shogo, we should say the Kyoshi 6-dan is the higher ranking. But all of you might not be entirely satisfied with this explanation.
  33. Moreover, nobody would agree that a Kendoist who is just good at striking is a person who is respected as a man of character.
  34. Aiming at resolving this contradiction, AJRF decided to revise the rules. In the new rules, Dan represents “technical ability including some spiritual factors" and Shogo represents "degree of Perfection as a Kendoist including not only what Dan represents but also leadership and view".
  35. The third point we focus on is to make the Examiner Selection Committee function properly.
  36. In the Article 7 of the 1KF Standard Rules, for Dan/Kyu Examination, the method to appoint examiners is described.
  37. Although the domestic rules have the priority, how does the process of appointing examiners in the AUSKF function?
  38. In fact, even in Japan, we cannot say that it has worked properly though we have the rules for appointing examiners.
  39. As I mentioned before, AJKF decided to revise the rules and establish the examiner appointing svstem to recover the trust of the examination. And we believe the quality of examiners would be improved by this change.
  40. Now in Japan, the applicants for 6-dan or above are directly examined by the All Japan Kendo Federation, and the applicants for 5-dqn or lower ranks are examined by local Kendo federations. We decided to set up an Examiner Selecting Committee in AJKF and in each local federation, and promote a fair selection of examiners. And at the same time, we also decided to state the responsibilities of the examiners clearly.
  41. The Composition of the Examiner Selecting Committee is like this.
  42. AS is stated in the new rules that in the event of selection and appointment, "examiners for both Shogo and Dan are selected by the Examiner Selecting Committee of AJKF and are appointed by the AJKF President". Who has the authority to appoint the examiners is defined. This is applied to the examinations for 5-Dan or lower level in each local federation.
  43. And now we are thinking about determining the eligibility of the examiners as the following example.

    Dan to be

    Standards for Eligibilty of the examiners

    8-Dan Hanshi 8-Dan or higher rank, Under 76 years old
    6-Dan and 7-Dan Kyoshi 8-Dan or higher rank, Under 71 years old
    4-Dan and 5-Dan 7-Dan or higher rank
    Sho-dan to 3-Dan 6-Dan or higher rank
  44. Although the standards for the eligibility are not completely determined yet, we anticipate that Dan and the upper limit of age should be included in the eligibility.
  45. Besides that what we should keep in mind in appointing examiners is the physical conditions of the candidates for examiners. Even if the rank and age of the candidate meet the eligibility standards, the person should not be selected as an examiner if he/she cannot practice Kendo constantly due to sickness or injury or other reasons.
  46. The same as referees' case, problems necessarily arise if someone who does not practice constantly judges at an examination.
  47. As I said before, a referee makes a judgment in the presence of many spectators, and it naturally appears that the person is appropriate for a referee or not. But at an examination, nobody can tell if the person is appropriate for an examiner or not subjectively because there are no spectators. Therefore the committee members are expected to have the sufficient information about the character, knowledge, and the practice state of the examiners.
  48. Practicing enables you foster the eyes to judge or examine. This applies to both referees and examiners. You must not have such idea as “I can be an examiner although I cannot practice."
  49. One of the other things the committee should pay attention to is whether the examiners discuss secretly and agreed on the result in advance or not. This is of course is not allowed. And one other thing is to check the examination result to see if one examiner gives a quite different result from the other examiners.
  50. If one examiner gives a quite different result from others, you should think that that examiner might not have appropriate nature as an examiner. And. at the next examination, that kind of person should not be selected.
  51. Because the committee in Japan has not functioned well enough until today, there was a tendency to select examiners based on seniority. But with the revision this time, we are trying to eliminate inappropriate candidates and establish a system which everyone is satisfied with.
  52. In addition to the revisions as stated before, we established ethical code. In the code, it is stated that “the examiners shall have the responsibility to examine with an attitude of strict, fair and impartial at any Shogo and Dan examinations.”
  53. Well, so far I have talked about the examiner's basic attitude of mind and the matters that demand special attention in selecting examiners including the main points of the revisions of AJKF Rules for Shogo and Dan examination.
  54. Let me close my speech by mentioning a matter to which we really appreciate your paying attention. We would like to ask you not to conduct an examination with high rank people as examiners who are invited privately or are on a private travel to the States We hear that this kind of things sometimes happen in other countries and this problem is often discussed in Japan, because they are not official examiners who are approved and delegated by AJKF.
  55. Although it is not desirable, if it is likely that this kind of thing will happen, we want you to ask the AUSKF President to contact the AJKF President and get an approval in advance.
  56. We have already informed high rank people in Japan of this matter. In the January issue of AJKF’s public relations magazine “Kenso”, the chairman of the Shogo Dan Committee mentioned this and called their attention to it. Though I think some of you have already read it because it appeared in the Kenso English version, I give you copies of that just in case.
  57. We expect that you pay careful attention to what I have mentioned and conduct proper examinations in AUSKF.
  58. One more thing I want to refer to is that the AJKF homepage was installed in November. Some of you may know, but let me introduce the address. It is “”. We are still in the process of revising and improving it. If you are interested in getting update information about AJKF, please access to the homepage through internet.
  59. Thank you very much for listening and if you have any questions it is my pleasure to answer them.

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