The 1st BJA National combined conference for Senior Examiners (SEs) and Kata Examiners (KEs) was held on 8th September 2019 at Samurai Judo Club Kidderminster, organised by Dave Horton-Jones and led by Andrew Haffner, ably assisted by Promotions Commission members Steve Lesik and Nick Fletcher, and Kata Group members Llyr Jones, Paul Jordan and Duncan Kinnear.
The purpose of the conference was to form a collaborative team of examiners working together to improve the grading experience and to further develop and deliver all aspects of kata. There were over 60 judoka sharing their vast knowledge and experience with 34 judoka being of the grade 6th Dan or above. Participants included, as well as all members of the Promotions Commission and newly formed Kata Group, IJF referees, performance coaches, ex GB Internationals, members of the BJA Board, Area committees, National Commissions and BJA staff members. In a similar format to the previous 2017 conference the Area Director of Examiners met in the morning and then a working lunch was held with all conference delegates where everyone had the opportunity to share ideas and best practice in each others areas, where often the challenges are quite different.
The day started with a formal photograph and a presentation by Andrew Haffner on Kata in gradings and the new Junior Kata awards. A video example of the revised Gonosen-no-kata was viewed where originality was encouraged whilst working along the traditional order of techniques. The new Gonosen-no-kata certificate was launched and discussions held on the marking process. SN kata videos examples were viewed and then the new format of the 2019 National Kata Championships was introduced, designed to enhance the competitors development, with video analysis and feedback being provided by the judges after the competition. The new annual perpetual trophies were on display, dedicated to the BJAs most respected kata exponents. All kata examinations and processes are now on their own dedicated area on the BJA website and the conference were pleased with all the recent kata developments.
Prior to the conference Ben George has further developed the electronic recording sheets for the Dan Gradings and John Malkinson had produced electronic versions of the Competitive skills exam and Technical Dan grade exam with auto-summing of marks etc. These were discussed by the conference and it was decided that although certainly the way forward it may be easier to record Dan grade examinations manually on the day and then transfer the data to spreadsheets electronically after the event, it was also agreed to trial the introduction of an official to act as electronic recorder at Dan grading events.
The conference split into 2 groups with Kata Examiners working with the Kata group of the Promotions Commission and all Senior Examiners dividing into area group syndicates to discuss all aspects of gradings. Promotions commission members facilitated the syndicate work and during this time the Kata examiners re-joined the main conference to add their knowledge to the discussions. Dave Horton-Jones then facilitated a forum to discuss the finding of the syndicates and all feedback was collated for the Promotions Commission to review post conference.
The conference concluded with an Open Forum.