Drum Beats and Songs from the AAU National Tournament

Sensei Mae National AAU

Sensei Mae at the National AAU Competition in NC

Sensei Mae here back from the AAU national tournament! Hope everyone had a good 4th of July!

When I have competed previously, I have had to miss opening ceremonies.  I tend not to care much for pomp or prestige; however, I really enjoyed the opening ceremonies.  Sensei Sarah Napier got a video of parts, and posted them on AAU Karate KY Facebook page. I would recommend checking it out.

The drums were captivating. Also, knowing that some of the people dancing and beating the drums are high ranking black belts made it much more fascinating.

This year, as a part of the opening, we got sing a song “karate-do sanka.” karate-do-sanka-e1499518991982.jpg

  • Long ago in Japan, there were songs about karate.
  • We were talked to as referees and officials on Wednesday about the history and importance of passing these songs down.
  • We were reminded that karate songs are strong and should not be sung as a lullaby, but as a war song. To this song, there are at least three verses. Here is the English translation:

Kicking and punching are the technique of karate.

We are trying to learn the depths of this art.

We are training under the five rules of dojo kun.

We must try harder, looking at our spirit.

  • Very neat! I will be passing this along to the students.

My dojo participates in AAU karate competitions, and we had the national competition, hosted by Director Sensei Joe Mirza, in North Carolina.  It was a great competition! Here are some observations from the tournament.

  • The students of ours that went did a very good job and I am very proud of all of them.
  • We got to see a lot of great kata. Some of my favorite katas were performed quite well.
  • There were several different styles of karate. We represented Shotokan, and there was also Go-ji-ryu, Shito-ryu, Wado-ryu and several others.
  • I had the privilege of meeting several great karate practitioners including Sensei Adomson our neighbor in Indianapolis and Sensei Michael Kamininski of San Diego.
  • I was certified as a referee and worked the ring with Sensei Adomson.
  • I have competed in the past at the national level, and I have always enjoyed it.  This year was a very exciting year! The AAU invited the people from WKF, WUKF, and Romania.
  • We had an Olympic style ring on Saturday, giving us the chance to preview how the Olympics will be.



New Mirror Judges

One of the drum beats that was different for me from the state/regional level was that this year AAU brought back “mirror” style refereeing for sparring.  This was very new for me. Others shared with me that we have not used this style of refereeing this since the ’80s.  (Maybe Sensei Glen remembers the ’80s, but this was long before I was around). Normally in point sparring, there are two judges (or four depending on the level of skill of the athletes) and one referee. See diagram.

Practicing the mirror style will help us understand:

  • The WKF style for when we compete internationally.
  • How things will be for the 2020 Olympics.  Yes, sensei Mae is very excited about karate being in the Olympics for the first time!!!

At first I really did not understand or enjoy mirror style.  However, after one day of training and another day of watching it, it is really a neat way to referee!

  • Having a Kanza and just two refs made communication much more concise.
  • The Kanza had a lot to do during the match.
  • Not only does the Kanza have the responsibility of making sure the scoring is done properly, he must also pay close attention to the fight so that if need be, he can make a decision.
  • The head ref, as we are used to, still calls game, awards points, and calls for contact and other warnings.
  • The mirror does just as the name implies- mirror the head ref.
  •  What is really different is that the head ref cannot overrule the mirror.
  • If the head ref and mirror disagree on what call to make, the head ref looks to the kanza, and the kanza makes a ruling.
  • Once the kanza makes a decision, no one can override that call. That took me a little bit to get used to. However, it is nice when being head ref to not have 100% of the pressure all the time.
  • Giving the mirror ref the ability to walk around and actively observe the fight gives the competitors a more fair fight.
  • Previously, with two judges stationary, an athlete could dedicate their time to learning how to work the judges. This allows weaker karate to flourish.

Giving the mirror freedom to observe, I think, gives the opportunity for cleaner, high quality waza.

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Sensei Mae and Sarah Napier AAU National

Sensei Mae with Sensei Sarah Napier