2019 Faye Allen Draws Clinicians and Participants from across the US

September 22, 2019

 

by Chuck Medani

 

On a beautiful late summer’s day, kata luminaries from across the country joined those from Maryland at the Edgewood Arts Center in Washington D.C. for the annual Faye Allen Memorial Kata Tournament and Clinic.

 

 

Judges and attendees came from upstate New York, Philadelphia, South Carolina, Ohio, Texas and California to compete in, judge, teach, and learn Nage-No-Kata, Ju -No-Kata, Katame No Kata, Goshin Jutsu, and Kime-No-Kata.

 

Diane Tamai Jackson and Kuniko Takeuchi

Special guest clinicians included Kuniko Takeuchi from Sacramento, California, and Frances Glaze from Toledo, Ohio, who joined Diane Tamai Jackson of Hui-O Judo in Beltsville, Maryland as the principal kata judging experts, also joined by Fran Vall of the Washington Judo Club, Karen Whilden of DC Judo, and Karl Tamai of College Park Judo.

 

Sponsored by D.C. Judo and Shufu Yudanshakai, the much-anticipated event is the highlight of the kata tournament/clinic offerings of the year for the region.  Terence McPartland, director of the Faye Allen and head instructor of DC Judo, has developed the event into a major site for competition and especially for the varied clinics that follow the competition.

DC Judo Instructors and Registration Guys Geof Meixner and Terence McPartland

 

Terence offered his thoughts early on as the competitors were registering and preparing for the day.  “We’re happy to be hosting our eighth year, since 2011 – we’ve been in this venue for six years.  This is our practice dojo so it’s a pleasure and a blessing to have so many visitors come to our normal practice space.

 

Frances Glaze

“We have a pretty rich competitive environment this year – a lot of Nage No Kata teams, with three novice teams and five advanced teams.  And then we have (teams) for Goshin Jutsu, Kime no kata, Katame no kata, and Ju No Kata, also including mixed teams.

 

“We’re very pleased to have five high level referees, with people from Shufu, from Konan, Nanka, and Texas on the main judging team.  Then we have a set of candidate judges who are also judging and they are using the actual competition as part of the kata judging (testing) that is to follow.

 

“We’ll also be doing a Kime No Kata clinic led by Rob Gouthro and Lisa Capriotti from Samurai Judo Club down in Charleston South Carolina. They performed that same Kime No Kata very well in the Kata World Championships competition (in South Korea), and will share what they know with folks here.

 

“It’s really a day of competition and learning, and we are most happy to be making a contribution to the improvement of the judging standards in the region and in the country as we try to make the US more competitive in kata overall.”

 

In addition to the kata competition, this year’s event included a clinic focused on kata judging, especially for those individuals wishing to certify as kata judges, those wanting to upgrade their judging certifications, and for kata competitors wishing to refine their knowledge of the details of kata to improve their own training and competitive success.

 

Levine, El Idrissi, and the human tunnel

Following the morning’s competition and a break for lunch, the group reconvened, starting with an awards ceremony which spontaneously included a human tunnel, (possibly) never before seen in a judo awards ceremony.

 

After settling down from the fun of the awards ceremony, Diane Tamai Jackson, Lisa Capriotti, and Rob Gouthro led a tutorial including proper method of tying the obi, walking onto and off the mat, standing and kneeling bowing technique, strict posture, hand position while walking, and proximity to the bowing line, all of which affects the judges’ scoring.

 

Ms. Jackson then led the discussion of major and minor errors, the basis of the IJF scoring system for each of the katas.  This was followed by an analysis of important principles and details especially for Nage No Kata, and then for the remaining principal katas.

 

During the afternoon, Sensei Takeuchi was awarded a

Sensei Takeuchi with her birthday croissant

special 80th birthday croissant by judging clinician Fran Vall, to the cheers and song by the gathered masses.

 

The kata judging clinic and testing then began, with the several candidates for certification demonstrating their comprehensive knowledge of the katas under the watchful eyes of the kata judging clinicians.

 

Across the mat, 2019 Pan-Ams double gold medalists Rob Gouthro and Lisa Capriotti conducted the basic clinic in Kime No Kata, directed mainly to the day’s majority of competitors who had little or no experience in this advanced kata.

 

Theo Schwalm, who traveled from Dallas, Texas, and who was the 2019 US team manager for the Kata World Championships in South Korea, and team manager and judge at the 2019 Pan-Ams in Peru, offered why he came halfway across the country for this certification clinic and testing.  “Basically two reasons for coming, to support and encourage kata, and the other is because of the transitions that have been happening and how the judging system works – we’ve been migrating from the older US standard to the newer IJF standard.

 

Theo Schwalm

“We have not had any judge certification exams for a while because they have been working on coming up with a new test.  I have been waiting for a couple of years, now, in order to upgrade some of my certifications.  And this is the first opportunity that I have had to upgrade my certifications that I have that are not as high in some katas as I have in others. So this gave me a chance to actually test again.

“It is important to keep giving people the opportunity to do kata, because without kata you are missing a third of judo.”

 

Bill Scribner and Zach Baum, head instructors from the Ulster Budokai in Kingston, New York, part of Hudson Yudanshakai, drove south to Washington the day before.  They are both members of the Hudson Board of Examiners.

Bill Scribner and Zach Baum

 

Scribner described the reasons for their journey. “We do Nage No Kata, Katame No Kata, Goshin Jutsu, Kime No Kata – those are the ones we are most familiar with.  We believe that kata is an important part of judo and an important part of students’ learning judo.  I have yet to see anybody who has put in the time and effort to learn Nage No Kata whose judo did not improve.  So I think it’s an important part of anyone’s judo education.  This is where we could come to learn to judge kata better.”

 

Baum added, “We’re here partially because Boris Muñoz, the president of Hudson Yudanshakai, sent us here to study kata judging.  But also because Bill and I have been practicing kata for years, so it’s a nice opportunity to do our kata in front of people and see how we stack up to the competition.  And because I’m tori, I twisted Bill’s arm to make him do the competition part of it in Kime no Kata.  I couldn’t twist his other arm to make him do Goshin Jutsu – maybe next time.”

 

Christine Levine and Kristin El Idrissi drove down from Philadelphia to compete and participate in the clinic.

El Idrissi, Levine, and Capriotti

Levine spoke of their reasons to attend.  “We came down to this tournament really because we’re practicing kata but it’s always nice to go to a tournament and there are so many fantastic judoka here that can give you feedback to really move you forward with your technique and presentation.

 

“This is a fabulous place where everyone comes together so you can get the feedback and the knowledge you need to improve yourself.”

 

El Idrissi, who is co-head instructor with her husband at El-Idrissi Judo in downtown Philadelphia was also enthusiastic.  “I started as uke in helping a friend prepare for her black belt test and the competitiveness in me just wanted to perfect it.

Kristin El Idrissi and Christine Levine

 

“I came down here with Christine so that we could continue to improve and get insights from more than just what we feel in the dojo but from people who have their eyes on the right things so that we know what to work on when we go back home.”

 

Levine added, “In the past I placed in the nationals, and it was a great experience.  I was able to work with a younger partner for a certain amount of time, training together multiple times per week.  It’s very different now, because as I get older, I have to readjust my judo a little bit for injuries, but it’s still impressive that you can change your judo to work with what your current situation is and you can still improve.

 

“There’s never a reason to stop doing judo or stop doing the kata.  You can work within your limitations and still improve.  That’s been a lesson from nationals from several years ago, until today.”

 

“We haven’t been working together for too long – I had another partner and (Kristin) has another partner so I think that the competition went well but I think that we know the things we can improve but we’re curious to know if that’s in line with what they are saying or that we have to reevaluate what the major problems are to fix. But she’s an excellent uke so it’s pretty easy for me to be tori.

 

“I think that for competing together for the first time, we did well.  There’s a lot of stupid little things that we know to immediately fix.  But overall, just getting out there and going through it together, and realizing that we can be partners together – we both feel good about that.”

 

As the afternoon wound down to the end of the Kime No Kata clinic and the judging testing, this observer sensed a general tone of continued excitement and optimism about the katas.  Terence McPartland anounced September 26, 2020 as the date for the next Faye Allen, and the high energy continued as the clean-up commenced and folks said their good-byes until the next judo gathering.  Overall, the 2019 Faye Allen appears to have been a rousing success for judo and for kata as a principal component of Dr. Kano’s creative work.

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