2014 Shufu Referees’ Clinic

January 26, 2014

Dr. Gary Berliner

Dr. Gary Berliner


January 25, 2014

Fifty-six referees, coaches, tournament staff, and other judoka from across the eastern seaboard gathered today at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, for the 29th annual Shufu Referee Clinic.  Participants came from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Florida to learn from Dr. Gary Berliner, Shichidan (7th degree black belt), during a wide-ranging discussion touching the myriad aspects of refereeing and the interpretation of the newest changes in the rules.

Dr. Berliner, hailing from the Atlanta, Georgia area, and who has been an IJF-A referee for twenty years, brought hisCRFM_20140125_9903.jpg deep knowledge and experience and a number of personal anecdotes to inform the discussion that included a historical perspective of judo and refereeing, the philosophy of judo and of refereeing specifically, the mechanics of refereeing, and the recently clarified changes in the rules of competition as promulgated by the International Judo Federation (IJF) Referee Commission.


There were also lively discussions of the qualities of a good referee, with an emphasis on developing and maintaining objectivity, neutrality, and professionalism of referees at every level.  Dr. Berliner gave many points of advice to developing referees regarding ways to develop the necessary expertise, collegiality, and approaches to learning from colleagues.  He also emphasized the desirability of referees to continue to practice judo to help them understand and anticipate newer techniques.


Roy Englert, who has organized the annual event for 18 years, was happy with the turnout and conduct of the clinic.  “I’m very pleased that

Roy Englert

Roy Englert

we were able to obtain the time of Dr. Gary Berliner to be this year’s clinician.  As I said in my introduction, he’s a ‘local boy made good’ because he’s a former Shufu person.  He’s also one of the top referees in the world, having worked three Para Olympics and just about every major event that you can imagine, including ten times in Paris (the French Open, now the Paris Grand Slam) and many other cities throughout the world.  His technical knowledge of judo is excellent, his technical knowledge of refereeing is excellent, and he, along with me and several other people from this area was able to attend the IJF seminar last week in Florida, which gives him very current knowledge of the dramatic changes in the rules for 2014.”

Chuck Wall Senior and Junior

Chuck Wall Senior and Junior

Chuck Wall, Sr., who is a member of the Hudson Judo Yudanshakai and a C-level referee, came down from New Jersey.  “I came down to become more familiar and briefed on the changes to the rules and also to spend time with my son (Chuck, Jr.) who runs Wall-2-Wall Martial Arts and who is the coaching side of the team, so he could better understand the changes in the rules and how he has to apply them as a coach.”  Chuck Jr. added, “I came to better understand the new rules so I can share them with the parents and the students in my club.”

Terri Lahner, from Orlando, Florida, came up to the area last night on short notice.  “I realized that I

Terry Lahner

Terri Lahner

wanted to improve on my refereeing and the best way to go about it is to seek higher level educational seminars that provide that education.  Since we just had an IJF referee seminar in Ft. Lauderdale and I could not attend because it was at the IJF level, I figured that this would be a good opportunity to come up to the Shufu referee clinic because we will get the first-hand notes and interpretation of the rules that the IJF wants us to use in the coming years.

“I think that the seminar is excellent – what we are covering is the basics of refereeing and the advanced stages of refereeing including now the new notes from the recent referee seminar.  It is very well-prepared and guided – the examples are very beneficial.”

Ron Hansen

Ron Hansen

Ron Hanson, from Fayetteville, NC also was pleased with the clinic.  “We came up because, number one – we want to be versed on the new rules and we know that Gary Berliner is a good presenter, and that generally the Shufu group of people is very welcoming, so we’re here. He is very detailed, he presents well, so he always leaves us with a lot to take away.”

Dr. Berliner, although besieged with questions and comments during the lunch break, was able to break away for a short time to give his perspective on the day’s work. “I’m tremendously honored.  You never have the feeling, when you come home, that you’re ever going to be respected or appreciated because you’re “still a kid’.  I’m still 20 years old, coming over from Hawaii.  But the fact that I was invited to do this prestigious clinic, and all these technical people here are listening and asking appropriate questions – that’s a huge honor”.

When asked why this clinic is important, he said, “As the IJF has said, they are holding these clinics, and I’m holding this clinic, so we can CRFM_20140125_9898.jpgall get on the same page so that the refereeing is uniform, and that the judo is uniform.  Remember that the rules drive development, and if we all understand the rules differently, then the development is different, and people will make mistakes that cost them matches, maybe cost them medals, maybe cost them positions on Olympic teams.  So we all want to be on the same page, understanding the rules the same way, so the development of judo will continue in the direction we want it to go”.

CRFM_20140125_9953.jpgDr. Berliner also opined on the changes that the IJF has made over the last several years. “It increases the separation between “sport judo” and “classic” judo.  Judo is a lot more than sport judo, and Kano (Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo) specifically mentioned that.  Sport judo is driven by television viewers and the visual impact of the sport.  Consequently, the IJF’s rule changes are designed to, and do, increase the visual impact of the sport – you see more ippons (full point wins), more dramatic ippons, and you see really effective newaza (ground techniques), because you take out many of the defensive aspects of the judo.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t do it in the dojo, which is a completely different environment.  Recreational judo, or dojo judo, is a completely different animal.  You can teach kata, you can teach non-permitted techniques because that’s all part of the larger development.  What you can’t do is do those non-permitted techniques in an actual sport contest.  But sports are always like that.  There’s always a limitation on the technical end of the application in sports, because that’s what makes it a sport instead of combat or a lifestyle.

“I’m having a great time.  Everyone is asking me appropriate questions, and I feel very honored to be here.  To me that’s sometimes as important as the fact that I’m communicating a very valid message.”

Using slides and the whiteboard, Dr. Berliner reviewed the mechanics of refereeing, including dress, accessories, grooming, the necessityCRFM_20140125_9896.jpg of continuous engagement and readiness, physical conditioning, and knowledge of procedures for entering the mat area and conduct and positioning while on the mat.

Voice, “presence”, determination, positioning and mobility, observation, signals, and teamwork, topics infrequently covered in referee clinics of recent years, were explained in detail for the benefit of all.

His discussion and explanation of the new kumikata penalty timing rules, applying penalties, competitors’ use of the mat boundaries, criteria for throws, and a number of other related topics were illuminated by numerous projected pictures with concurrent questions and answers.

Roy Englert and Tad Nalls assisted in the clarification of the referee’s legal responsibilities for evaluating the mat areas, ensuring safety of the players in the venue.

After spending most of the seminar time in the spacious conference room, the group moved to the wrestling room mats, where Dr. CRFM_20140125_9941.jpgBerliner gave demonstrations clarifying some of the more difficult new rule changes.

All of the sessions were highly interactive, and were well-received by the audience.  (Lunch was particularly well-received after the intense first session of the day.)

Shufu Yudanshakai congratulates Mr. Englert for the outstanding job he has performed for many years, consistently bringing in top-level referees who assist Shufu in its long and continuing tradition of developing many of the best referees in the United States.

Mr. Englert also announced that Shufu would use radio communications among the members of the referee/judge teams, beginning at the Virginia State Championships on February 15th.



2014 IJF Referee Rules with Annotations




Don’t let your skills deteriorate while you’re watching old Twilight Zone reruns during the shutdown!  Check out this first list of videos that can help keep your technique sharp and your body fit.



Twilight Zone Reruns

Coach Certification

SafeSport Certification is now required for all USJF registered clubs. If you have already completed the course and submitted a copy of your certificate, you do not need to resubmit. For more information or to take the course, please visit https://athletesafety.org/

Heads Up concussion training, through the CDC’s website, is a requirement for all members of your USJF registered club who function as teachers at any time. Please advise all of your instructors and assistant instructors of this requirement. The training can be accessed at: http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/