On the 8th February I traveled to Cambridge to Referee at the Varsity Match 2015.
The Varsity Match is an annual competition between the Karate Clubs of Cambridge and Oxford Universities. Cambridge University is part of the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB) and Oxford University is part of the Japanese Karate Association (JKA). The competition consists of a Men’s Team, Women’s Team and Mixed Team from each University, competing in Kata and Kumite for the three Team titles and the overall Enoeda Cup.
A request for a Referee from our region to officiate at Varsity 2015 was sent to Sensei Jane Naylor-Jones from Sensei Richard Poole, President of both World Shotokan Karate-do Association (WSKA) and European Shotokan Karate-do Association (ESKA) and the Chief Instructor for Cambridge University Karate Club (CUKC). As a result, I was very honoured that my Senseis put my name forward, that they had such trust and faith in my ability to represent our region and, above of all, to represent Chelmsford Shotokan Karate Club.
The Varsity Match was on the same day as our Kyu Grading and Special Training sessions with Sensei Andy Sherry (9th Dan). As usual, he provided an excellent lesson but I had to ask for both his permission and my Senseis to leave after the first session to allow me time to travel to Cambridge. When Sensei Sherry learnt that I was attending the Varsity Match to Referee, he kindly provided his words of encouragement and support.
Photo: Sensei Richard Kheder in his Referee's Uniform leaving Chelmsford's Dojo, after Training with Sensei Sherry (9th Dan) to travel to the Varsity Match 2015 in Cambridge
Just prior to the Event there was a Referee Briefing for the Officials. Present were three Referees from the KUGB - Ron Hicks, Frankie Heydari and myself, plus two Referees from the JKA, of which one was, former KUGB Member, Angelo Sanna.
The Event was based on a Points system, consisting of different Teams/Categories, as follows:
- Men’s A Team (Individual Kata, Team Kata and Kumite),
- Women’s A Team (Individual Kata, Team Kata and Kumite)
- Mixed B Team (Individual Kata, Team Kata and Kumite).
With the briefing complete it was then time for the Competition to begin, with the Chief Referee and Judges taking their position on the match area. Especially in the Kumite events, based on the importance and history of the competition to both Clubs, every match was fiercely contested. Therefore, the Chief Referee applied his knowledge and experience to control each match and the fighters. This gained the respect of both Teams, ensuring the both the safety of the competitors and the high technical standards expected of such an occasion.
In the Men’s’ Team Kumite, as you can imagine, both sides were determined to win. Cambridge were the stronger team in terms of determination and skill, and had the upper hand against Oxford. As a consequence, Cambridge University (CUKC) won by 5 – 0, they also took the most points in their Kata Events (Individual and Team) to take the Men’s Trophy.
The Women’s Team from CUKC then scored the most points overall in Kata and Kumite to win the Women’s Trophy. In the Mixed B Teams Kata and Kumite Events, CUKC won convincingly to collect the Mixed Team Trophy.
With Cambridge University winning all three Trophies, they won the Overall Varsity Match 2015 on points and were awarded the Enoeda Cup for 2015.
Photo: Varsity Match 2015 - Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Front row second from left - Sensei Richard Kheder
Prior to this date, I had always been involved in Refereeing and Judging within the KUGB. I had not participated previously in an event where two organisations, with different forms of Karate were competing. The Varsity Match was a new experience for me. However, the training, support and experience gained from attending KUGB competitions complimented by the guidance from my Seniors within the KUGB was of great help. In my opinion, as long as the high standards expected within the KUGB are followed, any Karate Competition will not be difficult to Judge. For example, I was taught that if you do not know the Kata, do not get caught up on individual moves, always judge the overall performance. Remembering this advice helped me tremendously.
I was honoured to Officiate at this competition. It was a great day and I enjoyed being part of it. I want to give a massive thank you to Chelmsford Shotokan Karate Club’s - Sensei Jane and Sensei Richard for their support and encouragement. I would also like to thank Sensei Richard Poole for accepting me as part the Team of Officials for this special occasion.
Article written by Richard Kheder - (3rd Dan), KUGB Referee, KUGB Long Standing Member 30 Years, Chelmsford Shotokan Karate Club.