In a remarkable display of international unity and commitment to excellence, the International Taekwon-Do Federation successfully hosted its latest Online Qualifying International Umpire Course on August 12-13, 2023. This course, graced by more than 110 participants from around the globe, proved to be a pivotal training ground for aspiring umpires gearing up also for the imminent ITF World Championships 2023 in Tampere, Finland.
The esteemed invitation extended by the ITF and ITF Umpire Committee set the stage for this extraordinary event, guided by the expertise of Grand Master Abelardo Benzaquén, Chairman of the ITF Umpire Committee, alongside ITF Umpire Committee member Grand Master Gordon Wallace.
Distinguished personalities further adorned this course. Grand Master Paul Weiler, ITF President, delivered an official greeting that resonated with the magnitude of the event. In addition, Master Leo Oros Duek, ITF Treasurer, was giving his personal support together with prominent Grand Masters such as Grand Master Wim Bos, Grand Master Gonzalo Camelo, and an array of 20 Masters underscored the significance of the occasion.
Countries spanning the globe were represented, forming a cultural tapestry that enriched the learning experience. The countries ranged from (in alphabetical order) Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, England, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Latvia, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay Poland, Romania, Scotland, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, United States of America, Uzbekistan to Wales, 29 nations converged to foster an environment of shared knowledge and skill enhancement.
The inaugural day of the course opened with a comprehensive overview of essential concepts. Reading References, Rules and the official competition protocol for umpires set the foundation. The roles and responsibilities of diverse umpire positions were meticulously elaborated upon. Animated presentations lent clarity to the art of marching into the ring, complementing the written procedures outlined in the rules.
A meticulous exploration of PATTERN judging comprised the next segment. Participants were guided through a journey of attentiveness, where every nuance and detail were deciphered with precision. The teaching method skillfully blended proper behavior with following the rules. Techniques for effective scoring, appropriate joystick usage, and identifying pivotal aspects while judging were conveyed.
The second segment of the course focused on SPARRING. The complex harmony between the Jury President (JP) and Center Referee (CR) came to the forefront. The JP’s managerial and organizational tasks and responsibilities and the symbiotic collaboration was dissected, revealing the paramount role of the CR, whose mental and physical prowess is imperative, as they steer the dynamics of the ring. The scope encompassed scoring areas, prohibited body parts. How to look for points, what is exactly a valid point, which points to withdraw in the scoring joystick. What does correctly executed, dynamic and controlled technique mean exactly. Which are the frequently occurring questionable situations and what could be their solutions. What does golden point mean and how is the scoring procedure.
During the sparring session, several fast-paced, breathtaking combat situations came alive through vivid videos, transporting us into the heart of the action, allowing us to imagine a scoring situation.
The second day commenced with intensive sessions on POWER BREAKING and SPECIAL TECHNIQUE. Where the presenters explained in detail what is the procedure in the breaking rings, what are the latest changes in the rules, and how to place and evaluate the boards correctly. Where and how competitors may have the option to ask for change in height or distance.
Judging TEAM PATTERN was next, where it was explained, among many other topics, how to watch and examine carefully the performance, what does teamwork mean, and why not to get involved too much into the flashy choreography, but notice all the technical details and possible mistakes.
Following this riveting journey, the focus seamlessly shifted to the enthralling realm of TEAM SPARRING. Participants were led through the procedural intricacies that govern this electrifying
team-based showdown. How scores are registered, if the specified number of competitors do not stand up at the ring or if one of the lined-up competitors does not join the fight.
In total, the Grand Masters steered the course with informative presentations. Participants were encouraged to pose queries by chat line, ensuring a wholesome understanding of the material.
The seamless translation between English and Spanish facilitated the global course, thanks to Grand Master Abelardo Benzaquén and Sbn Gustavo Livon.
Despite being held online, the course exhibited an impeccable ability to convey practical knowledge effectively. Abundant presentation slides, animated analyses, and illustrative videos transformed the virtual classroom into a rich learning environment, with special thanks to Grand Master Gordon Wallace.
Course attendees were granted access to a trove of knowledge materials and presentation slides, culminating in a final exam. Successful completion of this online exam will give participants an official IUC diploma, a testament to their dedication and newfound expertise.
In conclusion, the International Taekwon-Do Federation’s IUC online was a great success, showcasing the ITF’s unwavering commitment to fostering skilled and knowledgeable umpires. This event not only prepared umpires for the upcoming ITF 2023 World Championships but also empowered them to uphold the highest standards of judging across the globe. The wealth of wisdom acquired promises to enhance the quality of judging in the ITF community for years to come.
Grand Master Abelardo Benzaquén
Chair ITF Umpire Committee
Special thanks to Sbn. Gustavo Livon (general support) and Sbn. Zsuzsa Opra Szabó, member of the ITF Development and Communication Committee (text and screenshots)