The Irish Taekwon-Do Association hosted an International Umpires Course in Limerick on the weekend of the 30th of June & 1st of July 2012. The event was the largest Umpires course ever run by the ITF with over 180 participants from 18 countries in attendance. With participants travelling from Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, England, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, USA and Vietnam, this was an historic IUC as it was the first time that the updated ITF rules, which will be introduced from January 2013, where presented.
The ITF delegates; Grandmaster Bos and the ITF Tournament and Umpire Committee members arrived on the Wednesday prior to the IUC for meetings to discuss the new ITF tournament rules. They had several days of meetings ahead so the local organising committee decided to make their experience as enjoyable as possible by mixing in some touristic and cultural experiences. One of the trips was to the famous Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs situated in north County Clare and soaring 702 feet above the Atlantic Ocean form some of the most spectacular landscape in Europe. On route to the cliffs the ITF delegates were treated to lunch in Vaughans restaurant in the seaside town of Lahinch. This meal was hosted by local Government officials from Shannon Development and Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau. The trip to the trips was enjoyed by all and the weather was perfect. On Friday evening there was a fantasic banquet in the 15th Century Bunratty Castle. This medieval banquet was a wonderful experience and was thoroughly enjoyed by all, one of the highlights of the night was when Mr Stefano Minotti was thrown in the dungeon and had to sing to be released, he did not disappoint as he brought the whole banquet to a standstill with his wonderful operatic voice.
The Umpire course began on Saturday afternoon in the large Jean Monet theatre on the University of Limerick campus. Master Kenneth Wheatley, President of the Irish Taekwon-Do Association opened the event by welcoming the attendees from around the world as well as welcoming and introducing Grandmaster Bos 9th Dan member of the ITF Technical Committee and Director of the ITF, the Tournament Committee; Master Coos van den Heuval, Master Giovanni Ceccenato, Master Harry Vones& Umpire committee; Master Alberto Katz, Master Sandy Dunbar and Mr. Kurt Ottesenand the other masters in attendance, Master Paul Weiler (Senior Vice President of the ITF), Master Tadeusz Loboda (AETF President), Master Adelbert Wagner (Germany), Master Frank Vanberghen (Belgium), Master James Tjin-A-Ton (Netherlands), Master Gordon Wallace (Scotland), Master Thomas Denis (England), Master Patrick O’Rourke (Ireland) and Master Neil Franks (Ireland).
The opening address was delivered by Mr Brendan Dowling, the President of the Irish Martial Arts Commission, the National governing body for martial arts in Ireland. Mr Dowling spoke of the importance of working in a spirit of cooperation within martial arts as well as the positive role that IMAC has played in the development of martial arts in Ireland. Mr Dowling also praised the ITA for their work in promoting Taekwon-Do and their contribution to IMAC over the past number of years and how the ITA as a government recognised body now has access to police vetting, child protection trainign an world-wode recognised coach education for all its instuctors.
Grandmaster Bos then opened the umpires’ course by welcoming the attendees to the IUC and congratulating the ITA on planning such a well organised event on the impressive University of Limerick campus. Master Alberto Katz from Argentina and Mr Kurt Ottesen of Canada then proceeded to deliver a presentation on the rules of ITF Taekwon-Do competition. They explained the importance of courtesy in Taekwon-Do competition as well as competitor safety, before moving on to the more technical point of organising and running a ring council.
One of the highlights of the first day was the introduction of the new team sparring procedures. The ITF delegates explained that one of the reasons for the change was to ensure each competitor who travels to a major championship would get the chance to compete, and that the team competition would not finish after one team had won three bouts.
A barbeque was planned for that evening at the Scholars Bar on the UL campus; a large number of the IUC participants as well as the ITF delegates came to enjoy an evening of good food and traditional Irish music. It proved to be a very enjoyable night that gave everyone a chance to catch up with old friends from around the world as well as make some new ones.
The final day of the IUC began on Sunday morning at 9am in the University Arena; the ITA volunteers had worked tirelessly to set up 5 competition areas, including areas for special technique and power testing. The impressive arena looked almost ready to host a major championships and all those in attendancewereextremely impressed.The agenda for Day 2 began with Master Katz presenting the new system for umpiring patterns. This represents of the major changes to the rules with each competitor beginning with 10 points at the beginning of the match and accruing ½ point & full point deductions for any errors that occur throughout the performance, the competitor with the highest remaining score after the performance will be the winner. The participants were given an opportunity to get some practical experience judging patterns under the new rules, with volunteers acting as competitors.
After a short break, the umpire committee moved on to the updated rules for pre-arranged sparring. Master Katz explained that only 1 successful blow should be performed at the end of the routine and all other techniques should be defended against or dodged in line with the Taekwon-Do principle of ‘One Blow, One victory’
Mr Kurt Ottesen was up next and presented the rules for sparring. After presenting the rules and procedures for running a sparring ring council, the ITF Delegates askedsome of the current competitors in attendance todemonstrate the level of contact which is acceptable in competition as well as what would be deemed heavy contact. Again the participants had an opportunity to get some practical experience as part of a jury council for a sparring match under the guiding eye ofMaster Sandy Dunbar, Master Vones and MrOttesen, while Master Katz displayed video clips of various interactions that could occur within a sparring match and asked the participants to decide what action should be taken in each situation. This proved a very useful method for helping the umpires to sharpen their skills and make the correct decision.
The final section of the day was comprised of the umpiring procedure for special technique and power testing. Mr Ottesen led this section and explained how these events where as important to ITF competition as sparring and patterns and that in the future we can expect to see these events taking place on the centre ring of a major championships.
The IUC closing address was given by Grandmaster Bos. GM Bos thanked the Irish Taekwon-Do Association for their warm hospitality and once again congratulated the association on running an excellent event. Grandmaster Bos said he looked forward to returningto Ireland for a future event to be held at the superb facilities of the University of Limerick campus. Master Wheatley then closed the event by thanking GM Bos and the tournament and umpire committee for a very enjoyable and informative course as well as thanking all those in attendance for making the journey to Limerick. All 180 participants then took position for a group photo and with that the IUC had come to an end.
The Irish Taekwon-Do Association would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Grandmaster Bos and the ITF Tournament and Umpire Committees for an excellent course and would like to thank all our guests from abroad for their company over the weekend and we hope to see you in Ireland again for the International Instructors Course to be held in Kerry in January 2013. Gratitude must also be expressed to the event sponsors Top Pro Sports, Acist Skillnet and Clare Spring water. Finally a big thank you must be given to the organising committee, the local committee and the volunteers who put in a huge amount of work in the months prior to the event as well as over the weekend to make the International Umpires Course such a success.
Report by Mr. Carl Smullen IV Dan, ITA PRO.