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Thread: Does pattern count in mature adult koi?

  1. #1
    Daihonmei
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    Does pattern count in mature adult koi?

    This is a difficult 'moment of truth' for the intermediate koi enthusiast. And that moment is made more difficult due to living examples of GC's when an All Japanese judging crew was doing the choosing.
    So does Pattern matter in an 80 bu show koi? OF COURSE IT DOES! But there are two reasons that observation without explanation will lead the koi grape vine to pass on the 'lesson' that pattern doesn't matter in big koi.
    The teaching and education drawn from a koi show results is often a bit cryptic! That is why the Sunday morning walk thru with the Judges is such an important component of the show if one is looking to concrete explanations as to just why a fish is chosen
    There are two dimensions to the question at hand---

    1) In adult koi, it is true that pattern is no longer weighted against other elements as strongly as in young juvenile fish. There is a sliding scale as to the import of pattern as fish grow. One reason for this is that other elements develop to the extreme in fully mature female koi and pattern simply becomes one of those impressive elements. But we now also have presence, volume, depth of color and general quality in highly evolved skin type. So a pattern is desirable, nice and the tie breaker, but not as important as the baby koi's needs.

    2) ALWAYS remember that the winner of a koi show is the result of a competition. Therefore not all GCs are equal! Some GCs have an easy go of it and others are in a dog fight! And it is competition that makes for exceptional winners. As opposed to no competition leading to a 'must have a winner, regardless' situation.
    In the case of a Japanese person or breeder coming to judge an amateur koi show, you are going to see the best of the choices based on heavier weighted criteria. Put simply, the Japanese judge will give tremendous weighting to elements of quality and ‘live with’ the poor pattern that might come along with the ‘better fish’. To make this more confusion, some Japanese breeders acting as amateur judges will play to the audience and pick what the he thinks the public will view as the best fish. In this case he wants as little controversy as possible (as stories of unhappy customers travel back to Japan) and will pick what he knows the general public likes- IE a large fish of good pattern.
    So in a case where 10 K could buy a very high class Sanke but with an oversized pattern, it is not unusual to see the flashy albeit modest quality showa take the day. It photographs better and is more logical from the USA eye point of view. Yet it is not the best fish in the show due to the theoretical point of the show, which is to enlighten the hobbyist as to the rarity of transformed skin, robust well laid out body line, and compound three dimensional color plates.
    JR

  2. #2
    Sansai almostgeorgia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    ......That is why the Sunday morning walk thru with the Judges is such an important component of the show if one is looking to concrete explanations as to just why a fish is chosen....
    Amen to that, Brother! I learn more about koi in the time a generous judging team takes to artfully 'walk and talk' through a koi show, fish by fish on a Sunday morning than I do with many hours of study on my own. When a large number of club members and show entrants make the time to show up and take advantage of this wealth of information, I also take it as an indicator of the seriousness of that club regarding the subject of koi. Whether you agree or disagree with the judges in their assessments, it's a great insight into what they are looking for, and can't help but 'sharpen your eye' as well as increase your overall appreciation of the fish.

    And back to your main question on the importance of pattern in large fish, I've heard a judge state that overall body conformation counts for at least 50% of his scoring on a mature fish, with other elements such as pattern descending from there.

  3. #3
    Daihonmei
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    Yep, that's right.

    the old school of judging was to score by % certain elements of show fish. And today some old timers still do it-- literally.

    a bit of the history on the two schools of thought as to how to score koi elements:

    Once upon a time, a koi show was born in Japan. It was at an aggie event and carp were 'exhibited and eventaully judged' as live stock. And like bulls, chickens and cows, there was a written standard that followed so that carp could be 'scored' based on the standard.
    because carp is a huge range in Japan - Goi needed to be standardized! The body of GOI and KOI varies and that was key to a uniform yet varied look. And of course, koi are all about bright and unusual color for the turn of the century fancy carp enthusist. And because KOI would be viewed from above, an organized , appealing pattern that could be seen when feeding them in an outdoor pond made all the sense in the world.

    So points were given to fish based on a scale and an ideal. And this worked right up until the 1960s when intense breeding started to produce remarkable individuals. remarkable in size, skin development and style, but NOT real great in terms of the point system. Indeed, high scoring individuals didn't compare well to some of these new individuals that has extremely attractive looks but not the right distribution based on the standards.
    And so subjective elements were worked into the judging criteria and the aggie live stock koi show became more of a beauty contest for rare and beautiful KOI.
    It was natural for this new element of elegance, imposing appearence and quality to also first start as a point award within the old structure. But it is SUBJECTIVE so one judge's award is not going to be just like another judges award in terms of %. So every well trained experienced judge can see color and shape and nice pattern, but 'quality'? that is a different cat!

    So for modern advanced judges it is fine to use the point system as a guide. But a potential mistake to use it as hard math.

    today, the best judges will see the judging evaluation from the perspective of grade ( the quality level ) and then an evaluation of 'living and aging art' as to how to apply the % of body, color, pattern.

    the point to be made here is- as koi evolve, so must the judging technique. JR

  4. #4
    Sansai Si Van Nguyen's Avatar
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    Thanks for some interesting thoughts to ponder JR. The pattern does seem less important in a large koi to me. Because koi is probably not originally meant to be enjoyed from 2-3 feet away, but rather from really far away, like from a shady spot at the edge of a natural pond. Watch some large koi swimming in a natural pond in a quiet afternoon and one can't help but appreciate that sense of beauty, grace and serenity that they evoke. It is this serenity that we are always looking for in our lives.

    So on the early Saturday morning before the crowd shows up, the judges could stand farther back and watch all the koi in the show tanks from afar. The biggest, brightest koi that swims gracefully is going to attract his eyes. And maybe subconsciously, he would have picked a winner from a distance already. Looking at the koi from directly above and 2 feet away is mostly for picking faults right?

    My question for the experts is this, and this has to do with this topic of pattern: From 20 feet away, like from the edge of a large natural pond setting, which koi would have the most "presence", given that they are all of the same jumbo size and Grand Champion skin quality, a Kohaku? a Showa? Sanke? Ogon? or a Chagoi?

  5. #5
    Nisai
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    This is a difficult 'moment of truth' for the intermediate koi enthusiast. And that moment is made more difficult due to living examples of GC's when an All Japanese judging crew was doing the choosing.
    So does Pattern matter in an 80 bu show koi? OF COURSE IT DOES! But there are two reasons that observation without explanation will lead the koi grape vine to pass on the 'lesson' that pattern doesn't matter in big koi.
    The teaching and education drawn from a koi show results is often a bit cryptic! That is why the Sunday morning walk thru with the Judges is such an important component of the show if one is looking to concrete explanations as to just why a fish is chosen
    There are two dimensions to the question at hand---

    1) In adult koi, it is true that pattern is no longer weighted against other elements as strongly as in young juvenile fish. There is a sliding scale as to the import of pattern as fish grow. One reason for this is that other elements develop to the extreme in fully mature female koi and pattern simply becomes one of those impressive elements. But we now also have presence, volume, depth of color and general quality in highly evolved skin type. So a pattern is desirable, nice and the tie breaker, but not as important as the baby koi's needs.

    2) ALWAYS remember that the winner of a koi show is the result of a competition. Therefore not all GCs are equal! Some GCs have an easy go of it and others are in a dog fight! And it is competition that makes for exceptional winners. As opposed to no competition leading to a 'must have a winner, regardless' situation.
    In the case of a Japanese person or breeder coming to judge an amateur koi show, you are going to see the best of the choices based on heavier weighted criteria. Put simply, the Japanese judge will give tremendous weighting to elements of quality and ‘live with’ the poor pattern that might come along with the ‘better fish’. To make this more confusion, some Japanese breeders acting as amateur judges will play to the audience and pick what the he thinks the public will view as the best fish. In this case he wants as little controversy as possible (as stories of unhappy customers travel back to Japan) and will pick what he knows the general public likes- IE a large fish of good pattern.
    So in a case where 10 K could buy a very high class Sanke but with an oversized pattern, it is not unusual to see the flashy albeit modest quality showa take the day. It photographs better and is more logical from the USA eye point of view. Yet it is not the best fish in the show due to the theoretical point of the show, which is to enlighten the hobbyist as to the rarity of transformed skin, robust well laid out body line, and compound three dimensional color plates.
    JR
    I am glad you included #2 above. It is excatly the truth and good that someone can bring it up. Pattern is less important for sure on a mature fish as there are many other things to look at on a large fish that wrap around pattern. I do think a large fish has to at least have balance in the placement of pattern otherwise elegance and power can be faulted. Body and presence count for alot here.
    As far as standing back from a pond and looking from far away a Showa grabs my eye. It is bolder and has more colors and contrast. The problems sometimes with Showas, and this is were that point stuff comes in, is you find many faults when you look up close. It is more complex and hard to finish evenly and without windows. Kohakus are more refined and normally show less problems from afar or up close. I still have a weak spot for Showas but it is much easier for me to find a Kohaku when searching than a good Showa.

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