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Thread: Why to be GC does not mean to be a good Parent?

  1. #11
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    Many points of discussion in your post, Yerrag. I'll just comment on these.

    Every breeder starts with what they have and looks for what they can get. Let's say a mid-level breeder in Japan can see that his Kohaku have good form and pattern, but the beni does not hold up beyond 70cm. He needs better beni that can peak at a larger size. So, if he had unlimited resources, he could replace all of his breeding stock, but that is not going to happen. Instead, he looks for new male or a new female from a line with more durable beni. Then as generations go by, he sees that the head shape on too many is more pointed than desired. He has to change out an oyagoi to deal with that. Just as he gets past these issues and can focus on further refinements, his female dies and he has to search for another. There may be a great one available, but if she does not match well with the strengths of his existing males, he has a problem. Every koi has particular strengths and shortcomings compared to the perfect ideal envisioned by the breeder. Every All-Japan GC has been imperfect. The process of koi refinement is a continuous selection process, from selecting oyagoi to selecting fry.

    As JR notes in his essay, pattern is something of an issue among gosanke today. To make progress on the traits we consider most important, pattern has declined. There is a lot of 'big fish' wrapping beni to be seen today. It is better on a big koi than a small one, but does not have the powerful impact of a classic pattern. Pattern is inherited, just not predictably.
    Try telling the GC owner he has in his hands an imperfect koi. I won't thank you enough if he decides to just hand over the imperfect specimen to me.

    It takes an astute observer to notice trade-offs that you mentioned that go towards improving the beauty of koi. When, in your opinion, did pattern development peak to give way to body development? Which years were these?

  2. #12
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    I cannot point out a specific date when the pattern peak occurred. Looking through old show books, Rinko and Nichirin, I think you will notice the shift away from emphasizing pattern began to become clear in the show ring in the 1980s. In the 1970s a shift began to creep in. Recall the commentary about some ZNA All-Japan winners being so good that a little beni in a pec could be forgiven? Twilight Butterfly had red on the face where it had not previously been accepted, but that marking was held out as an endearing point of interest that did not detract from her overall presence. Serious discussions of that sort simply do not occur anymore. Such pattern details have become irrelevant. Pattern discussions today are about awful patterns vs acceptable ones, not little details. By the time Toshio Sakai's Sanke won GC, classic patterning was in steep decline. But, do not get the idea that classic patterns disappeared. Far from it. The magnificent SFF Kohaku GCs had classic stepped patterns, even if there was a tendency to wrap low on the flanks. Indeed, IMO, there are only a couple of All-Japan GCs with poor patterning and none with awful patterning. (Which is one of the reasons that I have often said that patterning influences judges more than they think.) It is more a matter of the proportion of high quality koi with poor patterning is high. And, the high quality koi with a classic great pattern (including the little details) is really rare. As breeders reach the limit on size (and we already see hobbyists perfectly happy with 90cm rather than pushing for a full meter), and durable strong pigments become only incrementally better, it is only natural that hobbyists, judges and breeders will increasingly see pattern as an area for improvement.

    Yerrag, the Kohaku in your board photo is a great example of what we have been talking about. She has a terrible pattern. No steps, too much beni and the beni touches the eyes & slops too far forward... there is even too much beni for her to be a decent inazuma! But, at least in the photo, her beni is gorgeous... so smooth, thick and even. Her body lines are graceful. In the 1970s, she would have been considered too primitive in pattern. Now, she would bring a good price, even if not as high as one with a better pattern. In the future, we would expect her to keep all of those positives and have a better pattern.

  3. #13
    Jumbo RobF's Avatar
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    Mike. Yerrag’s fish looks just like the one you gave me!

    KB is not some science blog, but we always talk about genetics, and epigenetics is the new new thing so:

    Epigenetics. Epi means “above”. Epigenetics involves genetic control by factors other than the DNA sequence. The many different cell types of the body have the same genetic code but express it differently, this control is an example of epigenetics. But, and here is where it really gets amazing, some of this epigenetic information is heritable (remember Lamarck?).

    A recent paper (probably a future Nobel Prize) really brought epigenetics to the fore, a tour de force it is called because it is so through and revolutionary. This paper required resubmission and additional work several times before it could get published by Nature so contrary to the accepted thinking are the findings. Van Kalm (geneticist and Dean) said of this paper, “physics was recently shocked that they found that 90% of the universe is dark matter, epigenetics is the dark matter of genetics, perhaps 90% of genetics will turn out to be epigenetics”. The paper is a pretty hard read, so although I’ll post a link, I’ll quote one relevant sentence from the paper:

    “These findings suggest that variations in maternal behavior serve as a mechanism for the nongenomic transmission of individual differences in stress reactivity across generations.”

    Epigenetic Programming by Maternal Behavior http://champagnelab.psych.columbia.edu/docs/weaver.pdf

  4. #14
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    With Koi, a Grand Champion may not be the best, but it would be a good oyagoi choice.

  5. #15
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobF View Post
    Mike. Yerrag’s fish looks just like the one you gave me!
    Yes, there is a real similarity. I liked him, but no males allowed in the pond.

  6. #16
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Rob, I have tried to read the paper you linked three times. I have a general sense of a main point or two, but my brain shuts down along the way. It is going to be a very long time before we know all the factors affect koi development. Does the best beni require that young fry have suspended clay crystals soothing the skin?

    So much will never be known by an individual person. The collective brain of humankind is required.

  7. #17
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    Yes, there is a real similarity. I liked him, but no males allowed in the pond.
    Except mine is female. The body shape is holding well. It is definitely big fish patterned and not so refined.

    Mike, do you think that a large part of the reason GCs of late don't have refined patterns is because the pursuit of size gives classic-patterned koi a disadvantage in that classic patterns are more prone to beni deteriorating as compared to big fish patterns as the koi grows larger?

  8. #18
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Deteriorating beni is a primitive trait. Solid color is a primitive trait. Big, strong bodies are the primitive form. Refinement is supposed to lead to big, strong bodies with artistic patterns and stable, thick pigments. The breeders are challenged to have the most refined pigment and pattern on a primitive body form. Judging influences where the emphasis lies from one era to another. Market demand influences, as well.

    If you look at the drawings of the Kohaku exhibited at the Tokyo Exhibition a century ago, you will see poor patterns of thin beni on poor bodies. That's what happened in the process of converting carp into nishikigoi. Today's ugly pond mutts would have been the best in the world 150 years ago. All of those negatives are still to be found in the spawns of today's Kohaku. But, imagine what may happen in another 100 years.

  9. #19
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    Deteriorating beni is a primitive trait. Solid color is a primitive trait. Big, strong bodies are the primitive form. Refinement is supposed to lead to big, strong bodies with artistic patterns and stable, thick pigments. The breeders are challenged to have the most refined pigment and pattern on a primitive body form. Judging influences where the emphasis lies from one era to another. Market demand influences, as well.

    If you look at the drawings of the Kohaku exhibited at the Tokyo Exhibition a century ago, you will see poor patterns of thin beni on poor bodies. That's what happened in the process of converting carp into nishikigoi. Today's ugly pond mutts would have been the best in the world 150 years ago. All of those negatives are still to be found in the spawns of today's Kohaku. But, imagine what may happen in another 100 years.
    Right, and the emphasis for a while has been on attaining great size, and being forgiving on pattern.
    Had the emphasis been on pattern quality, the GCs might have been smaller, and each succeeding year would see a slow progression in size, size being held back because pattern quality could not be found yet at larger sizes.

    But maybe this is just another example of having different ways to skin a cat. For one reason or another, the emphasis of attaining size first and then let pattern quality develop has been the de facto approach on the improvement of koi bloodline. This approach may also be the most practical approach, as high-end koi hobbyists around the world can very well afford to fund the cost of continually improving the bloodlines of koi.

    It is much easier to not be satisfied with a large koi with primitive patterns than with a smaller koi with refined patterns.

    A smaller koi with refined patterns can very well hold its own in the same way shorter women can win beauty pageants over taller women, but the koi judging world is another plane in the universe. Maybe it's because a smaller koi attaining GC would affirm that it's not the size that matters, but that would send a message that would have tectonic effects on the long term survival of the entire Japanese koi industry.

  10. #20
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Go back to the 1970s and the GCs at the major japanese shows were not what we would consider a big koi today. 70cm was a large koi. Then it became 80cm. When 85cm competitive koi began to show up, it was a really big deal. When I was beginning to become serious about koikeeping, there was a continuing constant debate about whether the best koi in a show should win GC, or the best large koi. Inherent in the debate was the idea that the koi with the best skin, pigment quality and body form might be only 60cm. But, there was a competing notion that a koi that had grown to 85cm or larger had endured more risks of injury and possessed an imposing presence to such a greater degree, these koi had earned a degree of forgiveness. It is possible today for judges to decide that a 60cm koi is the best over 85cm koi, but the strong expectation is that the GC will be selected from among the koi in the largest size (or top two largest sizes) recognized in the competition. There would have to be compelling circumstances for a judging team to do such a thing.... Not so tough, perhaps if there is a great 60cm gosanke and all larger koi are overgrown mutts, but add one show worthy gosanke of 85cm and the 60cm is extremely unlikely to take top honors. There is a reason for this. As JR was so fond of saying, the koi show is both a beauty contest and an agricultural show (and more). One of the roles of the show, and a responsibility of judges in performing their duty to the hobby, is recognition of progress in the advancement of nishikigoi. If the judges of the 1980s had kept focus on little details of imperfections, we would all have jumbo 60cm koi in our ponds. Instead, they gave weight to positives and overlook imperfections that did not detract from the impression of the whole koi. This has given us a world in which 90cm and meter long koi of great beauty exist. The koi show is composed of multiple competitions. So, there is an honored place for the hobbyist winning Baby Champion, Adult Champion, Mature Champion, etc. At most shows, these size winners are honored with huge trophies. The competition in the below 80cm sizes can be very tough. It looks weird for a little 10-inch koi to win an enormous trophy, and at some shows the trophies are so much taller than the koi are long! It reflects the recognition that koi limited by size from competing for GC are far too important (and beautiful) to be ignored. To the contrary, far more awards in total go to koi in the sizes below the GC-competitive size(s). Each award is something in which the hobbyist can and should take pride.

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