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Thread: Showing Non-Competitive Koi

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Showing Non-Competitive Koi

    As the Central Florida Koi Show nears, I've encouraged some local folks to enter fish. I hear lots of reasons why they won't. The most frequent reason is that they do not think their koi stand a chance to win a prize.... so why bother? Other than 'supporting the show', there are good reasons to enter koi that may not contend for a major prize. If everyone did likewise, hardly any fish would be entered! More importantly to me, however, is that I view U.S. koi shows as being about much more than the competition for an award. Let's be real..... U.S. koi shows in general do not have the high level of competition of the publicized shows around the world. There are some truly fine koi that get entered, but the majority are really not so great. Nonetheless, the koi show is a huge learning experience. It is an opportunity for people to see koi in person that they would not readily see elsewhere. I think folks do a service to the hobby by bringing koi that 'have a story'. Last year I entered two nisai Showa at CFKS that had no chance for an award. I did so because as tosai they were indistinguishable except for pattern. As nisai, one was male and one was female, and you could see how males develop sooner and females take longer. Comparing bodies, beni and sumi taught more than a few thousand words. Whenever I was by the tank, folks would be focused on a big gal that ended up taking Reserve GC. But, I would tell them about the two smaller Showa keeping her company. More was learned from those two nisai than the one competing for an award. Earlier today, I encouraged a hobbyist traveling to the show to bring a Ki Bekko they own. How often do you see a Ki Bekko in person?? Not only would attendees get to see something they have never seen before, but that koi has a lot to say about the history of nishikigoi. (Besides, it is a neat koi lots of people would love to have.)

    Certainly, no koi with a crumpled body or other huge problems should be entered in a show. But, there is more to a show than seeing prize winners.

  2. #2
    Tategoi bobbysuzanna's Avatar
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    I have always felt the best way to learn about koi is to see as many varieties at as many different stages of development as possible. Thanks to everyone who takes the time and risk of bringing their pets to shows for everyone's education, regardless if you win an award, everyone wins.
    ricshaw likes this.

  3. #3
    Jumbo Appliance Guy's Avatar
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    Touchy subject... I'll approach objectively....

    It's a paradox of sorts. On one hand we hear that shows are about community, human relationships, koi, learning, building the hobby, comradary, etc... But we also hear that koi should be show worthy, and I even hear that sometimes koi are not worthy of any award and that it "misteaches" about quality. The issue is that new hobbyists do not understand what makes a koi a champion. And there's the rub. How do we teach if we don't have variance in quality to say what is good and what is not so good?

    I've been to shows where local hobbyists are asked to bring a lot of koi to increase the count. But I've also been to shows where the competition is stiff and even good koi don't place. So there are differences in show culture.

    I generally bring koi that I think someone would like to see. I'm more about numbers and seeing as many koi as possible- good, bad, ugly- all of them can be appreciated for some reason- even if it's a lesson in learning mistakes about selection.

    In this age of internet and Facebook, commentary is read by all levels of hobbyists. The context of the discussion is sometimes lost and less experienced hobbyists interpret AJKS criteria as gospel. Just today I read a US judge post that "this koi wouldn't even be shown" or something to the effect of that. Yes, at the AJKS it would not fare well, but what about a smaller US show? So, we must remember that the context is critical to the discussion. By all means the US judge was correct, but some might not understand why.

  4. #4
    Jumbo RobF's Avatar
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    It is show gosanke that drives the refinement of koi, that is one part of the show. But I always get a 6 foot tank at CFKS and bring koi (with one exception) that I raised from pond spawn eggs. A doitsu shiro bekko, an aka matsuba, a ginrin matsuba, a longfin doitsu matsuba, a sanke(!), a kawari, and Kim’s shusui(Kodama). I love the show, but to me it is more about showing koi than about winning a prize. As Mike (who does win) and Joe, and Henry, and Don, would tell you: being of service to the community is where it is really at.
    yerrag likes this.

  5. #5
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    I think it also should be noted that "winning an award" is about competition. If there is no competition... did a fish really win?

  6. #6
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobF View Post
    It is show gosanke that drives the refinement of koi, that is one part of the show. But I always get a 6 foot tank at CFKS and bring koi (with one exception) that I raised from pond spawn eggs. A doitsu shiro bekko, an aka matsuba, a ginrin matsuba, a longfin doitsu matsuba, a sanke(!), a kawari, and Kim’s shusui(Kodama). I love the show, but to me it is more about showing koi than about winning a prize. As Mike (who does win) and Joe, and Henry, and Don, would tell you: being of service to the community is where it is really at.
    Around this time last year, two of m koi spawned at the koi show. They spawned again when they got back to my pond. Now, I have some tosai and I'm tempted to bring them to the show. One is a karasu with impressive conformation, even with good girth at 33 cm. Another is a dark metallic koi with a burnished copper tone. Another is a fully ginrin green chagoi. All about the same size. I just don't know if a black koi (karasu) is worth showing except that I thought its conformation was very powerful, and I would catch myself admiring its striking pose.

    I'm still debating whether I should scratch my 78cm yonsai sanke entry this year, and instead put these 3 smaller koi in its place. I had shown the sanke last year anyway, and except for growing 8 cm, it hasn't changed much, and is far from being finished. Not showing it this year won't cost me a prize at all. Besides, I don't want to risk it spawning as it did last year. I'd rather it just stay put in my pond and while away.

    What's your take on it?

  7. #7
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    If you prefer not to take your Sanke, the only reason to take her would be if due to size or some other trait she would add something attendees would not otherwise get to see. Only you can draw the balance and in the end it has to be your decision as to what is best for the Sanke.

    If you were local, I would encourage you to bring the 33cm Karasu. We seldom get Karasu entered. The few I recall in the past were also smaller koi in the 30-50cm range. They got a lot of attention from people walking around the show tanks. I think one got a 'Friendship Award' one year. I have no interest in having one in my pond.... I'd never see it! But, they can be dramatic against the blue of a show tank. Nothing wrong about aiming for the best kawarigoi in size 3 (or however your sizes work).

  8. #8
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    If you prefer not to take your Sanke, the only reason to take her would be if due to size or some other trait she would add something attendees would not otherwise get to see. Only you can draw the balance and in the end it has to be your decision as to what is best for the Sanke.

    If you were local, I would encourage you to bring the 33cm Karasu. We seldom get Karasu entered. The few I recall in the past were also smaller koi in the 30-50cm range. They got a lot of attention from people walking around the show tanks. I think one got a 'Friendship Award' one year. I have no interest in having one in my pond.... I'd never see it! But, they can be dramatic against the blue of a show tank. Nothing wrong about aiming for the best kawarigoi in size 3 (or however your sizes work).
    On karasu's, you'll be surprised how much people here in Manila are willing to pay for them, even if they're from a local breeder, whose koi don't usually fetch a good sum. To put it in perspective, a nice locally bred tosai yamabuki could be had for 500 pesos (roughly $10), but a karasu would sell for $60 and it would be flying off the shelves at that price. I don't know the origins or reasoning for many koi keepers favoring karasu, but it is said that a koi pond has to have one and only one black koi for good luck. That you can barely see it doesn't keep many people here from having one. I'm not superstitious, but I like the prospect of having one black koi because its silhouette, especially if it's striking, has a "Jaws (with sound effects)" effect in the pond. Spotting it also would be like spotting Loch Ness lol. Also, if the karasu grows and achieves great length and maintains girth, it would still be hard to miss. The yellow belly with a black body would also help to create a sharp contrast that would not be easy to miss when it exposes part of its belly when it shifts direction vertically.

    I would appreciate if Asian koi keepers share of the reasoning though, why one karasu in a pond would be good luck. Chinese tradition would frown on black colors and welcome bright colors, but why an exception is made in a koi pond merits a good share.

    On the sanke, I also have to add that this year it seemed that its beni coloration didn't seem to me as solid as it was last year. It may be that its growth had stretched its beni, or that my extended salting (to fix my asagi's ulcers), at 0.15%, had taken its toll on the beni. It isn't as much of an eye candy now, so I'm less inclined to bring it to show, and would rather give the koi a breather from the show.

    This means no gosanke for me to take to the show. My avatar kohaku, it's not going either, since it developed a shimi on it center right shoulder, and also, the second step at the rear is starting to fuse with the first step, and it is a distraction.

    So, for me at least, it's more about bringing a nice looking koi, even if it's not gosanke, to the show, as long as the koi can bask in its glory. Getting a prize now becomes secondary, and getting koi I happen to just own appreciated is more important. With or without a prize, it's enough that people are stopping for a moment to gaze, and even take pictures and videos. It's the only time the koi can show itself off to many people. The rest of the year, they're sealed off from keen and watchful eyes.

  9. #9
    Oyagoi mrbradleybradley's Avatar
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    Interesting conversation, as it draws down on the motivation for showing. Perhaps one should explore what motivates them to show and if the choice of show in question will satisfy. Those that know me, know I show in an effort to share the journey I am on in the hobby.

  10. #10
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbradleybradley View Post
    Interesting conversation, as it draws down on the motivation for showing. Perhaps one should explore what motivates them to show and if the choice of show in question will satisfy. Those that know me, know I show in an effort to share the journey I am on in the hobby.
    I think the Australian hobby gives another reason to show, a compelling reason. Those engaged in serious breeding have a venue for displaying their accomplishments. With the commercial side so limited, the show takes on some of the aspects of a farmers' fair. I would be disappointed if someone working to establish Gin Rin Goshiki, or any other variety, did not bring the best example from their latest efforts even if not at a level in which they took pride. The show is the best way to inform about the possible.

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