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Thread: English Style Koi Shows A New Era

  1. #1
    Guest Nancy M.'s Avatar
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    English Style Koi Shows A New Era

    In the past 6 or seven years, all of the koi shows have gone English style. Due to health reasons, such as KHV. I have wondered around these shows and watched and listened to the judges, making there choices. From a layman's perspective, it seems to me that we have lost something, in this new era of judging. I have seen judges going back and forth trying to decide which fish looks the best on that day. I am sure it has made judging more difficult, without the leisure of having all the size 7 kohaku's in one tank. Is and can judging still be done fare? Does anyone else feel that with the changes we have gone through that perhaps koi shows have lost the excitement and teaching capabilities they once had? Does anyone think that in a short time koi shows will have lost there flair and will continue to decline in participation?

    Many clubs today only have a handful of people to pull the show off, most of the new generation of members are not the workers in the club, and the ole timers are just not able to do the things they use to do. If this continues who will be there to put these shows on? Club participation from what I have seen here in California has dropped dramatically in the last 5 years, I think that some of this is due to the Internet, whereas before the newbies depended on the clubs to get help and information, now they have the Internet at there disposal. Will shows and clubs as we know them become a thing of the past?

  2. #2
    Daihonmei PapaBear's Avatar
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    I suppose that's up to us.
    I'm not an old hand at this by any means, but I can definitely sympathize on the English style judging angle. Seeing them all swim together would be a beautiful thing when it was time for the nitty gritty final round at least. Alas, KHV has likely ended those days altogether.

    As to clubs and shows, the future is in our hands. Clubs need to continue to recruit, and using the internet as a recruitment source is part of the answer rather than just a problem.
    No doubt many who would have found clubs early have not because of the ease of internet forums, but forums can also be a valuable resource for clubs to seek out new members who would be well served by what is available to them in a nearby club. I was first invited to a club meeting in a pm on this very forum. I'll always be grateful for it.
    Larry Iles
    Oklahoma

  3. #3
    Sansai
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    I agree with every word of that, Nancy. I've stated all those same concerns to other officers of our club.

  4. #4
    Daihonmei aquitori's Avatar
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    When I shadow judged Gardena it was hard picking fish for top prizes because of how some of the tanks were located from each other. There are your obivious winners and the so close to call winners. English style is alot of work for a judge to walk around remember what he has seen and go with the notes he has written to remember.

  5. #5
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    There is no doubt that judging an english style show takes longer and also requires a lot more effort and a better memory than the orginal Japanese style shows. However with the heath issues today I cannot imagine returning to the Japanese style anytime soon.

    It is harder to observe the actually judging process with english style shows today for reasons already stated. Show committees would be smart to consider how to entertain or educate the public while judging happens by offering seminars or some other type of entertainment. Also it is a good idea to shorten the judging process/time by having multiple teams of judges whenever possible. The sooner the judging is completed while maintaining quality of the judging process the better for everyone.

    I would guess the average show today uses three judges. By adding one more judge you could have two judging teams and cut the judging time significantly. Then the judges could have more time to answer questions and explain their rankings. Downside is extra show expenses for extra judge/s.

  6. #6
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    I don't think English-style reduces participation. ....and I'm not so sure overall participation is declining. It seems to me that there are more shows across the country than there were 7 or 8 years ago.

    There are a number of factors that hold back growth in participation. Probably the most significant is "club politics". When it is a competition among friends, it is fun. When it is an uncomfortable reminder of disagreements, the fun is gone. The progress of the koi hobby in the U.S. seems to me to have resulted in more divisions and differences as kichi become self-segregated from the more casual koikeepers and their watergardens.

    Another factor is that U.S. shows have greatly improved in the quality of the fish shown. To be competitive takes significant investment. Among those with the means, many have very little time to travel, take days away from their business, etc. It takes quite a commitment to show koi. For those without the means to be competitive, the only reason to show is to help the club. When the result is overhearing negative comments about the ones brought, it does not encourage continuing... Gotta have a thick skin, but a lot of folks don't. It takes a certain type of person to receive criticism, and experience loss, and still keep coming back. We would not expect the owners of mediocre poodles to enter an American Kennel Club show. We should not expect koikeepers to be different.

    Closely related is the factor of size. The koi winning major awards are larger than they were 10 years ago. That means a large pond is required and the work involved in moving a 30"+ koi is not lightly undertaken.

    Despite these factors, and others, I expect we will see significant growth over the next 15 years. As the babyboomers retire with greater means than prior generations, we will have more folks with both the wherewithal and the time to partake. ...Of course, that assumes the internet addiction does not gain total control.

  7. #7
    Sansai
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    One thing I think koi shows do lack is the element of "show" like a dog show has. For the most part, the casual observer walks through and then goes home without the least idea of the competition that was going on. So here's a crazy idea for getting around English-style judging, and adding a "show".

    Based on the turnout of fish and quality among the various categories, Judges initially determine which categories are the most highly contested. Say they end up with the major awards and about 10 Best in Size / Best in Class awards in which there is heated competition. In these 15-20 best match-ups, they narrow the field to say 3-5 contenders. All remaining, weaker classes are judged to completion. Late Saturday afternoon you have the "show" which doubles as the banquet, and you might even need some bleacher seating.

    The 3-5 contenders are tubbed and rolled up on carts. You've got an announcer and maybe the judges would be willing to go on microphone and hash it out before a live audience? Give the award after each contest in order to give the benching teams time for the next group of fish.

    One challenge I see is handling the big fish properly--not stressing them unneccessarily, and also hopefully carting them up to the stage in tubs big enough that they can move well enough that the judges can assess the grace and movement of them. Maybe you could use half-size or quarter-size hard plastic show tanks on pallets with pallet jacks. If you used these only for 3 contenders in say 6 categories, then you're talking 18 "show tubs", and before the show starts these fish could be loaded into the move-able tubs right next to their show tanks (no cross-contamination of air stones). Smaller fish could be tubbed 'on the fly' in the regular small tubs or measuring tubs.

    Granted, more show expenses, and more work and logistics; but if it could be done, it might be a very entertaining result.

  8. #8
    Sansai
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    So much truth in what you said, Mike. In my first few years in the hobby that has been the biggest surprise to me--the amount of whispering and division in the koi community. I wasn't sure I had thick enough skin so I've already taken a major u-turn and gotten much less active in the club and the message boards, and left the KHA program as well. And to my delight that freed up more time for my own pond, and my family too!

  9. #9
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    Jeff,
    Similar things have been tried when shows started switching to english style. Finding entrants willing to let their koi be moved out of their tanks to be judged is a challenge. Once a koi is injured (and it will happen) it becomes even a bigger challenge to get people to enter koi in the future.

    A better approach would be to have a couple of video cameras with microphones recording the judging with special emphasis on the big awards and the top koi contending for those awards. These videos/audio could be sent via the internet to a nearby location where it could be viewed live by the audience. However, how many clubs have the technical expertise or the funding to hire outside support to do this correctly?

  10. #10
    Daihonmei
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    We ( MAKC) did it at Longwood Gardens for years Ray. It wasn't that big a deal. In its crudest form it is done with VHS or DVD and ran into the viewing area every fifteen minutes or so of filming- 'almost live' I guess. We had the judges miked and had a live feed or delayed feed each year depending on circumstances. JR

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