Judging at Japan BP
こんばんは！１年の田中恵美です。広報の役職交代をしてから初めての正式なブログ更新です〜先日のAsian BridgeやKK CupでKDS勢が活躍してくれたおかげでお仕事がたくさんあって責任を感じております！
I never thought that I would actually be involved in writing the KDS blog ever since actually learning about it. It always seemed like as a noble, collective existence much greater than myself, one that a single individual’s effort could never hope to sustain (which it essentially was). However, as my peers have all have had their turns taking part in it, it was agreed upon that it was high time that I gave the issue a challenge as well.
This is Hirokazu Matsuda, a first year at KDS. Although much of this writing will be of my personal take on things, I do hope that this can serve as something worthwhile reading and as something that will do justice to the past efforts of all who have written in the blog as well.
This blog marks the main closing of this year’s British Parliamentary season with the passing of Japan BP and, as I recall someone calling it, the ‘debate rush period.’ As many of you reading this have probably similarly experienced, the past several consecutive weeks have literally been a grueling period of non-stop debating within the tournaments themselves and the practices held in between. Starting off with Umeko-cup held in the first week of November (which I have not participated in, but have went to spectate), entire weekends have been lost to independent practice sessions and tournaments such as BP Novice, Tsukushi cup, and NEAO. Although physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted, I have been extremely fortunate to have been graced with talented partners and am rather pleased with how everything has turned out, achieving actual results and breaking in key tournaments despite my frequent inclination of being at a loss in regards to producing matter and stance setting (Thank you Kae-san and Kiyo). Nevertheless, topping of the streak of debate activities for the year of 2016 would be my involvement at Japan BP, adjudicating at an official tournament for the first time and ultimately (surprise surprise) breaking.
Instead of recollecting and remarking on what happened in every motion and decision, which I personally do not recall very well and even if I did, would probably not be a keen matter of interest to anyone, I would just like touch upon some things that I strongly felt through the whole event. To say that I am ‘glad’ would first and foremost be a complete understatement; I’m absolutely ecstatic about the whole thing and still think that it is a recognition I do not entirely deserve. Following the end of BP Novice, I managed to get myself around a week of BP judging experience under my belt, but it goes without saying that differentiating four teams and comparing each and every substantive while understanding their burdens is a quite a complex task, especially to the inexperienced debater (Yes, I was one of the irrational and easily swayed individuals that gave a speaker score of eighty to CG’s whip in the judge test). I do understand that Japan BP is a comparatively easy tournament to break in, particularly applying to freshmen and first-time adjudicators. With many accomplished and veteran upperclassmen being the debaters themselves, this understandably results in the shortage of credible panels, which is what I largely attribute my breaking towards. However, I still feel that breaking in itself was very symbolic to me in the sense that it acknowledges that I have begun to generally understand how debating works and can competently (to some degree) see rounds from a higher perspective.
I definitely would not consider myself sufficiently capable to weigh and compare the points of matter to the extent that a breaking adjudicator should, nor do I presume to even begin to understand the complex and finer points of debating at all. As someone who has been ‘casually debating’ up until the end of summer, I solely relied on my advantage in English within the Japanese community to make speeches that merely sounded good, naively content by managing to speak seven minutes without making the effort to even understand what my burden’s were in the first place. I can recall the times when I would be praised for having very persuasive intros, but actually have very little to say in my speeches, or the rude awakening I experienced when I realized my peers who, 1. Started debate at the same time as me, and 2. Have English as their second languages, have evidently and easily surpassed me in speech quality. It really shouldn’t have been a surprise with all the time and effort that they spent in gathering matter and understanding motions, but it happened nevertheless. Despite breaking in earlier tournaments before Japan BP as a debater, I couldn’t tell if I was breaking solely due to my partners’ matter or my ‘sound good’ English, or a mix of both. During a period where self doubt and second guessing plagued my thoughts, the recognition of breaking adjudicator came as a saving grace, so you might be able to imagine my ensuing relief and regained confidence. A Christmas gift come early, if you may regard it as such.
There is still so much I do not understand about debate, especially when the standards and expectations seem to differ from country to country, from person to person. I am afraid I may still pertain to the ‘casual debater’ characterization with how my bad habit of completely forgetting the contents of rounds a mere five minutes after finishing persists, but the thing is that I do enjoy debating and do find it very meaningful. I don’t expect myself to stray from debating anytime soon as there is still so much more to learn and still plenty of room for improvement. Maybe, as a 2017 year resolution, I’ll actually begin to independently research and gather my own matter and contribute more to the team in prep time (unlikely).
One last thing before I wrap this blog up, I just wanted to say that the debate community is amazing. While I’m an awkward socializer, I truly do enjoy meeting and getting to know the curious personalities unique to debaters. Also, the existence of really amazing debaters native to Japan and being able to witness their speeches firsthand, something I really recognized and learned to appreciate through NEAO and Japan BP.
And last but not least, a brief run through of KDS’s Japan BP results! A grandiose closing to the year 2016. Shoutout to the two KDS freshmen teams that fought it out in the rookie grand finals and to the emerging champions, who finally got their well deserved recognition.
Rookie team awards:
KDS D (柳ももか、きよ)
Main Team awards:
invoker†LEGENDARIA (しもんさん、田村くん), My Neighbor Mafiosi (まさこさんjoint)
Well Armed Dish Eradicators (あつしさんjoint)
Heroes II (ちひろさんjoint), The 1975 (柴田ももか、田中めぐみ)
Main speaker awards:
3rd best speaker Sayaka Nakano
10th best speaker Shimon Nakayama, Hikari Tamura
Rookie speaker awards:
Best speaker Hikari Tamura
4th best speaker Ryohei Shioda, Momoka Shibata, Megumi Tanaka
Kotaro Asano (DCA)
I’m afraid this blog has turned into a long and mixed jumble of unclear messages, but a sincere thank you for reading all the way through. Thought organization and message clarity seem to be issues that will continue to need improvement from now on as well. A happy and prosperous 2017 to us all.