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Training to be a fully CERTIFIED JUDGE or an ASSISSTANT CERTIFIED JUDGE starts with training to become a LOCAL CERTIFIED JUDGE.

Part One: Pre Candidate

A person applying for entry to the ZNA judging program will be known as a Candidate Judge and, as such, will be subject to all International ZNA qualification requirements as well as additional requirements of the North American ZNA district ( as listed in the ZNA America 'Guidelines and Procedures").

To begin the process, a prospective candidate should review the requirements with their chapter president (each Chapter President has a copy of the Guidelines and Procedures) and if these requirements are in order and completed, then a formal request shall be made to the District Chairman for entry into the fraternity of ZNA judges' training program.

Upon acceptance by the District Chairman, the formal process of shadow judging and the hands on apprentice judging experience can begin. The actual entry onto the rolls of candidate will be formalized after approval of all chapter presidents during the annual President's meeting which takes place in the spring of the new year. But this timing need not hold a candidate's starting date. 

Part Two: The Candidate Program to become a Local Certified Judge

The US district program is a progressive and evolving one. Yet it is grounded in the tradition of the World ZNA based in Japan and as such, requires an apprentice based learning experience of five shows. All candidates are expected to know the basics of koi appreciation from their experience as show exhibitors and active member-volunteers in their koi show. In this regard, a candidate will be asked to list their 'strong points' and 'weaknesses' regarding koi appreciation. If there is a deficiency in any area, additional study will be required. Koi judging is a living experience and as such no amount of academic drilling will help make a poor judge a good judge. This is a key principle of ZNA teaching.  

The candidate will progress thru five live judging experiences under the supervision of a head judge . Local certified ZNA judges are acceptable for this supervision/teaching requirement but each candidate must have one show ( ideally their first show) with the District Chairman. Where this is not practical or possible, an Assistant Certified Judge will substitute in this important formative role. 
 * The first show will be viewed by the judging committee as a beginner show in order to evaluate the level of knowledge of each beginner judge/student.  The head judge might recommend additional reading or specific communication regarding weaker areas of understanding.

 * The second show will be a working show and the head judge will review the candidate for 'judging' ability, presence, organization and ability to express thoughts regarding koi varieties, terminology, attributes and qualities.
* The third show will be a working show in which the head judge will review the candidates accumulated knowledge regarding both koi appreciation and show mechanics. The candidate will be expected to handle the recording of the show as well as taking part in the judging.  
* The fourth show will be a working show in which the candidate judge will be drilled on timely decision making and encouraged to make arguments as to why one koi is superior to another. The roll of challenger will be in the hands of the head judge, who shall help the candidate identify issues of body, quality, pattern and finish.  The candidate should also understand 'judging by age' and detection of minor flaws and faults. At this level the candidate is expected to know the details of standards for various varieties and be able to express those details while critiquing individual koi.

* Finally the candidate will attend their fifth candidate experience. And this will be the final opportunity for a candidate to show his/her teachers the results of all they have learned.  A candidate must be able to express in detail his/her review of each competing fish. The candidate is expected to be able to 'champion' his opinions and statements regarding a competing fish. In addition, the candidate must have both a technical and an artistic skill regarding the critiquing of the show fish in competition. At this point, the student becomes an 'equal vote' in the judging process under the approval of the head judge.

A final review of the five shows will then be completed and the candidate will either be advanced or 'held' until the District Chairman is satisfied the candidate's application is ready to be submitted to Japan for final certification. Beyond individual 'readiness' for certification, there might be a delay related to need for new active judges based on local membership numbers and active shows in a given year, or for other administrative reasons regarding the internal operation of the organization. 
This final and formal process will involve paperwork for Japan and entry on the Japanese roles. All to take place AFTER the President's Annual meeting where all officers agree that the individual has :
1) completed all requirements
2) been recommended for certification by the Chapter President and District Chairman, and is, and remains, a member in good standing
3) has demonstrated a willingness to contribute to ZNA and to 'give back' by teaching members what they have learned as a, now, highly advanced instructors of ZNA based knowledge and philosophy.
3) paid necessary fees, provided a completed application/picture and shown himself/herself to be an asset to the organization.
4) agreed to travel upon request and has taken on the obligation and commitment to remain above reproach. Beyond deportment at the koi show or koi meeting/seminar, a judge is not a politician and should avoid being involved in political disputes as part of the definition of 'remaining above reproach'.  

The ZNA provides many benefits to the candidate judge such as entry to Japan shows and Japanese chapters, and also as welcomed officials of a fraternal world organization. But perhaps most rewarding of all-- one gains a sense of belonging to a very special worldwide organization that has certified that the candidate is now a Local Certified Judge and a valued and trusted teacher of hobbyists in the North American ZNA District.