I was reading my Nichirin magazine last night and there was a nice report on the 'All England Show'. This show was reported as the show where all the GC's in the different shows in England came together to fight it out for the overall best koi in England. Some very big classy koi showed up.
In the end a rather small showa walked away with the award of best koi in England. When the judges were asked to explain their decision they reported the following and I quote from the article:
"There were plenty of question about the GC result when senior Judge Mike Harvey gave a talk about the winners the following day as there is still the perception out there that it's all about big fish. Our result is very much the rule and not the exception. Our instructions regarding GC are clear - it's the best fish in the show, theoretically there are no size limits. Our judging panel was made up of some of the most experienced judges in this part of the world, several with more than 100 shows worth of experience each. When all things are equal a big fish will take an award over a smaller one, but it must first match it on the essentials of selection - body, skin, colour and pattern."
Sjoe. It's a tough one to think through for me. I can understand that in Japan where the koi are raised by breeders in state of the art conditions and access to mud ponds that it's more than likely that a 8 year old 85-95cm fish will have the same skin, colour and lustre as a 60cm nissai but in our situation as hobbyist that feat is one that sits on the verge of the impossible.
Any hobbyist who has ever raised a fish from nissai to plus 80cm will confess to what a challenge lays in that. To let alone keep a koi alive from that age till the age of 7 or 8 years is hard. To keep in free from injury, disease and plain old bad luck and Murphy’s Law...well in my opinion a miracle!
By interpreting the report from the all England show - I have to ask myself how this is possible given the culture of koi keeping in South Africa. It places me in a bit of a conundrum. I love my jumbo koi and the effect they have in my pond but I also know they do not have the skin and lustre of the 65cm fish. Most of my koi are pond raised from nissai or Sansai - I can't afford to buy jumbo koi from Japan and most of the time those big fish don't survive the long journey to SA or end up with health issues after a year or two.
So do I then focus on a few finished 60 - 70cm fish for show purposes and keep the jumbo monsters for my personal enjoyment? Where has the recognition at a show for the skill of raising a fish to jumbo then go?
I hope some of our local judges are going to chip in here and give us some perspective.