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How do I become a NAGA referee?

July 6, 2021

We often get asked, how do I become a NAGA referee? We hope this article will help shed some light on this subject and interests you to join our referee team. At NAGA, we have a referee apprentice program to train our referees and help to make them experts at refereeing NAGA grappling tournaments. The goal is to make sure they are proficient in both the no-gi and gi rules, know how to run their ring (to include bracketing), and to be professional to the competitors, their coaches and their fans. There are referees that have officiated for other organizations, many of whom are very good referees, but they still need to go through our apprentice program to learn the NAGA process. Referees progress at different rates with some joining our team almost instantaneously. NAGA certified referees are well paid, travel (paid) the United States and the world, and are part of an incredible team of referees.

Being a referee in any sport is a difficult job but also a rewarding job. When you are doing your job well you typically do not hear about it, but boy do you when you are thought to have made an error or actually did make one. Referees are human, and like all humans, they make mistakes. A MLB umpire called a batter safe that was, obvious to the multitudes watching, out by more than a step. This call cost the pitcher a perfect game (there have only been 23 perfect games in the 150 years of MLB’s existence). Even an error that costs a novice competitor (the newest of competitors) from advancing to the next round of a bracket is bad. It does not have the same historical impact, but it impacts that person and it is important to them. This means it is important to us and so we train our referees in order to make them as proficient in the rules as possible. Referees have the best seat in the house! Referees officiate novice kids who are just learning the sport, to high level black belt competitors. Getting to tell newer competitors that they did a great job and hopefully inspire them to continue on their jiu-jitsu journey for many years is such a rewarding feeling. Raising the hand of an expert competitor who just won a championship belt, it feels good.

We have a great team of referees that we know you will enjoy being being a part of. If you are interested in beginning your journey to become a NAGA referee, we ask that you complete the NAGA referee application. Referees must be at least a purple belt before being certified. We encourage blue belts who are interested to join the program in order to gain experience. Applicants are not limited to those that only reside in the United States. We are also looking into expanding our Europe referee team. Our referee training coordinator will contact you to speak with you further and set you up to apprentice at a future tournament.

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