The aim of the Safety Japan Instructors Competition, now in its 20th year, is to improve the instruction and riding/driving skills of Honda instructors. The first day consisted of three automobile and three motorcycle events, while day two was devoted to group work, in which mixed Japanese and international teams studied ways to improve their safety instruction skills.
The competition, open to Honda safety instructors from any nation, saw 75 entrants from all over the world in this, its 20th year. At the opening ceremony, Hidehiko Nakajima, chairman of the organizing committee, noted that centers in every country and region continued to accumulate and learn from data on their local situations, and complimented instructors for continually honing their skills, for their work in reducing traffic accidents by promoting Honda’s road safety education, and for taking the lead in activities in their areas. He concluded by expressing his wish that the event would demonstrate the results of everyone’s constant practice, and that the communication in group work and social gatherings would provide motivation to drive future activities, and contribute to the education of the next generation of instructors.
accidents by promoting Honda’s road safety education, and for taking the lead in activities in their areas. He concluded by expressing his wish that the event would demonstrate the results of everyone’s constant practice, and that the communication in group work and social gatherings would provide motivation to drive future activities, and contribute to the education of the next generation of instructors.
From an initial speed of 60 km/h (50 km/h for GROM) in 4th gear or higher, riders competed to brake to a halt in the shortest distance while retaining good riding posture and stability. This is a difficult event, calling for riders to react instantly while at the same time handling their bike correctly and sensitively.
Judge’s commentsThis year we saw no falls, and fewer points deducted than usual for this event. Technical levels seemed higher all round, for entrants from every country and center, presumably the result of continual practice. Most points were lost from locking the back wheel. Along with not precisely grasping how long to brake, this is the main reason bikes are dropped while braking. I hope instructors will focus on conveying this point to their trainees.
Coming to a halt safely and correctly, matching the speed. Instructors are expected to always model correct behavior for their trainees.
Posture after braking was an important point. Despite this being a technique they demonstrate daily to their trainees, under the stress of competition it was easy for riders to lose balance and unthinkingly make mistakes like putting their right foot down.
Drivers had to maneuver their car through a slalom of pylons into a tight 7m by 7m box, then turn their vehicle to stop with rear wheels within three marked areas. This called for excellent awareness and rapid, skillful execution.
Judge’s commentsWe had the same impression as last year - it was very obvious which contestants had trained seriously and which hadn’t. Several went over their allotted time, and it was also clear who was not used to manual transmission, a change we made from last year. It all boils down to practice. I know it’s difficult to find the time, but I hope being selected for this competition will inspire people to take pride in being Honda instructor and put in the effort required.
Inside the box, drivers had to back into three 1.9m x 0.5m marked areas, ending up facing their start position. Rear tires had to land perfectly within the marks.
Changing direction, almost grazing the pylons. Extra turns not only add to the time, they also lose points.
After a gentle, large radius curve, riders had to weave through pylons set up like a succession of narrow gates. This event required smooth and accurate navigation of a complex course. Safety, overall riding technique and good situational awareness had to be maintained while not touching pylons, contacting the ground or going off course.
Judge’s commentsWe designed this course to require the ability to look ahead - if a rider focuses only on the upcoming pylon, they’ll find it hard to cope with the next one. Approaching difficult pylons that require a deep turn, riders on large bikes need to choose the easiest line, while on a small bike it’s more important to enter so as to make the turn in one go. The level of riding was high, as we expect from professional instructors. We encourage you all to construct your own complex courses to practice reading the road ahead.
This event required a comprehensive set of skills. Riders had to read the road ahead and ride with instructor-level precision while keeping their times as low as possible.
Judges ran through the course alongside the riders, to make sure they could spot even the slightest brush against a pylon.
Slippery Road Driving
In this event drivers had to smoothly and correctly maneuver through a course with a surface consisting of extremely slippery wet tiles. This required great sensitivity to changes in tire grip and very precise control over their vehicle.
Judge’s commentsWe saw virtually no cases of entrants skidding or taking the bends too wide and leaving the course, and everyone showed appropriate caution in observing the track ahead. They accurately felt whenever tires were about to skid and took the correct action to prevent it. This is an event that’s very hard to train for, but I felt that everyone used their past driving experience well to recognize slippery spots as they approached, throughout the circuit.
Most entrants cleared the first section, a downhill curve, controlling their speed in good time and not leaving the course.
One section had a more slippery surface. This had to be taken at a faster speed, paying close attention to tire grip and to the behavior of the vehicle.
Low Speed Balance
This event was introduced for the first time last year. It features four courses, ranging from uneven surfaces to hill climbs, where riders had to demonstrate their ability to balance at low speeds and complete each course within 30 seconds.
Judge’s commentsDespite rainy conditions making this event more difficult, fewer riders went over time than last year. It’s obvious that everyone has been training hard. However, there were still some who fell or went off course because they tried too hard to clear without putting a foot down. I’d like everyone to take away this message - while the goal is to finish without losing points, as an instructor you must act as a model for your trainees so it’s even more important to ride safely according to road conditions.
Entrants inspect the course beforehand. It rained during the actual event, and the metal plank especially proved difficult for some.
Part way down a slope, riders had to turn and enter a rising slope. This demanded very good balance control.
The complex course required the ability to drive both smoothly and precisely, combining fast stretches with sections where the pylons left barely enough space for cars to pass between them. Judges looked for safe driving, overall technique and good situational awareness. Accelerometers recorded any abrupt or jerky driving, which lost points.
Judge’s commentsWe designed the course this time to be relatively smooth, but it included a narrow gate and we could see drivers panic for a moment just after they emerge. It’s easier to enter the narrow gate like you would enter a parking bay by approaching it straight on rather than at an angle, and if you approach too fast, it becomes harder. We wanted entrants to absorb this way of thinking and to teach it in their lessons.
The chief judge commented that, although rain sometimes made the surface slippery, overall entrants handled the course smoothly.
How best to approach the narrow gate? Drivers had to think ahead about positioning and drive straight in at a suitable speed to clear this section.
The goal of the group work on day two was to improve instruction and communication skills. Groups were shown illustrations representing four traffic situations that make drivers angry or impatient, such as another vehicle turning right to cross your path or being stuck in traffic when you are in a hurry. Groups discussed why such emotions arose and how to handle these situations, and then presented their findings. In each group, members from countries with different traffic conditions contributed a range of experiences and opinions, bringing greater scope to the discussions. At the presentation stage, each group announced their conclusions regarding why emotions lead to accidents, and how drivers can maintain control over emotions and behavior.
Judge’s commentsThis time, participants had to think deeply about variations in drivers’ emotions that could lead to bad driving and accidents, and studied ways to deal with this. You can learn safe driving skills through practical training, but how do you handle accidents caused by emotions? Our aim for the group work was to inspire instructors to think deeply about this. I think we designed a very meaningful program.
Large Capacity Motorcycle
Overall WinnerArunkrung PinponA.P. Honda Co., Ltd (Thailand)
Group BRyotaro TakanashiASAKA Monozukuri Center (Japan)
Group CArunkrung PinponA.P. Honda Co., Ltd (Thailand)
Medium Capacity Motorcycle
Overall WinnerIbnu FachrizalPT Astra Honda Motor (Indonesia)
Group CIbnu FachrizalPT Astra Honda Motor (Indonesia)
Small Capacity Motorcycle
Overall WinnerSarawut YodpolA.P. Honda Co., Ltd (Thailand)
Group CSarawut YodpolA.P. Honda Co., Ltd (Thailand)
Overall WinnerKazufumi TsurutaTraffic Education Center Rainbow Kumamoto (Japan)
Group BTatsuhiro MurogaHonda Saitama Factory (Japan)
Group CPham Minh DucHonda Vietnam Co., Ltd (Vietnam)
Overall Winner Interviews
Large Capacity MotorcycleArunkrung PinponA.P. Honda Co., Ltd (Thailand)
I came 2nd last year, and I’m very happy to win this time. I believe the secret behind my win is that after getting home from last year's tournament I immediately started training again, and I kept up my practice all through the year. It also helped that I developed the ability to stay calm and focused as I competed, something like doing zazen. This is an impressive tournament with a long history, and I feel honored to have won. It’s not the same as winning a motor sports event. The goal of this award is to encourage instructors to hone their skills and awareness in order to compete, to showcase these skills to the public and to promote road safety activities.
Medium Capacity MotorcycleIbnu FachrizalPT Astra Honda Motor (Indonesia)
I am very happy to have won for the second year running. I believe the key to winning is to practice hard and continuously, and also, to believe in yourself and pray. After I return to Indonesia, I hope that the skills I developed training for this tournament, together with what I learned here - a new safety awareness and the attitude necessary to ride safely - will greatly improve my work as an instructor. We went deeply into safety issues, and this should enable me to more effectively convey the importance of safe driving practices when I teach at companies, schools and communities.
Small Capacity MotorcycleSarawut YodpolA.P. Honda Co., Ltd (Thailand)
The secret to winning is simply to practice a lot. Practicing not only improves your technical skills, but also trains you to concentrate and not worry about the competition. This time, I think I did best in the braking event. I could stop in a very short distance and I think I rode well. Winning this championship has given me more confidence in my abilities, and I will continue to practice intensively to improve my skills as an instructor and my attitude to safety.
AutomobileKazufumi TsurutaTraffic Education Center Rainbow Kumamoto (Japan)
I first won two years ago, and I finished third last year. The main reason I could win again this year was an ability to keep my presence of mind. It required constant hard training to achieve this ability, which was especially needed for the Figure Driving event, one you absolutely have to do well in. During my training, I learned a great deal more about how to steer and handle my car, knowledge I will now pass on as an instructor. I also learned from the many mistakes I made, and I think I will now be much better at showing trainees what kind of driving to avoid and what dangers are waiting on the road.
Large Capacity MotorcycleRyotaro TakanashiASAKA Monozukuri Center (Japan)
My win was thanks to everyone on my team who helped me practice diligently. It was tough sweating through practice in the hot summer months, but that’s what led to this result. The low speed balance event has only been part of the competition since last year, so I made a point of consulting my colleagues who competed then. They helped me design an effective training program that let me do well in the low speed balance, which I think was a major factor in my win. My center had a great competition, winning first, second and third places.
AutomobileTatsuhiro MurogaHonda Saitama Factory (Japan)
I see the key to winning as the backup and encouragement I received from my colleagues. Other instructors at my factory were generous with their advice, and I practiced hard all year, even on Sundays. Of course, I was happy to win in my first competition here, but winning wasn’t the main thing in my mind at the start - I just wanted to stay calm and compete safely. I still think that was probably more important. I hope this experience will be useful and give me the confidence to spread the safe driving message to my colleagues in Honda and to my local community.
Koji KatakamiTwin Ring Motegi Active Safety Training Park (Japan)
I took part as a judge last year, and this year I was able to enter the tournament as one of the younger competitors. It’s taught me such a lot, and working alongside more skilled people from around the world has really expanded my thinking in ways that I’m sure will make me a better instructor. The main thing I think I will focus on is teaching the importance of always being aware of potential risks on public roads.
Akira KuboTraffic Education Center Rainbow Fukuoka (Japan)
I became an instructor with the goal of teaching people to avoid danger on the road, and this tournament is a great place to study that more deeply. I hope it will not only improve my technical skills and supplement my knowledge, but also help me set a better example for my trainees and give them useful tips, and improve my work to raise safety awareness among road users.
Ryotaro TakanashiASAKA Monozukuri Center (Japan)
In my student days, I won a national motorcycle safety championship, and that was what motivated me to join Honda and become an instructor. I realize that, as a mobility manufacturer, we need to keep developing and promoting events like this tournament to achieve our goal of zero accidents. I hope to play a part in this movement and contribute to raising safety awareness.
Masahiro YamanakaHonda Engineering (Japan)
I became an instructor hoping to acquire the skills of my older colleagues and to make a contribution to company traffic safety. This was my first time to compete here and nervousness was a problem, despite all the practice and preparation I’d done. Of all the events, perhaps braking is the one most relevant to regular driving, and I especially plan to teach the new braking techniques I’ve learned here.
Gutenberg Santos da SilvaMoto Honda da Amazonia Ltda. (Brazil)
I started as a mechanic at a Honda dealership, but an interest in traffic safety led me to become an instructor. The tournament was tough with so many people to compete against, but at the same time I feel it was an honor to make friends from all over the world and learn so much from them. I’ll be taking many new techniques back to improve my teaching and spread the message of road safety in Brazil.
Ravinder KumarHonda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt Ltd (India)
In India, 1.5 million people die every year from traffic accidents. I became an instructor to spread the message of safe driving and contribute to reducing the number of accidents on our roads. I am very impressed by this competition - I learned a great deal about traffic issues, and from the skills and techniques the other competitors demonstrated. I has helped me understand what I will need do in the future.
Ping Hung YaoHonda Taiwan Co., Ltd (Taiwan)
I always loved big motorcycles, and I was working at another bike manufacturer when I learned about Honda’s safety instructor system. That was the reason I joined Honda. Normally, when riding my personal motorcycle or working as an instructor I don't notice my own faults or deficiencies, but taking part in this competition has made me very aware of them. It’s been a great opportunity to improve my technique and teaching skills.
Phisal VitoonphisalsilA.P. Honda Co., Ltd (Thailand)
Thailand is one of the world’s worst countries for traffic accidents, and I became an instructor because I wanted to change my country’s driving culture and improve safety awareness. I met many people during this tournament, and learned many things. But what we all had in common was a commitment to ensuring safety for everyone.