Wednesday, July 11, 2018


RINGS USA: Battle of Champions
March 17, 2001 
Council Bluffs, IA
Harveys Casino Hotel


JEREMY HORN MATT HUGHES TRAVIS FULTON BOBBY HOFFMAN (oh no) are the names that are first offered us and I will note that when the soothing speaker spoke the words "Jeremy" and "Hornu" he paired them with 関節技 kansetsu-waza which is mostly and indeed probably most reasonably translated as "joint-locking techniques" but which one old book of mine (Illustrated Kodokan Judo by the Kodokan Editorial Committee [1955 {obviously}]) weirdly renders as "bone-locking techniques" and so that is what I say pretty much always now whether here or to my students; my reasons for this are, I trust, self-evident. Those very-recently-named names of アメリカ人 America-jin were in fact so named because of their participation in RINGS USA BATTLE OF CHAMPIONS 3月17日(土)アイオワ州カウンシルブラッフスハーウェイズカジノ (Saturday March 17, Iowa State, Council Bluffs, in a Casino of some kind) which looks pretty good just like that but looks unreal like this:

That really is very much the æsthetic we are all here for, I believe. And I am no less here for the "shoot"-ly dulcet tones of WOWOW EXCITE MATCH's Kenichi Takayanagi who provides voice-over but does not seem to have made the trip (I am myself no traveler; I do not blame him in this). Hey we are extremely late in the overall RINGS run with this show! We are less than a year from the all-too-clear end of this hazy-VHS-dream (indeed; indeed) and I am reminded that the Observer archives are only about six months away (in the timeline of the primary world of our ongoing lived experience) from being as up-to-date as we will require them to be to undertake a RINGS-encompassing catch-up of WHAT DAVE MELTZER SAID. I kind of can't wait! But let us not get too far ahead of ourselves or we will miss Joe Doerksen's inverted juji-gatame win over Scott Ventimiglia in an excellent 2:33 of græppling! The graphics do not mess around and instead on the contrary give the method of victory as 腕挫十字固 to help ensure sikkness. Joe Doerksen, of New Bothwell, Manitoba, fought forever and everywhere but seemed to lose pretty much every fight he had in the UFC. I think he has had a very interesting martial arts life!

An extra-babily-faced Rich Franklin seems to have defeated Travis Fulton by TKO after a really very good first round as Fulton's hand is broken I think? Yeah that's why. Notably, one of these two (I am not going back to check, forgive me) came out to the Rage Against the Machine cover of "Renegades of Funk," which never ever seemed good to me, not even then. 

Next we have Naoyuki Kotani, of whom the announcers rightly say judo, and who is still fighting (not winning, but fighting, which is wild/very wrong) and Winnipeg's Curtis Brigham, who comes out with just a disastrous gi-pants situation: 

This is hard for me, because I would like to be supportive of all gi-pants (I really should be saying shitabaki, I guess; please forgive me) situations, but this is the kind of thing that is going to scare people off of gi-pants entirely if left unchecked. If a beginner, first night on the mats, borrowing a club keikogi/dōgi, steps onto the mats with their pants in anything resembling that condition (and this happens and is ok) the only response is to be "ah ok just take a second and straighten that out, it's ok, there's no rush." But here, now, what can we do? Nothing, other than gaze upon its deep and inescapable shittiness in this context. What a dark state. I can't imagine he is fighting in them, just wearing them to the ring? OK yes. Brigham pursues the single-leg takedown much more doggedly than he did pants-tying and ends up on top; Kotani, though, unlike Brigham's pants, knows what to do on the bottom. OH DOES HE EVER as he pushes Brigham's head down into a yoko-sankaku-jime/side-triangle-choke whilst threatening too with ude-hishigi-ude-gatame, that straightest of straight armlocks (it totally has its place! people overlook it! they maybe shouldn't!). All of this occurs as a commentator notes judo waza desu (so say we all): 

That Kotani sweeps to the top as Brigham pulls up and away from the technique is self-evident, why am I even saying this, we are all of us busy executives with no time to spare. Oh man if he finishes with this juji-gatame I will have such a feeling aaaaaaahhhh noooooo Brigham slips out of this dangerous hold as ably as though it were his own pants. This is a really good match! All of the matches have been really good so far! I guess we're just on the third one but even so I feel like there has been much to enjoy, like how it says RODEO STYLE on Kotani's tights. A yellow card has been issued to someone but I don't know who(m) nor do I know why(m). ASHI-GATAME-DESU man this one is all action! Brigham is doing well despite being in with a pretty significantly better martial artist and this is not a diss to Brigham but instead praise and not of the damning-with-faint-style. Brigham is out-muscled at the end of his own single-leg attempt, gets kesa-gatame'd for his trouble, throws up an ineffectual TK Scissors (much respect to him in this moment for the attempt-- it's tough enough against a kuzure-kesa-gatame, but hon-kesa-gatame? I wish you the best in this and all other righteous works you undertake!), and it looks like Kotani is going to finish with a juji-gatame on the far-side with a gyaku-ude-garami grip, which I have taught a few times recently (each one teach one please everybody), but in fact the gyaku-ude-garami is all that is needed and that is the end to a fine little match at 1:59 of the second round. That's a good way to finish, too! Just ask Masahiko Kimura!

I'm having a lot of fun! And that fun really should just keep on rolling as ZANE FRAZIER is in the next match! ZANE FRAZIER! You take this one, wikipedia the free encyclopedia, you really know a lot about this stuff: "On November 12, 1993, Frazier compteted at UFC 1, a no-holds-barred fighting tournament and the very first mixed martial arts event held by the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He reportedly earned his place in the tournament by beating up Frank Dux [LIKE BLOODSPORT FRANK DUX--ed.] in a street fight which was witnessed by UFC founders Rorion Gracie and Art Davie.[8] Gracie and Davie had come to Los Angeles to scout the U.S. karate championships for potential fighters but saw Frazier and Dux's brawl beforehand. Frazier claims that he had been teaching classes for Dux and that Dux hadn't paid him; Dux disputes that account and says that Frazier sucker punched him while wearing brass knuckles.[9]" What a story! But his match is against Bobby Hoffman about whom we say as little as we are able in these pages. Hoffman wins with an armlock in 1:34.

Matt Hughes is the next Monte Cox-ist to enter the ring and he does so to face Brett Al-azzawi, who is unknown to me, let's see: ok he finished his professional mixed martial arts career with a record of 8-15 (oh no!) but retired on a win (ok good!). This is unlikely to last long, maybe? Well, you know what, Brett Al-azzawi was never really in it for any of the 3:27 that the match lasted before Matt Hughes swung across for a far-side juji-gatame but there is no shame in any of that at all and he was trying stuff, even if none of it really worked at all, and I am feeling Brett Al-azzawi right now. 

Next we have Chatt Lavender and LaVerne Clark in a battle of guys who kind of have the same name? It is low-key weirding me out. These guys are AMPED and JUMPY which is literally the opposite of what I like in a martial arts contest (unamped, unjumpy) but you've got to be true to your own ethos and I have no real issue with either of these men merely because we differ in taste. Chatt Lavender (what a wild name) wins with a belly-(or "tummeroo")-down-juji-gatame early in round two. They did well! 

Big Kerry Schall whilst adorned in a t-shirt that bears the words of his noble house (M E A T T R U C K) hast clubbered John Dixon unto groundedness with flailing arm which compelled his yielding to gyaku-ude-garami at but 1:19. In truth, Schall removed his MEAT TRUCK shirt to fight, though John Dixon stuck with his sleeveless black top. This one was grim. All of these would be so, were I a better man, but being as I am, only this one was, really.

Jermaine Andre and his very distinct yet familiar look defeat Masaya Kojima in 3:24 by being the ones who did not injure themselves somehow in the midst of a takedown or something? It is hard to say, or to know. Or maybe it was a delayed-onset KO from a body-shot? Yes, it was that

I have always enjoyed the work of Jeremy Horn, and here he is against someone I have never heard of (Griffen Reynaud) and I wonder if maybe I will get to see him do something really neat because of that -- although I suppose if Jeremy Horn had done something super neat, I totally would have heard of Griffen Reynaud, like somebody would have at some point been like oh dude did you ever see how Jeremy Horn finished that one fight against Griffen Reynaud that one time? Or it would have ended up on one of Mike Naimark's utterly essential DVDVR Shootcomps, or something. Yeah: an unremarkable finish as Reynaud taps the mat after getting hit pretty hard coming in for a takedown. I don't really know why he tapped in that moment, to be honest, but I trust his judgement in this matter.

Well on the whole that's more than I expected to enjoy a RINGS USA outing! Maybe it's just because I was feeling very merry going in? In any event, the tape rolls on! All the way to . . .

Battle Genesis Vol. 7
March 20, 2001
ディファ有明 (Differ Ariake) 
Toyko, Japan
Attendance 1,360  

Masayuki Naruse got really badly hurt I guess? I feel kind of bad for not remembering this, but there's a pretty substantial video bit about his time in hospital, so it seems like it totally happened. And now the return! He will main-event this little ディファ有明 (Differ Ariake) card against Ricardo Fyeet, who is extremely a character. That is later, though, as for now we are shown finely-waza'd U-File Campist Kazuki Okubo's split-decision win over Motomichi Mori in what seems like pretty clipped form but that is not a complaint; I feel good about the amount we are shown. Hey, RINGS is so beautiful, by the way: nothing in the genre before or since has looked or sounded or been nearly as good, so far as I have seen. 

Naoyuki Taira is an intriguing figure to me because he only had three mixed martial arts bouts that I can find mention of, all wins, but may also, I think, be the same Naoyuki Taira who voiced a referee in Grappler Baki? I MUST KNOW MORE. He wins here by an arm-entanglement from kesa-gatame (scarf hold) that is commonly known as kesa-garami (scarf entanglement) but which the Kodokan very reasonably classifies as a variation of 腕挫脚固 ude-hishigi-ashi-gatame (arm crushing leg hold, let's say), and indeed ashi-gatame is definitely what one of the commentators says here; another, I believe, says hiza-gatame (knee hold); all of this is to say, as Isao Inokuma has previously noted, that the Techniques of Judo are infinite, and the Spirit of Judo is sublime (I often mistakenly credit this to Isao Okano, and have certainly done so previously in our time together; please forgive me this Isao-misidentification; I wish I could say it was an isaolated incident haha).  

I RECOGNIZED BOTH KANJI 上山 IN RYUKI UEYAMA'S FAMILY NAME BECAUSE 上 IS UE (above) AND 山 IS YAMA (mountain/pit-fighting) THIS IS A TRIUMPH FOR ME PERSONALLY THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS MOMENT unfortunately Ryuki Ueyama has lost by TKO as Sokon Kou applied so mighty a gyaku-ude-garami that Ueyama's attempts to roll through ended instead in what looks like probably a broken arm in a mere 2:06 and the referee not unwisely called the whole thing off but there was a real silver lining to this dark cloud if you remember the first part of this sentence about the kanji. What waza:

This has been a really interesting show so far with a lot of nice græppling and that's what we're all here for, isn't it: interesting nice græpples. And here's another one: after a manic little blitz of punching, the very-fired-up Yasuhito Namekawa takes Takashi Sonoda to the mat, attains 縦四方固 tate-shiho-gatame, and finishes with 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame thusssss:

. . . and it only took forty-three seconds!  

Weirdly, it takes a whole 4:49 for Takehiro Murahama to hiza-hishigi-juji-gatame (kneeee barrrrr) Brian Lo-A-Njoe (come on, Murahama, you are being, relative to your peers, a real slowpoke right now), but in fairness to him Brian Lo-A-Njoe had been doing flying knees and things like that to him for a while and who among us would not be slowed by such tactics? Who indeed: who; indeed. This match had a lot of wild slugging in it, for a RINGS bout, and I am not wild about wild slugging. Save the wild slugging for the wild slugs, guys! (Respect to slugs.) And with that we are on to our main event! The returning Masayuki Naruse has a shiny sleeveless robe for the occasion that calls to mind the attire of the spacemen (that is for real how they were addressed) in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (ゴジラ対メカゴジラ Gojira Tai Mekagojira [1974]):

It's a bold look and I am not here to discourage those. His foe, I remind you once more, is Ricardo Fyeet who, I remind you once more, is a character. Let's see how it goes! Well, Fyeet takes the early lead in hitting, which is very much what I expected, but let's see if Masayuki Naruse has a response to this hitting (the best response to hitting is never hitting; then everyone is hitting, and nobody wins when there is hitting). So far, no: Naruse looks pretty scared of the hitting (I feel you Masayuki Naruse I feel you) but ah haaaaa now they have gone a-grounding and from here Naruse moves effortlessly to 縦四方固 tate-shiho-gatame for a bit which is very much the opposite of being hit, good for him. Fyeet is quite unskilled on the ground but at the same time he is an amped-up strong dude who is into it right now and that can be a lot to deal with AH HAAAAAA OR IS IT as Masayuki Naruse has bested Ricardo Fyeet at 3:46 with the toe-hold/ankle-lock of ashi-dori-garami and then they play piano music and he gets a nice bouquet yaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh:

And that's it, thank you once again for joining me! @Denimassemblage has found some more RINGS that the RINGSbox had not and so we should have a look at that sometime soon, too! Also there's another クインテット KU I N TE TTO QUINTET coming up next week! And who knows what else that we may feel compelled to lovingly theorize in fellowship! In closing I would like to point you towards my friend Dan's renewed KICK SUBMISSION SUPLEX UWF NEWBORN, my other friend Kelley (@Denimassemblage)'s nascent FORGOTTEN INOKIISTS (his TK-in-NJPW post speaks to me urgently), of course the ongoing efforts of my friends Andy and Brennan at the FIGHTING NETWORK FRIENDS podcast, and my yet other friend (since seemingly forever; a blessing) Lee's FALL WRESTLING but do not be misled as it is not in fact seasonally-bound (or no more so than the rest of us). OK THEN THANK YOU ONCE MORE IN ALL SINCERITY and I hope to speak again soon! God bless! Take care!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

QUINTET (クインテット) 4/11/18: QUINTET.1

QUINTET (クインテット): QUINTET.1 
両国国技館 Ryōgoku Kokugikan 
(Ryōgoku Sumo Hall)
Tokyo, Japan
Attendance: 4,039

HELLO FRIENDS I HOPE WITH ALL THAT I HAVE TO GIVE AND OFFER THAT YOU HAVE BEEN WELL IN BODY AND IN SPIRIT SINCE LAST WE SPOKE and if I may presume to make a request of you nearly at once as we begin (this is gauche of me and I plead forgiveness) I would ask you in your kindness to summon all you know of this blog's (and indeed this blogeur's) radically disproportionate enthusiasm for grappling team contests. If you are unable to do so it's totally ok don't worry as I will lay before you words once offered in commemoration of RINGS 2/19/95: Free Fight Gala 1995 and offered in that fashion once more let all who dare encounter them do so belowly:

"Waaaait is this some kind of DANTAISEN 団体戦  or Team Fight taking shape here? Naruse, Yamamoto, Nagai, and Maeda are all in the ring representing RINGS Japan (you knew this), as are Willie Peeters, Rudy Ewolt, Dick Vrij, and Chris Dolman for RINGS Holland. If this is truly to be dantaisen, what will its format be? Senposen, in which bouts are arranged by seniority? Taishosen, in which each side sets its order as it pleases? Or will it be the knockout-competition of kachinukisen 勝ち抜き戦 in which the winner stays until s/he is defeated, a draw ending the run of both competitors? I am not making any of these up I swear to you! They are all formats of (judo) dantaisen of which I am aware! There could be others I don't know about but these are all great! And not even just for competition between clubs but sometimes for fun you can split the class and fight a light dantaisen as a kind of randori 乱取り (chaos-taking)! I think this is taishosen though. If only they had added a fifth to each side (as is customary) we could have gotten another Kohsaka match (they brought him along and everything) but alas no."

That is so definitely not the only time we have spoken words of such matters but it is the first TK-Enscissoring that came up when I searched specifically for the knockout/team-survival contest of kachinukisen 勝ち抜き戦, a format known well to me since some of the yore-most days of my judo certainly but a term first uttered to my hearing much later in (a relatively early episode of) the genre-defining Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl! and which was uttered once more in an early (perhaps the earliest) promotional art-tape for Kazushi Sakuraba's seemingly ingenious QUINTET (クインテット [kuintetto]), sending me into a weeks-and-I-guess-it-was-probably-months-long tizzy of retweeting things about QUINTET and also joking around with my friends at judo about our five-person Rec Judo Top Team entry into the contest haha we'd get shirts haha aaaaaand in fact ok yeah I just searched and this is dated 18 December 2017:

"Dear Kazushi Sakuraba,

how are you

my friends and I would like to register for your tournament

as Rec Judo Top Team

please say this is ok we have already made shirts

Your Friend,


AND NOW IT IS UPON US THROUGH THE MIRACLE OF FELLOWSHIP as a dear pal of judo days past but of friendship eternal has shared with me a copy of this event which is the only way I was going to be able to see it because of my refusal to materially support the fascist-adjacent and æsthetically-shit UFC (the FC doesn't even stand for Friends Club; they never even got that much right) and also because I am unable to grab things off of the tracker right now (the fault is naught but mine; the tracker is blameless). Also -- and, I would add, tragically -- Hulu Japan, where this event is available streaming with Japanese commentary, is like famously locked down, forget it, you need to be like supremely *in* Japan (or else "good with computers") to make it think you are in Japan, I tried. Oh how I tried. So it is either wait for the Japanese DVD (a kind of a disc: it's not as good as tapes, but some of them have Virtua Fighter 4: Evo on them) or Blu-Ray (a kind of disc: it's not as good as tapes, but some of them have Virtua Fighter 5 on them) releases, both of which have already been announced (yes I have been monitoring QUINTET.1 and post-QUINTET.1-twitter very very closely . . . for us) or watch it in English and while we are made of unusually high taste-levels we are not made of stone so RIP-A-DIP-DIP HERE WE GO A-WATCHING (I think that is what Mauro Ranallo says now [I don't think he's on this don't worry]).

I DISLIKE THE COMMENTARY A LITTLE IMMEDIATELY ALTHOUGH IT IS PROBABLY FINE AND I WILL ATTEMPT TO SAY NOTHING MORE OF IT LEST OUR TIME TOGETHER BE POISONED and we are liiiiiiiiiiive and on the mats (for they are indeed mats) before us stands Takeshi Yano who will serve as the Japanese commentator we are not allowed to hear because justice is elusive in this fallen world and now here we also have none other than YUKI NAKAI, Chairman of the QUINTET Referee Committee and truly remarkable man of les arts martiaux as featured on the final print edition of GONG KAKUTOGI (my home is blessed by a copy of it but not the copy depicted below, I do not wish to mislead you in this or any other detail):

He is keeping well! To have emerged a champion in kosen competition whilst studying at Hokkaikdo University under Kanae Hirata; imagine it. And from there to the ranks of Shooto; an unfortunate blinding at the hands of Gerard Gordeau (I spit); an able showing against Rickson Gracie (who, again, was of kind and generous spirit when I met him) though undersized and, as I may have mentioned already, blinded earlier that night in the same tournament; earning the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt awarded to a 日本人; and, to cap a glorious career, demonstrating the wisdom necessary to bestow upon Tsuyoshi Kohsaka a black belt in that same art, reasoning that if one is employing Kodokan Judo in the context of mixed-fight, that is in effect Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu so far as he is concerned (I read a thing where Nakai explained this; it is likely linked to elsewhere on this very blog at which we now convene and I should probably just look it up but time is an arrow). I WONDER WHAT THE RULES ARE:


In short, these rules are excellent! The overall kachinukisen structure we approve of implicitly; the use of a minor foul or shido (guidance) system essential; and the list of prohibited acts utterly reasonable, I think: heel hooks are a scourge; pile-driving/spiking is inappropriate; straight neck-cranks without an arm in are a risky business; the (crab) scissors takedown of 蟹挟 kani-basami, though super slick, is best left to formal practice; and jumping into closed guard is disgusting. I am intrigued by the prospect of shido for closed guard! That ought to keep things moving! Also, shido for "[s]itting without attempt to grab opponent" should be seen as just, like, advice for living (the 36th chamber is the world outside the temple). OKAY LET'S GO! Or actually first two men in khaki pants and clean white shirts and lovely orange ties are demonstrating the prohibited kinshi-waza outlined above. They are actually saying shido and why wouldn't they. 

The crowd looks a little bit sparse so far but the crowd of my heart is full . . . of mirth(!) as Lenne Hardt, known to all as the wild-sounding PRIDE FC lady, is here to yell names. Satoshi Ishii, speaking on behalf of JUDO DREAM TEAM, suggests that "[V]ictory will depend on how latent and total power are used and so the Judo Team hopes to use [their] latent power to full effect." He remains an odd guy who makes strange choices! The 2008 100kg+ Gold Medalist in Beijing, Ishii has gone on to basically make a dumb hash out of everything in his professional career but it has been exquisite. Do you recall how he was awarded a BJJ brown belt after training for two days in that art? None knew him to be a man of ne waza during his days of competitive judo but I mean how many times did you ever see Hidehiko Yoshida finish in ne waza; no, he was launching dudes for ippon with uchi mata, wasn't he (yes), and yet his ne waza in the context of mixed fight was strong, wasn't it (yes). Ishii wasn't throwing for ippon in the same way, exactly, as he was more of a grind-it-out-and-win-by-yuko kind of guy who excelled during probably the æsthetic low-point of the sport . . . but man was he ever scrappy! And it would be foolish to overstate the non-ippon-ness of his style; Ishii is without question the best thrower in this tournament, should such an opportunity (one of throwing) emerge. Tell them what they need to be told about this, please, Kazushi Sakuraba: 

I have found that to be enormously true.

THE PREEMINENT FIGHTSPORT FOR THOSE WHO HAVE CHOSEN THE WARRIOR'S PATH man that is another good subtitle that comes just a little bit later; I am gonna put that right up at the top of the page I think. Michihiro Omigawa and Dong Sik Yoon point out that they're all used to kachinuki contests on this judo squad as I become convinced from this pre-taped package that QUINTET is the greatest (non-RINGS) martial arts promotion the world has ever seen maybe? 

Judo Dream Team enters first and this really does seem like a pretty sparse crowd at 両国国技館 Ryōgoku Kokugikan but maybe they will trickle in at their leisure to sit on nice pillows? Let me be clear that I don't know what a Haleo is but who can doubt that this is a dream team of it as Sakuraba's familiar "Speed" entrance AAAAHAAAAAA it is interrupted and what plays in its place is THE U.W.F THEME almost as though all that we see here before us were knowingly and self-consciously a part of what we have come to call (following the lead of Tadasahi Tanaka who never said it but almost did) "The Long U.W.F." and let me tell you that although the crowd here is small their enjoyment of the U.W.F. theme is disproportionately large for a wrestling song that is like thirty years old. Each team's ordered roster is posted so I will share that posting with you now, it goes: 

Daisuke Nakamura, Kazushi Sakuraba, Hideo Tokoro, Marcos Souza, Jorsh "Josh Barnett" Hornet


Michihiro Omigawa, Shutaro Debana, Hyung Ju Kim, Dong Sik Yoon, Satoshi Ishii

The teams bow-in (rei) and we're ready to go! Nakamura vs. Omigawa to start! Both of these guys are super old but in really good shape! The bell sounds and our first eight-minute bout begins! OMIGAWA THROWS WITH HARAI GOSHI TWENTY SECONDS INTO THE MATCH THIS IS THE BEST SHOW ALREADY WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING as Omigawa sacrifices position to look to finish with shime-waza; Nakamura defends but Omigawa comes up on top for a bit but they are both to their feet again a minute and a half in. Great pace so far! The graphics on-screen are super clean, one might well note, showing the time remaining, the number of warnings/shido, and above each competitor's name, their position on their squad (in this instance "Senpo=1st"). As these able græpplorz ably græpple towards the edge of that mats, the referee asks them to break and restart in the middle and the crowd is like clapclapclapclap for how this has gone so far and I could not agree more. Nakamura has had some nice moments on top but with about two minutes to go Omigawa has mostly had the best of this one HOWEVER with about a minute and a half to go Nakamura gets around the legs (clapclapclapclap) for a few semi-dangerous moments for Omigawa but before you know it the half-guard of niju-garami is established once more. Holy moly though Nakamura swings across for 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame arguably the noblest of all 固技 katame-waza (græppling techniques) and extends the bridging Omigawa's arm just as time expires! It is a draw but it was super close to not being a draw! What a finish! If this had been on a RINGS show I would have been like I can't say for sure but that looked like a work to me because of how perfectly it worked out right at the bell but something we have established long ago, have we not my friends, is that I am a fool. Omigawa and Nakamura share a laugh of a fellowship in their exhaustion as we fill out our Wrestling Observer Newsletter ballots for Best Show, Best Promotion, Best Match, Best Booker, M.V.P. (the m.v.p. is waza), and Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic (other promotions' absence of waza). 

And now Kazushi Sakuraba at forty-eight years old steps onto the mats to face the younger-but-not-that-young Shutaro Debana (he is thirty-three) who is utterly unknown to me but a quick check at the ever-ready Judo Inside site tells me that he took bronze medals at a junior national championship, a senior national championship, and the Kodokan Cup in Chiba, and I probably do not need to tell that since all of those things happened in Japan they are accomplishments of note. Let's see then! Also I should say that it is to Debana's enormous credit that more than a decade removed from his competitive judo days, he has weighed in here at 77.35kg, which could easily have been his everyday weight when he competed at -73. We have got to stay lean, and Shutaro Debana has; he understands the Way broadly. As these two jihō / じほう / 次鋒 (second guyz) are similar in weight (Saku is in the low 80s, I forget exactly what it said) this match too will be eight minutes. Let me grab the kanji for senpō for you, too; I should have done this earlier (forgive me): 



1. advance guard; vanguard​
2. athlete who competes in the first match of a team competition (kendo, judo, etc.)​

Kendo, judo, K U I N T E T T O, etc. Debana drops down and looks for juji-gatame and he comes pretty close! Sakuraba keeps his elbow tight enough to his body that it never truly crosses Debana's groin into an area of legitimate peril, demonstrating that whatever irreparable brain trauma he may have suffered throughout a mixed-fight career that descended into legitimately ghastly horror pretty quickly when you look back on it all, Sakuraba is still a fellow of "shoot" wiles. But his brain really can't be good, can it. My pal Neil and I, in our heartlessness, joked that when Shinsuke Nakamura left NJPW nobody had the heart to tell Sakuraba what was really going on so they told him Nakamura had just gone to live on a big farm in the country and Saku was like oh that's awesome Shinsuke loves the country. We are a couple of kidders! Especially Neil; he loves to kid. Sakuraba escapes the juji and looks pretty steady on his knees but man Debana keeps throwing things up, like for instance an arm-wrap juji that keeps Sakuraba on his toes (knees). Debana is pretty good off his back! As the two are restarted after scooching too close to the edge of the mat I should say that the commentary has in fact been totally fine, Stewart Fulton and Mei Yamaguchi are doing a totally fine job bordering on a good job and it is wrong of me to blame them for what they are not and can never be (the Japanese feed [well I guess Mei Yamaguchi could be {but I guess she was not asked to be}]). Debana uses an arm drag to get back to his feet; this guy is really moving! He tries a form of 隅返 sumi-gaeshi but isn't deep enough to really flip Sakuraba over but it does put him in a great position for another juji-gatame attempt and Sakuraba is half-caught again! Elbows in, though; elbows in. There's a lesson here for all you kids at home (it's elbows in). Debana is messing around after leg-locks, too, and actually catches Sakuraba with a 踵返 kibisu-gaeshi ankle pick and cartwheels past Sakuraba's guard what is even happening! And then they're back up and Debana throws with a weird 足車 ashi-guruma or something! THIS MATCH IS AWESOME ALSO! Debana is alllllll over Sakuraba but can't finish before time expires and they too are merry!

Can you believe little Hideo Tokoro is forty now? It's okay though because his opponent Hyung Ju Kim (Asian Games 2002 Buson -66kg gold, World Championships 2001 Munich -66kg bronze) is even older. Tokoro's gimmick as the fighting janitor in K-1 HERO*s was exquisitely rendered. WELL THAT'S IT as Tokoro dropped down for a leg-lock (an Iminari roll or something?) and as Kim "sat in the chair" to defend it Tokoro grabbed the juji-gatame and that match took seventeen seconds. And it owned. Or was he keyed on the arm the whole time? I think he might have been! The rolling finish was l o v e l y.  

OKAY SO NOW IT IS DONG SIK YOON OF THREE ASIAN GAMES CHAMPIONSHIPS AND A WORLD BRONZE AND THE FAMED DONG-BAR which is what a number of us insisted on calling his juji-gatame because we were young I guess and Hideo Tokoro is giving up about twenty kilos in weight here so it shall be but a four-minute match (this is an excellent rule). And it takes pretty much no time for Yoon to finish with a 袖車絞 sode-guruma-jime/sleeve-wheel-choke/Ezequiel from inside Tokoro's legs and if you are like "uhhhh actually it is spelled Ezekiel" I would point out that it is known by that name after Brazilian Olympian Ezequiel Paraguassu who would employ it from exactly that same spot Yoon did just now. Well done Yoon! Great job, Tokoro! Everyone is having a great time!

Next in is Marcos de Souza who is a guy from Brazil whose mother is Japanese and whose father was a judo instructor and Marcos moved to Japan with his brothers and he and they is/are super good at jiu-jitsu, is my understanding of the Marcos de Souza situation, please forgive me if I am misrepresenting any of this. (Replays suggest, by the way, that Tokoro actually passed out at the same time he was tapping; he was woozy as could be as Yoon released the hold.) This will be an eight-minute match because these fellows are almost exactly the same size. Souza seems really good! He is all cat-like and stuff! He's in a great position for juji-gatame before long at all, and now to the back, and then back to the arm. Maybe he can roll through? No, he bails o the arm but doesn't really lose position in so doing. He's super! Perhaps a 肩固 kata-gatame/shoulder-hold/arm-triangle finish? NOPE IT WAS JUJI-GATAME and the only surprising thing is that Dong Sik Yoon lasted 4:18 in that match because de Souza was so good. "Smooth as a ghost on roller skates" ok I take back what I said about the commentary being fine but I will speak nothing more on the subject.

AND NOW SATOSHI ISHII man he remains a large and powerfully-built guy. I was about to say something like I wonder how it would have gone for him had he stayed in judo after Beijing but in fact the answer is very clear and not that interesting really in that it is "Teddy." Especially with the way the rules were changing, it's hard to see how Ishii would have ever really done much of anything to Riner. And we would not have had the strange gift of his consistently baffling mixed-fight career. As TOM has noted, the thing about Satoshi Ishii is that while you can be fairly sure he will radically underperform, you can never be sure exactly how he will radically underperform, or just how radically, so it is always totally intriguing. He weighed in at 108.5kg looking like this:

He's a lot bigger than Marcos de Souza so this is a four-minute match. If Ishii wins, it's Barnett against Ishii in the final match, but if de Souza can so much as take Ishii the four minutes, then the Haleo (I should look up what that is) team wins. 大外刈 O-SOTO-GARI IT TRULY IS A LARGE OUTER REAP and Ishii is on top about a minute in. De Souza has closed up his guard which is supposed to be a shido . . . but maybe they could wave that if the guy is way bigger like this? I think that would be fair. No shido is given because he didn't hold it very long so it's ok. Ishii looks just monstrously huge compared to this obviously-very-fit-but-normal-sized human. Back on their feet, de Souza tries to shoot in for a single-leg! He is sprawled atop and just crushed but full credit for the attempt. Ishii is smothering him on the mat but de Souza does a great job of hanging in there and the draw wins it for his team. HALEO DREAM TEAM ADVANCES WHAT A GREAT TIME THIS IS. 

That I will know none of the Lithuanian sambists who make up SAMBO DREAM TEAM is a given; it would be true too of POLARIS (that's a professional jiu-jitsu event, right?) DREAM TEAM too if they did not have as their tiniest member 宇野薫 Uno Kaoru, known and loved by all martial arts enthusiasts of roughly my age and tastes, who you will recall worked a truly lovely exhibition match against/with 高阪 剛 Kohsaka Tsuyoshi at the final RINGS show! It is very nice to see him here, elfin as ever. The Polaris team is for sure the favourite, as they are a bunch of dudes who do pretty much exactly this thing, right? No-gi submission-only stuff? I could easily be mistaken about this, obviously. The first match is Craig Jones, who is the middleweight champion of this Polaris promotion (having defeated Jake Shields for that title), and Mindaugas Verzbickas, an enigma. Jones is already at his legs at once, and it looked like he would have had a pretty good shot at a heel hook had they been legal. Instead, he works for a hiza-juji-gatame knee-bar that he nearly finishes a minute in, and then I think he is looking for an ashi-dori-garami/toe-hold but they are all squished together, who can say. Jones is just running through things, and Verzbickas doesn't seem to know what is happening (I wouldn't either, this is not about blame). The end comes from a knee-bar and I don't think Craig Jones is very tired. Verzbickas can't super duper walk on that leg right now. Sergej Grecicho, who is smaller but not by enough of a margin to change the match length, is the next guy, and I don't know, man. Jones sits right down, which I think they said would be a shido, but it isn't, but it doesn't really matter as Grecicho went right in after him so it didn't look as absurd as it easily could have. Leg-lockery leads to sweeping leads to a pretty thorough 袖車絞 sode-guruma-jime but I guess it wasn't quite on, weird. After they stand and restart, Jones sits rights down again, and I think several people are yelling for the shido? It does not come, though. This same exact thing repeats again. Jones is bigger and heavier and better and in control throughout but can't finish and makes a lot of weird exasperated hand gestures? I don't care for those hand gestures! Anyway it's a draw so they're both gone.

Next is Marcin Held (Polaris), who has had several UFC fights I have not seen, and Viktor Tomasevic (са́мбо), a mixed martial arts fighter with eight wins by submission. This is a tidy two-and-a-half-minute match (with lots of neat bits in that short time) that Held, who is not just of Polaris but indeed of Poland, I have learned, takes by knee-bar. "Tap or snap" is the idiotphrase voiced on commentary and I am breaking a promise to you (and to myself) by even mentioning the commentary again, I am sorry. Great job Marcin Held, though (great job everybody, I will continue to maintain until proven wrong), whose reward is the 104.4kg Teodoras Aukstuois who has fought in RIZIN and who has just a tremendous look: 

This will for sure be a four-minute match then, right? Right ok good, this guy is huge. Held, I will remind you, is his team's second (jiho) whereas Aukstuolisis his teams fourth (fukusho). OH DEAR AUKSTUOLOSIS HAS BEEN ASHI-KANNUKI'D UNTO THE SYMBOLIC DEATH OF IPPON: 

Yep, you just slide that kannuki around a little and you feel it right in the ol' hiza, am I right fellow græpplorz? We've all been there. Well done, Marcin Held! 

The final sambist here today is Marius Zaromskis who I believe maybe defeated Kazushi Sakuraba a long time ago by way of ear-murder? If Marcin Held can so much as earn a draw in this eight-minute match his team will win the day! The referees seem to have decided now that people who are sitting down whilst not touching anybody should indeed be asked to stand back up and I support this for making it seem like a martial arts fight of some kind. Held is really something! I like his technique a lot! I believe he is going for a twister, and those are awful! I have probably told you before about the time I went to a local mixed martial arts show at the Halifax Forum because a judo guy I had trained with was competing (he hit a sikkkkk uchi mata and won by juji-gatame, I think [this was a long time ago]) and during another match the lady behind me was like "that guy's setting up a twister" and I was like "a what?" and then yeah he nearly finished with it, full marks to the lady behind me. There are only three minutes left in this Zaromskis/Held match and Zaromskis is very plainly A Mean Guy of Pressure and those guys are zero fun to græpple! He cannily defends a fairly deep juji-gatame in a stylish way that elicits polite applause from this crowd of 4,039 (I just looked it up). Held was plainly just trying to run out the clock for the last couple minutes and he certainly did so. 

AND SO POLARIS ADVANCES TO THE FINALS that will follow after probably an intermission or something because they are going to need a little break. At our own annual in-club student-tournament this is where we would have any number of INSTRUCTOR SUPERFIGHTS so that people at the bottom of the draw are not disadvantaged as we move along with our evening, so maybe they could have some of those? No, no they are going with an intermission, during which they play highlights of the earlier matches but with Japanese commentary this time as we sigh eternally for what can never be. 

AND WE ARE BACK as the U.W.F. theme is once more sounded in this fair hall that I think is undergoing a big renovation this summer and so NJPW is running the 日本武道館 Nippon Budōkan for the first time in ages at the end of G1, right? I might be confused about that.  These Lenne Hardt introductions really are something! I would have definitely told you I had missed them but I am slightly surprised at just how sorceressesque they truly remain; it is nearly as though she were introducing not so much græpplers as an old dirty clan of terrorists and shooting, as it were, that piss. JOSHUUUU BARNETTOOOOOOOO vs. GREGOR GRACIE is our opening bout, as line-ups are reshuffled each round, should the teams so choose (or such is my understanding? or maybe you have to go back to front this round? maybe they will say; I'm sorry). Gregor Gracie is I believe not a Gracie by name but a Gracie of convenience, a professional Gracie. But hey so is Roger Gracie and that guy is basically a prince of Gracies so what am I lawgiver? Barnett, who has diminished himself tremendously in conversation with Joe Rogan (THRILL as reddit is made flesh) but who nevertheless continues to call holds by their Fire Pro names and so is to be respected, weighed-in at 112.1 slightly loose kilograms but that would seem to be his curse wouldn't it as he has certainly tried to tighten up through sikkdrugz (perhaps he never found the right ones?). Gregor "Gracie" is a good deal smaller at 86.25kg and so this shall be but a four-minute contest. I will tell you once more how great I think that rule is!

Two minutes in, they haven't even hit the mat yet, and nobody has really done much to make it happen, either. Hey remember that Sakuraba/Frank Shamrock RIZIN græppling match where they never even got to the ground in however many minutes it went? And Shamrock was dead tired from it? Let me check how old he is . . . he's 45. That's old but not old enough to explain that match. He displayed the cardio of a man who is not making it out to judo (or whatever) the three-times-a-week he needs in order to stay in peak fighting readiness at all times. It's a dark thought but I don't know how else to read it. THERE SURE ISN'T ANYTHING GOING ON IN THIS ONE EITHER as a kid yells JOSHU GANBATTE (ジョシュ がんばって) but he isn't so much, really. With a minute left there is a shido given to Gregor Gracie and so they begin par terre. Neat rule! I have no idea what the warning was for but that is neither here nor there as Gracie rolls (not Rolles Gracie haha) through for a hiza-juji-gatame knee-bar that it turns out does not exist except for maybe as a kind of whisper or ghost. Barnett cranks pretty hard on a kata-ashi-hishigi straight-ankle lock but Gracie skips up and away in a manner I can only think to describe as sprightly. So that's a draw, despite the shido, and both fellowz are out. 

DAISUKE NAKAMURA vs. LARGE DAN STRAUSS which is a nom-de-guerre or sobriquet-rouge I visit upon him now.  He is waaaaay bigger, not quite enough to have the match-length halved (pronounce the "l", it's way more fun, please try), but enough that he can shrug off Nakamura's tobi-juji-gatame flying armbar entry with the merest of shruggery. Then like a coward Strauss jumps closed guard against a guy who is child-sized next to him and it is baffling that that is not a shido. Let me read about this guy . . . ah he teaches under Roger Gracie in London, I guess? Then he should know about nice little ashi-waza, the tidiest of foot-sweeps, shame on him for this. In time, he takes the back, secures the do-jime (a body triangle in this instance) en route to a finish by the naked strangle of 裸絞 hadaka jime. The commentator (forgive me for speaking of him once more), a Scot, gets a throaty boner for the British born and bred Dan Strauss and it is reasonably gross. 

HIDEO TOKORO is both tiny and next; ah good, this one will be but four minutes. It's like 24kg between them but it's græppling so it's just fun, you don't really have to worry that much! Strauss sits without contact, which they said would be a shido, so let's see . . . no, it is not a shido in this instance and instead merely a stain upon his honour and dignity as a sportsman. Tokoro goes in hard for the doomed and hopeless single-leg because of how his spirit is. After some nonsense on the ground where Strauss puts his hands up like HE'S NOT DOING ANYTHING (well neither are you, asshole, and you're a thousand pounds bigger, so maybe fvkkn attack) both are brought back to their feet and rung up for shidos with the classic rolling-hands judo call for inactivity. Strauss puts Tokoro all the way out with a front choke with about forty seconds to go but I think everybody here knows who stinks of the heart.

Kazushi Sakuraba is next, and is near enough in weight that we are looking at an eight-minute round, also known as 章魚 (たこ) tako, "the octopus" (that's not true). A minute in, Strauss sits without contact for not-a-shido; he does the same a bit later and Sakuraba jumps through the guard to polite applause. Strauss sweeps beautifully and squishes Sakuraba quite thoroughly; one would think an armlock will follow. EBI EBI EBI is the instruction shouted from Saku's corner (shrimp shrimp shrimp) but man it is tough out there. AH SAKURABA HOOKS THROUGH FOR HIZA-JUJI-GATAME AND SWEEPS that was wily! Sakuraba gets a couple informal warning for grabbing too-few fingers when he grips the hand (I have issued a number of those to my students in randori over the years as well haha) and we are nearly finished this one already -- it has really flown by! A nice little match but nobody has come close to anything of substance since that Sakuraba sweep some time ago. A draw! Good on Sakuraba for going the distance with Large Dan, who has eliminated in one form another three dudes, so good for him too (with the above reservations kept firmly in mind). 

TINY ELFIN 宇野薫 UNO KAORU DOES HIS LITTLE SNOW-ANGEL THING BEFORE THE MATCH I FORGOT THAT WAS EVEN A THING IT HAS BEEN TOO LONG LITTLE BUDDY and he is in with Marcos de Souza who is as you may well recall quite excellent. This is an eight-minute round which is absurd when you see these two standing next to each other and I wonder if maybe it should be like a percentage body-weight difference rather than just a straight 20kg? Uno compensates for his lack of size by poking de Souza super hard in the eye whilst defending a takedown. When they return to action, de Souza throws with a lovely low 肩車 kata-guruma (shoulder wheel) into 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame (you know this one) despite Uno's cræftig defense. Lovely technique!

And so it is Marcos de Souza, his team's taisho (5th), against Craig Jones, fukusho (4th), so unless de Souza finishes Jones, the day swill belong to Polaris. Oh jeez there's a knee-bar, Jones is super good, and that's that!

WELL THAT WAS ON THE WHOLE DELIGHTFUL and I very much look forward to more and further QUINTET (クインテット [kuintetto]) and I thank you in all sincerity for joining me once more and actually before we part I would like to mention to you that my twitter friend GoRINGS 😺 @5RINGS_5RINGS, who last year posted all manner of ill Akira Maeda photoshops, numbered amongst the 4,039 in 両国国技館 Ryōgoku Kokugikan for this super-neat event. He wrote of it, astutely: 

今回のQUINTETでは、サンボ選手達が悉くブラジリアン柔術選手の足関の餌食になったのも驚きだった。約20年前の「RINGS KOKトーナメント」1回戦「アンドレイ・コピィロフ(リングス・ロシア サンボ)vsカステロ・ブランコ(ブラジル 柔術世界王者)」でのコピィロフ膝十字16秒殺とは真逆の結果。

(Translated from Japanese by Microsoft)

In this quintet, it was surprising that Sambo players fell prey to the foot of the every Brazilian Jiu-jitsu players. About 20 years ago, "RINGS Kok Tournament", "Andrei Kopilov (Lynx, Russia sambo) vs. Castelo Blanco (Brazil Jiu-Jitsu world Champion)" in the Kopilov knee cross 16 seconds of killing is a true opposite result.

Right? We remember those moments vividly here at, and celebrated them by turning the whole match into but a single gif of entirely reasonable size:

I attempted to reply that Andrei Kopilov was amazing in that tournament (アンドレイ・コイピロフ はそのトーナメントですごかった!), to which our friend answered:



(Translated from Japanese by Microsoft)

At that time, I watched it in WOWWOW and cried unintentionally.


"It was a beautiful dream," I wrote. (それは美しい夢でした。)

To which our friend answered once more:


(Translated from Japanese by Microsoft) That dream, once again! 






Thank you and goodnight, my best to you as ever and always.