December 7, 1991 in Tokyo, Japan
Ariake Coliseum drawing 10,250
Paula Abdul's "Will You Marry Me, Boy?" (my sister had the tape; I would know it anywhere) plays beneath an unreal greenscape to usher in this Final Astral Step, which is a lot to consider already as we are welcomed to Ariake Coliseum, which I should point out is different from Differ Ariake, which is little, whereas Ariake Coliseum is much larger, and the centrepiece of Ariake Tennis Forest Park (有明テニスの森公園), future host to the tennis events of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games. Did you know that they are going to use the Nippon Budokan (日本武道館), originally constructed to host the inaugural Olympic judo tournament in 1964, for the 2020 games as well? For the judo, I mean? Well they definitely are! Will Teddy Riner win his third Olympic title in that vaunted hall? Or will he be unseated from his long-held throne by Hisayoshi Harasawa, Takeshi Ojitani, or some enormous young lion who has yet to turn up, appear on the scene, and, only afterwards, define himself, as Sartre wrote of I guess all of us? Put all that, as inherently fascinating as it may be, to one side for at least a moment though because Akira Maeda is meeting with Mike Tyson.
"This is Mr. Maeda," an off-camera interpreter says by way of introduction, "Akira Maeda, he's also the, uh, new type of martial arts fighter." What a tremendous thing to have ever been said about anyone. "Nice to meet you, nice to meet you," Maeda says in entirely clear English as Tyson bows awkwardly in a way that hurts your heart a little. Through an interpreter, Maeda asks about Tyson's loss to Buster Douglas at the Tokyo Dome the year before, and Tyson explains that it is not the loss itself that most disappointed him but instead the knowledge that he did not do his best; had he done his best, and lost, he could accept it, but having trained inadequately he feels as though he defeated himself (the enemy, the inner-me, R.I.P. Kevin Ferguson/Kimbo Slice). There is nothing at all wrong with any of the cordiality we see here between fighting greats, but the feel here is just odd in a way adequately captured, I believe, by the following image.
Next, Maeda meets Evander Holyfield, to whom he is introduced as "a celebrity interviewer." Maeda asks a long question which I believe must pertain to Holyfield's interests in the martial arts beyond boxing, the martial world considered more broadly (he definitely says "budo" at one point), and Holyfield explains that he is of course interested in karate and kung fu and Bruce Lee, and took a karate class growing up, and mentions that his children are very much in tune with karate because of the Ninja Turtles (who among us was not; who). Maeda observes a light Holyfield workout, and I love stuff like that, but I am perplexed by what is happening here overall. This must be part of the promotional work going towards the Tyson/Holyfield fight that gets delayed by several years on account of Mike Tyson being convicted of raping an eighteen-year-old woman, right? Which delayed some fights? For a few years? And then he had the fights that were delayed? After he got out of prison for the rape he was convicted of? A quick trip to Wikipedia confirms that the timing here lines up, and also reveals to me the grim plight of my countryman Donovan "Razor" Ruddock, who, in 2006, after a bankruptcy, "invented a non-electrical garbage compacter called The Boxer which he hoped would become a success. Ruddock marketed the device he designed one day after becoming increasingly frustrated with the amount of waste his family was creating, and sold it from his website Razorruddock.com. As of November 2013, the site is no longer online and the product is listed on Amazon as unavailable with no indication for future availability."
|hello I have a prescription here for a mister "Evan Fields" haha|
And now George Foreman? What on earth is happening? "When I'm in good shape, I'm gonna add Akira Maeda to my style, then I'm gonna be in real good shape, and come to Japan, and challenge Akira Maeda, and I'm gonna hit him with my left, then my right. If he doesn't fall, I'm gonna have a judge -- not to allow him to kick, so he doesn't hurt me, haha!"
Now that the place of import and dignity both Akira Maeda himself and his Fighting Network RINGS hold on the global stage of combat is assured, we are able to turn our attention to the more immediate concern of the opening THUNDER BOUT to be contested between Koichiro Kimura and "Grom" Zaza, which is to say Zaza Tkeshelashvili, who would in time represent represent the proud græppling nation of Georgia as a freestyle wrestler at the 1996 Olympic Games (also Georgian, though different). Kimura, for his part, is not without alias, having gone on to compete as Super Uchuu Power and also Lion Man in somewhat less shoot-style promotions than these RINGS. He would also go on to fight Rickson Gracie at the second Vale Tudo Japan in 1995, but lasted only like two minutes (premature for whom? is the wittiest thing Christopher Hitchens ever wrote). I am sad to say that I have just now learned that Kimura died of pneumonia in the fall of 2014 at the age of 44, and I am sorry to be telling you this, but it would be shabby of me to keep it from you. Let us dedicate the time we are spending together today to the memory of Koichiro Kimura, and let us celebrate the works of his body here in the fullness of its vigour. R.I.P. Koichiro Kimura.
No ring entrances are shown at this time, just two hungry græpplers looking to græpple. Kimura's black and purple tights and singlet say "SUBMISSION ARTS WRESTLING" on the front, to which one can really only respond yes. The pace in the early going is considerable, and while it consists of some kicking and even a little punching, it is the græppling which draws the eye. Much like Raekwon, it is Champion gear that Zaza rocks, and 36 Chambers is less than two years away. Zaza hit a really nice capture suplex as I reflect on this fact of impending Wu. Kimura, for his part, sends Zaza to the mat with a harai-goshi hip sweep that is less emphatic than pretty much every single movement Zaza has even hinted at thus far; the sheer græppling might and will of the Georgian people are implicit in all he is and does. When Kimura enters for another harai-goshi, Zaza grabs him around the waist as the crowd ooooooohs, anticipating a life-altering rear throw of some kind, any kind, but Kimura wisely and widely bases-out and heads towards the ropes. This building is loud, and I don't just mean the crowd, though it certainly is as well, but there are massive echoes bouncing around and it sounds just great. Rope escape for Kimura, fearing, as he rightly does, the waki-gatame (armpit-armlock, Fujiwara Armbar).
This Georgian, my god. The throws. The holds. The pace. I was observing to a high-level judo pal just last night that Georgians are kind of the Mongolians of Europe, a little. I am not sure he agreed with that analogy but he too is immensely fond of the Georgians and their ways. Kimura, though, is keeping up! A kani-basami crab-scissors attempt is countered into a Zaza kata-ashi-hishigi ankle lock attempt in a sequence that dazzles the eye as the really very heated crowd delights the ear. I kind of love this Thunder Bout, it occurs to me, an instant before Zaza locks in an S.T.F. (stepover-toe-hold-facelock) that has me so excited that I was about to say "SHOOT S.T.F.!" but in truth it is a shoot-style S. T. F. but in that brief moment I was immensely convinced of its reality, as were the Ariakeans. And out of nowhere it's over: Zaza, from the back, hooks his arms through at an odd angle I am not at all familiar with and forces the submission to what I believe must me a neck crank of some kind and the posted time of victory is 24:26 which is impossible unless there were edits because my disc has only been playing for twenty-three minutes so explain yourself (actually don't, that match was really very good and I am satisfied with whatever contrivances deemed necessary to sustain its artifice).
An AQUA BOUT is next and it sees our old friend Herman Renting encounter the seemingly quite popular Nobuaki Kakuta, practitioner of Seidokaikan (正道会館), "a traditional full contact karate derived from Kyokushin by Kazuyoshi Ishii," which I am just learning about now, and seems to have later organized the Karate World Cup that saw no less a champion than Andy Hug (uncomfortable Fire Pro name: "The Stylist" Andre Fagg) grace its kumite. The first of this match's scheduled five three-minute rounds is a spirited exchange of snappy kicks and the like, and goes by in a flash. The second round brings the heat, as Renting refuses to break in the corner, and the crowd is livid with just such extreme disapproval of Herman Renting in those moments. Round three marks a return to the sportsmanlike ways we value here in RINGS, which is a comfort. Renting, the larger man, continually tries to crowd Kakuta, but Kakuta has karate kicks (imagine truly having those). In the fourth, Renting swarms, scores a rollicking shit-show of a takedown that bears not the scrutiny of formal classification, and forces a rope escape with a front choke, and there is just an infinity more noise in this building than their should be for Herman Renting swarming a nimble karate fighter. Round five continues the furious pace that thus far has characterized this our final astral step, and Renting (accidentally?) punches Kakuta so hard in the face with his bare fist that I am concerned. It's ruled an accident, but I have my doubts. The crowd is unreal for this as we end in a draw, but in the case of a draw the victory of the heart always rests with the smaller man and who could judge this anything but a victory for Nobuaki Kakuta and his Seidokaikan. This was so hectic!
EARTH BOUT has in one corner Chris Dolman, who can neither be hated on nor contained, and in the other Tiger Lavani, and although I know nothing of this Lavani my strong assumption here is that Dolman will trounce this newcomer. We enter the dueling leg-lock portion of the bout almost before it begins; I should have timed it, noted it, and seen if the record holds. Dolman is all about leg-locks this time out, it would seem, as he's right back at them after an entirely dismissive takedown. Just earlier this evening whilst doing the dishes, I listened to Matt Serra's interview of leg-lock-guru John Danaher on the advice of a græpplepal skilled in the jiu jitsu of Renzo Gracie's lineage (and increasingly in the judo of the lineage of judo), and both Serra and Danaher agreed that leg-locks, despite (or indeed perhaps because of) their current dominance in the world of no-gi submission grappling, threaten the traditional positional hierarchy held so dear by the jiujiteiros of several generations. Both Serra and Danaher insisted on the importance of teaching a fundamental and traditional gi-based, positional jiu jitsu before introducing deviations from the long-held moors of their art. It was pretty interesting and I recommend it if you like to think about stuff like that! I mention all of this because Dolman and Lavani are just crazy about these leg-locks, man. There are throws, there are scramblings, and you'd better believe there is the clinch (including knees from it), but holy moly are there ever leg-locks. Just as I say that, Dolman seems satisfied to back Lavani into the corner and just knee his body endlessly for three knockdowns in short order rather than fish around inelegantly for feet. Battered and exhausted, Lavani understandably yields to a front choke (mae hadaka-jime) at 11:29.
AIR BOUT is an unlikely pairing of mainstays Dirk Vrij and Willie Peeters and I feel as though Willie Peeters, who I have admired greatly in each of his bouts, is about to get flattened. Have I mentioned this crowd? I can't imagine what they will be like when Maeda gets here, because they are losing their minds for the opening exchanges of kicks here. Willie Peeters throws Dirk Vrij as though he were a much, much less juiced villain but it looks real and true and oooohh nooooo Dirk Vrij, back on his feet, kicks Willie Peeters so hard in the head, there is no way it could have been meant to land like that, but if we have learned one thing in our time so far in RINGS it is that Willie Peeters is a gamer so who among us can truly be surprised when Peeters drives Vrij to the mat with a liver kick? The crowd eats this up, and so too Peeters' rolling escape from the unlikely juji-gatame attempt Vrij makes in the mat exchange that follows and a Willie Peeters throw later and the commentator is saying "EXCITING!"
There is a pace to these matches tonight that is just insane. I have been far from disappointed with the first three Astral Steps we have undertaken but this is a massive (astral) step up in pace and intensity and sheer heat from a crowd that could not get into it any more than they are currently into it.
How does Peeters throw a man that much bigger than him with sukui-nage (scooping throw) but make it so real? Waza; the key here is waza. Vrij hits Peeters illegally in the head in the ensuing scramble but Peeters shakes it off and answers with knees that put Vrij down for the second time as the crowd counts along with the referee and also says HWOOOOAHHH which they say again as Peeters soon thereafter launches Vrij overhead with a koshi-guruma (hip wheel) after a Mortal Kombat 3 combo (kombo) of punches and short kicks in the corner however Vrij ably rolls through and comes close with a juji-gatame into a rope-escape-forcing choke what is even happening, it is all rope escapes and knockdowns, this is almost too much. Peeters is down to his final knock down! They announce as much to the crowd and the crowd is concerned nooooooooo head-kick TKO at 9:08 Willie Peeters nooooooo what a wild sprint that match was! I feel like I need a break to compose myself but none is offered as we are at once on to our . . .
UNIVERSE BOUT in which Mitsuya Nagai's very life is in danger against Gerard Gordeau, a reasonably disgusting character whose greatest crime that we know of (permanently blinding poor little Yuki Nakai with eye gouges) lays still ahead of him, and so too his fleeting gesture towards redemption (being in Naoya Ogawa's corner when Ogawa shot on Shinya Hashimoto in the Tokyo Dome). You might recall Gordeau, who I am only learning now faced Maeda in UWF in 1988, as the fellow who goes on to kick the sumo in the face in the first ever UFC match several years hence, and then to lose in the finals of that inaugural tournament despite biting Royce Gracie's ear for a while. A colourful character! Please pray for Mitsuya Nagai throughout the duration of these seven three-minute rounds.
Nagai has his moments in the first, catching a kick and putting Gordeau to the mat briefly, but on the whole gets kicked hard by this truly terrifying, toneless nihilist. One would score that round for nihilism but there can be no judges. Round two is similar in both result and my horror. In round three, the pace slows slightly but perceptibly. Also perceptible? The distinctly Vichy-France vibes this guy gives off and by "this guy" I do not mean Nagai although those words sound similar, I understand your confusion. A rope escape seems to save Nagai from a guillotine choke early in the fourth round but no he has actually merely fallen into the ropes unconscious and with a bloody nose so your winner at thirty-four seconds of the fourth round is Gerard Gordeau, with whom no one here seems comfortable, least of all me (slightly regrettable Fire Pro name: "The Frog" General Bordeaux).
Let's put that behind us at once with a cleansing FIRE BOUT betwixt Masaaki Satake and Hans Nyman, the first of this heavily compressed fight card to include full walk-outs and introductions (instead of the four matches we have had in previous Astral Steps, this Final Step has seven, but WOWOW seems determined for this to be a sub-two-hour broadcast like the others so we are flying so far). Masaaki Satake is a karate-fighting star, and as befits that status, he enters the ring to "You Could be Mine" by Guns 'N' Roses, as featured in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (obviously inferior to the original film that my friend in grade six had a VHS copy of where the whole screen was tilted maybe fifteen degrees to the right) and also probably the best jacket we have seen so far in this excellent-jacket-heavy promotion (the jackets, unlike the bouts themselves, are a straight shoot). Five three-minute rounds it shall be! Let's see some damn karate.
Yeah ok this is a straight-up karate fight: kicks like daggers and the blasting of just pitiless straight punches to the body and standing there getting blasted in return rather than doing much of anything to get out of the way. This is Masaaki Satake as Sonny Chiba as Mas Oyama in Champion Of Death (けんか空手 極真拳 Kenka karate kyokushinken, literally Fighting Karate-Ultimate Truth Fist, also known as Karate Bullfighter), Karate Bearfighter (けんか空手 極真無頼拳 Kenka karate kyokushin burai ken, literally Fighting Karate-Brutal Ultimate Truth Fist), and especially Karate for Life (Japanese: 空手バカ一代, Karate Baka Ichidai, literally Karate Crazy Life). In the last of these three art-flims/documentaries, Oyama, alongside his little judo buddy, attempt to work pro wrestling matches in Okinawa but their fighting spirit overwhelms them and everything turns to utterly reckless shooting and so what we were seeing in Karate for Life is the transition from strong style to shoot style to shooting proper avant la lettre in the way great art often not only reflects but anticipates important shifts in the culture. The bout ends in a five-round, karate-filled draw in which Hans Nyman gave as good as got, as they say, but the star throughout was Masaaki Satake, whose name echoed through the great hall and whose way of karate . . . will never end.
UNIVERSE BOUT is upon us and what a Universe Bout this promises to be as it marks the RINGS debut of the sambo-stylist most closely associated with this Fighting Networks' many glories and that is Magomedhan Amanulajevich Gamzathanov better known by his nom-de-guerre or sobriquet-rouge Volk Han (nom-de-Fire-Pro: "The Hotdog" Wolf Byrne), arguably the greatest performer this the greatest style of pretending to fight has ever produced. Who else contends for that title? Surely Kiyoshi Tamura, who I believe would be my pick ever-so-slightly ahead of Han, although both undoubtedly belong in the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, and the continued absence of both from that unphysical (perhaps astral?) hall shames and discredits it. My friend and known RINGS-liker Jonathan (who but he could have dubbed these very discs that constitute our study? none but he) is doing his part to amend this by including both on his Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame ballot, and I hail him, but how many are brave or wise enough to join him? I fear the number will again prove too few, the voters blinkered by the iron shades of (their tragically low) taste (levels). They deserve not our scorn but our pity, as they alone will be called, in the fullness of time, to answer for their crimes of insufficiently liking the wrestlers I do.
MA-E-DA, MA-E-DA, the cry that unsurprisingly resounds. RINGS SOVIETOOOO is a great thing for a ring (indeed RINGS) announcer to say and I am really, really excited to be hearing it. Han's pants are the baby blue we love best, Meada's trunks as black as the heart of the NJPW dojo trainers who permit young lions no other garb and only Hindu squats. I am pretty sure the commentator makes reference to shime-waza, strangulation techniques, and I am reminded that sport sambo actually prohibits chokes; isn't that weird? I am not criticizing that decision but am instead merely intrigued by it. Sambo, given its intimately shared history with and growth out of judo makes it inherently interesting to me, and I admire the extent to which sambo's history, despite the horrors of Stalinism, is told more openly than that of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu's (the horrors of capitalism). Do you want to know some things about sambo and its fascinating history? I will include something I wrote about sambo one time at the end of this post but not now there's no time THERE'S NO TIME it's starting IT'S STARTING and we do not have to wait very long at all for the tensely exploratory early striking exchanges to be replaced by precisely the tobi-juji-gatame flying/rolling armbar attack all of us really really really want to see Volk Han do my goodness he is good at this and which leads to Maeda's first rope escape; I remind you this all happens very early.
Maeda is not messing around: he is hear to kick, and does so. Volk Han, though, is here to Volk, which means kani-basami, the flying crab scissors takedown that once shattered the leg of the great champion Yasuhiro Yamashita, into a heel hook in a combination that you will perhaps recall from Anderson Silva's loss to Ryo Chonan in a fight that is now remembered incorrectly in that many seem to think Chonan was doing awfully until that point but that's not true? That technique precisely, yes, you know it well. Maeda himself seeks the leg-lock from this same position (such is the very nature of the leg-lock game) but no effect is achieved here as both roll into the ropes but this is so great even before Maeda suplexes Han over the top and pours as water from a man-like flask into an ude-hishigi-juji-gatame armbar that Han escapes and counters with a knee-bar of the ashi-hishigi-juji-gatame variety that leads inexorably to a chain of submission attempts from ashi-garami (leg entanglement) and thus to Maeda's second rope escape. But that is precisely what happens next if you can believe it. This is the best RINGS match so far by a lot. Much like RINGS itself in its first Astral Step only months ago, Volk Han appears before us for the first time fully formed, already clearly the best.
Han chops Maeda to the mat with a firm kick to the leg, and works again for juji-gatame, kata-ashi-hishigi, inside heel hooks, outside heel hooks, just any submission move anyone has ever done or considered. Tangled in the ropes, they are risen, until Han flings Maeda backwards with a rolling sutemi-waza (sacrifice technique) ("kubi-nage!" is the call at ringside, "neck throw!", and who could argue). A graphic reading DOWN 1 appears in a way that I admit I find perplexing; I am not as clear on the scoring as I should be at this point, please forgive me. Five minutes have passed, according to the ring announcer (I love that they announce this, it adds excitement! Tanahashi and Okada built a wonderful time-limit draw around such announcements earlier this year!).
A beautiful belly-to-belly suplex puts Han's rangy muscularity on the mat with Maeda briefly in control, but who can truly be said to be in control when each man possesses the other's feet in the way they do just now? Except it is totally Volk Han, who forces yet another rope break with a heel hook, and as soon as they are stood, attacks with a rolling knee-bar, which is kind of everyone's favourite, and, I will say once more, not really as tricky as they look, please try for yourself sometime unless you do not have access to quality græppling instruction/supervision or if you cannot be trusted not to spike yourself on your dumb head when messing around with your dumb little buddies (we have all been there). The crowd is convinced this is it for their hero this is totally it but Meada's legs are extremely long and he manages to hook the bottom rope with his very piggies.
Maeda is wily and never lacking in fighting spirit but he is being overwhelmed technically by Han's weird onslaught. All he has left is kicking. But even that gets him nowhere: Han catches these kicks that men have rightly come to fear, and pushes Maeda straight back; it's kind of sad. But what's this, Maeda has taken Han's back after Han slips up in his I don't know let's say eightieth leg-lock attack, and while he fails to secure the choke, Han looked slightly vulnerable for the first time. And I think Maeda just missed a dropkick to the knee? My copy jumps slightly here.
Ten minutes have passed, and Han's heretofore unreal pace has understandably slowed slightly, and Maeda at once realizes that if he is ever to throw a spinning heel kick the time is now; it lands, and Han is down. When he regains his feet at the referee's count of eight, Han answers with a fairly massive ura-nage but in the deeply pretzeled leg-mess that follows, Maeda grabs an ashi-dori-garami (toe-hold) levered over his own shin and that's it, Han must yield at 12:16 of the finest RINGS match we have yet seen! This kansetsu-wise crowd (they know their locking, these people) has been right there with Maeda and Han throughout every hold, but this ending tangle is just too odd for them to untie on their own, and the crowd's response comes in low waves as it gradually becomes clear to them what has happened, but once all the returns are in, we hear once more the open-voiced song "MA-E-DA, MA-E-DA." Their relief is clear.
THAT WAS A REALLY GREAT MATCH.
And so ends the RINGS of 1991, the Final Astral Step now taken. I cannot believe how good this is already, and I eagerly look forward to the eleven more years of shows that await. Below, please find both what Dave Meltzer said, and also a brief thing I wrote about sambo for a book one time. And also, just before any of that, look at the main event being advertised for SUPER WRESTLE TOKYO DOME at the end of this tape I have! Thank you once again for your attention to the matter of Fighting Network RINGS.
WHAT DID DAVE MELTZER SAY:
OCTOBER 7, 1991: "Japanese magazines are reporting serious negotiations for an Akira Maeda vs. Larry Holmes match for the Ariake Coliseum next year but I'm skeptical."
OCTOBER 14, 1991: "Akira Maeda is getting lots of mainstream publicity right now as he's working for the WOWOW channel as a sports reporter covering the Tyson-Holyfield fight. He's done interviews with both fighters for Japanese television. Any reports of a Maeda vs. Larry Holmes match is just magazines running their own angles, however."
NOVEMBER 4, 1991: "Akira Maeda is now in the Soviet Union wanting to start a Rings-USSR promotion with champion sambo wrestlers and judokas."
NOVEMBER 11, 1991: "For those wishing to travel to Japan, with some talking about the first week of January because of the WCW/New Japan show at the Tokyo Dome and most of the groups running Korakuen Hall the same week, there is also a good chance to see a lot of major shows from 12/6 through 12/12. On 12/6, All Japan has its tag team tournament finals at Budokan Hall, which traditionally is its biggest card of the year. On 12/7, JWP has an afternoon show at Korakuen Hall while Akira Maeda's Rings group runs a show at the Ariake Coliseum in the suburb of Tokyo Bay. 12/8 has All Japan women finishing its tag team tournament with an afternoon show at Korakuen Hall and New Japan has its final card of the year in Tokyo that night at Korakuen Hall. 12/9 has FMW finishing its tag team tournament at Tokyo Bay NK Hall, while 12/12 is the WWF/SWS card at the Tokyo Egg Dome.
Maeda will debut seven Soviets on the 12/7 Ariake Coliseum show, Ramja Buzariashivili (sambo wrestler), Levani Ebanoize (freestyle wrestling), Magomethan Gamazatokinikov (sambo), Igor Kalmikov (sambo), Koba Kupataze (sambo), Zaza Toukeshelashivili (freestyle) and Gennady Yaryumenko (world champion in the martial arts). Maeda vs. Gamazatokinikov, a 6-2, 236 pound 30-year-old former sambo champ, headlines the show."
NOVEMBER 18, 1991: "Rings card announced for 12/7 at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo includes Akira Maeda vs. Wok Han (Sambo wrestler from Greece), Chris Dolman (former world champion in sambo) vs. Tiger Levani (Greece) and Willie Peters (Netherlands) vs. Grom Zaza (Soviet Union)."
DECEMBER 16, 1991: "Akira Maeda's RINGS promotion drew 10,250 on 12/7 at the Ariake Coliseum in the Tokyo suburb of Urayasu (12,000 capacity but very few freebies) as Maeda beat Volk Han (a Command sambo champion from the Soviet Union whose real name is Gamzatkhinov Magomet-Han--Command Sambo is the form of sambo they teach in the Soviet military which is basically free fighting in which everything goes except punching, hair-pulling, eye-gouging and biting and it goes to the submission) in 12:16 and Masaaki Satake (a Japanese karate superstar) drew with Hans Nyman (karate man from Netherlands, Gerard Gordeau (karate champion from France) beat Mitsuya Nagai, Dirk Vrij knocked out Willie Peters, Nobuaki Kakuta (Japanese karate) drew Herman Renting and Tkeshelashvili Zaza beat Koichiro Kimura (who quit WING to join this group). Supposedly both draw matches were actual shoots but the other matches obviously weren't. Maeda vs. Vrij on 1/19 at Tokyo Bay NK Hall." (RINGS bloggist's note: I am intrigued by the part I have bolded!)
JANUARY 6, 1992: In the course of discussing the big show with Tenryu/Hogan, Dave writes, ". . . $230,000 for television rights (which sounds legit because the WOWOW Channel is said to pay Akira Maeda roughly that amount per show for TV rights)."
"A gathering of more than 500 fans over the weekend in Tokyo voted on bests in many categories. The fans voted Jumbo Tsuruta as the greatest wrestler of all-time and when asked to pick the ultimate dream match to draw the largest crowd ever in Japan, the match with the most votes was Tsuruta vs. Akira Maeda, which tells you how over Maeda still really is."
HERE IS MY SHORT THING ON SAMBO FROM A BOOK, I APOLOGIZE FOR THE FORMATTING BUT I CUT-AND-PASTED FROM A PIRATED PDF, INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE, COMMERCIAL PUBLISHING IS A RACKET:
For most fans of mixed martial arts, sambo is the grappling art most closely associated with names like Fedor Emelianenko, Andrei Arlovski, Sergei Kharitonov, or, for those who have been watching since the sport’s earliest days, Oleg Taktarov. Understandably, few would recognize the names Vasily Sergeevich Oshchepkov or Viktor Afanasievich Spiridonov. But these are the two most important names of all, the founding fathers of the discipline. Vasily Oshchepkov grew up an orphan in the Pacific port city Vladivostok. Supported by a local charity, Oshchepkov attended Vladiv ostok’s Tokyo Christian school, where he was first exposed to judo. Oshchepkov earned his black belt, founded a club of his own, and, in 1917, invited a Japanese team to Vladivostok to compete against his own students in one of the earliest instances of international competition in the sport. Oshchepkov, who had visited Japan twice to grade as a young man, maintained close ties with the country throughout
his professional life, and worked in Tokyo for several years as a military interpreter — or, if Russian judo expert Andrew Moshanov is correct, as an intelligence agent. All the while, Oshchepkov kept up his studies at the Kodokan, and became a proficient second-degree black belt in the art. In 1923, Oshchepkov was charged with the task of improving upon the
Red Army’s existing self-defense program. He was joined by Viktor Spiridonov, a veteran of the Russo-Japanese War whom Russian statesman and sportsman Vladimir Putin describes as “a top expert in applied military gymnastics, a strong and nimble man who quickly appreciated jujitsu’s merits.”
Judo historian Mark Law offers this outline of their efforts: "In a programme of “creative sessions” at four main sports centers in Moscow, including the Red Army’s Central Club, [Oshchepkov and Spiridonov] brought together people from all over the ussr to meet in a succession of exploratory confrontations. The techniques of the Tajiks were assessed against those of the Khazaks; Georgians, who never fought on the ground, were pitted against Turkmen; Uzbek throws were tested against the pickups and leg grabs of the Azerbaijanis." The sambo (literally “self-defense without weapons”) that emerged from
this crucible was at first confined to the Spetsnaz Soviet special forces, but later spread to the population at large under sport rules similar to those of judo, but with several important differences, beginning with the uniform. The red or blue jackets, called kurtka, are worn tighter than the judogi, shorts take the place of gi pants, and competitors take to the mat in wrestling shoes rather than bare feet. Leg locks are prominent, strangulations are banned, and throws are only scored if the attacker manages to stay on his feet. Less restrictive
gripping regulations — reminiscent of judo rules in the 1920s, when sambo began to take shape — lead to a variety of throws executed while holding the belt. Those differences aside, there is an enormous amount of crossover between the techniques and strategies of both sports.
And between competitors, too: with judo’s inclusion in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the Soviets combed their sambo ranks to identify those who might flourish under the closely related rules of modern competitive judo. Top Soviet sambo players and top Soviet judo players were one and the same. The uniquely Soviet judo that grew out of Oschepkov and Spiridonov’s sambo was characterized by the leg grabs and pickups of the traditional wrestling styles of the Soviet lands, expert arm bars executed from all angles, and an
athleticism that brought a quickened pace to the sport. The Soviets enjoyed immediate and lasting success, and Russia remains a robust judo power to this day.
Oschepkov, however, didn’t live long enough to see the fruits of his labor. His close ties with Japan, which formed the basis of his life’s work, would ultimately prove to be his undoing as Stalin’s distrust of all things foreign deepened throughout the 1930s. As one of the millions undone by The Great Purge of 1937, Oschepkov was arrested under accusations of espionage and died soon after his imprisonment at the age of 44. His name was effectively
wiped out of the official history of the martial art he fathered, as was the word “judo” for many years — both were tainted by their association with a foreign power, and had no place in the Republics.
Sambo today is practiced around the world, though its organizational structure beyond Russia and its former satellites is loose at best. In addition to the grappling-sport sambo described above, there exists a more obscure variant known as combat sambo, which allows chokes and a variety of strikes in addition to the throws, leg locks, and arm locks permissible under sport sambo. Combat sambo thus closely resembles a jacketed version of mma, and indeed heavyweight mma legend Fedor Emelianenko is a four-time world champion in the sport. It should be noted, however, just how minor a sport combat sambo is at present: en route to his 2007 world championship, two of Emelianenko’s opponents failed to even show up, which is inconceivable in any truly credible world-class event. The grappling-only sport sambo, though perhaps of less immediate interest to fans of mixed martial arts, is vastly more competitive than its more rugged offshoot.