OH NO TSUYOSHI KOHSAKA LOOK OUT IT IS GILBERT YVEL and as we have discussed previously I am always concerned when Gilbert Yvel is around because he is a skilled and dangerous striker and also he is totally willing to cheat. We are shown first Kohsaka's dynamic harai-goshi to juji-gatame win over Kiyoshi Tamura on 1/23/99 and then more of his bicycling in Seattle.
We are also shown TK engaging in nice light ne waza randori (or perhaps it is spirited ne waza uchi komi) with the great Maurice Smith before these two fine martial artists of achievement and distinction teach two children the intricacies of kata-ashi-hishigi, the single-leg-crush or straight ankle lock (this is the one leg-lock I think it is totally ok to teach children, by the way, not that anyone should adjust their græppling pedagogy to suit me [yes they should]). Both TK and Maurice understand the centrality of teaching others to the perfection of one's own martial way: one must aspire to be both, as the GZA rhymes in the second verse of "Liquid Swords" from the album that bears that same sikk name, a child educator plus head amputator; it simply will not do to be one but not the other. "You got too much space, Antoine, it's gotta be tight. Put your hand to your chest." Maurice Smith is for the children.
With a lovely mountain backdrop, Kohsaka says a number of things I do not understand, of course, but he also says judo techniqu and RINGS techniqu and submission techniqu and I get it; I get it.
Well that was all lovely but here's Gilbert Yvel, capable of pretty unreal levels of destruction both within and without the rules and bounds of kakutogi. A less objectively evil, but more skilled Gerard Gordeau? Is that fair? "Dirty" Bob Shrijber with a clearer sense of purpose? I don't know but I feel unsettled. My assumption is that this will be a shoot, as Kohsaka has already shown himself to be totally competitive against the best heavyweight mixed martial arts fighter in the world (you will recall, I am sure, Bas Rutten) so the working RINGSassumption at this point would have to have been that he'd be fine in there with whoever, right? But who knows what Akira Maeda needs to happen (intellectually, emotionally). No gloves here, so one assumes RINGS rules rather than vale tudo rules. The earliest energies here strongly argue towards shoot as TK eats a knee whilst dropping low for the two-hand reap of morote gari, which he finishes without too much trouble (aside from the knee, which I do not wish to diminish) aaaaand there we have it, Gilbert Yvel commits his first foul (but of how many?) at about twenty seconds for punching TK in the face on the ground NOOOOOOOO MY DISC STOPPED PLAYING AND I CAN'T FIND THIS MATCH ON DAILYMOTION NOR CAN I FIND THE MAIN EVENT NOOOOOOOOOOO maybe I will order another copy? AH OK HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED: this disc is in fact one I ordered from IVP Videos (a partner in the initial RINGSbox purchase) just as this RINGSblogging was beginning to take shape; I had sorted through the RINGSbox to see if there were any missing discs, and there were only a few, so it was just a very small order to get everything arranged. He sent me this disc probably six months ago, I guess, but I hadn't checked it or anything. I let him know Friday night that it was cutting off, this disc, and asked if he could upload the file maybe, and he tried, and found that his copy had a bad scratch that was preventing this! Oh no! He offered to send me another disc of something else, which was kind of him, but before we sorted that out, he ingeniously tried to make a copy of his scratched disc and then rip that one, and somehow that worked (I understand nothing), and he had that copy uploaded for me by Sunday evening! I am of course impressed but I can't in all honesty say that I am surprised at this level of RINGSservice, because IVP Videos has been unfailingly excellent to deal with. Buying things is of course a revolting practice, but should you find yourself in a position where you are going to do it (and we have all been there), I heartily recommend IVP Videos. But if you are sufficiently interested in twenty-odd-year-old Japanese wrestling/martial arts as to be reading this (RINGS)blog it is nearly a certainty that you are already well aware of his service. AT ANY RATE I thank him once more for his indispensable help.
AND WE ARE BACK and I am no less worried for TK than I was when last we spoke. Yvel half-lands a flying knee, and then, when Kohsaka is down, drives a hard knee right into his large and square head. The replay reveals it to be even worse than I first thought:
That's extremely another yellow card for Yvel, so he is down by two points, but Kohsaka is down by two shots to the head, neither of which were legal, obviously, and one of which super looked like it hurt. Like anyone who græpples, I sometimes have occasion to take a hard but totally accidental (at least I hope they are!) knee to the head, and more than once I have felt a little dazed after, and I have taken every such instance as evidence in support of my position that hitting should be halted at once (we can end hitting in our lifetime if we are all willing to work together towards that aim). Kohsaka, though, is undaunted, or, if daunted, imperceptibly so, as he gets right back after Yvel and plants him on the mat with a low, tackling morote-gari (two-hand reap) and passes effortlessly to tate-shiho-gatame (right up on top) before Yvel wisely drapes his foot across the rope to lose his third point in two minutes. Yvel grabs a rope on the way down on another morote-gari no more than twenty seconds later, so that's four points. About fifteen seconds later there's another. Ah, okay, TK has him down in the middle of the ring now, and perhaps will have some time to work? But no, scooching of quality has Yvel within grasping distance. Not that he needs it: Kohsaka's juji-gatmae attempt costs him position, and Yvel gets on top for an instant before standing up and connecting with holy cow a brutal jumping kick to the face; this match is really going very badly for Tsuyoshi Kohsaka's head. TK is cut, and the replay reveals that it was a rope-assisted jumping knee a moment ago, which explains why there was no knockdown ruled against Kohsaka, but there was no rope-grab charged to Yvel, either, which I don't get:
Kohsaka takes Yvel down over and over and over and never has any trouble getting around the legs, but he is plagued by rope escapes, just plagued by them. As we speak this very moment he's got Yvel sort of half-way into an Iatskevich roll juji-gatame attack but his head is turned towards Yvel's rather than towards his hips and so this is going nowhere. Standing again, Yvel hits TK with a hard palm-strike for a knockdown, and I don't know what image is called to mind when you hear tell of a hard palm-strike, but do you generally think of something that can cause this?
I knowI don't! And yet here we are. We're not eight minutes in, and Kohsaka has lost a mere two points to Yvel's five, but he is getting clobbered. He eats another knee en route to yet another morote-gari takedown and needs to be cleaned up again. This is pretty terrible! A super low kibisu-gaeshi (heel-reversal, ankle-pick) puts Yvel down in the middle of the ring, though, and TK moves effortlessly to his osaekomi-waza (pinning/immobilization techniques) to work towards an ude-garami arm entanglement. Maurice Smith looks fairly calm in Kohsaka's corner but that is the kind of energy he projects even when he is himself having fights with people so there is only so much one can read into that here. Yvel scooches back and Kohsaka scooches forwards and before you know it they're in the corner and so restood. Kohsaka is getting sloppy on his takedowns as we near the fourteen-minute mark: he just morote-gari'd his way into a mae-hadaka-jime front choke that came close enough that he used a rope-break to escape. He's bleeding heavily from the nose now, too. His takedowns are still working but they seem increasingly desperate and ill-timed (who among us). I have no idea how many times Yvel has been taken down this match: like fifteen, maybe? But he's weathering the storm down there every time, and then just stalking TK standing and lighting him up. It's pretty grim! Yvel starts to do better and better for himself on the ground, too, as Kohsaka is just battered and bleeding. Maeda, red-jacketed and glorious, peers in as the doctor examines TK in the corner. It doesn't matter at all that Kohsaka is ahead on points: they could totally stop this right now, that would be totally fine. And yes, they do, doctor stoppage at 19:58. This is wise. Yvel does a back-flip in the middle of the ring to celebrate not only his victory, I think, but also a victory in which he only really committed I guess like two and a half fouls, which also represents for him in this instance a victory over self, and as Kimbo (may peace be upon him) taught us in his too-brief time here, the enemy is so often the inner-me. R.I.P. Kevin Ferguson aka Kimbo Slice; we are all of us complicit in the death of this complex man burdened with a too-hard life. We should have saved him from it instead of doing what we did which was kill him.
FRANK SHAMROCK VS. KIYOSHI TAMURA MIGHT BE PRETTY GOOD LET'S SEE as once again Tamura ties his U-Style t-shirt off in the corner or tucks it in just a little (more the former than the latter here, I think), the better to hug as tight against his beautiful body as so many among us long to, maybe? I am a happily married man but I am sure some of you are single and so I leave such longing to you to do with as you would. Maurice Smith corners Frank Shamrock no less than he does Tsuyoshi Kohsaka for they are, together, The Alliance. HOLY SHIT the first real exchange of the match has Tamura grab a leg for a kuchiki-taoshi dead-tree drop (or single-leg takedown, if you would rob it, and us, of all poesy) only to see Shamrock get perpendicular for the cross-mark armlock of ude-hishigi-juji-gatame; the net effect is that Tamura has put himself in a 飛び十字固め tobi-juji-gatame flying armbar. WILD. This happened at maybe thirty seconds in, and Tamura very much needed the ropes. When next they are aground (it is nearly immediately so) Tamura fares much better, and comes reasonably close with an ude-garami entanglement, but Shamrock slips out. The striking, where we find it, is crisp! As are the transitions: when Tamura overextends whilst reaching around the turtling Shamrock's waist, Shamock tries to roll through for gyaku-ude-garami but Tamura flattens out to stop it and is neeeeeearly in position for juji-gatame but not quite and it is both exquisite and excruciating for the people of Osaka here assembled. Tamura seems to have no trouble getting to and staying on top , for the most part, often in the low side-pin of yoko-shiho-gatame. There is a moment of great interest as Shamrock TK Scissors his way into a yoko-sankaku-jimeside triangle choke attempt but Tamura ends up on top in a kesa-gatame scarf-hold and comes really very close with a kesa-garami arm-entanglement from there, but after much scrambling they return to Tamura's yoko-shiho-gatame hold. Ten minutes passed! This is extremely good! Back to kesa-gatame and indeed kesa-garami once more, look:
I join Tamura in being super into that armlock from kesa. Shamrock's arm is pretty twisted up! But he is a young man still, and pliable, neither elbows nor shoulders yet desiccated unto ruin by time (I bet they are now though!). A close call! Shamrock scissors around Tamura's head and pulls him back just enough that Tamura must abandon the hold and switch to yoko-shiho-gatame. He passes quickly to the top-most pin of tate-shiho-gatame but the actions stalls out from there and they are stood. Shamock throws a flurry of kicks and palm-strikes but is himself struck down by a whisper-soft Tamura morote-gari two-hand reap. And now, perhaps, for leg-locks? For a little, yes; but then it is Shamrock's rolling juji-gatame nearly countered by a juji-gatame of Tamura's own. At one point, underneath Tamura but not dangerously so, Shamrock asks his corner how much time has passed. "Twelve minutes? OK I'll just wait him out." And then he kind of just waits him out! UNTIL: a lost point for Shamrock! And here's why: Shamrock was standing all hunched over, trying to pass Tamura's legs, and while in that position, strikes are not permitted, referee Ryogaku Wada explains. Shamrock is like "Aaaahhhhh get outta here! Get outta here!" but in a blithe spirit that does him credit. He acknowledges without any real complaint that he is guilty, and we can all see that what he is guilty of is the merest technical infraction, not one against the spirit of the rules. "Please do not wail on a guy who is down when you are not down" is the rule's true plea, and Shamrock did not violate that in his heart. The call is correct, as is Shamrock's reaction to it, and all is well. I backed it up to see it all again, and Wada actually got really close and peered in at a few borderline strikes before he actually stopped Shamrock and made the call. Everyone's doing great!
It would be easy and probably not wrong to watch this match and say that Tamura is the much better positional græppler, but the ease with which Shamrock cedes positions to Tamura is surely at least in part of a function of the specific rules they're competing under which do not disincentivize this. Shamrock comes reasonably close with a gyaku-ude-garami arm entanglement (they are themselves entangled in the ropes and so it is stopped and stood) and a leglock attack that leads to some light Tamura scurrying (out and to the top, though), but as time expires it is ruled a draw (DRAW, DESU) and Shamrock adopts a Bruce Lee pose and then everyone is buddies:
What a great match! Afterwards, Frank Shamrock says, among other things, "It's okay. Win, lose, or draw, I played the game. I challenged myself. I made one mistake, so it's a draw, but it's okay." And: "I have to fight UFC because I have the title, but RINGS style is good, so I want to train more in the RINGS style now, because the conditioning and the submission technique is so much better than UFC, so I will fight both." Alas, this did not prove true.
WHAT DID DAVE MELTZER SAY:
See you again soon for further RINGS, obviously! My thank to you for your attention, my thanks to you for your time.