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!