Sunday, August 5, 2018

QUINTET (クインテット) 6/16/18: QUINTET.2

(My friend Joe brought this to my attention immediately -- thanks Joe!)
(Ota City General Gymnasium)
Ōta, Tokyo, Japan

FRIENDS HELLO IT IS SEVERAL WEEKS AFTER THE GRÆPPLEFACT but nevertheless here we are in 大田区総合体育館 (Ota City General Gymnasium) a venue with a capacity of 4,012 and by the looks of things we are only about 4,000 short of a sell-out for QUINTET (クインテット): QUINTET.2 which we should not mistake for the second QUINTET event (how foolish of you; how terribly, terribly foolish) which was in fact QUINTET FIGHT NIGHT TOKYO or something like that, and whilst it made its way to the mma-tracker, I no longer have an account there (there was some unpleasantness surrounding my ratio after a 100+gb PRIDE torrent but there are no hard feelings on my side), it did not reach the broader world of torrents (or, indeed, torrentz) beyond that grim portal (it's not that grim [well kind of, it is]). Is it available on the (at least) fascist-adjacent UFC Fight Pass streaming service? Oh with certainty. But that is not a realm of my encounter nor, in the name of Christ and Buddhas, shall it ever be (no you're overdoing it). Hey the Japanese feeds of this continue to be pretty much impossible to get though, are they not? Maybe it's better this way, to have never heard them, than the fate that befell all the old PRIDEs, wherein the Japanese commentary versions were everywhere, and then all of a sudden nowhere, and are now lost forever (if this happens in time to the referee-cam feeds too, I swear, I fvkkn swear). The internet did not do as good a job at having everything on it as it seemed it might do back in like, I don't know, maybe 2008 or something? Like where is that picture of Fedor Emelianenko training judo with Tamerlan Tmenov I have probably mentioned in every post on this blog? Where indeed; where; indeed. COMMENTARY TODAY is provided by Stewart Fulton who I ended up quite minding last time but who opens here by explaining that QUINTET's format derives from judo's かちぬきせん kachinukisen 【 勝ち抜き戦 】format (he might well add that virtually every technique we will see derives from judo as well but that is neither here nor there [and yet at the same time is totally here {and so are we}]); he is joined by Mei "V-Hajime" Yamaguchi (I like that nickname!) who I believe last time was quite good but said little? I am taunted by the on-screen presence of the Japanese commentator Takeshi Yano, who speaks with 中井祐樹 Nakai Yūki, noble hero to all, and we are offered a demonstration of ashi-kansetsu (leg-lock) entries, which is pretty useful, because they can be weird! Several of the dozen people in attendance probably know this stuff already but for the others this should make for a better night. Ah, they are demoing representative 絞技 shime-waza strangulation techniques as well, and Fulton just corrected Yamaguchi, telling her that what she thought was an anaconda choke was in fact a d'arce choke but he was W R O N G and the d'arce is what they demo'd next and he didn't even say sorry. I am not fond of this guy's work! I am going to try not to say any more about it but I am famously, famously weak.

I think it's great to demo techniques like this! Remember that stretch of RINGS shows where one or more Fighting Networkists would appear in a pre-taped segment in the interests of making known their waza? Those were all great, remember? And here's Eddie Bravo, who, in my view, makes literally everything worse. Let's see if he does so here: yes, certainly he does, as he explains the rubber guard; at least he is not talking about how he had a band that discovered the Linkin Park sound before Linkin Park did and also how he didn't like his dad, both key points covered in the introduction to Mastering the Rubber Guard (or whatever it was called) for some reason. Yes, sure, the gogoplata, sure. The mounted gogoplata is a technique so effective that it is difficult to even demo, yeah ok sure, that totally makes sense Eddie. We are seeing more and more rubber guard in MMA, he claims, which is exactly untrue, good, ok. Hey if you really like the gogoplata (it is definitely neat, do not mistake me), a better book with that same technique in it but not by a dangerous idiot I can recommend to you is The Canon of Judo (1956) by Kyuzo Mifune where it is called 踵絞 kakato jime -- it is a deeply esoteric volume (I mean this as praise) and, again, not by a dangerous idiot. Check it out everybody!

Team Tiger Muay Thai (is that a Street Fighter reference?) enters to a Tiger Mask theme (as well they might); Sakuraba's Teem Reebok (is that a sneaker reference?) enters to "Speed TK Re-Mix" but the TK in question is Tetsuya Komuro, it's not like that. Christophe Vandijck and Dong Sik Yoon will start us off in a contest betwixt judo dudes! Vandijck tells us before the match that he does judo though he does not mention that he is a several-time Belgian national champion (it might be gauche for him to say). He does judo, he says, and so loves Japan. Dong Sik Yoon also does judo, to such an extent in fact that he took bronze when the worlds were in Munich. AND HERE WE GO AGRÆPPLING, these largish dudes around 90kg. A low kata-guruma from Vandijck! And another! Wow he can really throw with that! I guess the matches are eight minutes long this time instead of seven? I could totally be mistaken about how it was before though (through not checking). Vandijck is realllly heavy on Yoon in such a way that I feel sympathy for the smooshed. Vandijck can't get around Yoon's legs and in time they stand once more. Four minutes to go as Dong Sik Yoon slooooooowly tips Vandijck over with a sumi/hikikomi-gaeshi counter to Vandijck's kata-guruma, this is really neat:

The applause that follows, though tiny (there is nobody here!), is at the same time quite generous. They stand up on what I think is maybe a stoppage for a slight cut? AND THEN OH MAN Dong Sik Yoon throws with the same technique, this time from an ude-garami grip not unlike this guy right here:

That is not the first time we've seen that gif nor, we pray, shall it be the last. There is some further ude-garami, some shime-waza, but the match ends soon thereafter in a draw, so both guys are out. Good match though! 

Up next we have Tarek Suleiman (96.15kg) vs.Hideo Tokoro (68.2kg) and the commentators make a big deal about the size difference but, look, they're just gonna wrestle around out there, it's no big deal. I am like 72kg (not right after judo I'm not!) and wrestled around with a 110kg guy just the other day and I'm fine, as Tokoro will also be. Suleiman takes his back standing and smooshes him out, but Tokoro rolls through and has a nice little guard set with feet on hips. And he sweeps! And went for a bit of a leg lock and is on bottom again. But he's doing great! Tried a little rubber guard but Suleiman bested it immediately with pressure. Feet on the hips, just throwing shit up against a huge guy: how well I know this waza. His business leads to a warning for passivity (to Suleiman) and a restart from the par terre position but Suleiman rolls through for a leg-lock that he does not get (no shame in that). Scramblescramblescramble AND IT IS A DRAW at the end of the four-minute round afforded to bouts with a big guy against just a little fella. See? Tokoro was ok, it's just grappling in a context where throws don't score; everybody will probably be fine. Another good match!

There is a bit of a delay before Viking Wong (that's a wild name!) faces Haisam Rida, a long tall Ghanaian who trains in Japan and speaks totally sound Japanese from what I can tell (admittedly little!) because Wong had all kinds of shit in his hair and they made him rinse it out. Sakuraba, we are told, was like HEY WE TOLD YOU ABOUT THIS BEFORE BUDDY to him as he was led away. That's a shido! Viking Wong is down a shido for having had shit in his hair! I support this rule so hard. The crowd of like eight people have been quite patient throughout this delay. And here we go: noooooooooooooo Wong is a sitter! He just sat right down without contact, which in the first QUINTET was promised to be a shido (though scarcely enforced), but maybe it isn't anymore? It is totally going to have to be, if they want this to be sikk. Wong is punished for this loathsome tactic mere seconds later by a super-quick ashi-dori-garami (it's an ankle lock!) and Fulton, who is really very bothersome (and I am very weak) tells us that "Wong did the right thing tappin' there: if he hadn't, it could've snapped," which is the comment of an utter, utter tool. Busier than a termite in a sawmill? What? Awful awful awful aaaaawwwwful.  

So Haisam Rida stays out to face Alex Schild, who is a little fella, and who plays to the crowd a little but only like three people are into it (as a percentage that's not bad I guess {it's a little grim}). And there's another leg lock! This one is hiza-hishigi-juji-gatame! A knee-bar! We are told Rida trains with Yushin "Thunder" Okami (they don't say "Thunder" here but we will say it together now, we all) and I remember that guy fondly. Next in is Stuart Cooper. Mei Yamaguchi tells us Stuart Cooper is a famous jiu-jitsu player, and I choose to credit her. Cooper drops without any real contact too and for real as much as I enjoy the kachinukisen format (obviously) and love ne waza (ooooobviously) I am not that interested in this if it's going to feature contactless sitting as a unshido'd tactic. (I do not object to it for jiu-jitsu competitions, I just don't watch those; those guys should all have a nice time however they feel their time will be nicest; it's none of my business.) Rida finishes Cooper with a hadaka-jime that starts as an utterly fearsome choking of the face, like he choked the face out of that guy's face before he got under the chin. This guy seems super good. So that's Team Sneakerz through to the finals. We didn't even get to see Sakuraba though! 

Eddie Bravo's 10th Planet team against Team Vagabond (a Satoshi Ishii venture) is the other first-round match, and begins with PJ Barch against Krzysiek Suchorabski who is, if you can believe it, from Poland. Both Barch and Suchorabski are in the 70kg range and so they are my people. Suchorabski kind of drops for a leg lock but with pretty much no contact and again I am not a fan of this kind of thing going unshido'd by the referee unless of course they have just totally dropped that rule in which case my objection is not to the referee but instead to Kazushi Sakuraba and Yuki Nakai and that is a pretty dark thing to even consider. Suchorabski has had Barch's back for a while now but Barch is doing a great job hand-fighting to keep the choke at bay. Suchorabski has a strong body-lock (verging on do-jime, the trunk strangle) and comes over, around, and up on top with an eye towards kata-gatame (the shoulder hold/arm triangle). He's excellent! After kind of a while of that, the referee stands them up (I don't know if that makes sense to me) and gives a shido to Barch (I guess that makes sense to me) and also to Suchorabski (this makes no sense to me). All kinds of neat attacks and escapes follow when next they are aground but if being on top of a guy and threatening with a choke to the point that all the other player can do is defend gets you a stand-up and a shido then I don't know! Barch comes about as close to finishing juji-gatame you can come to without finishing it, like I am sure I have finished juji-gatame that were less on than this juji-gatame. Suchorabski is super flexible . . . and full of plans. The clock runs down with dueling kata-ashi-hishigi Achilles' holds that come nowhere close but that was another pretty good match! There's absolutely no buzz in the crowd or anything though and it's starting to feel sad to me. 

Richie Martinez has quite a beard and faces Joao Assis from Brazil who has a strong and handsome jawline you probably wouldn't ever even consider covering with a beard; it's just too strong and handsome. Martinez is into rubber-guard and has his shin across for a gogoplato/kakato-jime pretty much immediately but Assis seems fine. Martinez is unusually flexible even for a rubber-guard guy, to my eye. I have probably linked this before, forgive me, but here's a now-very-old piece about kakato-jime, and here it is generously translated into Portuguese, in case you are interested. Martinez has Assis extremely bothered by some ashi-sankaku-garami/omoplata attacks and this has been yet another good one with about two minutes to go, totally different stylistically from any of other stuff, too. They're shido'd and restarted standing with a little under a minute left but I don't know, I feel like they were working? It's pretty pointless to restart standing, too, if you're not going to shido plain old sitting, which is what happens immediately, and we're right back where we were. I do not mean to nitpick but there are some problems here I think! I feel like everybody is working really hard and trying their best and competing in totally the right spirit (the pre-match videos are all variations of "I'm so happy to be invited and I love Sakuraba and I am excited to go to Japan and I can't promise I'll win but I promise to super try!") but the rules aren't working that well and there is just nobody in the crowd and the whole situation is making me sort of sad still. Mixed martial arts really is very extremely dead in Japan these days, isn't it (this is almost certainly for the best), and so a kind of para-MMA event featuring the part of MMA that is not hitting (a curse upon hitting a curse upon it [karate you're still cool {also boxing, honestly}]) is probably a doomed idea from the outset, isn't it. I don't know, maybe QUINTETO will be lucrative enough as CONTENTO (haha) that it doesn't need to sell tickets and it'll be fine either way but even if that's the case these shows will be nooooo fun to watch with nobody there (this is assuming, perhaps recklessly on my part, further shows).  

Now we see Geo Martinez, a mere 64.75kg, and Satoshi Ishii, a broad-shouldered 107.10kg, and so quite reasonably we have a four-minute bout. I mentioned the shoulders but man Ishii has an enormously powerful-seeming leg-and-butt network (Butt Network ISHII). He's squishing Martinez quite ably but Martinez is remarkably squirmy, good for him. Ishii has passed the legs into osaekomi and comes pretty close with a mighty gyaku-ude-garami/Kimura but Martinez has good flexibility and admirable composure beneath this truly large dude. The arm eventually comes free, Ishii takes the back, then back on top for gyaku-ude-garami, and, from that grip, attempts juji-gatame, but time expires. It occurs to me that while I enjoyed that four minutes of strategic flight (in the sense of fleeing), maybe not everyone would? This is too large a question for me though really.

Amir Allam in the next Eddie Bravo guy, Andrei Kazusionak the next Ishiifriend; that I know exactly nothing about either is obvious. Kazusionak grabs a nice little kibisu-gaeshi trip and tries for an ashi-kansetsu (leg-lock) at once but to no avail. Ah ok so Andrei Kazusionak took bronze at the 2005 World Championships, took third in Europe one time, and finished 7th in Beijing competing for Belarus. I am embarrassed by my lack of Belarusian judo knowledge! Holy smokes he just rolled in haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard for a hiza-juji knee-bar and Allam taps with no delay but yells in pain and limps away, yikes. Kazusionak now faces Adam Sachnoff, who just sits down right away and yeah they have definitely decided that is not going to be a shido and I feel chagrin. Kazusionak tries for another leg-lock but ends up getting his back t o o k and Sachnoff is a large dude to be smooshing and face-choking you (me; anyone). Yep, there's the actual hadaka-jime, a pretty painful one too I think, barring right across the throat (don't do that to your friends in the club, please: reach deeper and get the blood choke so people will still like you). Mikheil Dopidze is the last dude for Team Ishii, a Georgian national judo champion at -66kg, so he's like 75 pounds smaller than Sachnoff, who is still pretty fresh but will have to hustle to sub him in a four-minute bout. Let's see! Dopidze nearly throws with seoi-otoshi which is quite a sikk thing to have attempted in this context. They are scooching out of bounds and so halted; when they restart, with Sachnoff in Dopidze's niju-garami/half-guard, the size difference looks pretty comical! Sachnoff is being very aggressive with a gyaku-ude-garami/Kimura attack and in the ensuing squirm takes the back and do-jime/body-triangles and begins to choke the face and one assumes this will end much as the last one? He's still got a minute or so to finish. Ughhhh he's choking the nose lol man I am very pleased that all of these things are frowned upon in friendly 乱取り randori. And it's a draw! Good job, wily little Georgian judo champ! So the whole overall match is a draw, and as the teams have the same number of shidos, it becomes a referee's decision (hantei), and 10th Planet takes it (fair enough). For real everybody did a good job but I am still getting a sad vibe from this whole undertaking as I skip ahead until the actual matches start because I am not into Stewart Fulton small talk (Mei Yamaguchi you're still neat don't worry).

NAKAMURAAAA DAISUKEEEEEE (of U-File!) vs. PJ BARCH in an eight-minute bout and Barch does a nice rolling back-take of a sort I have not seen previously! Yeah he's all over him like a rash, Stewart, le mot juste, nailed it (fvkk). Barch has his ankles crossed which could leave him open for hiza-tori-garami? And yet it does not, seemingly. Nakamura protects himself with a gyaku-ude-garami/Kimura grip and that is a great thing to do when somebody has your back! Did we both, in our own way, pick this up from Sakuraba? (I rented a tape of Pride 10 from the Suspect Video under Honest Ed's during an enormously formative period in the development of my ne-waza both technically and æsthetically.) Barch makes a few attempts at a switch to juji-gatame from the back and one reflects for a moment on how pleasing that specific transition is to teach to beginners, doesn't one, as it so often fills them with a sense of nifty achievement (deservedly so). As time expires, Nakamura comes super duper close to being ude-garami'd but all we have in the end is a wriggly draw.  

It is time for Richie Martinez and KAZUSHI SAKURABA who is 49 now because that's what happens and I don't want to belabour this point but if dudes are just going to sit down and it's not a shido I don't know that we will be enjoying these shows together in the future. Unfazed by this nonsense, Sakuraba drops in and passes to kesa-gatame. Martinez takes a leg, though, and could probably hit a twister or GROUND OCTOPUS HOLDOOO from here? Sakuraba is in no real danger I don't think though. They are brought to the feet by the navy-jacketed referee, who gives Martinez a shido for a reason I cannot discern (nor can Martinez). Sakuraba attacks with a hiza-hishigi/calf-slicer and Martinez rolls his eyes and makes mocking hand gestures because he is very pleased with himself for how he is not in danger right now against a smaller man sixteen years his senior, great job asshole. Martinez gets him with a d'Arce choke a little later. 

Martinez takes an immediate seat against Haisam Rida and the referee asks him to stand but there is no shido and you know what I just totally am going to belabour this every time it happens WOAH OK Haisam Rida just stepped right through Martinez's guard and got to the side and finished with juji-gatame in like no time, that was lovely! This guy has so far been the best guy! Next up is Geo Martinez who is much smaller but slick slick slick and slips in a guillotine in forty-five seconds, neat! Here comes another sneaky little fellow in Hideo Tokoro! They have a nice match, punctuated by Mei Yamaguchi saying shoot useful things like "Tokoro would like to face him, but Martinez's leg prevents that" and Fulton saying useless things like "he's busier than a rooster in a hen-house" and it is killing me inside. A draw!

And so Dong Sik Yoon shall be his squad's last græppledöød, tasked with the weighty chore of both Amir Allam and Adam Sachnoff. If you are wondering if the crowd has filled in a little, it totally hasn't! A hadaka-jime/naked-strangle win for Amir Allam, pleased to the point of tears, soon follows. Anything can happen and it usually does, that's true Stewart Fulton, that's astute; yes we have certainly witnessed history that's no doubt the case, Stwert Fulton, great work.