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23 August 2008 @ 09:55 am
Welcome everyone.

I work professionally as a translator in Tokyo, Japan, and am also an MMA reporter. I will be posting news, some of which you can find elsewhere, but a lot that you wouldn't be able to find at all unless you were both living in Japan and spoke Japanese.

I will try to work as quickly as possible with big stories, possibly also using RSS, but my plan is also to do some editorial work and explanations of things behind-the-scenes in Japan.

I hope to add writers/translators from other areas of the world to fully encompass this global sport.

I hope you enjoy and continue reading.

Please pass the site on to your friends.




Spoils of the trade...




Seats filling up...



Faito!


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23 August 2008 @ 10:34 am
I think MMA fans around the world would like to hear the words of Japanese fighters. This is the first of what should be many posts taking the highlights of interviews and bringing them to "World MMA."

Speaking in a recent interview, on taking advantage of the US as a fighter, Sudo spoke of finding an image or character with which to "sell yourself" into the business.




Genki, Pensive and American?



"Whether the US can be used, I am not sure but... Looking at me, I am not so big... [when thinking about how to enter] my conclusion was I need a 'niche strategy'. Just like there are niche industries that fill [certain] needs."

"When I first started training, there were no other fighters at my gym with tattoos. I originally wanted to be a musician, so I had a lot of tattoos. And there weren't even really any other [Japanese] fighters with tattoos, so I thought, I will get [another] tattoo and make my debut.

Asked, "You were thinking about what sort of character you could sell..."

Genki replied, "Along with that, the ring entrance performance, the impact of the music... I saw the live concerts of bands like "Electric Groove" and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and I really thought that what was missing was that feeling of entertainment. I take the fight seriously but I also think that taking some things from the Japanese Pro-Wrestling scene into MMA is quite important."




Genki's trading card (front)



Genki felt it was important to go to the US to help with his debut due to a number of factors in Japan, include being teased or bullied by the higher-ups because of his tattoos.

So, based on what he saw from foreign fighters in Pancrase, he went to the Beverly Hills Jiu-Jitsu Club to train with Bas Rutten, Mark Kerr, Marco Ruas, Oleg Taktarov and others.

How does Genki feel about Japan in the world of MMA?

"In Japan, MMA boomed faster than in other countries. It has been broadcast on free television from years back. Japan could be called an 'MMA Paradise'. But now, America and Korea are receiving a lot of attention, and Japan has lost its steam - it is in a period of decline. But there are various periods - of growth, of decline."

"This period of decline doesn't mean that Japanese MMA is just going to end. It can return to a state of growth and regain popularity. The question is how to do it. First, everyone has to try to make this period of decline as short as possible because timing is important."




Genki's trading card (back)



He then talks about how different the US and Japanese business models are - the US is simply #1 with a lot of smaller organizations vying to move near it - whereas the biggest boom in Japan was with two equally popular organizations - Pride and K-1. However, he feels that in today's scene, it would be best if the attention and popularity weren't divided (between Sengoku and Dream).

Asked, "But there are also people that think if there isn't a rivalry, there won't be a rise in popularity..."

Genki replies in Part 2.



* Note:
Here is the Japanese text from Genki's trading card, and a very rough quick translation.



Japanese version:





K-1 PREMIUM 2005 Dynamite !!



名 前  須藤元気

国 籍  日本(東京)

生年月日 1978。3。8

所 属  ビバリーヒルズ柔道クラブ

身 長  175cm

体 重  73kg

戦 績  3戦3勝(HERO'S)



主なタイトル歴

1996年 全日本ジュニアオリンピック優勝

1998年 柔道カリフォルニア コパ パシフィカ大会

ミドル級優勝   

1998年 US柔道オープントーナメント無差別級優勝

2001年 UFC-J王者奪取  



Comment

93年の高校入学と同時にレスリング部に所属。拓殖短期時代96年、全日本ジュニアオリンピックでチャンピオンとなり、ポーランドで開催された世界グレコローマンレスリング大会に出所。短大学卒業後渡米し、[ビバリオーヒルズ柔道クラブ]で格闘技を学ぶ。

卒業後の99年8月に帰国、逆輸入ファイターとして日本でプロデビューを果たす。

パンクラス、リングズなどの大会を経て、02年にK-1 WORLD MAX、同年7月には念願のUFCに参戦するなど戦いの舞台を広げていく。

03年大晦日のK-1 Dynamite!!で体重差110キロのバタービーン相手に見事な勝利を飾った。また04年5月、K-1初の総合格闘技イベント[ROMANEX]ではホイラーグレイシーと対戦し完璧なKO勝ちを飾る。同年10月、K-1初のメインイベントでボクシンク王者マイケルラーマにTKO勝ちを収める。05年、HERO'Sに参戦し、土付かずの3連勝。大晦日のリングでベルトを賭けてKIDと初対戦する。





English version:



K-1 PREMIUM 2005 Dynamite !!



Name Sudou Genki

Nationality Japanese (Tokyo)

Birthdate 1978-march-8

Fighting out of Beverly Hills Judo Club

Height 175cm

Weight 73kg

Fight Record 3 fights 3 wins (Hero's)



Special title history

1996 All-Japan Junior Olympic Overall Champion

1998 California Copa Pacifica Judo Championship Middle Class Overall Champion

1998 US Judo Open Tournament No-Weight/Level-Class (Open Class) Overall Champion

2001 Regained UFC-J Champion Title



Comment

He belonged to wrestling club during his high school days in 93. In a short term of exploration in 96, he became the

champion of the All-Japan Junior Olympics and went to Poland to compete in the World Greco-Roman Wresting Championship.

Shortly after his university graduation he went to America, to the Beverly Hills Judo Club to learn MMA fighting.

After graduating university, in August of 99, he returned home to japan, and as a re-imported Fighter he had his pro debut in Japan.

He competed in Pancrase and Rings among other competitions. In 2002 he competed in the K-1 world max, and the same year,

he had a battle in the UFC. His record of fights on the stage expanded.

At the New year's day of 2003 event "dynamite", he fought the giant 110kg Butterbeat as his opponent, an unbelievably large

spectacle and again tasted victory. in may 2004 at K-1's "romanex" main event he fought Royler Gracie and scored a perfect

knockout victory. October of the same year, at the "romanex" event again main event, he got a TKO victory over professional

champion boxer Michael Ra-ma (Lama? Lamar? i dunno). in 2005 he competed in Hero's and kept a perfect fight record of

3 consecutive wins. Next, this new year's, he fights for the belt that Kid is wearing in their first match.

 
 
23 August 2008 @ 11:29 am
The latest Sumo scandal involves Russian-born "Wakanoho" who was caught with marijuana and arrested on August 18 when he left his wallet at a drinking establishment and a cigarette containing the devil's weed was found inside.

Japan has rather draconian drug-laws, which makes this a more serious offense than in the US, which is ironically the country that influenced Japan to take such a hard stance.



Wakanoho faces possible lifetime banishment from the Sumo world, and if he is found guilty he faces 1-2 years in prison and deportation. Upon deportation he would be unable to return to Japan for 5-10 years. Scandals and corruption have infested Sumo. It is possible that the corruption would allow Wakanoho to go free, depending how high up his friends go.

More on him and the arrest has already made it to his wikipedia page

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wakanohō_Toshinori

Earlier this year, a Sumo student was killed by his training partners in another scandal involving brutal training and punishments.

More can be found here

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7235156.stm

Also, the book Freakonomics has an interesting section where through statistical analysis, it appears that nearly every "important" Sumo match was worked.

When two Sumo players brought up the fact of worked matches, they were both mysteriously found dead the very next day.
 
 
23 August 2008 @ 12:56 pm
Continued from Part 1 ("Genki Sudo on US and Japan MMA (Part 1)")


Asked, "But there are also people that think if there isn't a rivalry, there won't be a rise in popularity..."

Genki replies, "No.. as it is, Japan doesn't have many fighters, there is a lack. And there are a lack of fighters in the limelight, they haven't been pushed properly. This is because it's a top-down approach [in Japan]... The US is completely bottom-up." (Full of people working their way from the bottom up).

"In capitalist/materialist society, it can't be helped that the US rose above. For Japan, the #1 thing is to attract fighters to want to fight in a Japanese ring. There needs to be an alluring power like Pride had. I think there is such a power that even the UFC doesn't have. Finding those aspects the UFC lacks and using them is the way for the Japanese promotions to prosper."


Genki sees the key points as bringing more of the entertainment aspect and linking that with appeal to the hardcore "maniac" fans, and to present the special "Japanese-ness" along with special rules and production quality ("Japan's special stage").



Clark Kent?



In Dream, as Japanese-only fights, Genki would like to see Shinya Aoki face J.Z. and Uno face Kawajiri. He thinks that the overall differences between the US and Japan can be used to allow MMA to prosper in both countries.

He doesn't believe Gomi's attitude would work well in the US, saying:

"He probably doesn't need to try to take advantage of the US. And the US is full of fighters with a similar style already. I believe instead of him, Aoki in US would be better. I mean, there's basically no one with a style like his in the UFC. It would be amazing to see him gogoplata someone in the UFC."




Music is the cause of Genki's tattoos.



On Japanese fighters becoming more popular in the US, he believes they should present their "Japanese-ness" while also speaking English well, which is becoming more important as more Japanese fighters make their way to the states. They need to show their personality.

The interviewer comments that he has heard that among the Japanese fighters trying to appear in the UFC, a large portion of them are in English conversation classes.

* Note:



Genki is the author of 8 books in Japanese, including this "Happiness Collection" which finds him traveling to various remote regions of Japan, talking about his philosophy of happiness, and includes many of his photos taken along the way. All of his books are very interesting and remain untranslated to English.

 
 
23 August 2008 @ 01:53 pm
Head of FEG and Dream, Sadaharu Tanikawa, followed up on his recent comments that if the TBS television ratings don't improve, Dream will lose its TV deal in September.



Tanikawa-san.



"Presenting MMA to the world = television. MMA became a business and for that reason it has continued until today. So to lose television, that is, to lose the connection with the general population [casual fans], would mean MMA is over."

"Every time I go to look at the new TV ratings, I have goosebumps."

"This isn't a threat or anything. If we lose the TV deal, we will continue MMA activities in some fashion, but I don't see any phenomenon or stars coming from that."


"In Japan as it is today, it would be the greatest thing for a business to not have to depend on cable broadcasting. I am jealous [of the UFC] for just being able to thrive off PPV and the gate."

"The main problem is, with the feeling I get from TV these days, there isn't time to slowly and properly build up your contents. For example, when PRIDE and K-1 started, MMA was so fresh, so there was a lot of time to build them up right."

"From here, I don't think there is a need to change our path, but first we have to get results and then I can say something."

"TBS' people, including their producers, loved Aoki vs Uno, and there great reactions. But as a whole TV company, TBS doesn't think like that. They only look at the ratings for how many people watched. Of course, that is not just TBS but all TV companies."

"Doing K-1 MAX... doing MMA... doing K-1 GP... The ratings were usually 20% so the tv stations really believed in us. But now, the golden average has become around 13%. Even K-1, whatever we do, it hangs around 12-13%... Now, if we were able to do above 15% it would be amazing. In a week, there are less than 10 shows that do above 15%. So to do above 20% these days would be a spectacle."

"As the head, I shouldn't talk like this but.. Mirko, Akiyama, Kid getting injured... Joachim Hansen winning... that is all interesting if you look at it from the perspective of the hardcore fans, but for the general population, the impetus is entirely falling apart. So I think if Misaki appeared in the middleweight GP and Akiyama didnt get injured, things would've turned out different. It's really true, the drive to watch is falling, and it hurts."

"Awhile back prowrestling felt screwed by MMA. Now Japanese MMA feels screwed by boxing." (Due to the popularity of famous boxers in recent matches like Shiro Kameda vs. Daisuke Naito)

"In any case, I want to change the mood surrounding the world of MMA. I want to change it so that new people see it and say 'that looks interesting!'."

"I need a 15% rating for Dream.6 in September."



* Extra on PRIDE:

"PRIDE was such a mysterious thing - They had the casual fans and the hardcore fans. It is because they 'befriended' the casual fans and made matches [also for the hardcore fans]. I think even at the start, PRIDE was looking to casual fans in their concept and matchmaking... For example, you could watch a drama series on TV, and you would see Kimutaku (Takuya Kimura, a very famous star in Japan) notice PRIDE on television and say so naturally 'oh, I gotta watch pride!' or you would see PRIDE posters in a television series."

"Fuji is just a corporation that believes 'sports = the casual fans'. So they were against PRIDE's appealing to the hardcore fans. They didn't believe in making a balance between the hardcore fans and the casual fans as PRIDE tried to do. So they were lucky to have people like Nogueira and Fedor that [sort of automatically] appealed to both."

"Because they are TV, they want Bob Sapp vs. Akebono, Yoshida vs. Royce Gracie, etc. That is 100% imprortant to think about. "