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Monday, May 21, 2012

Professional Shooto in Japan


The symbol of the Professional Shooto Association, Japan.

Shooto is a sport that combines the skills and techniques mainly of boxing, kick boxing and wrestling. A friend invited me to a game last Friday evening happening at Korakuen Hall, right next to Tokyo Dome.

The main event of the evening was the match between the welterweights, Kuniyoshi Hironaka of Japan, who is the welterweight world champion, and Giovani Diniz of Brazil, who is the 5th ranked welterweight in the world.

Professional Shooto match in Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, May 2012.

However, before the big match were six lead-up matches between, first, Koji Nishioka and Yoshikazu Fujiishi, then Akira and Fumihiko "Krazy Bee" Kawamura, then Koshi Matsumoto and Kota Shioishi, then Wataru Miki and Yoshifumi Nakamura, then K-Taro Nakamura and Yuki Sasaki, then Koetsu Okazaki and Hiromasa Ogikubo.

The opening fights were pretty dull, consisting mostly of the fighters rolling awkwardly around on the floor locked in each other's arms and legs. However, as the matches with the higher ranked players rolled out, they got more interesting, with more on-the-feet movement, more obvious skill, and generally more drama.

The highlight of the evening: the match between Giovani Diniz of Brazil and Kuniyoshi Hironaka of Japan, was the climax to the three-and-a-half hour build-up, but what a short, sharp climax it was.

Barely three minutes into the first round, Hironaka had Diniz on the floor and was standing over him raining a volley of punches directly to his defenseless face until Diniz, pinned like a fly and being mechanically and relentlessly battered, had no choice but to call it quits, and Kuniyoshi Hironaka thus racked up yet another win in his position as welterweight world champion. 

It was 10.30 p.m. by the time we got outside. We wandered over to the LaQua complex that forms part of Tokyo Dome City, and went to a Japanese restaurant on the 9th floor for some izakaya fare and another beer, walked to nearby Suidobashi Station, and said goodbye.

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