Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol 6 "Seidokaikan strikes back!"

Discussion in 'Worldwide MMA Discussion' started by Mbetz1981, Feb 10, 2020.

  1. Mbetz1981 Orange Belt

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    When we last convened, we were enjoying the thrills and spectacle that only human combat can provide, courtesy of Disneyland Tokyo. Now we shall turn back the clock about a month, and to the humbler setting of Japan’s epicenter of all things Kakutogi: the Korakuen Hall. The date is 6-6-91, and we find ourselves witnessing the 2nd event from Nobuhiko Takada’s upstart UWFI promotion. After the usual preliminaries, rules demonstrations, and awesome theme music, we are underway with a kickboxing match between Shootboxing alum Makoto Ohe vs an American Kickboxer whom I’m wholly unfamiliar with, named Rudy Rabord. Before the fight we were treated to some pre-match interviews that offer a fascinating glimpse into the byzantine situation that was the state of Kickboxing in those days, in which Rudy explained that he had been doing his usual Kickboxing training, but to prepare for this match he was really working on how to use knees. Such a thing seems elementary in our post K1/Muay Thai familiar world, but in 1991, the only time an American was likely to have to deal with low-kicks, knees, or clinch fighting, was when he fought abroad in Japan, Europe, etc.

    In any event, we are underway, and this is GOOD. Immediately both fighters start tearing into each other with no let up. After a steady barrage from both men, we begin to see that Rabord’s seeming lack of experience with a more Thai style of fight is becoming a :eek::eek::eek::eek::eek: in his armor. Ohe was able to really take advantage of the clinch and work a steady stream of knees into his opponent, which mostly garnered a response of Rudy putting up his hands and having the ref break it up.

    By the time the 2nd round was underway though, Rabord had seemingly come up with an answer, and started tirelessly working stiff/short uppercuts to punish his clinch-happy adversary. Rudy wasn’t out of the woods entirely, as Ohe continued to spam Rabord with low kicks that he was ill equipped to check properly. After a while the pattern of the fight started to shift into what was basically a battle of foot vs fist, with Rabord having the edge in boxing skills, and Ohe with the experience with low-kicks and knees. That’s not to say that there weren’t plenty of punches from Ohe, or kicks coming from Rabord (there were), but we did wind up getting a great snapshot of the disparity between Western/Eastern styles of kickboxing from this era.

    Round 3 had hardly started when Ohe delivered a devastating thigh kick to Rabord, which almost took him out of the fight for good. Somehow Rudy managed to hang on, but after this he was pretty much forced to rely on his boxing, and his legs were pretty much out of the equation at this point. To his credit, Rabord continued to chip away with uppercuts, when Ohe wisely shoved his opponent into the corner and delivered a straight punch that would have resulted in a 10-count, but when Rabord fell, his leg fell inbetween the ring ropes, which caused the ref to consider it a slip instead. Rudy spent the rest of the round just surviving and hoping the bell would ring.

    The Sidekick...if done properly...none can defend
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    Round 4 starts, and immediately Ohe throws a kick into Rabord’s midsection, which leads to a knockdown. Rabord was able to get up quickly though, only to suffer more punishment for his efforts. All seemed to be lost, when miraculously Rudy was able to turn the tide of the fight by throwing a couple of perfectly timed sidekicks into Ohe’s solar plexus, as he was charging in. It would figure that the most American of all kickboxing staples, the sidekick, would be the key that could potentially unlock victory here, and makes me wonder if he should have been using this technique a lot earlier in the fight.

    The rest of round 4 and round 5 saw more of the same, I.E. Rabord continuing to throw combinations, and eating nasty kicks from Ohe, but amazingly at the end of round 5, it was Ohe that was barely walking, and needed help back to his corner. The fight was declared a draw and a great fight it was!

    This also leads to my observation that this was a very shrewd strategy by the UWFI to have a kickboxing fight open things up, (it didn’t hurt that it wound up being a super entertaining bout at that) as having an obviously real fight to set the tone for the show, only added to the illusion that the rest of what the audience was going to see would be real as well. And since the rest of the format was pro-wrestling instead of kickboxing, that could be used to justify, or explain away, any possible holes in the logic that may occur later.

    Next up is Kiyoshi Tamura vs Tom Burton. There is an old cliché in Pro Wrestling that says a great wrestler should be able to wrestle a broomstick, and make it look good, and here, lo and behold, we appear to have found the broomstick. That may be a little harsh, as it’s obvious that Burton is a powerful guy with some amateur wrestling experience. In fact, had this been mid-90s UFC as opposed to 91 UWFI, Burton may have had some potential to be a nasty threat, but here, he simply served to showcase how awesome Tamura was. Burton had his obligatory offense, but he only wound up looking slow and oafish to Tamura, who was able to showcase slick escapes, smooth transitions, and always maintained a fast tempo. The match wasn’t bad, but that more to do with how great a talent Tamura is, than anything else.

    Yuko Miyato vs Kazuo Yamazaki

    Yamazaki was my favorite of the Original UWF roster, as he always brought a great psychology to his matches, used proper feints and footwork, and had a demeanor that always suggested that he was in a real fight, which is sadly a rarity in pro-wrestling. He may have been misued a bit in the Original Uwf, but at least he was given equal status to Nobuhiko Takada, (even having a win over him) but as time went on it seems like the powers in charge became content with him basically being a mid-card act, which was well beneath his talents.

    This match breaks from the high-octane approach of the prior bouts, with an almost subdued, methodical performance from both men. As both men spend several mins feeling each other out, Yamazaki comes across as a cat waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on its prey, whereas Miyato seems to know this, and is cautiously looking for an answer. About halfway into the bout, Yamazaki just decides to start kicking Miyato into oblivion, which forces a rope escape, and sets a new tone for the match. Miyato returns the favor and in the course of these exchanges we learn the true counter to an achilles hold, which is simply to kick your opponent in the head with your free leg. So simple, and yet so elusive. Well played, Miyato.

    Sambo's silver bullet?
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    This was Miyato’s final act of defiance, as Yamazaki proceeded to use him for target practice for the rest of the match, effective kicking him to shreds. Both myself, and the crowd at the Korakuen hall loved enjoyed every glorious min of it, as truly, Yamazaki does not seem capable of turning in a bad performance.

    Yoji Anjo vs Tatsuyo Nakano: A somewhat odd match in that it alternated between explosive striking exchanges on the feet, to a meandering affair once it hit the ground. This contrast had the affect of being somewhat jarring in terms of the overall pacing, but the stand up was total fire, and its amazing how the fakest of the shoot-style leagues, seems to outclass the others in this department. (Compared to PWFG which there is very little striking comparatively, and the last Rings event in which the striking was all over the place).

    An entertaining if uneven affair.

    Lastly, we have Nobuhiko Takada doing his Monster-of-the-week routine, this time with J.T. Southern as the guest star. Up to this point JT had been mostly a journeyman wrestler, having plied his trade in the AWA and Windy City Wrestling, and really seems like an odd choice to bring in, but here we are. Right away we can see that JT isn’t comfortable in the striking exchanges, and does very poorly, with what can only be described as some pitter-patter palm strikes. Perhaps, he just didn’t know how stiff he needed to be, and that was probably part of it, but you could also tell, that he was out of his element on the feet.

    He was able to acquit himself on the ground, to some extent, even going for a kimura from what could loosely be called a half-guard, and did wind up looking passable in the grappling exchanges. The match was mildly entertaining, and was thankfully short at the 7min mark, but really did nothing to add to the credibility of Takada, or the promotion for that matter.

    Final thoughts: This didn’t really move the needle much in terms of revealing what could be achieved, (either in the shoot-style, or shoot realms) but it was consistently entertaining, and that has to count for something. To be fair, while PWFG and RINGS seem to aspire for a greater plane of existence, outside of the mere chicanery of pro-wrestling, the UWFI seems very content to be just that, albeit a stiff variation. The main roster is solid, but Takada seems hopeless, as far as establishing any sort of legitimate fighting credibility. Time will tell, as to how long he can get away with squash matches against clueless Americans who would be better off sweeping the arena, as opposed to actually performing in it.

    Here is the event in full:



    *In other news*

    On 6-4-91 the Sediokaikan organization, headed by former high ranking Kyokushin Karate practitioner Kazuyoshi Ishii had an excellent full contact karate event. While this organization has been hosting full-contact tournaments since 1983, it appears that big changes are in the air, as they are planning a huge event on 10-10-91, in which they will conduct the tournament in a boxing ring, and will allow special kickboxing rounds in case the judges become deadlocked during the end of the normal karate rounds. Then if they still can’t decide a winner, they will have the competitors face off in a tile breaking contest to determine a winner. The history of this organization is rather fascinating as it has its roots in Kyokushinkai Karate, which was formed by a man named Masutatsu Oyama, and was widely considered to be one of the toughest styles of karate on the planet.

    A master in the making...
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    Masutatsu was born in Korea while under Japanese occupation and started training in Shotokan Karate at the age of 14, after having recently relocated to Japan to attend a military school. His training was short lived however, as he was drafted into the Imperial Army in 1941. After WWII ended, he decided to further his fighting education, seeking out the best school he could find, which was the Shotokan dojo operated by Gigō Funakoshi, the third son of karate master and Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi. However, he started to feel like a stranger without a home, most likely due to his being Korean. This led to him living and training in seclusion in Mt. Kiyosumi for a year and a half. He eventually returned to civilization, to open his own karate school, but was only met with marginal success.

    The lack of instant successes led him to get creative, and he started to hold demonstrations, where he would attempt to knock out a bull with repeated strikes. These stunts started opening doors for him, and by 1952 he started touring the United States, issuing challenges, and reportedly winning all of them, most by knockout. He later returned to Japan with a solidified reputation, starting his own brand of Karate, named: Kyokushinkai. Students started flocking in from various parts of the globe.

    However, as when most things get too big, Kyokushin started to fracture in the late 70s, with infighting, and differences in philosophies between lead instructors. Compounding the problem is that by this point Oyama had yet to really name, or promote a successor to his style, so the stage was set for a major fissure within their network. In 1980 one of the lead teachers, Hideyuki Ashihara split off from kyokushin in 1979 to focus on a slightly more circular footwork system, and to stave off complaints from other Kyokushin instructors that were upset that he was opening too many schools and causing competition.

    Further complicating matters was in 1980 Kazuyoshi Ishii (who was also a top student within Kyokushin) broke with Ashihara 1980, only a few months after his split, and formed Seidokaikan. Seidokaikan seems to have the all the buzz right now, and Ishii seems intent on heavily promoting his sport, so it will be exciting to see if this bears fruit or fizzles out.

    Sediokaikan Knockdown 6-4-91:
     
  2. Mbetz1981 Orange Belt

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    Just in...here are Mike Lorefice's thoughts on what we just covered...

    Rudy Lovato vs Makoto Ohe: "Kickboxing never had a history of worked matches, so lucky for us, the powers that be had no problem putting on a match with legitimate, high level all out lightning speed combos before their series of flatfooted, pulled palm strikes. UWF-I's foot fighting division was essentially just Ohe, but Ohe was both an exciting little fighter as well as a good one who had been champion in Shootboxing, and while in UWF-I, went on to win the ISKA World Super Lightweight Title. Tonight's opponent was "Bad Boy" Rudy Lovato, a journeyman boxer from Albuquerque who once had one of his fights stopped when a rowdy fan pelted him with a soda bottle. Though he won that via unanimous decision, and went on to claim the vaunted Canadien American Mexican Jr. Middleweight title, he wound up 21-40-4 in a 21 year career. That being said, he was a legitimately good, multi-belt champion in the less lucrative and largely undocumented art of kickboxing, and he truly ushered in UWF-I's new division with a memorable fast pace war. The action in this contest was pretty insane because they had no regard for defense to the point that early on they often didn't even wait for each other, simultaneously throwing their lengthy combos. Lovato had much better hands, and with Ohe not looking to defend (the only way this match slowed down is that he often grabbed a clinch to bring knees), it was amazing how many shots in a row he could land, often even with the same hand. Ohe was definitely the more diverse striker though, and the basic problem for Lovato is he couldn't match Ohe's kicks, which were shredding his legs. Even though Lovato scored a knockdown in the 1st catching Ohe coming in with a right straight, he was almost forced to pat on the inside when Ohe initiated the clinch rather than fighting hard to keep enough distance to land his damaging hooks & uppercuts because Ohe would answer those with debilitating leg kicks. Lovato did his best to slow Ohe down, really digging the body hooks in as his best answer for the low kicks. One of the things that made this fight so interesting is Lovato was winning the short term wars, he had the knockdown and was the one who would stun Ohe from time to time, but Ohe was winning the long term battle because his offense was slowly shutting Lovato down. Given Lovato was based in the US, it's likely Lovato had little to no experience with kicks below the waist and knees being legal, but in any case he wasn't checking enough of the kicks or was telegraphing his check, which would allow Ohe to just bring the kick up to the thigh. While Lovato's right leg was worse, both were ready to go early in the 3rd, and Ohe finally took this round then got a low kick knockdown to start the 4th. Lovato switched things up going to something of a side stance and throwing a couple side kicks, which forced Ohe to close the distance, and when he clinched, Lovato backed & punched his way out instead of accepting it, nearly dropping Ohe with a right. Though they battled it out late in the round, fatigue was finally setting in, and Ohe never truly recovered. The 4th was a great round, with Lovato now holding his own at range in punch vs. kick exchanges, but Ohe no longer had the forward drive in the 5th, so Lovato was finally able to dominate with distance boxing. Though this was the only legitimate fight on the card, it also told the best story, and it was fun that the tale it seemed to be telling was actually reversed, with Lovato's volume & body punching winning the attrition war & allowing him to mostly use his power punching late even though he no longer had much ability to move had Ohe still been able to press him. Lovato should have won a decision, but UWF-I uses an odd scoring system instead of blind mice, and while Lovato finished up 29-27, that's not a big enough margin for a victor to be declared. Great match


    Kiyoshi Tamura vs Tom Burton: "ML: The first minute of this fight had more compelling moments than the entirety of Takada's feeble effort to pull anything out of Burton in the debut show's main event. Tamura was actually interacting with Burton, and that was making it a riveting, high quality match as they kept pulling unconventional answers. Right from the get go we saw not simply a basic a striker vs. wrestler fight, but that Burton had knees to answer Tamura's kicks, while Tamura had a roll to counter Burton's takedown and take the top himself, and the whole match was based on this sort of back & forth where one discipline of martial arts provided the answer to another. Look, Burton may not be the tightest or most agile worker out there, but Tamura was fantastic here, crafting a match that was intense, explosive, exciting, unpredictable, and creative, and to his credit Burton was consistently able to go outside of the box to answer him. This was on the short side, but that was really a necessity given Burton. But even if Burton was a little sloppy and awkward in his slams and transitions, it was a massive overachievement that was often shockingly excellent. Not only the best worked UWF-I match we've seen so far, but the best worked shoot thusfar in '91 that didn't have Minoru Suzuki or Naoki Sano. ***1/2


    Yuko Miyato vs Kazuo Yamazaki:

    "Yamazaki is such a subtly great performer. Tamura, Takada, & Han were more flashy, but because of that they often just jumped to the action & kept it coming, whereas Yamazaki set things up and did many little things that were ahead of his time to make his matches credible. Though he doesn't have a specific background in karate or kickboxing (he was one of 3 members of the high school judo team), his mentor was Satoru Sayama, and he used to teach in Sayama's gym during the original UWF days. Yamazaki was willing to start slow, using little hand fakes, leg lifts, quick hip twitches to keep Miyato guessing when and how he was coming. Yamazaki seemed to take over when Miyato ducked a right hook kick, but then ate a left kick to the liver. However, Miyato answered with his one big weapon, the rolling solebutt. I like Miyato, but lack of creativity was really his big problem, in that he really seemed content to be the undersized guy who could hit a couple home runs, though as this is fighting rather than baseball, that style was more equivalent to having a puncher's chance. The match was just designed to put some heat back on Yamazaki since he lost to Anjo on the 1st show, but Yamazaki knew how to keep Miyato in at while gaining incremental advantages. Yamazaki's focus was on destroying Miyato's legs, and he was targetting them with most of his kicks & submissions, without forcing things. Miyato's kick to break Yamazaki's Achilles' tendon hold was both the shock & highlight of the match, it was almost as if he just boosted his butt off the canvan into a sort of ground enzuigiri. Increasingly though, he had no defense for Yamazaki's low kicks, and ran out of points getting knocked down by them. ***

    Yoji ANjo vs Tatsuyo Nakano: "This could have been our first UWF-I story match, but instead it was just a mess. Anjo tried to get Nakano to have a fair and friendly match, offering a handshake before the bell that Nakano didn't accept and signalling that they should do the match without using elbows, which again Nakano didn't shake on. The early portion was tame & dull, but eventually Anjo busted Nakano's nose up badly with a palm strike, though Nakano took him down into what should have been an arm triangle, it's wasn't until after he mounted that we noticed the pool of blood. Anjo tried to for the ever so technical mount escape of punching the opponent in the ribs, and somehow this angered Nakano, I guess because this was really before the closed fist days, and he gave in & dropped an elbow. And that was that, they didn't escalate this or anything, or have it actually be meaningful. Overall, this was way too much of an uneven pro wrestling match, with neither fighter having updated their style in the past several years. There was some good striking, but too many fake holds and wrong positions before Nakano eventually won with a cheesy facelock.

    Nobuhiko Takada vs JT Southern: "Southern sounds like the sort of loser that would willingly associate with Linda Ronstadt & Don Henley. He's probably more infamous for being the drummer in the "Tough Guys" band at Clash of the Champions X and having guitar battles with "Heavy Metal", but I might be named after a jazz fusion keyboard player and look more like a roidy version of Sammy Hagar than Eddie, Van Hammer than for being arguably the biggest failure in the history of UWF-I. This was the start of his course in Humility 101, becoming the first fighter to fail to take a single point. Southern was green & lousy, but I'm not willing to give Takada a pass because Southern was mostly just following him, and while Takada was better because he had impact on his strikes, overall he was actually more of the problem than Southern as all he could come up with was to take them through throwaway New Japan mat wrestling that wasn't even decent by that standard. UWF-I may be the least realistic of these leagues, but at least it's usually entertaining at the expense of realism. Unfortunately, both guys more or less did nothing on the mat that actually works in a real contest, and this was also dull & uninspired. Again Takada just mailed it in rather than find a way as Tamura did earlier, and without anyone to pull anything compelling out of him, it was an outright stinker.


    ML: I could buy a PRIDE show headlined by Takada that got worse with each match, but that shouldn't happen in UWF-I. This show got off to a fantastic start though, and while from an MMA perspective it may not rate highly, it did have an all-time classic real match. It also had two good worked matches, and only 1 match that you should skip, so overall, this is pretty easily the best pro wrestling show out of the handful we've looked at so far.


    Seidokaikan Knockdown 6-4-91: "While karate stylists in MMA are usually associated with a lot of lateral movement and ferocious forward blitzes looking for the devastating one-strike finish, this event was rather ironic in that they fought on an open platform that was large enough to play 6 on 6 volleyball on, yet it was all phone booth fighting. This was no punches to the head bare knuckles combat, so it's mostly a bunch of body punches, with knees and kicks alternating as the secondary weapon because the kicks are easier to land, but y usually wind up spending most of their time inside of kicking range. There were obviously no weight classes, as the American team had a huge size advantage, with most of their competitors being at least a head taller than their adversary. Brian Martin was getting in trouble for missing to the face, but it felt like it must have been work to get his punches low enough to be legal! If you're only familiar with Nobuaki Kakuda as an aging/retired fighter taking a paycheck to hang around with Inoki, lending New Japan's works some shoot credibility, he's amazingly fast here at 30, and his ability to pull off high level techniques & combos really sets him apart from the others. Unfortunately, his opponent Gary Klugiewicz comes to understand this pretty quickly, and takes away Kakuda's kicking game & most of our fun by spending the rest of the match grabbing & holding him. Kakuda an entertaining match highlighted by Kakuda flooring Klugiewicz with a sweet jumping knee in the extra round. The most notable part though was the shinken shirabidori (true blade grab) exhibition that took place before the main event that was designed to prove that if you practice enough karate, you can even defeat a samurai. They actually had some Tiger Jeet Singh sort of action going on, except the samurai actually tried to use the blade of his sword rather than putz around endlessly with the handle, with the karate master seemingly showing every possible way to thwart him, climaxing by stopping a lethal blow sandwiching the blade (which they claim is not blunt or gimmicked) between his two palms and taking the opponent out with a front kick.

     

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