Sunday, August 31, 2014

World Championship Trends

Here are the Top 10 Trends I've noticed at the 2014 Chelyabinsk World Judo Championships (not in order of importance or prominence):

1. Ura-Nage is popular
Lots of players from around the world are doing ura-nage, which is actually not a common throw in judo. In the past, this throw was usually employed by players from Eastern European countries. But these days, everybody does it. Players from various countries, men and women, big and small. There were so many attempts at ura-nage, it was hard to not notice it. But there were equally many failed attempts where ura-nage got countered. Several key matches were won that way.

2. Hip throws are hip
There is also a resurgence of the hip throw. Normally, hip throws are popular amongst big players. The heavyweights in particular, love hip throws. For lightweights, hip throws were normally limited to sode-tsuri-komi-goshi, which is done more like a seoi-nage than a hip throw. But these days, even the lightest weights use hip throws. Japan's new -48kg champion Ami Kondo's favorite technique seems to be harai-goshi. In the men's -60kg, Georgia's Amiran Papinashivili and Japan's Naohis Takato also favour hip throws. One of the hip techniques that's really a noticeable trend is best described as utsuri-goshi, which starts off as an ura-nage to the back but then quickly transformed into a hip throw to the front. First popularized by Takato, now you see many players trying it.

3. The emergence of soto-makikomi
Soto-makikomi is a throw many judo instructors frown upon. Perhaps because it involves wrapping your opponent around you and rolling them down, it is deemed as a somewhat unskillful technique that relies on brute force strength. But players like Ukraine's Georgii Zantaraia have turned it into a bona fide skillful technique. Though not as commonly seen as ura-nage and hip throws, soto-makikomi happened with enough regularity that it's fair to say it's become a popular technique.

4. Ride-and-roll counter very common
Probably the most common counter we see today is the ride-and roll-attack. It happens when an opponent tries uchimata. Instead of a sukashi, which is the usual way of countering an uchimata, many players actually ride the attack and tip their opponent over to their side. Many matches were won this way.

5. Lots of overthrows
Time was when if you managed to launch your opponent into the air, it was almost a certainty you would end up with an ippon. Not anymore. Judo players are far more  acrobatic than players of the past. Players like Charles Chibana of Brazil and Georgii Zantaraia of Ukraine are almost like gymnasts in their ability to spin through the air and ultimately land on their front. In his epic battle against the Japanese World Champion Masashi Ebinuma, Zantaraia proved impossible to throw even though he was often flung into the air. In the end Ebinuma had to rely on penalties to win. But Zantaria and Chibana are not the only ones. Many players in all different weight classes are getting better and better at spinning out of a throw.

6. Shido game
The purpose of introducing various new IJF rules is to encourage bigger throws and less tactical play. But players adapt and today we see a lot of players engaging in the shido game, that is aiming to win via penalties. Many matches were determined that way, instead of a throw. Even the blue ribbon event, the final of the men's heavyweight division, was won that way. Teddy Riner of France, instead of throwing his opponent, ended up relying on penalties for the win.

7. Golden score determined by shido
This is somewhat related to the point above (shido game). The fights that went to Golden Score were often determined by shido. Referees were (rightly so, in my opinion) very quick to give shidos once players were in Golden Score. The moment one player eases up a bit, he or she would be given a shido. That is why so many Golden Score fights were determined by shido rather than a throw.

8. Double sleeve tie-up
Referees are quick to give shido for players who refuse to come to grips. So many players do grip their opponents but we are seeing lots of situations where both players adopt a double sleeve grip tie-up where nothing's happening. A lof of the times, the players are holding the end of their opponents' sleeve. In the past this would normally be given a shido. Such a grip seldom gets penalized these days.

9. Referees are strict about straying outside
Many penalties were given for straying outside and many fights were won and lost that way. It's remarkable how many experienced players allowed themselves to get caught that way. Sometimes, the difference between a win and a loss is one shido. And many shidos were dished out to players for straying outside. Japan's 2013 Rio World Champion Naohisa Takato lost his match that way.

10. Comebacks fail
It's never easy to mount a comeback. In the recent past we have seen how miserably players like Russia's Alexander Mikhaylin and France's Lucie Decosse performed in their comeback bids. In Chelyabinsk we saw three players make a comeback: Japan's Kaori Matsumoto, USA's Kayla Harrison and Russia's Tagir Khaibulaev. All three failed to make the final although Harrison did manage to win the bronze.

World Championships, Chelyabinsk 2014 - DAY 7

(Via IJF)

The World Championships, Chelyabinsk 2014, delivered one last day of scintillating judo as the Team Championships took centre stage on the final day in front of Mr. Vladimir PUTIN, President of the Russian Federation and IJF Honorary President.  

The seven-day annual extravaganza in Chelyabinsk has been praised the world around and offered a pulse-pounding finale on Sunday at the Traktor Sport Arena.

Teams of five judoka were in action as the venue was bursting to capacity with the crowd relishing their last chance to see the finest athletes in the world on the biggest stage on the IJF World Judo Tour. 

Mr. Marius VIZER and Mr. Vladimir PUTIN

Mr. PUTIN, an avid judo practitioner and 8th Dan, was officially invited to attend Chelyabinsk 2014 by Mr. Marius VIZER, IJF and SportAccord President and dually obliged as Russia fielded a men’s team and a women’s team.

The men’s title and a first gold medal for the hosts eluded the Russian teams as the men were undone by Japan who trailed 2-0 but showed their spirit to come back and win the last three fights to defeat the hosts 3-2. The women’s title was won by France who defeated Mongolia in dramatic fashion by the same score.  

Ahead of the final block there was a cooperation agreement signing between the IJF and FIAS, the International Sambo Federation. The one-year contract signed today by Mr. VIZER and FIAS President Mr. Vasily SHESTAKOV will see both federations work together to develop their work in areas such as integrity, media and marketing.

The signing was attended by the Minister of Sports for the Russian Federation, Mr. Vitaly MUTKO, who said: “I have seen a very high level of sport and of judo here in Chelyabinsk and an outstanding atmosphere. There is a great tradition of sport in the Chelyabinsk Region.

“I have the greatest impression of these judo event. Of course, my gratitude goes the IJF and its President, Mr. Marius Vizer. Thanks to the IJF and the Russian Judo Federation, judo is growing in our country and it has become a real priority.

“Talking about the results of our national team, I want to say that I am really pleased with the global results. Russia won eight individual medals, this is excellent and we can feel the London Olympics effect. A few years back that wouldn’t have been possible. Of course, we wanted gold as well, but sport is never written in advance and the concurrence is important at the international level.”

Mr. VIZER said: “My gratitude goes to the organising committee of those World Championships, to the Russian Federation and to the Russian Judo Federation. It was a perfect example of unity and solidarity and a bridge of friendship for Russia in a difficult moment. During a week, Chelyabinsk was a highland of peace and once again it showed friendship and solidarity from Russia to the world.”

“The level of judo has been very high throughout the week. The rules that we have implemented in the framework of the Olympic Games Rio 2016 confirmed that they are moving judo in the right direction. I am deeply convinced that judo is growing and I would like to express my thanks to the media which widely followed the event. They help us to promote the values of judo.

“Russia has been supporting sports for a very long time. This is the case on a domestic level as well as at the international level. I do hope and believe that through this event, we have promoted the right values.
Everybody will go back home with a positive impression and with a good taste of the Russian hospitality and culture and of course I want to congratulate all the winners.”

Before putting pen to paper and inking the new contract with FIAS, Mr. VIZER said: “After long conversations with my colleague from the International Sambo Federation, Mr. Vasily SHESTAKOV, we reached an agreement with Sambo. This is a one-year cooperation that can then be extended. We will help each other to develop our sports with friendship, in the fields of marketing, media and sports development.”

Mr. SHESTAKOV said: “I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Mr. VIZER. Our sports are friends. We are even brothers. The organisation of the IJF under the leadership of Mr. VIZER is an example to be followed. As he is also the President of SportAccord, he promotes all the sports and we are part of that family.”

Following the signing the organising committee staged a closing ceremony which saw the flag handover ceremony for the World Championships as Mr. Vasily ANISIMOV, President of the Russian Judo Federation returned the IJF flag to Mr VIZER who in turn handed it to Mr. Kenges RAKISHEV, the Kazakhstan Judo Federation President.

Mr. RAKISHEV said: “Thank you everyone for trusting us with hosting a World Championships next year. We have been very impressed by the extremely high level of competition organised here in Chelyabinsk. Now we have a very serious task ahead of us and we invite you all to Astana in 2015.”

The World Championships 2015 will take place in Astana, Kazakhstan, the youngest capital city in the world, from 25-30 August.  


France resist Mongolia charge to win gold 

France won the World Championships women’s title after a hard-fought victory against a battling Mongolian team who lost 3-2. Priscilla GNETO (FRA) gave her team the lead with her first career win over MUNKHBAATAR Bundmaa (MGL) before DORJSUREN Sumiya (MGL) beat world bronze medallist Automne PAVIA (FRA) with a drop seoi-nage to make it all square. World champion helped her teams cause and her bid to become individual and team champion by beating BALDORJ with a yuko and waza-ari all in the last 48 seconds.TSEND-AYUSH (MGL) restored parity with a win against PINOT (FRA) to make it 2-2. It all came down to world silver medallist and BATTULGA Munkhtuya (MGL) and the former threw for ippon with a uchi-mata as her teammates jumped for joy matside. 

The French team said: “Despite the extreme tiredness it is really good to finish on the top of the podium. The team event is something special and different from any other event. Most of us we fought in the individual tournament. I was difficult to restart again a new competition day, which is really long. But all together we found the necessary energy to take match after match and to win. When we go on the tatami, we forget that we are tired and we want to win. That is what we did today."

In the semi-final France beat Japan 3-2 as Margaux PINOT (FRA) conquered TACHIMOTO Haruka (JPN) in the third contest to send her team through. In the second semi-final Mongolia shaded an impressive Poland team as TSEND-AYUSH Naranjargal (MGL) bested Katarzyna KLYS (POL) to put her team 3-1 ahead before they added an extra win in the heavyweight contest. The first team bronze medals were won by Germany who looked to Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix runner-up Luise MALZAHN (GER) for inspiration and she held her nerve in the decider against Daria POGORZELEC (POL) who had two shido penalties while her opponent pitched an unblemished record. The second team bronze medals went to JAPAN who lost their 2013 title but salvaged the final place on the women’s podium with a win against RUSSIA. Like so many matches before and after this engrossing battle, the winner was decided in the final contest as YAMABE Kanae (JPN) defeated -70kg judoka Irina GAZIEVA (RUS) was only selected for the team event. YAMABE scored with a osoto-otoshi for waza-ari and earned the same score with a ouchi-gari to send her team onto the podium.

The Japanese team said: “Obviously we came here for the gold so we are disappointed that we only could get the bronze. We had really tough fights today, but despite that, were able to concentrate again and even after having lost the two first fights of the bronze medal match, we managed to win the medal and for that we are happy.”

Bronze Medal Fights
JAPAN vs RUSSIA       

Final Results
1. FRANCE       
2. MONGOLIA           
3. GERMANY         
3. JAPAN   
5. POLAND       
5. RUSSIA          
7. CUBA    


Japan come from behind to deny Russia in last contest of 2014 Worlds

Japan seized their chance in the men’s final as they impressively come from behind to beat hosts Russia 3-2. Russia started the strongest as world bronze medallist Kamal KHAN-MAGOMEDOV (RUS) shocked world champion EBINUMA Masashi (JPN) with an o-goshi for ippon which had the President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Vladimir PUTIN, on his feet and highly animated as he willed the team on. The hosts doubled their lead when Denis IARTCEV dominated ONO Shohei (JPN). ONO opened the scoring with a uchi-mata for waza-ari but IARTCEV was overawed and come back to a yuko from a uchi-mata counter and a waza-ari from an osoto-otoshi. As the crowd sensed the gold medal was within their reach Japan sent out 20-year Tokyo Grand Slam winner NAGASE Takanori (JPN) who unlocked Murat KHABACHIROV (RUS) to make a breakthrough for his team and keep them in the contest.

The contest was scoreless after five minutes so the nerve-jangling potential decider went into golden score and after 14 seconds NAGASE scored ippon from an explosive ouchi-gari. Teenager BAKER Mashu (JPN) was next up for Japan and the gutsy newcomer held down Magomed MAGOMEDOV (RUS) after two minutes to level the match at 2-2. The match came down to the last fight of the World Championships, Chelyabinsk 2014, as world silver medallist SHICHINOHE Ryu (JPN) faced Aslan KAMBIEV (RUS) who was only selected for team duties this week. SHICHINOHE went close with a tai-otoshi buefore going ahead with a waza-ari score and sealing a remarkable comeback with a tate-shiho-gatame for 15 seconds. 

ONO Shohei said: “I’m very disappointed I lost so many times at these World Championships, but I’m a team member and we won as a team.”

SHICHINOHE said: “As a team representing Japan we tried out best and thanks to our team spirit we were able to win and we are very happy.”

Three-time world champion EBINUMA said: “I’m very disappointed because I lost but thanks to the group we were able to win. INOUE Kosei (Japan Head Coach) congratulated us and was pleased so I’m very happy with that.”

In the semi-final Japan defeated reigning champions Georgia 4-1 while at the same stage Russia thumped Germany 4-1. Germany bounced back in devastating fashion in the repechage as they humbled Kazakhstan 5-0 to end their tournament on a high. The same could not be said for Brazilian men who, having won only won individual medal, ran out of steam in the second bronze medal match against Georgia who won the fifth and final contest to steal a 3-2 victory. Olympic and seven-time world champion Teddy RINER suffered a first round defeat as France lost 3-2 Brazil on the opening round. RINER did his part by defeating David MOURA (BRA) with a tate-shiho-gatame pin but that only restored some pride as his team lost out 3-2. 


Bronze Medal Fights

Final Result
1. JAPAN         
2. RUSSIA      
3. GERMANY        
3. GEORGIA    
5. KAZAKHSTAN        
5. BRAZIL     
7. CUBA   

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Men's +100kg

Pool A
Rafael Silva was Brazil's best hope to stop the juggernaut that is Riner. But he was not particularly impressive in the preliminary rounds. He won his first match, against Germany's Andre Breitbarth through penalties. Then he beat Egypt's Islam El Shehaby (EGY) also by penalties. Against Lithuania's athletic Marius Paskevicius, he conceded a yuko first before throwing with a harai-goshi for waza-ari.

Pool B
France's Teddy Riner is the star of the show and he gave the audience what they wanted. First, a big osoto-gari ippon against Israel's Sasson. Then, an uchimata ippon against Czech Republic's Michal Horak. Against the home favorite, Renat Saidov, he used a sumi-gaeshi for waza-ari and then pinned him for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.

Pool C
Japan's Ryu Schichinohe is not a big player for a heavyweight but he managed to defeat many big players on the way to the semifinal. First it was Cuba's Oscar Brayson whom he threw with a sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi for waza-ari. Then he countered a pick up attempt by Poland's Maciej Sarnacki for ippon. Against Kyrgystan's Iurri Krakovetskii he first threw him for yuko and then armlocked him for ippon.

Pool D
Brazil's second player in the category, David Moura is like Shichinohe, a relatively smaller player. But he also exhibited good skills at fighting bigger opponents. Against Ukraine's Stanislav Bondarenko, he threw with uchimata for ippon. Mongolia's Temuulen Battulga pulled off an uchimata sukashi that scored waza-ari but Moura had the presence of mind to engage immediately in groundwork that ended up with a pin for ippon. He had difficulty with the Netherlands' Roy Meyer who was also not a very big player. In the end, he won on penalties.

Semifinal 1
The first semifinal was over very fast as Riner took advantage of a poor attack by Silva to strangle his opponent.

Semifinal 2
In the battle between two smaller heavyweights, Moura scored first with a drop seoi-nage for waza-ari. Shichinohe scored back with an ouchi-gari for waza-ari. The big throw happened when Moura tried a kosoto-gari which Shichinohe countered for ippon.

Bronze 1
The much larger Saidov easily quashed Moura's drop seoi-nage attempt and pinned him for ippon and a bronze medal for Russia.

Bronze 2

The much larger Silva made Meyer look passive and in the end, he won the match by penalties. It was not a particularly satisfying performance.


    Riner plays it safe and opts for the shido game

Riner played a cautious game, preferring to pull Shichinohe's head down rather than go for big attacks. His tactics worked and soon Shichinohe had collected up to three shidos. With less than a minute left, the Japanese attacked with an ouchi-gari that took Riner down. Although it looked like it could have been a yuko, the referee determined that he had sufficiently spun out of the throw to warrant no score being given. And with that, Riner won his seventh world title.