Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Takato's Yoko-Sutemi (Side Takedown)

Takato likes the side takedown, rare among Japanese players
One of the reasons commentators like to say Japan's 2013 World Champion Naohisa Takato has European-styled judo is the side-takedown that he does.

I do wonder where he picked up this technique. Even as a cadet, when he was only 17 years old, he was already seen using this technique.

In fact, he won the 2009 Budapest World Cadet Championships using this technique against Matheus Machado of Brazil. The very first clip in the video pasted at the bottom of this posting is of his final match against Machado. You'll see that even at 17,  his side takedown was already fully-formed.

It's worth noting that back then (circa 2009) Takato was also seen using te-guruma regularly, another very European-styled technique. (He has since abandoned that technique for obvious reasons).

This is not to say he doesn't have traditional techniques. Kouchi-gari was a regular feature in his judo back then and is still so today. He also has a very good sode-tsuri-komi-goshi, which can be considered a traditional technique. Not many people realize this but he can do an effective uchimata too, and it's done in a rather conventional way.

But it can't be denied that he does have rather unconventional techniques in his repertoire, especially the side takedown and utsuri-goshi, which you don't see many Japanese players doing. He also likes to attempt sumi-gaeshi, popular amongst European lightweights, rather than the tomoe-nage favored by most Japanese lightweights.

We will be looking at all his techniques -- conventional and unconventional -- over the next two weeks.

Starting with this blog posting, I am going to be uploading a series of daily posts analyzing Takato's judo, inside out. We start first by looking at his side takedown. In the early days, he would occasionally grab his opponent's right leg to execute this technique but like many other players who specialize in the side takedown, he has adapted with the times and today, he is adept at doing this technique without any leg grabs.

Today, we look at his successful attempts at side takedown. When he succeeds, it's a very spectacular throw. Tomorrow we will look at his unsuccessful attempts at the technique (there's something to be learned from watching the failed attacks as well).

Monday, December 29, 2014

Overview of Takato's judo

For the past two weeks, I've been studying the judo of Japan's Naohisa Takato, watching his fights from the time he competed in the 2009 Budapest Cadets World Championships right up to the 2014 Chelyabinsk World Championships.

He is one of the most fascinating judo players around because of the wide range of techniques in his arsenal. I've heard many people, including video commentators as saying his judo is very un-traditional and even somewhat European. I think that's only partially true. His yoko-sutemi and utsuri-goshi are indeed uncommon and usually associated with European judo. But, he does a wide range of traditional judo techniques as well.

Most people are familiar with his well-known tokui-waza. He does yoko-sutemi (left), kouchi-gari (left), sode-tsuri-komi-goshi (right) and utsuri-goshi (right) extremely well. And these are the techniques we see him score big with in the highlights videos.

What's less known are his other techniques, and he does quite a lot of other stuff. For example he is known to try uchimata (left) quite regularly and sometimes scores with it too. Another technique that he likes to try very often is sumi-gaeshi (left). He has less success with that. But he seems to like it a lot.

On occasions, he does an hugging, driving ouchi-gari which works fairly well, probably because it's usually done as an opportunistic, timely attack. 

He's not really a seoi-nage man although like many Japanese players of today's generation, he has a reverse seoi-nage (left) in his arsenal. He also occasionally tries morote-seoi-nage (left) but doesn't have much luck scoring with that. As for ippon-seoi-nage, I've seen him try it once so far (and it didn't work). So, seoi-nage is not really his thing.

Back in the day when leg grabs following an initial non-leg grab attack was allowed he tried doing one-handed sode (left), which entailed grabbing the opponent's right leg. But he's abandoned that technique now that all forms of leg grabs are prohibited.

Takato doesn't seem to like newaza very much and he seldom engages in it but when he does he usually aims for osaekomi. On occasions he has been able to pull off some very slick ground manoeuvres that score, which makes you wonder why he doesn't do them more often. Perhaps he just likes to throw more.

Speaking of throws, let's return to his tokui-waza and examine his favorite throwing techniques in detail

He's one of the few Japanese who likes to do this very European-style technique. The only other Japanese player I've seen done this was Tadahiro Nomura, who did it infrequently. Takato, in contrast, does it all the time. And most of the times, it fails. But when it works, it's quite spectacular.

In the early days, he would do it in combination with a leg grab. He would enter first in a kata-guruma styled fashion but without the leg grab. Once the opponent is loaded on his shoulders he would grab the opponent's right leg and drive him down. With the leg grab now illegal, he has adapted just like other side takedown specialists and is able to execute the technique without the leg grab.

This is one of his minor techniques. He doesn't usually score big with this but he scores often with it and even when he doesn't score, he usually knocks down his opponents. In the early days, he would employ a leg grab but of course he doesn't do this anymore these days. His kouchi is still very effective though, even without the leg grab. He is a specialist in this technique.

From his extreme left-sided kenka-yotsu stance he would suddenly twist in and launch his opponent with this hip throw. He tries this in almost every match so it's definitely a favorite of his.

This is a technique seldom seen in competition because it's such an unusual technique that involves switching the attack from a backwards throw (ura-nage) to a forward throw (ogoshi), all in one seamless movement. Takato has had some major wins with this one. As in the case of his sode, he starts by adopting an extreme left kenka-yotsu stance. When the time is right, he will twist in and load his opponent onto his right hip before smashing him to the ground. It's a very effective technique that's gaining in popularity especially amongst the Europeans. Ukraine's Georgii Zantaraia and Hungary's Krisztian Toth have been known to do the exact same technique.

One thing that's not so obvious from the highlight clips is that for every successful time he executes his favorite throws, he has many more failed attacks. You just don't see those in the highlight clips, which only shows the big, successful throws. But Takato is a workhorse and constantly attacks with various techniques. Most of the time, they don't work but he keeps plugging away until something does work. It's an approach that has worked well for him.

In the coming days, I shall be posting up various clips showcasing the judo of Takato. I'll also be working on my a judo e-book entitled "The Judo of Takato" where all his techniques are broken down in step-by-step movements. It'll be a first book of its kind and hopefully the first of many such e-books to come.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A battle of te-waza

Jang & Takato each have te-waza skills
Pure te-waza techniques are seldom seen in judo, where players throw their opponents purely with just hand/arm movements. Jang Jin-Min of South Korea did just that in the 2012 Oberwart World Cup when he threw then-rising star Naohisa Takato of Japan with an excellent display of te-waza, whirling the Japanese over for a clean ippon. (Note: Jang does a sasae type of movement but his left leg never connects with Takato's so it is te-waza not ashi-waza).

Takato got his revenge the next year though, in the 2013 Paris Grand Slam, when Jang tried to do the same technique. This time, Takato was ready and countered with his own te-waza for a smashing ippon. Watch the clips below for an amazing display of te-waza prowess.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Takato vs Mudranov match analysis

In recent postings, I asked whether Shichinohe scored yuko against Riner and why no shido was given to Riner for obvious infringements. That match was probably the most talked about topic at the 2014 Chelyabinsk World Championships.

Takato complains to the referee about score downgrades

Another hotly contested match up was the semi-final bout between Japan's Naohisa Takato and Russia's Beslan Mudranov. That one was even more controversial. Takato's scores were downgraded twice and he was penalized for stepping out, resulting in a shido that decided the match. Below are the highlights from their very exciting match.

Now, let's analyze the two most controversial aspects of that match: the downgrades and the stepping out penalty.

1. Were the downgrades justifiable? I would argue yes. In the first downgrade, Takato's waza-ari score was changed to yuko. If you watch the slow motion analysis, Mudranov clearly lands on his side, which merits a yuko. In the second downgrade, Takato's yuko was cancelled. Slow motion analysis shows that Mudranov lands on his buttocks, which merits no score (in olden days it would have been koka).

2. Did Takato deserve a shido for stepping out? This one is less clear cut because his stepping out seemed to be part of the action and did not appear to be a deliberate movement to go outside. It is very similar to the case where Mudranov steps outside as part of the action. If Takato is to be given a shido for such a movement, why wasn't Mudranov? 


The score of yuko each is fair. Mudranov's side takedown clearly scores a yuko. Meanwhile, Takato's ogoshi merits only a yuko, not a waza-ari; and his osoto-gari landed Mudranov on his backside which merits no score. So, yuko each. Takato probably should not have been given a shido for stepping out as it was part of the action and very similar to the case where Mudranov stepped out earlier in the match. If that shido had not been given (or if both of them had been given shido for stepping out) the match would have gone into Golden Score. What a prospect that would have been.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Takato's awesome sode

Sode-tsuri-komi-goshi is one of Naohisa Takato's tokui-waza.
In my last posting, I showed a clip of Takato attempting sode time and again against South Korea's Jang Jin-Min and failing each time. Sometimes, even the experts fail. But when his sode works, such as in his match against Sweden's Olle Sundstrom in the 2012 Moscow Grand Slam (where he threw his opponent twice with the same throw) he really makes them airborne. What a throw!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Even the experts fail sometimes... Takato's sode

Quite often, what we see are the top player's successful throws, not the ones where they fail to execute the throw properly. That's because much of the judo we see are highlight reels. Unless you are judo crazy (ahem), you won't spend hours and hours watching raw contest footage.

What you watch is the slickly produced videos by Fighting Films or by some Internet enthusiast who has done his own YouTube compilation of the player's best moments.

I'm currently doing some research on the judo of Naohisa Takato, one of the most fascinating players around. Hopefully by early next year, I'll be able to produce an e-book about his top techniques.

In researching his fights, I've noticed that for every successful throw he makes, he has a lot of failed ones. For example, one of the throws he is known for is sode-tsuri-komi-goshi. He is very good at it and when it works, he flings his opponents high into the air. But sometimes he can't just get it to work.

A case in point is his match against South Korea's Jang Jin-Min in the 2011 Qingdao Grand Prix. He tries sode-tsuri-komi-goshi five times and each time, his attempt was thwarted by the awkward Korean. Sometimes, it's as interesting to see the failed techniques as it is to see the successful ones. Watch the fascinating clip below:

Try as he might, Takato can't get sode working against Jang

Friday, December 19, 2014

Zantaraia's Soto-Makikomi

Zantaraia actually uses soto-makikomi as a main technique.
Not many players use soto-makikomi as a main technique. When there are exceptions, it's usually in the heavyweight category. It's very rarely seen among lightweights. Ukrain'e Georgii Zantaraia, however, likes to throw with it and he does it very well. It almost looks like a standing seoi-nage.

It's also very seldom that you see someone throw 2013 -60kg World Champion Naohisa Takato, much less throw him for ippon. But Zantaraia did just that at the 2011 Qingdao Grand Prix. Watch his magnificent soto-makikomi in action.

Why no shido for Riner?

In the hotly anticipated final between Japan's Ryu Shichinohe and France's Teddy Riner, the Japanese player dropped down three times to avoid an impending attack. He was penalized each time, giving him a total of three shido during the course of the match.

This was the correct call. It's long been established that if you simply drop to your knees without initiating a proper attack, you will get penalized. So, Shichinohe got what he deserved.

Riner adopts a high cross grip for a long time without attacking. Why no shido?
Riner, however, made some infringements too. On one occasion, he pulled Shichinohe's head down but did not attempt to make a throw. Simply pulling your opponent's head down without attempting an attack is a shido penalty under the new IJF rules. On another occasion, Riner adopts a high cross grip and does not attack. Again, under the new IJF rules, this is a shido penalty.

Why didn't the referee give him shido on those two occasions? Why didn't Riner get what he deserved? Watch the clip below to see what I mean.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Did Shichinohe score yuko against Riner?

 One of the most hotly discussed topics in the 2014 Chelyabinsk World Judo Championships came from the blue ribbon event: the Men's +100kg final. With less than a minute left in the match, and down by three shidos, Japan's Ryu Shichinohe attacked Teddy Riner with a sharp ouchi-gari that felled the great Frenchmen. But did Riner manage to spin out in time or did he fall enough on his side to warrant a yuko score?

The crowd was shouting "yuko" but the referee didn't think it was a yuko and the video judges didn't think so either. Watch the clip below. It comes with slow motion replay from multiple angles. What do you think? Yuko... or not?

It's really hard to say. I've seen referees give yukos for lesser throws. But I've also seen referees not give scores for spin-outs like that. Whatever the case, yuko was not given and Riner ended up winning on shido penalties. But how exciting it would have been if yuko had been given and Riner had to get back that score with about half a minute left.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Free 2014 Chelyabinsk World Championships e-book

This is the IJF e-book that I was in Chelyabinsk to report for. All contest reports and analysis in the e-book were written by me. Photos by David Finch. Enjoy!

Marius Vizer visits Kosovo

Note: I wonder how someone like Kelmendi trains. Kosovo is not a strong judo nation but she is super dominant in her weight class. How does she do it?

(Via IJF)

On December 15th, the IJF President Mr. Marius Vizer, was invited by the highest authorities of the Republic of Kosovo to personally thank him for his contribution to the recognition of the Kosovo Olympic Committee. Mr. Vizer congratulated the country for achieving full membership of the International Olympic Committee and awarded the ‘Prestige Best Female Athlete of the Year 2014’ to double World Champion Majlinda Kelmendi. During his historical visit, Mr. Vizer met with the President of the Republic of Kosovo, Madam Atifete Jahjaga.

Since the IOC Session ratified the Executive Board decision in Monaco last week, Kosovo will now complete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Majlinda Kelmendi as its main chance for medal and as a true ambassador for sports. The young athlete, who turned 23 in May and who has been a pivotal booster for her country’s sporting standing, is now set to be the flagbearer in Brazil. The IJF was one of the first International Federations to recognise the Republic of Kosovo as they were accepted as a full member by the IJF Executive Committee in April 2012.

Madam Atifete Jahjaga, presents the IJF President Mr. Vizer, with a Presidential Medal of Merit

The IJF President Mr. Vizer, presents Madam Atifete Jahjaga with the IJF Gold Medal

The President of the Republic of Kosovo, Madam Atifete Jahjaga, presented the IJF President Mr. Vizer, with a Presidential Medal of Merit for his great contribution to internationalize Kosovo in sports.In turn Mr. Vizer presented the IJF Gold Medal to The President of the Republic of Kosovo, Madam Atifete Jahjaga, before presenting a $50,000 cheque to Majlinda Kelmendi who finished top of the IJF’s new Prestige World Ranking List with 4230 points.

Mr. Vizer presents Majlinda Kelmendi with a $50,000 cheque

During the press conference that was held at the end of the day, Mr. Vizer also recognized Mr. Anton Cena, who the IJF President helped to establish a new dojo in Kosovo, by presenting him with an IJF Special Recognition Award in front of a mass of national and international media.

Majlinda Kelmendi during the press conference

Mr. Marius Vizer together with Mr. Anton Cena and Mr. Besim Hasani

Then Mr. Vizer accompanied by Kosovo Olympic Committee President, Mr. Besim Hasani, presented a signed copy of the application of Kosovo to join the IOC to conclude proceedings as the collaboration between the IJF and Kosovo Judo Federation has helped to pave the way for their hugely-talented judo team to compete at the Olympics.

Mr. Vizer and Mr. Besim Hasani present a signed copy of the application of Kosovo

Nagase - rising star

The -81kg division is dominated by Avtandil Tchrikishvili, who has more IJF World Ranking points than any other male competitor. As the reigning world champion, he is the man to beat.

And the man who has beaten him twice in recent months is Japan's 21-year old Takanori Nagase, who recently won the 2014 Tokyo Grand Slam despite the presence of Tchrikishvili and South Korea's Olympic and Double World Champion Kim Jae-Bum.

Nagase's performance at the 2014 Chelyabinsk World Championships was rather lacklustre and he returned to Japan without any medal -- in the individual event that is. In the team event, however, he performed superbly and even managed to throw Tchrikishvili for yuko during Golden Score, for a win.

At the 2014 Tokyo Grand Slam, not only did he throw the Georgian but he scored an ippon. Interestingly, he also beat Kim along the way. This young Japanese player is clearly on the ascendency.

An overview of Nagase vs Tchrikishvili fights in 2013/14

Monday, December 15, 2014

For ardent judo fans...

 The IJF now requires all judoka who wish to compete in IJF events to register for an ID. It applies to athletes, coaches, doctors and federation officials. The fee is 40 Euros.

What's interesting is that the IJF has also created a Fan Card for those who are not competing. It will give cardholders access to a "tailor made benefits program" that includes discounts.

The details of benefits and discounts will soon be made available on the IJF website. The fee for the fan card seems to also be 40 Euros. That's rather steep actually. I guess whether it's worth it or not will depend on what the benefits and discounts are. Until then, it makes sense to adopt a wait-and-see attitude.

Is the IJF ban on other combat sports a bad thing?

When news broke that the IJF has banned ranked judo players from competing in other combat sports, famed judoka-turned-MMA champion Ronda Rousey was outraged (to say the least).

Rather harsh words but of course one can understand where she's coming from. She might be from the USA, a rich country, but there's little money in American judo. So, she moved on to MMA and is huge star in those circles. She's even a movie star now.

The world of judo is very divided about this topic. In recent years, there has been a trend for judo players to cross train with BJJ, probably to get extra newaza practice. Some have also strayed into MMA, probably to make some extra income.

In 100 Percent Judo's interview with Travis Stevens, he was asked about MMA and his answer was quite telling. He basically said he didn't particularly like MMA but he would do it for money. Well, now it looks like he can't even do that.

The ones who welcome the ban fall into two camps, the traditionalists and the purists (somewhat similar but not the same).

The traditionalists are the ones who don't like change. They generally oppose the blue judogi and prefer judo players to wear all white. They also don't like the IJF rule changes that prohibit grabbing of legs etc... (They probably wish kani-basami was still legal, that matches still lasted 45 minutes like in the days of Kano, and that women's judo is not yet an Olympic sport).

The purists, in contrast, can accept change. They are fine with blue judogis. They can accept and adapt to rule changes. They welcome women's participation in judo. But they just like judo and don't care at all for BJJ or MMA or Sambo or any other combat sports. Their heart is in judo and only judo.

I would say I fall into the second category. I just like judo. It's unfortunate of course that the ban on "any other combat sports, other than judo" for ranked players will mean that such players cannot earn extra income by competing in other combat sports. But things are starting to change in judo and there is now some prize money to be won international events.

Okay, so you have to be an international champion to win money and the money's probably not all that great compared to what you can win in other combat sports. But at least there's some money to be won. It didn't used to be that way just a few years ago. So, there's improvement.

Hopefully, over time, more money will flow into judo and players will not even have to consider competing in other combat sports just to make ends meet.

Who says there's no money in judo?

Well, it's largely true there's not much money to be made in judo. A common refrain amongst judo enthusiasts is that judo doesn't ever earn you money, if anything it costs you money.

In a way that's a bad thing and a good thing. The bad thing is of course it's hard for judo players and coaches to carry on without a sponsor. Unless they have some means of generating income outside of judo, they will have a difficult time.

The good thing is that it somehow keeps judo pure, in the sense that people who do it, really do it for the love of the sport. Why else would you do it? There's no money in it! Of course there are exceptions. Top players in certain countries, like France and Brazil, apparently make good money. But for the most part, there's very little money in judo.

Of course that's starting to change. In recent years, under the leadership of Marius Vizer, there's more money in judo. And that has improved judo tremendously. There's more global competitions now. There's lots of professional video coverage of judo available online (if not on TV). There's lots of IJF judo events all over the world. All this takes money.

Tchrikishvili & Kelmendi have got nice X'mas gifts from IJF

Winners of IJF world circuit events also win money. And now, they also get bonuses for achieving top rankings. Here are the ones who got bonuses this year (via IJF):

World champions Majlinda Kelmendi (KOS) and Avtandil Tchrikishvili (GEO) ended the year at the top of the IJF Prestige World Ranking List to become the inaugural male and female end-of-year winners. They received US$50,000 each.

Judo icons Teddy Riner (FRA) and Ilias Iliadis (GRE) have both received US$40,000 each for extraordinary services popularizing judo around the world, as well as excellent results in their sports career. Other top ranking players who received US$10,000 each are:

Munkhbat Urantsetseg (MGL) - $10,000
Automne Pavia (FRA) - $10,000
Clarisse Agbegnenou - $10,000
Kim Polling (NED) - $10,000
Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA) - $10,000
Idalys Ortiz (CUB) - $10,000

Ganbat Boldbaatar (MGL) - $10,000
Mikhail Pulyaev (RUS) - $10,000
Dex Elmont (NED) - $10,000
Varlam Liparteliani (GEO - $10,000
Lukas Krpalek (CZE) - $10,000

Meet the 2016 Rio Paralympics & Olympics Mascots

Cute aren't they? The left one (blue) is for the 2016 Rio Paralympics and the right one (yellow) is for the Rio Olympics. You can learn more about them here.

Male players switching nationalities too

In my previous posting, I highlighted some female players who have switched nationalities. Fewer men seem to do this although it has happened before.

Elco van der Geest, the man who famously threw the great Kosei Inoue for ippon in the 2004 Sydney Olympics, used to compete for the Netherlands but later switched to Belgium.

 Yoshihiro Akiyama AKA Chu Seong-Hoon won the gold medal in the 2001 Asian Games for South Korea. By 2002, he was fighting for Japan and represented Japan in the 2003 Osaka World Championships.

Akiyama was controversial for his use of a slippery judogi. Many players in the 2003 Osaka World's complained his judogi was too slippery. Although he was not penalized he was eventually forced to used another judogi. It's worth noting that his main domestic rival, World and Olympic Champion Kenzo Nakamura, had earlier accused him of wearing a slippery judogi in that year's Japanese trials (where Nakamura lost). In the video of their match in the video clip below, you can see Nakamura complaining to the referee about the judogi, but to no avail.

Akiyama's tokui-waza seems to be his magic judogi

Later, when Akiyama switched to MMA, his opponent Kazushi Sakuraba in a 2006 match accused him of being slippery (using oil on his body, which is forbidden). Seems like this Akiyama is a rather slippery character!

Satoshi Ishii used to be a big name in judo. He was, after all, a gold medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He lost his shine in the world of judo when he switched to MMA. Some time back, he announced that he would like to represent the USA in judo in the 2016 Rio Olympics. We haven't heard much from him since then though. It's unlikely to happen.


JudoInside informs me that Montenegro born Semir Pepic fought for Slovakia and then switched to Australia for the Olympics.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that practically the entire UAE team consists of imported players from Moldova. This includes Victor Scvortov and Ivan Remarenko, who won a bronze each at the 2014 Chelyabinsk World Championships. Their nationality switch is not without problems though. The UAE judo team was sent packing from the 2014 Asian Games because of issues relating to nationality requirements.

Switching nationalities is sometimes the only way

Sometimes, switching countries is the only way to compete internationally

It's interesting how some players have managed to switch nationalities in order to have a better chance (or in some cases, the only chance) to compete internationally.

100 Percent Judo has highlighted some cases, notably: Elea de Gansova (previously de Gans). Others mentioned in the article are Taciana Lima formerly of Brazil now fighting for Guinea-Bissau, Esther Stam formerly of the Netherlands now fighting for Georgia, Szandra Szogedi formerly of Hungary, now fighting for Ghana, Amelie Rosseneu formerly of Belgium, now fighting for Israel, and Katharina Haecker formerly of Germany, now fighting for Australia.

Recently, 100 Percent Judo also highlighted the case of Karina Bryant, who will switch from UK to Australia, for her fifth Olympics.

While Karina's switch is amicable, Alice Schlesinger's switch from Israel to Great Britain, is far from that, as this article in Haaretz clearly shows. Imagine what a grudge match it would be if she is drawn against Yarden Gerbi in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Japan has very strong -66kg players too

Yesterday I wrote about how Japan was spoilt for choice in the -73kg division, where they have three World Champions all still active, all fighting for the top position.

The situation is not quite as intense in the -66kg division although there is plenty of competition there. The dominant player at -66kg is three-time World Champion Masashi Ebinuma, whose grit and determination in the final of the 2013 Rio Championships made him the hero of the tournament.

Ebinuma won all his three world titles in spectacular fashion.

His opponent, Azamat Mukanov, from Kazakhstan had repeatedly attacked him with an illegal waki-gatame. Incredibly, the referee and video judges let the fight go on instead of giving Mukanov hansoku-make. In one particularly vicious attack, Mukanov nearly broke Ebinuma's arm and certainly damaged it. But Ebinuma fought back, throwing Mukanov with an ouchi-gari for an indisputable ippon -- a legendary performance if there ever was one.

Japan has another top player in Masaaki Fukuoka, who is often the alternate at -66kg. He's had some respectable wins in his career though nothing close to matching Ebinuma's brilliant results. But Fukuoka is now 30 years old and is not a threat to Ebinuma. There is also 2010 World Champion Junpei Morishita, who is only 24, but he hasn't fought internationally since the middle of last year and may have retired.

Abe & Takaichi beat Ebinuma in the 2014 Tokyo Grand Slam

The real threats are 21-year old Kengo Takaichi, who gave a creditable performance at the 2014 Chelyabinsk World Championships; and 17-year old Hifumi Abe, the 2014 Youth Olympic Games Champion. It's interesting to note that both Takaichi and Abe defeated Ebinuma in the 2014 Tokyo Grand Slam (Abe went on to win the gold).

Ebinuma is still the clear favorite for the -66kg spot on Japan's team but both Takaichi and Abe are hot on his heels. Both are hungry and look extremely dangerous. As with the -73kg division, at -66kg Japan is rather spoilt for choice.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Japan spoilt for choice at -73kg

2010 World Champ Akimoto makes a comeback at the 2014 Tokyo Grand Slam

It's very rare for any country to have two top players in the same weight class, it's almost unheard of to have three in the very same category.

It's happened before though. At one time, South Korea had Lee Won-Hee, Wang Ki-Chun and Kim Jae-Bum, all at -73kg. Wang emerged victorious, causing Lee to retire young and forcing Kim to move up a weight class to -81kg. (Interestingly, Wang himself has now moved up to -81kg but is finding it difficult adjusting to his new weight).

Now, it's Japan's turn to be spoilt for choice, coincidentally also at -73kg. Its 2010 World Champion was Hiroyuki Akimoto. However, by 2011, he had been supplanted by Riki Nakaya as Japan's No. 1. Nakaya went on to win the 2011 Paris World Championships.

However, Nakaya lost to Russia's Mansur Isaev in the final of the 2012 London Olympics and by 2013, he had been replaced by Shohei Ono as the new Japanese No. 1. Ono promptly went on to win the 2013 Rio World Championships.

For the 2014 Chelyabinsk World Championships, Japan sent two players for the -73kg division, with Ono as the lead contender and Nakaya as the alternate. Ono was seen to be the one to beat but he was spectacularly footswept for ippon by a unknown South Korean player in the second round. Nakaya however made it all the way to the final where he defeated North Korea's dark horse Hong Kuk-Hyon by countering a counter for ippon.

The 2014 Tokyo Grand Slam was supposed to be the event where Ono would redeem himself. With Nakaya not contesting, it seemed like a sure victory for the young upstart. However, in the final he had to contend with Akimoto, who was making a comeback. And it was the 28-year old Akimoto who prevailed, throwing the 22-year old Ono with a very low and delayed seoi-nage. It scored only yuko but it was enough for the 2010 World Champion to win the gold medal in the final IJF world circuit event for the year.

A look back at Akimoto, Nakaya & Ono's victories

Going into the new year, Japan now has three absolutely world class (indeed world beating) fighters at -73kg. Who will be the one (or perhaps two) to represent Japan in the 2015 Astana World Championships? Will it be Akimoto & Ono or Akimoto & Nakaya or Nakaya & Ono?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tchrikishvili, the ambidextrous ura-nage man

Georgia's World Champion Avtandil Tchrikishvili is adept at ura-nage. Many top European players are. But Tchrikishvili can do it the right and to the left, with equal facility. Check out his amazing ura-nage below.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Judo Grand Slam, Tokyo 2014 - DAY 2

(Via IJF)

-63kg | -70kg | -73kg | -81kg

The second day of competition came to an end at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium and four new Grand Slam winners were designated in the women’s -63kg and -70kg and men’s -73kg and -81kg. In the preliminary rounds, many surprises occurred as being a favorite in Tokyo does not necessarily mean to finish on the podium. Thus, several world and Olympic champions or medallists were defeated even before the final block, showing that this year’s edition of the Grand Slam is particularly uncertain in terms of results.

During the day, the young spectators of the Grand Slam, had the chance and opportunity to meet with their heroes as the All Japan Judo Federation organized a signature and photo session with the Japanese Athletes. Kondo Ami, winner in -48kg, Asami Haruna, silver medallist in the same category, Hashimoto Yuki, gold medallist in -52kg, Yoshida Tsukasa, bronze medallist in -57kg, Shishime Toru, silver medallist in -60kg were among the athletes who were present during the event. But for sure the one who attracted the most attention was MATSUMOTO Kaori, Olympic and world champion and winner yesterday of the -57kg weight category, who dedicated her time to sign autographs and exchange some words with children who were all appreciative of her incredible career.

HASHIMOTO Yuki during the signature session

During the afternoon session, Mr. YAMASHITA Yasuhiro, Olympic and four-time world champion, today Vice-President of the All Japan Judo Federation, was also present together with today’s national Japanese squad. Tanabe Yoko, two times Olympic silver medallist and two times World Silver medallist, who has been appointed as the chairperson of the AJJF Athlete Commission said: “Our committee gathers together former athletes, who still want to be involved in the development of judo. We want to give back to judo, what our sport brought us. We want to spread judo even more and with the support of the AJJF as well as the IJF, I believe that we can achieve that.”

Mr. YAMASHITA Yasuhiro together with the Japanese Athletes

Kondo Ami and Asami Aruna explained: “All the children are really happy to meet us. During the competition day, they can only see us from a distance, on the tatami. With this signature, they can talk to us, take pictures and even touch us. It’s important for them and maybe we will give them the envy to start judo and to continue until they can become champions as well. We are very proud to represent our sport and to transfer something to the children. This is very important. We are not only champions.”

Happy Children Meeting with their Heros

Larisa Kiss, the IJF Presidential Office Director said: “We appreciate an initiative such as the one which happened today and that contributes to the promotion of judo. It is important because it is linked with the competitions of the IJF World Judo Tour. We are pleased to see the interest of so many children and of judo champions here in Japan and we congratulate the AJJF for their results and for the excellent level of competition provided here in Tokyo.”

Tomorrow for the last day of competition and for this final day of the 2014 season, five more categories will be on action: Women’s -78kg and +78kg and Men’s -90kg, -100kg and +100kg.



-63kg: TRSTENJAK Confirms Standing in Tokyo

The first final of the day was rapidly concluded by the top seeded athlete of the category and bronze medallist of the last World Championships in Chelyabinsk, Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO), who did not give any chance to Edwige GWEND (ITA). After a few seconds, she scored ippon with a counter attack.

The first bronze medal fight opposed the bronze medallist of the Tyumen Grand Slam this year, SURAKATOVA Pari (RUS), and a newcomer in the Japanese team, NISHIKAWA Maho (JPN), with no results at the international level so far. Totally blocked by the powerful gripping of the Japanese, SURAKATOVA was rapidly penalized with three shidos for passivity and false attacks, when NISHIKAWA only got one, offering her the first major result on the international scene.

In the second bronze medal fight, the world number four Anicka VAN EMDEN (NED), faced Martyna TRAJDOS (GER), bronze medallist at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a few weeks ago, in a 100% European fight. Only one shido difference was necessary for the Dutch athlete to add one more line in her already long prize list.

TRSTENJAK, Tina (SLO) vs. GWEND, Edwige (ITA)

Bronze Medal Fights
VAN EMDEN, Anicka (NED) vs. TRAJDOS, Martyna (GER)

Final Results
2. GWEND, Edwige (ITA)
3. VAN EMDEN, Anicka (NED)
5. TRAJDOS, Martyna (GER)
7. DREXLER, Hilde (AUT)

-70kg: EMANE Shows Her Experience in Tokyo

The last female category of the day saw the everlasting Gevrise EMANE (FRA), two-time world champion and Olympic medallist, reaching again the final of a major event after having defeated Monika BURGESS (CAN), Kim OLLING (NED), Alena PROKOPENKO (RUS) and Szaundra DIEDRICH (GER) in her semi-final. In the final she was opposed to TACHIMOTO Haruka (JPN) who was obviously strongly supported by the public. Showing once again, that she is probably one of the most experienced athletes on the circuit, EMANE perfectly controlled the combat to win the gold.

In the first bronze medal contest, NUN IRA Karen (JPN), world silver medallist, was opposed to ZUPANCIC Kelita (CAN), who was at the tenth position in the World Ranking List with 1234 points, just before the tournament. After almost four minutes of neutralization, nothing was written on the scoreboard, when NUN IRA launched a last desperate attack that was immediately countered by ZUPANCIC for a clear ippon. Only 11 seconds were remaining.

The second bronze medal fight was 100% German with Laura VARGAS KOCH (GER) and Szaundra DIEDRICH (GER) facing for only one spot on the podium. With a strong koshi-waza technique, Laura VARGAS KOCH took the lead with a waza-ari, that she immediately followed on the floor with osaekomi for ippon.

EMANE, Gevrise (FRA) vs. TACHIMOTO, Haruka (JPN)

Bronze Medal Fights
NUN IRA, Karen (JPN) vs. ZUPANCIC, Kelita (CAN)
VARGAS KOCH, Laura (GER) vs. DIEDRICH, Szaundra (GER)

Final Results
1. EMANE, Gevrise (FRA)
2. TACHIMOTO, Haruka (JPN)
3. ZUPANCIC, Kelita (CAN)
5. DIEDRICH, Szaundra (GER)
5. NUN IRA, Karen (JPN)
7. CONWAY, Sally (GBR)


-73kg: AKIMOTO in Front of ONO

In the -73kg, ONO Shohei (JPN) and AKIMOTO Hiroyuki (JPN) proved to be the two best athletes of a very strong weight category. Favorite of this final, ONO, world champion in Rio in 2013, found in front of him a highly-motivated AKIMOTO, who after a long and complicated fight, finally scored a nice yuko with a shoulder movement, from which ONO tried to escape but with no success.

The first bronze medal fight of the men’s -73kg opposed the new Junior World Champion and recent Jeju Grand Prix winner, AN Changrim (KOR) and ORUJOV Rustam (AZE), who finished on the podium in Abu Dhabi on the occasion of the first Grand Slam in the UAE. In a close contest, AN Changrim was able to score a single yuko before controlling the end of the fight in a very tactical way for a so young competitor, and despite the three shidos he was penalized with, AN won the bronze.

The second bronze medal fight did not show more action than the first as both fighters knew each other very well and only penalties were distributed until the last seconds when UNGVARI, Olympic silver medallist in London in 2012, launched an action-reaction technique, for waza-ari, giving him the chance, one more time to step on an international podium.

ONO, Shohei (JPN) vs. AKIMOTO, Hiroyuki (JPN)

Bronze Medal Fights
AN, Changrim (KOR) vs. ORUJOV, Rustam (AZE)
MUKI, Sagi (ISR) vs. UNGVARI, Miklos (HUN)

Final Results
1. AKIMOTO, Hiroyuki (JPN)
2. ONO, Shohei (JPN)
3. AN, Changrim (KOR)
3. UNGVARI, Miklos (HUN)
5. MUKI, Sagi (ISR)
5. ORUJOV, Rustam (AZE)

-81kg: TAKANORU repeats, TOMA in silver with Fairplay

The last final of the day opposed the already winner of the Grand Slam last year in Tokyo, NAGASE Takanori (JPN), who defeated the current world champion in the semi-final, and Sergiu TOMA (UAE), bronze medallist this year at the World Championships in Chelyabinsk. After the first minute and a half, NAGASE was penalized with a first shido for passivity. Exactly one minute later, both athletes were penalized this time, TOMA keeping his advantage of one penalty. But 35 seconds before the end, both athletes were tight again, when TOMA was penalized. It was time for the golden score. After almost one minute and thirty seconds, the UAE athlete received a last shido for passivity. Respectively bowing towards the referee, TOMA accepted the second victory in a row of NAGASE Takanori with fairplay.

To determine the winner of the first bronze medal fight, the public did not have to wait too long. After a period of observation and some quite strong attacks from MARUYAMA Goki (JPN), Alexander WIECZERZAK (GER) used a tiny opportunity to apply a shime-waza technique to his opponent for an immediate ippon, concluding a good day for the former Junior World Champion (Agadir 2010).

The second bronze medal fight featured the ultimate favorite of the category and current world champion, Avtandili TCHRIKISHVILI (GEO) who was untouchable until his semi-final against NAGASE Takanori (JPN) who surprisingly was able to throw him for ippon. To finally step on the podium, the Georgian had a last fight against Victor PENALBER (BRA). Less than a minute was necessary to TCHRIKISHVILI to propel PENALBER up in the sky for a flat landing on his back for ippon. TCHRIKISHVILI could finally show a small smile after capturing the bronze medal.

NAGASE, Takanori (JPN) vs. TOMA, Sergiu (UAE)

Bronze Medal Fights
MARUYAMA, Goki (JPN) vs. WIECZERZAK, Alexander (GER)

Final Results
1. NAGASE, Takanori (JPN)
2. TOMA, Sergiu (UAE)
3. WIECZERZAK, Alexander (GER)
5. PENALBER, Victor (BRA)
7. BOTTIEAU, Joachim (BEL)
7. KIM, Jae-Bum (KOR)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Judo Grand Slam, Tokyo 2014 - DAY 1

(Via IJF)

-48kg | -52kg | -57kg | -60kg | -66kg 

For this first day of competition, the level of the Judo Grand Slam, Tokyo 2014, already reached a very high level as several world and Olympic Champions were in action in today’s five weight categories: women’s -48kg, -52kg and -57kg an men’s -60kg and -66kg. Throughout the day, being a favorite didn’t prove to guarantee a place on the top of the podium and sometimes not even on the podium, as several top athletes were eliminated early during the preliminary rounds.

While athletes are warming-up, the venue of the Grand Slam looks ready
prior to begining of the first day of competition

As expected, Japan was ever-present in today’s final block. As the host country, they were able to engage four fighters per weight category and beside the big names such as Matsumoto Kaori or Ebinuma Masashi, the Japanese delegation put on the scene some young fighters, who already showed their great potential.

During the opening ceremony, Mr. Muneoka Shoji, President of the All Japan Judo Federation, said: “On behalf of the organizers of the Grand Slam Tokyo 2014, which is again being held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, I would like to extend my heartfelt welcome to the members of the International Judo Federation and to all the competitors and officials from around the world.

“The Grand Slam Tokyo celebrates its sixth anniversary this year. Top athletes including medallists from the World Judo Championships which was held in Chelyabinsk, Russia in August will be joining the competition. This year’s competition is expected to be more exciting than last year, since the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics qualification period has started from June 2014.

“Founded by Kano Jigoro Shihan, judo has been very popular and widely spread all over the world. It is imperative for us to properly succeed and to promote and develop judo furthermore, not only its aspect of competitive sport, but also the concept of resourceful human development, which has been primarily focused by Kano Shihan.

“I am looking forward to seeing all the competitors, as honorable representatives of the global judo, to display the best results of their daily efforts, compete fairly while trying to win by ‘IPPON’, and fascinate the judo fans all over the world by never deviating from the judo way which always puts emphasis on manners and dignity. In this regards, it is important that one should not boast after winning, and not to get too depressed after their defeat.

“I also hope that competitors and officials from each country and region will deepen their friendly relationship among themselves and make this event a memorable one.

“Last but not least, I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to all those who have made their best efforts for organizing the Grand Slam Tokyo 2014.”

Then Mr. Jean-Luc RougĂ©, IJF General Secretary, declared: “Dear President Mr. Muneoka, dear Mr. Kano, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends, on behalf of the IJF President, Mr. Marius Vizer, I want to thank all of the delegations which came here to Japan to participate in the Judo Grand Slam, Tokyo 2014. Japan created judo, not only a sport but an educative discipline for all the world and for the society. This is crucial that we continue to develop judo in this direction. I declare the Judo Grand Slam, Tokyo 2014 open.”

Mr. Koji MUROFUSHI (center)

Today, the IJF and organizing committee of the Grand Slam had the honor and pleasure to welcome Mr. Koji MUROFUSHI, who is a Japanese hammer thrower. He was among the world elite for many years and started his international career at the 2001 World Championships, where he won the silver medal. He was the 2004 Olympic champion, 2012 Olympic bronze medallist and in 2011, he was crowned world champion. Today, Mr. MUROFUSHI is the Sporting Director of Tokyo 2020.

Mr. Ari Kurose, Technical Delegate and International Office Manager of International Kendo Federation war also present during the final block to enjoy the great show proposed by the competitors. 



-48kg: World champion KONDO confirms in Tokyo and Brings First Gold to Japan

The first final of the day showed the supremacy of the Japanese squad over the lightweight category in the women’s -48kg as the current world champion, KONDO Ami (JPN) was opposed to ASAMI Haruna (JPN), two time world champion (Paris 2011, and Tokyo 2010). Only ten seconds were necessary for KONDO to take the advantage with a yoko-tomoe-nage for yuko. But then for the almost four remaining minutes, the scoreboard didn’t advance any more. With this victory the 19 year old world champion confirms that she has become the best athlete in the category.

The first bronze medal fight opposed the current Olympic champion, Sarah MENEZES (BRA) and the bronze medallist of the last Jeju Grand Prix, JEONG, Bo Kyeong (KOR). The Brazilian was defeated by Alesya KUZNETSOVA (RUS) during the preliminaries after an excellent ground work by the Russian, who concluded with an armlock for ippon. During the fight MENEZES was penalized with a shido for false attack. And this little penalty was enough for JEONG Bo Kyeong to celebrate the bronze medal, particularly important, when one see who was her opponent to access the podium.

The second bronze medal fight opposed Paula PARETO (ARG), silver medallist last summer in Russia on the occasion of the World championships, and Alesya KUZNETSOVA (RUS), who after her win against Menezes, was defeated by ASAMI Haruna (JPN) in the semi-final. This second bronze medal fight had approximately the same configuration as the first one and at the end of the four minutes, only two shido separated the two athletes. Being penalized two times for passivity, KUZNETSOVA finally offered the medal to PARETO, who with this result, proves once again, that she is among the best judoka in the world in the women’s -48kg.

ASAMI, Haruna (JPN) vs. KONDO, Ami (JPN)

Bronze Medal Fights
MENEZES, Sarah (BRA) vs. JEONG, Bo Kyeong (KOR)
PARETO, Paula (ARG) vs. KUZNETSOVA, Alesya (RUS)

Final Results
1. KONDO, Ami (JPN)
2. ASAMI, Haruna (JPN)
3. JEONG, Bo Kyeong (KOR)
3. PARETO, Paula (ARG)
5. MENEZES, Sarah (BRA)
7. CHERNIAK, Maryna (UKR)
7. UNGUREANU, Monica (ROU)

-52kg: HASHIMOTO Adds a Second Tokyo Grand Slam Title in a Row to her Prize List

Once again the Japanese athletes didn’t give any chance to their opponents and two of the four Japanese competitors engaged in the morning in the category, were present in the final, HASHIMOTO Yuki (JPN) and NISHIDA Yuka (JPN). At the halfway point of the final, HASHIMOTO, winner of last year’s edition of the Grand Slam, had a small lead of one shido, an advantage that she was able to keep until the end of the final.

The first bronze medal fight saw the winner of last year’s edition of the Grand Slam, SHISHIME Ai (JPN) and the world number 8 and London Olympic silver medallist, Yanet BERMOY ACOSTA (CUB). SHISHIME launched the first attack with a left handed uchi-mata. But without the control of the left arm, she could not score. A few seconds later the Japanese launched a reverse shoulder attack, this time for yuko, before the Cuban was penalized a first time for passivity. Incapable of attacking and totally under the pressure of SHISHIME, BERMOY ACOSTA was again penalized, to confirm the bronze medal for the Japanese.

The second bronze medal fight opposed two athletes well known at the international level, the bronze medallist of the last World Championships in Chelyabinsk, Erika MIRANDA (BRA), and the already two-time world champion, NAKAMURA Misato (JPN) (Paris 2011 and Rotterdam 2009). After a little more than 1 minute and 30 seconds, Miranda scored the first waza-ari with a left handed ippon-seoi-nage. But this was not the last waza-ari, as NAKAMURA also scored the same advantage with an opportunistic ko-soto-gake, before concluding with an immobilization just outside of the fighting area.


Bronze Medal Fights
MIRANDA, Erika (BRA) vs. NAKAMURA, Misato (JPN)

Final Results
2. NISHIDA, Yuka (JPN)
3. NAKAMURA, Misato (JPN)
5. MIRANDA, Erika (BRA)
7. CHITU, Andreea (ROU)

-57kg: MATSUMOTO is Back on the Top of the Podium

After a deceiving World Championships, this summer, where she was eliminated at the first round by Marti Malloy (USA), the current Olympic champion and Japanese idol, MATSUMOTO Kaori was closely watched in Tokyo. Without any major problem, she entered the final after having successively defeated RAHMING Cynthia (BAH), Sabrina FILZMOSER (AUT), Aliuska OJEDA (CUB) and Corina CAPRIORIU (ROU) in the semi-final. In the final she was opposed last summer World silver medallist Telma MONTEIRO of Portugal. A large smile suddenly shined on MATSUMOTO’s face, when she immobilized the Portuguese judoka for ippon, after having perfectly controlled the fight.

The first bronze medal fight of the category opposed the two Japanese teammates, YAMAMOTO Anzu (JPN), already winner of two Grand Slam in here career, and YOSHIDA Tsukasa (JPN), whose best result so far was a bronze medal at the World Cup Jeju 2012, event before the competition became a Grand Prix, last year. With her victory against YAMAMOTO Anzu, YOSHIDA Tsukasa definitely adds an important line to her prize list.

In the last bronze medal fight of the day, Corina CAPRIORIU (ROU), silver medallist at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and Rafaela SILVA (BRA), 2013 world champion, faced off for the right to step on the podium. For most of the fight, Corina CAPRIORIU (ROU) gave the impression that she was leading and controlling her opponent by penalties (2 to 0) but after misjudging an attack-counter attack moment, SILVA finally took over and threw CAPRIORIU for waza-ari.


Bronze Medal Fights
YAMAMOTO, Anzu (JPN) vs. YOSHIDA, Tsukasa (JPN)
CAPRIORIU, Corina (ROU) vs. SILVA, Rafaela (BRA)

Final Results
2. MONTEIRO, Telma (POR)
3. SILVA, Rafaela (BRA)
3. YOSHIDA, Tsukasa (JPN)
5. CAPRIORIU, Corina (ROU)
7. BLOT, Laetitia (FRA)
7. UDAKA, Nae (JPN)


-60kg: KIM doubles his lead in Tokyo

KIM Won Jin (KOR) and SHISHIME Toru (JPN) were the two athletes invited to the final, after having respectively defeated TSAI Ming Yen (TPE), Tobias ENGLMAIER (GER), YAMAMOTO Hirofumi (JPN) and Rustam IBRAYEV (KAZ) for the Korean and HWANG Dong Kyu (KOR), AN Jianqi (CHN), Artiom ARSHANSKI (ISR) and OSHIMA Yuma (JPN) for the Japanese, knowing the SHISHIME was not among the favorites in the morning. Throughout the fight and despite the full implication of both fighters, only penalties were distributed: two to KIM and three to SHISHIME. Thus after having won the Jeju Grand Prix, last week, KIM Won Jin goes one step higher with his victory in Tokyo and the 500 points gained in Japan, will help him to move forward within the World Ranking List.

The first bronze medal fight was disputed between the two Japanese, YAMAMOTO Hirofumi (JPN), winner of the Asian Championships, Bangkok 2013 and OSHIMA Yuma (JPN), bronze medallist of the Tyumen Grand Slam this summer. After a tough fight between two athletes who perfectly know each other, OSHIMA Yuma, won the medal with a single shido difference, even if during the combat, he was not far from scoring with a powerful ko-uchi-gari, which was just lacking a bit of control at the conclusion of the movement.

In the second bronze medal fight, Artiom ARSHANSKI (ISR) was opposed to Rustam IBRAYEV (KAZ). Top seeded athlete and world number one, GANBAT Boldbaatar (MGL), was rapidly eliminated during the first round. After an already difficult first fight against UROZBOEV Diyorbek (UZB), won by a single yuko, GANBAT was ten defeated by David PULKRABEK (CZE), who then lost against the Kazakh, IBRAYEV, present in this first bronze medal fight. To access the podium, IBRAYEV was the first to score with a rotating sumi-gaeshi for waza-ari, followed a little bit later by an ippon from a counter-attack (yoko-guruma).

KIM, Won Jin (KOR) vs. SHISHIME, Toru (JPN)

Bronze Medal Fights
YAMAMOTO, Hirofumi (JPN) vs. OSHIMA, Yuma (JPN)
ARSHANSKI, Artiom (ISR) vs. IBRAYEV, Rustam (KAZ)

Final Results
1. KIM, Won Jin (KOR)
3. IBRAYEV, Rustam (KAZ)
3. OSHIMA, Yuma (JPN)
5. ARSHANSKI, Artiom (ISR)
5. YAMAMOTO, Hirofumi (JPN)
7. LIMARE, Vincent (FRA)

-66kg: Teenager ABE defeats World Champion on His Way to Gold

For the last final of the male’s category, Golan POLLACK (ISR), aged 23 and fifth one week ago in Jeju, and ABE Hifumi (JPN) were not the expected athletes when the competition started this morning Pollack being only ranked 21 at the World Ranking List, and ABE being the silver medallist of the last Junior World Championships in Florida, several weeks ago. ABE took the advantage with an o-soto-gari technique for yuko. Just a few seconds later, with an ample o-uchi-gari which started inside the fighting area and ended against the advertising boards, he almost doubled his advantage before being penalized a little later for passivity. With a strong tai-otoshi, the Japanese again was very close to increasing his lead, but POLLACK landed on his stomach for no-score. Nevertheless, ABE could maintain POLLACK at safe distance to win his first major senior title.

In the first bronze medal fight of the category, the young AN Baul (KOR), still junior, faced a more experienced competitor with PULYAEV Mikhail (RUS), silver in Chelyabinsk this summer on the occasion of the World Championships. Having scored a waza-ari with Mikhail PULYAEV had many difficulties to stay ahead on the scoreboard as AN was pushing and making him penalized. But finally the Russian could relax and enjoy his bronze medal after a long a hard competition day.

One of the main surprises of the day, after the elimination of GANBAT in the -60kg, and of Sarah Menezes in the women’s -48kg, was the defeat of the three-time world champion EBINUMA Masashi (JPN), who lost against his teammate, ABE Hifumi (JPN), in the semi-final. For the bronze medal fight, EBINUMA was again opposed to another teammate, TAKAICHI Kengo and it was said that this was not his day, as once again, after a terrific fight, where neither of the two athletes were able to throw their opponent, EBINUMA was trapped by an immobilization for ippon.

ABE, Hifumi (JPN) vs. POLLACK, Golan (ISR)

Bronze Medal Fights
AN, Baul (KOR) vs. PULYAEV, Mikhail (RUS)
TAKAICHI, Kengo (JPN) vs. EBINUMA, Masashi (JPN)

Final Results
1. ABE, Hifumi (JPN)
2. POLLACK, Golan (ISR)
3. PULYAEV, Mikhail (RUS)
3. TAKAICHI, Kengo (JPN)
5. AN, Baul (KOR)
5. EBINUMA, Masashi (JPN)
7. ZANTARAIA, Georgii (UKR)