• My thoughts on the DO

    Starting practice is one of the most precious moments. It can be very exciting and eventually leads to fabulous growth. Now is the very moment to decide if to go all the way through.

    When I started judo practice I decided, that I would have done it for the rest of my life and that my Master would have been a constant presence in my thoughts.

    Fundamental to the DO is one ingredient: COMMITMENT, indicating, that self-discipline and persistence must be kept regardless of how hard it is.

    Practice puts us under constant stress, but without it we would never be able to develop our personality.

    Commitment and self-discipline are precious as gold for those seeking the DO.

  • In the Sixties

    1960: Bruno Carmeni throwing his opponent with seoi nage

  • More than 40 years later!

    2007: Bruno Carmeni throwing his opponent with seoi nage

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Judo Techniques and MMA Challenges – Judo Champions Going for Mixed Martial Arts

In December 2009 I went to Japan to travel through the country and to “return to the past”. I looked for my old friends from the Tenri University (Nara Prefecture), where I had spent two years after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to practice my judo techniques and to learn Japanese. This University has become famous thanks to Prof. Yasuichi Matsumoto, who won the Gold medal at the 1st All Japan Judo Championships in 1948. In 1964 at the Tokyo Olympics he was the trainer of the Japanese Judo team.

At the end of December I spent a few days in Otaru, a beautiful small city on the island of Hokkaido. On 31st there was a big snowstorm, so I was stuck in my hotel room on New Years Eve. What else could I have done besides watching TV? I saw a program introducing two well known judo champions, that were going to face each other, not in a judo competition, but in an MMA fight. They were:

Hidehiko Yoshida born in Obu, Aichi Prefecture on 3rd September 1969, weight 102kg, height 180cm. He entered the MMA circuit in November 2003 participating at the Pride Tournament. His judo successes: Gold in the 78kg division at the Asian Games in 1988  Damasco (Siria);  Bronze in the 78kg division at the 1991 World Championships Barcelona (Spain); Gold in the 78kg division at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics; Silver in the 78kg division at the 1993 World Championshps Hamilton (Canada), Silver in the 86kg division in 1995 Chiba (Japan) and Gold in the 90kg division in 1999 Birmingham (Great Britain).

Satoshi Ishii born in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture on 19th December 1986, weight 104kg, height 180 cm. After the 2008 Beijing Olympics he had announced, that he was going to enter the MMA circuit. His judo successes: Silver in the 100kg division at the Asian Games in 2006 Doha (Qatar); Gold in the Open division at the Universiade 2007 in Bangkok (Thailand); Gold in the over 100kg division at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

After many kicks and punches, both standing and on the ground,  the long announced and awaited start of Ishii in the MMA fights was a disappointment for his fans, as he lost 3 to 0 with Yoshida.

To be honest until then I did not know much about the MMA and was not even aware, that it was so popular in Japan.  I was rather astonished and disillusioned to see these two judo champions beating themselves up in such a savage way for an amount of dollars (probably lots!), forgetting the ethical and sports principles of our discipline. Why? Was it the first time? Judo’s history is full of episodes of this kind or similar ones. The first record of such a situation concerns the father of judo himself: Who has not heard of the famous fight in 1889 between Jigoro Kano and a Russian seaman on the ship Ikawa Maru? Today the ship is a Museum in the port of Yokohama (Japan) and it is still possible to see the video of said fight.

There are many other records of people related to judo, that engaged in fights, that could fall under “mixed martial arts” among which Sakujiro Yokoyama (1890); Shiro Saigo (1891); Yoshitsugu Yamashita (1903); Mitsuyo Kosei Maeda (1906); Yokoyama and Mifune (1909);  Masahiko Kimura (1951);  Nishi Yoshinori (1950-60); Anton Geesink (1965) and others.

All of these belong to judo’s history and even if they have had “mixed martial art” experiences in one way or the other, at the end they all remained tied to their origins, ideals, ethics and judo techniques. More on this on coming posts.


5 Responses

  1. Caro Maestro,
    anche se solo da un semplice appassionato di questa meravigliosa disciplina, desidero sinceramente ringraziarti per ciò che continui a “fare” per il judo. Grazie, soprattutto, per i grandi valori, la grande esperienza e la storia che, con amore, per quella mutua collaborazione tanto cara al Maestro Kano Jigoro, trasmetti alle nuove generazioni.
    Io ho vissuto nel “mito” di Carmeni, Barioli e stimo moltissimo anche il Maestro Aragozzini, con umiltà, nel mio piccolo e con una modestissima preparazione, cerco di apprendere dai vostri scritti, le lezioni di vita e non solo che avete voluto donarci.
    Jita kyoei, Massimo

    • Caro Massimo,
      grazie per quanto hai scritto, ma sinceramente non credi di meritare tanto. Sono solamente un appassionato che cerca nel tempo di migliorare e di interpretare sempre di più questa disciplina. Il segreto consiste nel praticare, praticare ed ancora praticare.
      Un caro saluto
      Bruno Carmeni

  2. Caro Maestro,
    Regarding MMA, I do agree completely.I personally actually am living in a part of the world , where MMA became so popular, that people watching anything that is ne waza, is automatically Brazilian Jiu-jistu.Of course as a Judoka for over 30 years, this is very frustrating also because with all respect, anytime that for curiosity I attended at a BJJ class, not just they have very little or noting to teach me, but I find it very limited from a true code of what a martial art should be about.
    I guest the these big judokas Champions , that in a one point , wanted to explore the MMA World, they did it not just for the amount of money available, but to make a statement after been challenged, nor as much as a person but as the martial art from them performed, and after chocking and arm baring few people, the returned to their core, to their “DO”.
    MMA, is great for the big mass, like were great the gladiators during the Roman Empire, even although respecting the training of these people, I cannot admire at all the message that they send out at all.In my opinion a martial art is respectable with its “brutality”, just if comes with a code.But then again, is just my personal opinion base a personal experience.

    Best Regards and Jita Kyoei

    • Dear Paolo,
      I imagine, that you live in Latin America, maybe Brazil? However Helio Gracie, who learned Kosen Judo from Maeda, used to be someone who respected very much the code and the rules, especially the ones of Kosen Judo. Then his descendants have made of BJJ a mean to make money, totally forgetting what newaza is, which used to be a strength within Brazilian Jujitsu. Today in the US there are many BJJ people, that are entering the judo dojos in order to learn some good newaza. And it looks like you are confirming this. It is quite strange, but in the modern time we live in people are continuously seeking strong emotions, like watching fighters beating themselves up without rules (vale tudo). What is quite astonishing is, that the Japanese are MMA fanatics and they crowd the competition halls to watch the fights. Like in a circle the two poles touch again and so progress and regression become one.
      Take care
      Bruno Carmeni

  3. […] More: Judo Techniques and MMA Challenges […]

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