post

Pride Fighting Championship

Japan’s Pride Fighting

Japan is popular all over the world with its various martial arts such as Karate, Sumo and Judo. All of these martial arts mentioned above are martial arts intended for hand to hand combat or combat without weapons. In this era wherein human life is more valued, competitions or fighting with weapons is prohibited or strictly regulated. Thus the popularity of mixed martial arts wherein fighters can showcase their talents and prove to the world that they are indeed stronger than the rest. It is promotions like Pride that helped elevate Mixed Martial Arts to what it is today. It is one sport that is rising fast in popularity and will definitely be seen more in the future.

Pride Fighting Championship used to be one of the most well-known mixed martial arts promotion in Japan. It began in 1997 with the name Kakutougi Revolutionary Spirits or KRS. Their first promotion was a fight between famous Japanese wrestler Nobuhiko Takada and Rickson Gracie one of the best Brazilian Jujitsu practitioners of the time.  The event was able to attract 47000 fans which indicated a space in the market for fights that showcased different styles of fighting. Pride is more exciting in the sense that is more violent compared to other promotions such as United Fighting Championship or UFC. Comparing Pride rules with the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial arts we can see that Pride allows strikes that are illegal in different promotions. This makes Pride one of the most brutal promotions which can endanger the well-being of the fighter. Pride allows kicks and knees and stomps to the head of an opponent on the ground. Fighters are also permitted to throw or slam the opponent on the canvas head first. As can be seen Pride allows strikes that can possibly be fatal or extremely damaging to a fighter. The advantage though lay with the audience since because of these different tactics Pride was able to provide exciting fights. Some of the mixed martial arts legends competed in Pride such as Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Fedor Emelianenko, Shogun Rua and Mirko Cro Cop. Though majority of the fighters I mentioned would eventually make their way to UFC.

Dream Stage Entertainment would eventually sell Pride to Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta III. The plan was to merge Pride and UFC like what was done to the AFL-NFL merger in American football. The plans would never materialize and that was the end of Pride as we know it. Majority of the employees of Pride would later join a new fighting organization named Dream.

Image by Legend Fighting Championship

post

Kyudo

Kyudo is a Japanese martial art that teaches the way of the bow. Kyudo originated from practices and techniques utilized by the samurai class of Japan in ancient times. Kyudo is still relatively small compared to practitioners of other Japanese traditional martial arts but still holds a following of a hundred thousand plus graded members. These members are recognized by the biggest Kyudo organization the International Kyudo Federation or IKF.

Kyudo Training

Kyudo can be traced back to the start of archery in Japan. It was discovered that archery was present since pre-historical times as far as historians can date their use in the land of the rising sun. The emergence and practice of its use was widespread due to the warrior culture of Japan. At a time in their history the samurai class began dominating the social classes of Japan which led to a greater importance of skills needed for war and battle. The first archery style or kyudo in Japan was founded by Henmi Kiyomitsu. Later practiced was mounted archery which involved firing from a horse. This was useful since this gave archers both mobility and range which made them a deadly force. Archery though would eventually become obsolete ever since Westerners brought in firearms. This negated the strength of archery since guns were found to be more deadly in battle.

The primary equipment the longbow or yumi as it is called in Japanese is used in Kyudo. The yumi has changed little over time and still majority of practitioners use bamboo, wood and leather as materials for the bow. A modern version would use laminated wood coating and carbon fibre as an alternative since these materials are less prone to damage due to weather. The long bow is stands really high and is usually taller than its user since it is around two meters tall.

Today Kyudo is practiced by hobbyists and traditionalists alike. As a martial art Kyudo also emphasizes on the spiritual aspect of the person. The Nippon Kyudo Federation states the purpose of kyudo is shin-zen-bi which can be translated as truth, goodness and beauty respectively. As other traditional sports kyudo is usually practice in dojos wherein marksmanship and accuracy are the goals of the practitioners. Competitions are also popular among Kyudoka since all age groups compete. The objective of the competition is pretty simple which is basically to hit the target designated to the Kyudoka.

Image by Panoramio

 

post

Aikido

Aikido Practitioner

Aikido is a martial art that was developed after study of older martial arts by Morihei Ueshiba the founder of Aikido. Osensei or great teacher as he was called among his students, had an interesting philosophy embedded in the martial art that he began. He developed Aikido or commonly translated as “Unifying Life with Energy,” as a means to defend oneself without inflicting pain or hurt to the receiver. This is a concept difficult to accept for many since martial arts despite only used for self-defence associates itself with concepts such as disabling a person which usually involves a lot of hurt and pain for the opponent. Aikido turned out thus due to influence of Onisaburo Deguchi a spiritual leader to the founder Morihei Ueshiba. The philosophy of showing compassion even to the attacker is what lead to Aikido being called non-contact. This is because practitioners avoid as much as possible the use of Aikido as a destructive art. Throughout the years though there have been several branches of Aikido which

Aikido as a martial art that teaches both hand to hand combat and combat with weapons. Aikido makes use of wooden swords, short staffs and knives are used in the martial art. Like Judo, Aikido also makes use of the concept of using the attacker’s momentum in techniques. Physical strength is not exemplified but technique in which a smaller person can defend against someone significantly bigger and stronger. Aikido teaches us that one should flow with the attack of the opponent rather than against it, allowing us to take advantage of various positions. Brute force is not exemplified in Aikido but a sense of awareness and calm allowing the practitioner to use effectively use the various techniques learned. Mental training is very important in the core teaching of Aikido since confidence and a relaxed mind is needed in order execute the blending movements of Aikido. These teachings are exemplified by the saying of Morihei Ueshiba, “You must be willing to receive 99% of an opponent’s attack and stare death at the face.”

People who have seen Aikido practitioners demonstrate tend to see their technique as too flashy since they use exaggerated movements. Aikido has been criticized as impractical for self-defence due to its nature of preventing damage to the opponent. Critics also point out that the training of Aikido as unrealistic and thus considered weak by them. It is important to note though different branches of Aikido have tried to address some of the criticisms mentioned.

Image by denizanime in Blogspot

post

Sumo

Sumo Wrestling is a traditional Japanese sport that started in ancient Japan. Sumo wrestling originated as entertainment to please the Shinto Deities. Many traditions seen in professional Sumo wrestling are actually religious traditions such as the purification of the sumo wrestling ring with salt. Japan is the only country to date wherein Sumo Wrestling is practice professionally. In the amateur division, Sumo wrestling has reached international borders such as the United States wherein amateur tournaments are held.

The sport when practiced professionally is held in a platform wherein the surface is clay mixed with sand and rice bales are place on top of this to complete the arena, which is called a dohyo. The ring contains two lines to indicate the starting positions of the sumo wrestlers. A Sumo wrestling match is typically won in two ways. The first is to be able to push the opponent out of the ring. The second is to be able to force an opponent to touch the ground using body parts other than his feet. There are other rules in Sumo Wrestling which can automatically give the win to a wrestler such as disqualification using illegal moves or simply being unable to attend the match.

Sumo Match

Professional Sumo Wrestling is strictly governed by the Japanese Sumo Association. Professional Sumo Wrestlers are expected to join a stable wherein they live a restricted life. The stable masters expect that Sumo wrestlers follow the training regimen and diet and live according to the rules of the stable and the Japanese Sumo Association. There was even a time wherein Sumo Wrestlers were not allowed to drive cars because of an accident that happened to a wrestler. After that occasion, the ban from driving cars were strictly implemented resulting in fines and suspensions for wrestlers.

In professional Sumo bouts, there is no weight limit, thus the ability to gain weight is important in this sport as can be seen evidently in Sumo Wrestlers. Though there is no weight limit in Sumo there are divisions. The divisions are separated by skill wherein the lowest division are populated by beginners or wrestlers with losing streaks. A wrestler can be both promoted and demoted depending on his performance with one exception, the yokozuna. The yokozuna is the king of the ring and is the highest rank available for a Sumo wrestler. To become a yokozuna, certain criteria must be followed. A yokozuna is promoted according to one, his performance in the ring, and second, the dignity and grace of the wrestler. The promotion of a wrestler is highly subjective and in some generations, no wrestler is promoted to the title of yokozuna while other generations have multiple wrestlers with the title of yokozuna.

Image by Static

post

Kendo

Kendo is a Japanese martial art that makes use of a wooden sword as a weapon. Literally, Kendo means the way of the sword. It was initially developed by the Japanese as a way to instruct students in the use of a sword. It made use of a wooden sword in order for students to first grasp the fundamentals of the sword before using the lethal samurai sword. In modern times, Kendo is practiced as a sport and way of life rather than a prerequisite to the lethal arts of a samurai sword.

Practitioner in Kendo Attire

Kendo is said to be both physically and mentally strenuous. Physical due to the strain caused by wielding a sword and in the movements involved in order to effectively counter an opponent. It is also said to be mentally stressing since sword-play also requires one to predict or to feel how the opponent will attack or react to attacks. The discipline needed in order to master the ways of the sword reflect on how strenuous Kendo can be for a practitioner. Like other martial arts, Kendo aims not only to improve the physical self but the mental self. Its purposes included cultivation of both mind and body, to promote peace and prosperity among people, and to sincerely associate with others are just a few of the goals published by the All Japan Kendo Federation in their book the Concept and Purpose of Kendo.

Kendo makes us of katas or forms like Karate in order to demonstrate or teach the students the fundamentals of the martial art. Striking, thrusting, and the like are taught using these forms and are exercised over and over again until mastery of the basics. Due to the nature of the martial art, a complete set of protective equipment is needed. Equipment involves a breastplate, a helmet with metal grilles, gloves, and padded flaps. Since Kendo makes use of a dangerous weapon, sparring is typically restricted to practitioners who are in the level of dan.  Kendo competitions are usually held in dojos though modern sporting facilities are also used if dojos are unavailable.

Kendo is a martial art for those who are interested in the handling of weapons just like in the ancient times. A lot of important teachings and wisdom are taught in Kendo and maybe just one of the most exciting martial arts out there. Kendo though, unlike Karate, is a bit more difficult to practice if you are not from Japan, though rest assured Kendo is gaining popularity and may be coming to your place of living soon.

Image by Wikimedia

post

Football in Japan

East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) Women’s Championship 2010

Football is widely known as the most popular sport in the world. It shouldn’t surprise that it is also widespread in the land of the rising sun more commonly known as Japan. The Japanese Football Association handles the professional football league in Japan which is known to be the one of the best leagues in Asia. The Japanese Football Association first began in 1921 due to the influence of a William Haigh who was a British diplomat at that time. Japan would lose the historic cup in the wake of World War II. It was also due to the World War that would prevent Japan from joining FIFA until the 1950’s. Japan’s football program once again gained light when they hired German coach Dettmar Cramer who due to tutelage was able to bring Japan to the quarterfinals of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Japan’s national football team then made waves in 1968 when they won the bronze medal in the Mexico summer Olympics. This achievement made the sport more popular in Japan but they would still lack a professional league for 26 years. Eventually the pressure to create a professional league in Japan paved the way for the J. League established in 1993. Since then Japan has become a powerhouse qualifying for FIFA in 1998. Though, they were to lose all three matches in their first appearance it is still a tremendous improvement in the football of Japan. Japan is now becoming a regular appearance in the FIFA World Cup having four straight appearances in football’s most prestigious tournament.  The best achievement FIFA appearance to date of the Japan national team is the 2002 FIFA World Cup wherein they advanced to the second round of the tournament.

Football is now popular all over Japan due to these achievements of the Japanese National Football team. Schools now sport varsity programs and are competitive in their respective tournaments which lead to the huge improvement of the Japanese football program. Football is now a part of Japanese culture even appearing in manga. Captain Tsubasa was just the first of many football related manga which led to the sport becoming even more popular to the youth. The manga inspired some of Japan’s great players such as Hidetoshi Nakata and Seigo Narazaki. It is evident that football is a growing sport in Japan and it isn’t surprising if we see further progress in Japan’s standing in the worldwide rankings of football.

Image by Zimbio

post

Karate

Karate is a Japanese Martial Art that was developed in what was called the Ryukyu Islands, which is presently named Okinawa. Karate is one of the traditional non-weapon fighting arts which was developed in case a person has no weapon. Karate literally means empty hand and is one of the most popular internationally among the traditional fighting arts of Japan. In modern times, there are four main styles in Japan namely the Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Shito-Ryu, and Wado-Ryu. The previously mentioned styles are recognized by the World Karate Federation in its list of katas. For those interested in full contact Karate, a branch called Kyokushin focuses on power, physical attacks, and sparring, though this is not recognized by all international bodies of Karate.

Karate Kick

The martial art is intended for the development of self-defense and makes use of counterattacking movements. The martial art was developed not only for the training the body but for also training the mind. Karate is used to instil discipline and a sense of justice and morality into a person. It is interesting that karate masters focused on more than just the physical aspect of the martial art. They believed that these two came hand in hand and should be learned simultaneously. Karate masters also view karate as a way of life rather than just a means to defend oneself. Gichin Funakoshi, father of modern karate, stated that “You never attack first in karate”, this statement shows what karate is all about. It is not for inflicting pain or hurt to others but a means to defend.

The fundamental fighting style of karate focuses on stances which are named kata which literally means shape. The stances are developed for situations wherein offense and defense are required. Karate is a skill that takes year to master and learn. Students are given belts in order to represent how accomplished they are in the martial art. The lowest belt awarded is the white belt while the highest is a red belt which is rarely given. More commonly practitioners with black belts are considered extremely skilled already.

Karate is also a sport sanctioned by bodies such as the World Karate Federation and World Union of Karate-do Federation. These bodies popularized the sport by holding competitions wherein practitioners can show their skills and talents earned throughout the years. For those interested in full contact Karate, Kyokushin would then be most applicable to you.

Image by Playenable in WordPress

post

Shogi

Shogi is a Japanese mind sport similar to chess and is also called general’s game by others, it is literally translated as general’s board game. It is possibly the most popular board game in Japan and is one of its traditional sports. Historically, shogi was thought to be a derivative of Chaturanga which originated in India. Shogi had different versions in its early years but now a singular version of it is played. Shogi as it is played today has been around since the 16th century.

Shogi: The Japanese Chess

The playing field used in Shogi is a 9×9 board which is usually rectangular. The pieces are wedges unlike the figurines used in Western Chess. The players have a total of 20 pieces each composing of 1 king, 1 rook, 1 bishop, 2 gold generals, 2 silver generals, 2 lances, 2 knights and 9 pawns. The pieces differ by the movements they are allowed to make. Listed below are the movements of the pieces.

1. King- able to move one square in any direction

2. Rook- able to move any number of squares as long movement is vertical or horizontal

3. Bishop- able to move any number of squares in the diagonal direction.

4. Gold General- able to move one square vertically and horizontally and in addition is able to move diagonally one square though only in the forward direction

5. Lance- can move any number of squares in the forward direction

6. Pawn- able to move one square forward

7. Knight- able to move in an L in the forward direction

8. Silver General- may move one step in the three squares directly in front of it, may also move diagonally one step for the backward motion

The main objective of Shogi is similar to chess which is to checkmate the king. Shogi though similar in gameplay to chess is most notably different due to the concept of drops. This allows the player to use captured pieces and placing it an empty square. Due to this rule in shogi, majority of the pieces stay in play despite the length of gameplay. It also allows for more diverse type of gameplay which makes it challenging. Another interesting concept is that of promotion, wherein a piece can be upgraded at the end of the turn. This can only be done when the piece reaches the designated area in the board. indicated by dots in traditional shogi boards. This allows the piece to change how it moves giving the player an extra edge.

Image by Chessdom

post

Baseball in Japan

Baseball is arguably the most popular modern sport in Japan today. It was first introduced by a man named Horace Wilson in 1872 who taught in a school in Tokyo. Japanese Baseball’s first team began when a Hiroshi Hiraoka, a Japanese engineering student who studied abroad, taught his fellow co-workers at Japan’s national railway. The co-workers enjoyed playing so much that they developed their own baseball team the Shimbashi Athletic Club. The sport started to become really popular when Ichiko, which was considered the most prestigious preparatory school started their own baseball team. They eventually challenged the Yokohoma Athletic Club, which is a team composed primarily of sailors, and won. Schools all over Japan were inspired to start their own baseball program and since then baseball became one of the most loved sports in Japan.

Baseball players in Japan

Nippon Professional Baseball is the prime baseball association in Japan. They are similar to the United States professional baseball in the sense that they both have two leagues per year. For Japan it is the Central and Pacific league which consists of six teams each. Japanese baseball has around 20 games less than their American counterparts. Japanese professional baseball teams are also named after companies or businesses that own them unlike American teams who are named after the states that they play for. The major difference a spectator would notice is that Japanese baseball fields are smaller and narrower than American fields. Some professional Japanese baseball fields will not even pass the standard set by the American official baseball rules. Japanese baseball games also allow ties while their counterparts in the United States would have to continue until there is a definite winner. As in many major leagues foreigners are limited in Japanese professional baseball to four in the rosters. Though there are some minute differences in terms of field and rules the general gameplay of the sport is still the same with innings, outings and the like.

It’s interesting that in Japan the high school league games are at times more popular than the professional leagues. The Spring and Summer Koshien are the major tournaments of the year and are watched country wide. It is where majority of professional baseball players are formed before they step into the big league. The passion they demonstrate in these events are evident since losers of the tournament crying is not uncommon. Baseball is surely part of Japanese Culture nowadays and is evident in the popularity of baseball there.

Image by Japan Now

post

Judo

Judo is a relatively modern martial since it was started in the year 1882 by Jigoro Kano. This Japanese sport was derived from Jujutsu and was developed by Jigoro Kano after the death of his Jujutsu teacher. Judo literally means the gentle way and was designed to use as little as effort as possible for maximum result. The beauty of the sport is that it even people with smaller frames can protect them from larger opponents. This is possible since Judo emphasizes on efficiency and the use of an opponent’s weight and momentum to throw them off balance. Judo as a martial art includes various techniques such as throws, takedowns, and submissions. Judo is a martial art practiced even by many mixed martial artists since take-downs and grappling is an integral part in MMA.  Judo as a martial art includes even strikes but is taught only in kata or forms and is not used in competition and sparring.

Judo Practitioner

Judo techniques are classified into three groups namely throwing, grappling and striking. Throwing techniques involve three stages in execution. The first involves breaking the balance of an opponent usually by the use of a trip. The second is the use of a turning motion to get into the motion of the throw. The third is the execution of the follow through and completion of the throw. The steps may sound simple but in practice requires repeated drilling in order to be able to execute properly. The grappling techniques of Judo have some similarities today within modern martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Russian Sambo. The similarities are due to the popularity of Judo internationally which led to different offshoots of the martial art. Judo striking involves the hitting of pressure points and vital points usually occurring after a trip or some technique to throw an opponent off balance. Though as mentioned above, ideally this is only taught not used against an individual unless used for self-defence.

Competition in Judo historically started in events like the Kodokan Monthly tournament held in Japan since 1884. The most prestigious tournament in Japan the All-Japan Judo Championship begun in 1930 and is still held today. International competition of Judo such as the World Judo Championship increased awareness of people and is responsible for Judo being accepted as an Olympic sport in 1956. Countries all over the world now hold Judo practitioners. This sport has plenty of potential for youth and aged alike who seek a sport to keep them fit and at the same time teaches them how to defend themselves.

Image by Top News