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Ishii’s Stunning victory in 2006 All Japan Judo ChampionShip


Brian N. Watson

This open weight competition is never an easy one to win, mainly because in order to do so, one has to compete alongside world and Olympic champions.  This year was no exception with Hiroshi Izumi, Yasuyuki Muneta and Keiji Suzuki competing, Kosei Inoue, incidentally, was sidelined due to a shoulder injury.  Therefore, few spectators at Tokyo’s Budokan Hall on April 29 gave the 2nd year Kokushikan University student much chance of advancing further than the early rounds.  After all, at just 100 kilograms in weight, being the lowest grade, 3rd dan, and at 19 years 4 months this latest newcomer was the most inexperienced.  And yet despite the foregoing, he has, surprisingly, become the youngest-ever All Japan Judo Champion.  Until now, 1984 Olympic champion, Yasuhiro Yamashita (126 kilos), held this distinction when at 19 years 10 months he won the first of his nine All Japan titles back in 1977. 


How did Ishii do it?  Well, by making excellent use of his Osoto-gari and ground work skills he progressed through the early rounds.  In the quarter-final he defeated with left-sided Ouchi-gari for yuko the 2005 world open-weight bronze medalist Yohei Takai, who was some 30 kilos heavier than he.  In his semi-final bout he again secured a yuko to beat another well-experienced heavyweight Hidekazu Shoda.  In the final contest he faced reigning Olympic champion Keiji Suzuki who was widely expected to win his third consecutive All Japan title.  However, it wasn’t to be.  Iishi gave Suzuki trouble by out gripping him and with no score on the board and only six seconds remaining on the clock, Ishii attacked with left-sided Ouchi-gari to send the Olympic gold medalist to the mat with a thud.  Although Suzuki had managed to twist his body and landed on his side, the referee had no hesitation in awarding a well deserved yuko and with it an astonishing victory to Ishii. 


Even though Ishii proved powerful in ground work and exhibited good leg throws, I was much more impressed with his fitness, confidence but above all with his formidable determination.  So take note of the name, Satoshi Ishii.  We may be hearing more from this young man. 




All Japan Finals

Inoue 2002 All Japan Judo Champion
by Brian N. Watson
Twenty-three-year-old Kosei Inoue (100kg.) defeated Meiji University student Yasuyuki Muneta (125kg.) to capture his second consecutive All Japan Judo Championship title on 29 April at the Tokyo Budokan.  The two third place finishers were Takumi Saruwatari (123kg.) who lost to Inoue by a Seioinage and Masahiro Ohmura (120kg.) who lost by Yuseigachi to Muneta.  This annually televised open weight event attracted a sell out crowd of some 8,000 fans to watch the 37 regional finalists, aged from 18 to 32 years, and weighing from 85 to 160kg., vie in Japan’s most prestigious judo tournament. 
The final contest was fast-paced with Inoue, 5th dan, the more persistent in keeping up the momentum.  Despite a 25kg. weight disadvantage, Inoue’s right-handed Uchimata and Ouchigari attacks put Muneta, 3rd dan, on the defensive for much of the bout.  Although failing to score, Inoue dominated the fight and at time was awarded the contest by Yuseigachi.  Muneta seemed to have tired himself in the earlier rounds and appeared to have little energy left for the final match.  His attacks were fewer and he seldom had Inoue in difficulty.  On the other hand, Inoue appeared to have paced himself well throughout the competition and had sufficient stamina to sustain his attacks. 
In the NHK TV interview following his win, he mentioned that his left-hand ring finger was still painful from an injury that had sidelined him since April 3rd, and that throughout the tournament he was unable to grip his opponent’s jacket strongly. 
As a result of his victory however, Inoue, an employee of Sogokeibihosho Security Company, and current world and Olympic champion, was chosen to represent Japan in the Open category at the Asian Games scheduled for Pusan, Korea (Sep-30 to Oct-3, 2002).   
For Muneta, it was the second time that he had achieved 2nd place, he was runner up to Shinichi Shinohara in 1999.  Muneta is a force to be reckoned with, short and stocky with good Ashiwaza and a formidable Seioinage, at 21 years of age, he has time on his side.  He could well improve over the next year or two and perhaps gain a world or an Olympic medal.  Muneta was also selected to represent Japan, first in the Judo World Cup 100+ kg. category in Basel, Switzerland (Aug-31 to Sep-1), and later in the Asian Games 100+ kg. category.

Ryoko Tamura Defeated
Brian N. Watson
The 25th All Japan Women’s Judo Championships were held at the Yokohama Sports Arena on 14 April 2002.  As usual, these championships were well attended and ASAHI TV broadcasting company televised the day’s events.  The question on everyone’s mind was would Ryoko Tamura, from Fukuoka, Kyushu succeed in gaining her 12th consecutive All Japan title in the 48 kg. class.
There were, however, a number of surprises; Ayumi Tanimoto lost in the final of the 63 kg. Category and Masue Ueno failed to win gold in the 70 kg. Category final, but by far the biggest upset of the day was the defeat of Tamura in the first round to a 16-year-old high school girl, Tomoko Fukumi, who later lost to Tomoe Makabe in the semi-final. 
Tamura had recently resumed training after a 9-month layoff owing to an injured right knee.  The contest started with Fukumi doing most of the attacking, particularly with seoi-nage and ouchi-gari.  Tamura was kept under pressure and did not look comfortable at all.  Tamura looked sadly off form and although she attacked, Tamura’s efforts did not trouble young Fukumi.  With one minute thirty seconds to go, Fukumi launched a full-blooded left ouchi-gari that sent Tamura to the mat.  Tamura somehow managed to twist her body and land face down.  Fukumi was awarded Yuko.  Although Tamura forced the pace for the remainder of the contest, her attacks were ineffective and she failed to score. 
This loss for Tamura by a compatriot was the first in 12 years.  The long 9-month layoff seems to have affected Tamura both physically and psychologically.  She appeared to lack both stamina and her usual firepower.  Although it would perhaps be a little premature to write off Tamura completely, at 26 years of age, it may be impossible for her to re-gain the form that made her Olympic and winner of five world championships.  On the other hand, knowing her powers of determination, I believe that if she remains injury free and can psychologically re-focus herself, we may see her compete in Osaka, Japan in 2003 attempting to gain her sixth straight world championship title.  
48 kg. Winner: Tomoe Makabe    Runner up: Eriko Nakajima
52 kg. Winner: Aiko Sato           Runner up: Yuki Yokozawa
57 kg. Winner: Kie Kusakabe      Runner up: Noriko Mogi
63 kg. Winner: Yoshie Ueno       Runner up: Ayumi Tanimoto
70 kg. Winner: Haruko Kazato     Runner up: Masue Ueno
78 kg. Winner: Noriko Anno        Runner up: Eriko Nakajima
78+ kg. Winner: Midori Shintani  Runner up: Mayumi Yamashita

New York Open Judo Championship 2001

 The venue- the prestigious New York Athletic Club

For the first time in many years the Budokwai sent a team abroad – on this occasion to the New York Open Judo championships.

The Team consisted of   Jim Warren -66 kg  Eric Bonti -73kg

Danny Kingston and Nick Collins - 81kg

Bobby Rich -90kg

Winston Gordon - 100kg

Dominic Keen -100kg

 Coaches- Ray Stevens and Syd Hoare and Team Doctor Diana Birch

 The event was a very tough one with 165 competitors from over 16 countries – including Brazil,  France,  Uzbekistan,  Austria,  Rumania, UK,  USA,  Japan &  Korea all fielding  top  players.  To quote Ray Stevens   “This was a very high calibre competition with a number of Olympic players who despite their standing failed to take medals in New York”

 Britain did well - Winston Gordon taking the silver in the closely fought final against an old rival Croitoru of Rumania. The Americans introduced at the very last minute new gripping rules which eventually worked against  the British team when we were penalised for what would seem to have been doubtful decisions.  $1000 was offered for each first place and Winston just lost out by a koka . Jim Warren achieved a bronze after a well fought series of contests. The matches were fought down to only one third place.

  The competition was characterised by extreme tenacity and a good mix of orthodox and unorthodox techniques- all extremely well fought- in summary good technical judo punctuated by some spectacular ippons.

  There were eight full teams in the team event in which Britain in the form of the Budokwai team did well winning all three first fights in the first round against the very strong Uzbekistan team. The match for third place was not fought due to lack of time. Brazil beat France in the Final.  The teams were 5-man teams.

After the event all the competitors and coaches were invited to a dinner in the Tap Room of the New York Athletic Club.  The American hosts were well pleased with the competition.  The introduction of prize money had increased participation by 60% over previous years. They said that this event was now the toughest in North America and that they intended to keep it that away and make it bigger.

It is hoped that the club will participate next year in May.  The prestigious venue and the exciting city of New York make it seem likely that this event will become a regular feature of the international judo calendar.

New York Open - Results

NEW YORK CITY (March 26, 2001) - The following are the Results of the 2001
New York Open Judo Championships, held Sunday at the New York Athletic Club. 
165 players from Brazil, Canada, Morocco, Korea, Poland, Romania, England,
France, Egypt, Chile, Columbia, Japan, Sweden, Dominican Republic, Haiti,
Mali, Italy & the USA attended the event. 

For additional information, contact John Miller (303-236-5752;

1. NYOPEN Life achievement award:  George Lee Harris
2. Outstanding Player Award:  Anthony Rodriquez, France, 81KG
3. Appreciation Awards:   Rick Celotto & Parnel Legros


1ST  Place:    BRAZIL                               
2ND Place:    FRANCE                               


1ST Place:    DANIEL GARCEZ    BRAZIL                   
2ND Place:    GONZALO IBANZ    CANADA                   
3RD Place:    VIRGIL PENA        UNITED STATES               

1ST Place:    MUKHTAROV A.    UZBEKISTAN                   
2ND Place:    MARIA MARIAN    ROMANIA                   
3RD Place:    JIM WARREN        ENGLAND                   

1ST Place:    FERRID KHEDER    FRANCE                   
2ND Place:    CHUCK JEFFERSON    UNITED STATES               
3RD Place:    KIM JAE HUN        KOREA                   

1ST Place:    ANTHONY RODRIGUEZ    FRANCE               
2ND Place:    MARCELLO NOVAIS        SWEDEN               
3RD Place:    FLAVIO CANTO        BRAZIL               

1ST Place:    CROITORU ADRIAN        ROMANIA               
2ND Place:    WINSTON GORDON        ENGLAND               
3RD Place:    ALEX CIUPE            CANADA               

1ST Place:    SITARSKI PAWEL    POLAND                   
3RD Place:    RHADI FERGUSON    UNITED STATES               

1ST Place:    RYUCHI TANAKA    JAPAN                       
2ND Place:    A. BAGDASOROV    UZBEKISTAN