DREAM are striking out on their own without the help of the flailing K1 for this year’s New Year’s Eve spectacular.

All the JMMA goodness you could want in here… This video comes in at a substantial 15 minutes. Enjoy!

 

They keep on churning them out. I might be wrong but I think this is the most concerted effort DREAM have made to keep up a stready stream of hype leading up to an event. Perhaps it’s because the card is so stacked with local talent?

First up is the awesome Tokoro x Maeda follow up hype video.

Tokoro is the cindarella story of JMMA, starting off as a school janitor when he was fighting in Shooto and knocking out legends like Pequenio Nogueria. He’s the perennial underdog, a schoolboy blessed with godlike grappling and an uncanny ability to dodge bullets. Maeda is a man’s man, with solid standup skills and a lot of experience.

Check it out.

Next up is a mildly extremely disappointing video of Imanari and Aoki’s “Open Training Session”, although they are notorious about not showing themselves working out too much.

They keep on pumping them out!

Check out the hype video for this battle between young bruiser Takafumi Otsuka and the dashingly handsome Kenji Osawa.

OSS!

Rare chance to see Imanari at home with family.

Honestly, until this point, I actually thought he lived on his own in a tiny apartment filled with kettlebells, single speed bikes and plastic models of anime characters.

I cannot wait for DREAM this weekend.

(This post contains two videos.)

The disaster in Japan is still going on.

It is very, very slowly getting better, but entire towns are still nothing more than piles of rubble.

Japan still needs our help and support.

Daniel Herbertson has been doing some amazing work, following Enson Inoue on his missions to help the people in the worst affected areas of the Tohoku disaster.

I honestly think that this video is one of the greatest pieces of journalism I have ever seen, and it elevates both Dan and Enson to personal heroes of mine.

It is a must-watch.

Secondly, if you missed it, many of JMMA’s stars got together to fight in a public ring in Roppongi Hills (Tokyo) to bring awareness and donations to the Tohoku disaster.

This video is particularly poignant because it features Jin Harano, a fighter and gym owner who lost his entire gym in the disaster, fighting against Rumina Sato. Hirano enters the ring with tears already in his eyes.

Hirano, while tough, is not on the level of Sato. The fight between them is very moving. Hirano struggles to battle against the hardened veteran, who urges him on firmly yet fairly. Hirano refuses to give up even when in a number of submissions.

The fight becomes a metaphor for the struggle he faces rebuiling his life after being so directly affected by the Tohoku disaster.

Truly inspirational stuff. The video also shows Masato, despite retiring, being in excellent shape, participating in two exhibition K-1 bouts.

Check it out, and express your thanks to Dan for filming all this for us.

With all the chopping and a-changing at the last minute of Aoki Shinya’s opponent, DREAM’s PR team certainly had their work cut out for them, but they still managed to pull a wicked video out of their oshiri at the last minute.

Aoki is PUMPED for this fight.

He says, I will not lose, again and again. He says the UFC is the number one promotion in the world, and that is his goal (an interesting sentiment – I suppose many would hope that Aoki would be cheering for JMMA to rejuvenate himself, but he is taking a more pragmatic and realistic view.)

I am suitably hyped for DREAM: Fight for Japan. The first DREAM event of the year, finally! This will be an important one. I think (hope?) that Japan will rally behind the promotion this time and give it the boost it – and the country – needs.

Much like Rikidozan almost single handedly kept the Japanese spirit burning after World War II with his in-ring antics, here’s hoping that the Japanese lightweights can inspire the same feeling of pride.

Great article by Tony Lousiuersiousijrireler on Sherdog about JMMA here.

More from the geniuses at DREAM’s media department.

I am mega pumped for this event.

Shown mostly from Tokoro’s POV. Check out him training with Omigawa in the Groundslam dojo.

EDIT! There are TWO cool new videos on the DREAM channel! Check em out!

Japanese MMA hype videos are just a cut above.

So slick, confident and fresh. The fighters are always portrayed as real people with real if somewhat enchanted lives. Bright city lights, sharp suits, cauliflower ears, the squeak of the canvas underfoot, flashing camera bulbs…

Check out this hype video for DREAM: Bantamweight GP (Fight for Japan) and see the fighters pick their own opponents and do some mild shit-talking in Japanese.

FRESH!

DREAM have released a promo video for the Strikeforce event in April that features Aoki and Kawajiri.

This video nearly brought a tear to my eye.

It makes reference to the recent earthquake / tsunami disaster.

PRAY! FIGHT! BELIEVE IN JAPAN!

We’re following Dan, our defacto guide. The grizzled veteran with the five-day beard and delapidated sandals. Leading us through the wide streets, the pleasant labyrinth of skyscrapers. Endless skyscrapers in Shinjuku. Clean lines, strong, reassuring lights, the night sky that never truly darkens. As usual, we’re humping the camera gear around, pounding the Tokyo pavement. Thankfully it’s the evening and the sun is gone from the sky, but it’s not forgotten. It’s still coming up in hazy invisible waves from the street, still hanging in the dusk air. Breeze like the warm, stinking breath of the living city. We’re ants on the floor.

Two Japanese superheroes, comic book characters. The Master of Flying Techniques and the Master of Leglocks. We are meeting both of them at DEEP Official Gym, Shinjuku, Tokyo. Dan, pulling his camera equipment along the pavement, suffers a flat tyre. His sandal pops loose, flap flap flapping on the floor. It’s about the fourth time this has happened. I consider buying him a new pair.

We arrive at the gym. I’m surprised, again, at how small it is. Champions are made here. Some of the toughest fighters in Japan. The gym is on a backstreet away from the main drag, nothing more than a box with a glass side.

We wait outside for the interpreter to arrive. Sit on a small wall next to a vending machine. Nervous energy – Will the Master of Flying Techniques give his customarily guarded, bordering on rude, interview? Will we be able to get a straight answer out of the Master of Leglocks?

Our interpreter arrives. At the same time, a skinny man on a bicycle pulls up outside the gym. It’s Aoki Shinya, the Master of Flying Techniques and Dream lightweight champion. He glances at us – or does he? – and pushes through the gym doors. We are stood-up dates. I am Jack’s twisted, anxious guts. We soldier on and enter the gym.

Our contact from Real Entertainment welcomes us and ushers us into a backroom. Not a good start – offices don’t make the best backdrops for interviews. There is a bright, empty gym begging to be used, but empty it remains.

There he is, Aoki Shinya, one of my heroes, a man I’ve watched fight countless times in Pride and Dream. He’s slouched deep in a leather chair next to a photocopier. His mobile phone revolves in his hands like a Rubik’s cube. Open, shut, click, clack. Introductions happen, heads are bowed. Our voices stark in the bright office.

Saeki Shigeru, the boss of DEEP and a behind-the-scenes power player in Japanese MMA, is smoking at the end of the office behind a desk piled with papers. He’s smoking. In an MMA gym. This is Japan.The smoke curls out an open window into the hot night air.

Cameras settle into place. We squeeze against each other on the small sofa. The interview starts, and the interpeter asks if Aoki could introduce himself to the camera.

He says no.

And we are off to a flying start. Thankfully, in the end, the interview goes pretty well.

Halfway through one question, the printer next to Aoki’s head whirs loudly into life and starts spitting out paper. We look at Saeki who blurts out a apology and we laugh.

Halfway through another question, Saeki yells like a Japanese school boy “I need a pee,” and stomps past us and out the office. More laughter.

Once the questions are officially done, Aoki, finally,begins to warm up. He asks us questions. We discuss MMA in broken English and Japanese, with our interpreter helping out every now and then. I ask Aoki if he knows the phrase Lay and Pray. He doesn’t, so we explain it, and he laughs. He is a good guy. He can be friendly and open but probably chooses not to when being interviewed pre- or post-fight. And who can blame him? Not me.

Imanari Masakazu, Master of Leglocks, enters the room. He and Aoki swap places on the couch and we start the interview with Imanari. His demeanour is very different – calm, friendly, somewhat smug. We ask him to introduce himself and he does.

Ashikan Judan

The interview he gives, however, is complete gibberish. He claims to have learnt MMA from Tiger Mask, to have been taught leg locks by his brother, and that he focuses on leg locks because he can’t pass the guard. I ask him if he is a mean person due to the amount of legs he has destroyed in his career. He says it is up to his opponent to tap, but he is not mean. Aoki Shinya butts in from the back of the office that Imanari truly is mean and that he is always trying to break everyone’s legs. I think he is mocking me.

He feeds us more dubious information, mentioning various running jokes from the Japanese MMA scene. None of this gets past Dan though and he picks him up on it. Imanari remains steadfast though. He is sticking to his story.

Aoki leaves without giving us the chance to take a photo with him. We take one with Imanari in the gym. A strange, amusing picture. Later, as we regroup outside in the warm night air, Imanari has his single speed bike upside down. He’s sitting on a kettlebell and working on it. This is his life. I’m struck by the purity and simplicity of it. He earns a living by fighting. He repairs his bike outside the gym where he trains. He’s wearing sandals. His hair is shaven.

Dan, Dean, Imanari, Me.

Later that night Dan, Dean and I eat deep fried pork prepared by  a man in his sixties, or maybe even seventies, in a tonkatsu restaurant that is nothing more than a row of counter seats around a kitchen. The beer is cold and served in small glasses. Pictures of Korean pop stars are stuck to the side of the fridge. It’s the best deep fried pork I have tasted in a long while. I think to myself that the pride of the Japanese people truly is a wonderful thing. This restaurant, that may be considered a dive – or become a dive over a period of years – in the UK or the US, is anything but. The owner takes great care over the preparation of the products. He uses the finest ingredients. He is polite. He doesn’t cut corners.

We shoot the shit with the locals who engage us in conversation once they have sunk enough beers, smoked enough cigarettes. Strangely, they invite Dan to participate in a street festival the following week. I don’t know if he ever went.

© 2011 The Grappling Dummy Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha