12th World Tournament 22-24th November 2019, Tokyo, Japan
Having attended three World Tournaments in the past and this was to be my fourth and more importantly the first under the new IKO rules around pushing, sweeps and kicks to the head, I was keen to see how the event would unfold. My views will unfold as the report goes on but around the sweep / ashi barai, I feel this was the most controversial aspect as their seem to be inconsistency around awarding scores for these and many appear to be falls, I am aware the Budo ethic of to fall down is to die but some perfectly good sweeps were not scored and some ambiguous ones were scored so it was the lack of consistency for me that was the issue.
With a reduced number of fighters this event, all the top 32 seeds were due to fight on day one plus a few additional preliminary fights.
Kamada (Japan) looked impressive as he opened the event and scored an wazari for a Jodan mawashi geri against Alireza (Switzerland), and Meschyerakov (Russia) looked hugely powerful against Lopez (Canada) landing a number of powerful low kicks before scoring a wazari for a sweep. Ajima (Japan) scored a wazari for an excellent fast ushiro mawashi geri against Zushi (USA) and Zagainov (Russia) showed tremendous speed for a 6ft 5 inch fighter as he dominated Yazd (Iran) to get the decision.
Tusseau (France) was impressive and came close with high kicks a number of times as he got the decision against Nxumalo (South Africa), and Yamagawa (Japan) showed tremendous fitness and powerful punch and low kick combinations for a big man as he also got the decision against Marinelli (Belgium). The older Galiev (Russia), Alexei had to work hard against Gumede (South Africa) giving away 30kgs, the first round was a draw but Galiev’s work rate and pressing earned him the decision but Gumede’s powerful low kicks had hurt the Russian throughout the fight. Ardekami (Iran) then defeated Rodriguez (Colombia) in a scrappy fight on decision and Yeremenko (Russia) received a bye for a no show.
Takahashi (Japan) looked electric and scored a wazari for a crisp shita tsuki against Mungcal (Phillipines) and Kubo (Japan) scored wazaris for a sweep and then a Jodan mawashi geri versus Haojun (China), next up saw the legendary Navarro (Spain) in his final tournament and he earned the decision against a gutsy Kwela (South Africa). Osawa scored firstly a wazari for a sweep and then an ippon for a Jodan mawashi geri against Were (Uganda) and the giant Gulyaev (Russia) impressed as he scored a wazari for a Jodan mawashi geri against Christie (Great Britain).
Sypien (Poland) looked strong as he scored an ippon for chudan hiza geri against Aritonang (Indonesia) and Hoshi (Japan) was hugely powerful but also fast and high intensity with powerful punches and low kicks as he defeated a spirited Henderson (Australia) by decision. Yunusov (Russia) scored a wazari for a sweep against Patsha (South Africa) and the younger Galiev (Russia), Konstantin, looked strong defeating Wang (China). Finally, in this section Kochnev (Russia) worked at his normal high intensity and scored a wazari for a sweep against Wolski (Poland).
Arata (Japan) earned a decision against Al Tarsha (Saudia Arabia) and Bedoshvil (Russia) landed some extremely powerful low kicks and got the decision against Sturriale (Italy). Kaga (Japan) got the decision against Maxama (South Africa) and Goryushkin (Russia) looked strong in getting the flags against Nazari (Iran). Kapanadze (Russia) looked a bit edgy but still comfortable enough to get the decision against Mahroon (Bahrain) and Ishimura (Japan) looked powerful as he scored a wazaris for a sweep then a Jodan mawashi geri as he battered Kakatsos (Australia).
Afasali (Iran) scored a wazari for a mae geri jodan against Dae Yoo (South Korea) and Mazurkiewicz (Poand) and Garret (USA) had a real battle with a split 2-1 decision that was awarded to the Pole. Finally in the section the irrepressible Luzin (Russian) got the decision against the larger Ariunbold (Mongolia) to end the secion.
Zarinyan (Russia) was fast out the blocks as he scored wazari for first a sweep and then an ippon for a ushiro mawashi geri against the much taller Ommedal (Norway), Tokuda (Japan) had a late surge that earned him decision against Wang (China) and Aksenenko (Russia) earned a decision Mednbayar (Mongolia). Shimizu (Japan) earned a wazari for a sweep and then a body punch against Zue (Canada) and Kovalenko (Russii) looked very calm and in control earning two wazari’s both for sweeps against Finca (South Africa).
Ekimov (Russia) had a hard fight against Rashnoo (Germany) and earned the flags and then Kedzierski (Poland) and Takeoka (Japan) had a real battle, the first round was even and a draw and this was the only the second fight of the day that went to an extension, credit to the Pole in taking the home fighter to an extension but as Kedzierski tired Takeoka’s low kicks landed more frequently and this helped him earn the decision. Karpenko (Russia) looked in cruise control as he took the decision against Mkhize (South Africa) and the final fight saw pre-tournament event favourite and reigning All Japan Champion Ueda (Japan) defeat Matinyan (Armenia) after a sickening leg break saw the Armenian stretchered off.
Kamada (Japan) again impressed against Zapata (Spain) and scored a wazari for first a jodan mawashi geri and then another for a sweep. Magagula (South Africa) received a bye and the towering Mezhenskiy (Ukraine) looked very powerful with punches and low kicks before earning wazaris for a Jodan Mae Geri and then a sweep against Su (China). Mescheryakov (Russia) again looked extremely powerful as he closed down Axyonov (Kazaksthan) and hurt his opponent with punches and huge low kicks before earning a wazari for a body punch.
Ajima (Japan) and Whyte (New Zealand) had a good fight that saw Ajima score a wazari at the end of the round for a back kick, and Butko (Russia) dominated Durante (Uruguay) and scored a wazari for first a body punch and then a chudan hiza geri. The younger Takahashi (Japan), Yota, looked sharp with high work rate and some impressive knees to earn a decision against Drogoul (France) and Zagainov (Russia) overcame Lakusic (Serbia) in a hard fight with both fighters well over 6 ft to get a decision.
Tusseau (France) again looked sharp and dangerous with high kicks before scoring a wazari for a shit tsuki against Borisov (Bulgaria) and Yanagisawa (USA) got the decision in a scrappy fight against Sang (Korea). Chirkov (Russia) scored a wazari for first a sweep and then a body punch against Boreham (Australia) and Yamagawa (Japan) again looked strong and fit with powerful low kicks as he got the decision against Varabei (Belarus).
Alexei Galiev (Russia) and Eliakim (Israel) had a real battle, the Israeli had looked on top for parts of the fight but Galiev constant pressing turned the fight around to get the decision, this was however Galiev’s second hard fight in as many rounds. Takagi (Japan) the advanced past Sumon (Bangladesh) with a wazari for a mae geri jodan and then a sweep. Ardekami (Iran) lost to Naito (Guam) for a last minute fall which was harsh and after the Iranian had been on top and then Yeremenko (Russia) showed his class as he comfortably dispatched Jelonek (Poland) on decision.
Takahashi (Japan) showed great movement as he moved around and picked off Alvarado (Bolivia) to get the decision and Lyasehnko (Russia) used his height well and in particular knees to the body to get a decision against Ahyu (New Zealand). Kubo (Japan) and Scarcella (USA) had a real scrap, Kubo came close with a few high kicks and his work rate helped get the flags. Navarro (Spain) looked classy with some great movement and countering as he picked off Zingale (Italy) to get the decision.
Osawa (Japan) then had a bye and Al Zibawi (Lebanon) came out strongly against Polyakov (Russia) before the Russian’s fitness and techniques took their toll as he was awarded two flags plus the referee to advance. Popa (Romania) defeated Ku (Myanmar) with wazari for a body punch before two large powerful fighters in Gulyaev (Russia) and Demeautis (France) squared off, this was again a hard fight but Gulyaev increased his dominance as the fight went on and took the decision.
Sypien (Poland) took on the strong Pereira (Brazil), with the Pole’s fitness proving key as he worked hard and wore down the Brazilian to get the decision, Gabarev (Russia) looked strong with body punches against Phillips (New Zealand) before scoring a wazari for a jodan mawashi geri. Draga (Hungary) gave away 20kgs and a good few inches to Milicevic (USA) and after a scrappy fight the American’s size and strength proved key to get a decision and then Hoshi (Japan) again impressed as he kept things simple with punches and low kicks but increased his work rate effectively to get a decision against Dolatabad (Iran).
Dogari (Moldova) use his size and pwer against the much smaller but explosive Yunusov (Russia) to push his opponent back, the extra 30kgs proved decisive as Dogari constantly drove back Yunusov to get the decision and then Higuchi (Japan) and Zhu (USA) had a slow fight with the Japanese getting the decision. Next up was the giant Nascimento (Brazil) at 2m 10cm and 145kg, he was one of the largest fighters in the events history and took on Konstantin Galiev (Russia), the huge Brazilian used the new rules well and pushed Galiev off the tatami five or six times and the Russian failed to change his normal forward moving style and Nasicimento got the decision. Kochnev (Russia) took on the very strong Kuzyaev (Ukraine) who was unlucky to get caught with a jodan hiza geri for a wazari after a close fight.
Arata (Japan) defeated Hermosilla (Brazil) in a scrappy fight by decision and in another scrappy fight Bouchedda (France) scored a wazari for a jodan mawashi geri against Sampath (Sri Lanka). Kobayashi (Japan) defeated the game Mkhize (South Africa) by decision and Bedoshvil (Russia) used his size and low kicks to great effect to constantly push back the smaller Reyes (Spain) and get the decision.
Kaga (Japan) scored a wazari for a ushiro mawashi geri and then a low kick to easily dispatch Zaine (Belgium) and Mikhailov (Russia) stalked Buffaloe (USA) before landing a perfect chudan mawashi geri for ippon. Morales (Brazil) defeated Junior (Australia) after a scrappy fight on a split decision and Goryushkin (Russia) had a battle but did enough to get the decision against Visser (New Zealand).
Kapanadze (Russia) looked his normal powerful self as he beasted Giraldo (Brazil) and earned a wazari for a mae geri. Naor (Israel) and Grundler (France) had an even fight but the Israeli’s extra power told as the fight wore catching the Frenchman with low kicks and this earned him the decision. Ogly (Russia) overpowered Liu (China) to get the decision and Nishimura (Japan) took on Atanasov (Bulgaria) with two fighters in excess of 100kg but Nishimura was much sharper deservedly took the decision and Nakano (USA) took the decision versus Afsali (Iran). Mazurkiewicz (Poland) and Stefanou (Greece) had a close fight with the Pole slightly fortunate to be awarded a wazari for appeared to be a fall by the Greek. Last up in the section Luzin (Russia) was unrelenting with his high work rate and power as he dominated Karimi (Afghanistan).
Zarinyan (Russia) looked razor sharp as he scored a wazari for a ushiro geri against Zuleta (Argentina), and the huge kiwi and crowd favourite Mckinnon (New Zealand) overpowered Colis (Romania) with his sheer size and devastating low kicks. Tokuda (Japan) scored a wazari for a back kick against Evagee (USA) and Aksenenko (Russia) was far stronger than Rovira (Spain) as he advanced by decision.
Shimizu (Japan) was a bit fortunate to get a wazari after (replacement fighter) (Brazil) fell and Keskin (Turkey) looked sharp in getting the decision over Zheng (China). Zeghbab (France) got an ippon in seconds for a body punch against Prakash (India) and Kovalenko (Russia) got the decision after a scrappy fight against Tockar (Australia).
Ekimov (Russia) took on Fadakari (Iran) and this was a real war, the fight was very even and warranted an extension but the Russian got the flags. Silva (Brazil) who was in his fifth World Tournament and was impressive against Badar (Hungary) as he dominated the fight and took the decision. Fedoseev (Russia) was fit as he pushed back Shange (South Africa) to earn the decision and the Takeoka (Japan) and Abbas (Kuwait) fight was stopped for a face punch but when resumed Takeoka earned a wazari for a sweep.
Karpenko (Russia) chased the much smaller Bodach (Brazil) round the mat in a messy fight but was Karpenko was far too strong eventually earned a wazari to advance and Mazabov (Tajikistan) was too fit and strong and got the decision against Erdenechuluun (Mongolia). Triscaro (Italy) scored a wazari for a sweep against Ishikawa (USA) and Ueda (Japan) closed the round off earning a quick wazari for a sweep against Tewera (New Zealand).
Kamada (Japan) caught Magagula (South Africa) with a jodan mawashi geri for a wazari as the South African put in a spirited display. Mescheryakov (Russia) against Mezhenskiy (Ukraine) was a battle of two 100kg plus powerhouses, Mescheryakov proved the stronger as he focused on inside low kicks to slow down the taller Ukrainian and get the decision.
Ajima (Japan) vs Butko (Russia) was the first of many Japan versus Russia match ups, this was a real war and was a draw after the first round, in the extnesion Ajima focused on low kicks and gradually got on top and took the decision. Zagainov (Russia) took on Yota Takahashi (Japan) and in intriguing fight, Takahashi fought well to either be out of the much taller Russian’s range or very close to cut off the leverage and power, the first round ended 2-0 to the Russian and the fight went into an extension, the fight became frantic and erratic but Zagainov started using hiza geris to good effect and boss the fight as it went on and took the decision in the extension.
Tusseau (France) and Yanagisawa (USA) was another even fight with but the Frenchman landed an excellent hiza geri jodan for a wazari to advance. Yamagawa (Japan) took the fight to Chirkov (Russia) and never gave the excellent Russian chance to settle, Yamagawa smothered Chirkov with powerful low kicks and punches and advanced constantly showing great fitness and deservedly too the decision.
Galiev (Russia) and his hard fights had taken their toll and he did not look as fresh as in his first two fights against Takagi (Japan) but never stopped working in this fight, the Russian was harshly awarded a genten ichi for Takagi to advance. Yeremenko (Russia) scored an ippon for a perfect shita tuski against Naito (Guam).
Takahashi (Japan) again showed great movement and also power as he evaded Lyashenko (Russia) but dished out a lot of punishment with some powerful punches and earned the decision. Navarro (Spain) and Kubo (Japan) had a battle in a tight fight but the Spaniard gradually got on top and got the flags.
Osawa (Japan) against Polyakov (Russia) was another real battle, the Russian came out aggressively but Osawa came more and more into the fight and did enough to earn the decision but Polyakov could class himself as harshly treated not to get an extension. Gulyaev (Russia) continued to look ominously strong as he dropped Popa (Romania) with a body punch for ippon.
Sypien (Poland) took on Gabarev (Russia) in a fight that started evenly before the Poles size and fitness came into play, he used hiza geri chudan’s to great effect to slow the Russian down and get the decision. Hoshi (Japan) used his 120kg to great effect and cut down the space and wear down with punches and low kicks against the taller Milicevic (USA) to advance by decision.
Dogari (Moldova) was the much larger fighter as he took on Higuchi (Japan) who was busy throughout the fight, the fight was stopped as Dogari dislocated his finger and after the re-start Higuchi’s fitness and work rate was key as he took the decision. Last up in this section was a real shock as the giant Brazilian Nascimento swept Kochnev (Russia) to earn a wazari and put last World Tournaments semi finalist out.
Arata (Japan) and Bouchedda (France) was another war, Arata used low kicks well to get on top but the Frenchman came back into the fight and pushed Arata back and deserved get an extension. Arata continued to concentrate on low kicks and upped his work rate and that was enough to get the decision after a hard fight. Bedoshvil (Russia) used his 40kg weight advantage well against Kobayashi (Japan) and continued to use low kicks effectively and took the decision.
Kaga (Japan) and Mikhailov (Russia) were well matched and this was a very even fight with the fighters trading combinations, Kaga outworked the Russian at the end of the round and took the decision. Goryushkin (Russia) and Morales (Brazil) had a scrappy fight and Goryushkin used his size and pushed Morales of the mat a number of times and earned the decision to advance.
Kapanadze (Russia) never got into a fluid stream and made hard work of his victory against Naor (Israel) who fought gallantly and the powerful Nishimura (Japan) and Ogly (Russia) had a scrappy fight and the Ogly was given a genten ichi that was enough for Nishimura to advance deservedly.
Nakano (USA) and Nagasawa (Japan) was another scrappy fight that went to an extension before another genten ichi pushed Nakano through and Luzin (Russia) defeated a Mazurkiewicz (Poland) after gaining a fortunate wazari for a fall, but the Russian was always in total control.
Zarinyan (Russia) gave away over 65kg (that is not a typo!) as he took on crowd favourite Mckinnon (New Zealand), the big kiwi stalked the Russian and Zarinyan showed brilliant movement to move around and pick off his larger opponent with crisp and sharp techniques, Mckinnon focused on trying to land some heavy low kicks but tired as the fight went on and Zarinyan took the decision. Tokuda (Japan) and Aksenenko had a real battle match with neither backing down, this was very well matched and ready for an extension before the decision was given to Aksenenko, when an extension was definitely the better option.
Shimizu (Japan) and Keskin (Turkey) were well matched with both fighters throwing a high number of fast combinations, Shimizu upped his work rate later in the round and took the decision. Kovalenko (Russia) looked classy against Zeghbab (France) as he dispatched the tall and powerful Frenchman with two excellent sweeps for wazari-ippon.
Ekimov (Russia) and Silva (Brazil) had a close fight, the Brazilian refused to back down but perhaps did not use his good movement enough and tired late in the round for Ekimov to get the decision. Fedoseev (Russia) again showed his fitness against Takeoka (Japan) and was non-stop for the whole round never allowing Takeoka to get into his rhythm and enabling the Russian to advance.
Karpenko (Russia) and Mazabov (Tajikistan) was developing into an interesting fight and Mazabov was impressive but a very harsh wazari for a fall stopped their being and extension and Karpenko advanced. Ueda (Japan) again looked impressive and scored a wazari for a jodan hiza geri against Triscari (Italy) to end day two.
As predicted the final day saw the two strongest teams with Russia (14) and Japan (13) providing most fighters by a distance, plus fighters from Brazil, France, Poland, Spain and USA.
Kamada (Japan) and Meschyerakov (Russia) was a battle of two power houses, the Russian at 115kg stalked Kamada who moved well and landed powerful low kicks and chudan mawashi geri’s but the Russian also landed some powerful shots of his own, especially low kicks, the increase to three minute rounds was a factor however and Meschyerakov tired as Kamada got on top and took the decision 5-0. Ajima (Japan) and Zagainov (Russia) was shaping up to be an interesting fight with the shorter Japanese evading the much taller Russian fighter until fairly early on Zagainov landed a perfect ushiro geri from close range that pushed Ajma of the mat and winded him badly and earned the Zagainov an ippon.
Tusseau (France) and Yamagawa (Japan) was in my view the fight of the tournament, with a all the Europeans in the arena loudly rooting for Tusseau and likewise the Japanese for Yamagawa that yielded a fantastic atmosphere. The heavier Yamagawa focused on punches and powerful low kicks but Tusseau never backed down and came in close and used his knees effectively and had powerful shita tsukis, neither fighter back down and a draw was given and an extension was awarded. The crowd really got into this tremendous fight as both fighters refused to back down and showed tremendous spirit and fitness, and the it was 2-2 after the extension and a draw was given and a further extension was awarded. Just as it appeared that Yamagawa’s low kicks might prove to be the decisive factor, Tusseau landed a perfect hiza geri jodan to stun Yamagawa and earn the Frenchman a wazari much to the European crowds delight and that was enough to see him advance.
Yeremenko (Russia) continued to show he is an absolute Rolls Royce of a fighter as he calmly landed an ippon for a body punch against Takagi (Japan) after stalking the smaller Japanase fighter around the mat.
Two hugely gifted technical fighters squared of next as Takahashi (Japan) took on Navarro (Spain), the fight was pretty even with both fighters wary of the others knock out techniques but a Navarro fall was harshly given a wazari at the end of the round and enough for Takahashi, who had admittedly become more dominant as the fight wore on, to advance.
Osawa (Japan) in my opinion fought tactically the wrong fight as he went toe to toe against the much taller and heavier Gulyaev. This played into Gulyaev’s hands as he hit Osawa with a number of powerful shita tsukis, inside low kicks and knees to dominate the fight and get the decision 5-0.
Sypien (Poland) and Hoshi (Japan) was another fight that was an absolute war, both big fighters but also fit for their size. The first round was brutal with both fighters taking a lot of punishment and refusing to move back with Sypien concentrating on punches and low kicks and well placed chudan hiza geris, and Hoshi sticking to punch and low kick combinations, the Pole appeared slightly fitter and the decision was 2-0 in his favour but the ref awarded a draw. The first extension continued in much the same way and was again brutal and Sypien put in a late burst and this time led 2-1 on the flags but again it was awarded a draw. The second extension was very much in the same manner as the first two rounds but with both fighters tiring, Sypien again was ahead on the flags but this time just 1-0 and not enough for the decision, the fight went to boards and Hoshi advanced 20-19. Whilst Hoshi was well worth his place in the next round Sypien was extremely unlucky not to advance by taking the flags.
Higuchi (Japan) took on the giant Nascimento in a complete mismatch in terms of size, this lead to a face punch that was harsh on Nasicmento in receiving a genten ichi and then another face punch for a genten ni for and a disqualification.
Arata (Japan) took on the powerful Bedoshvil (Russia) who came out with his normal barrage of powerful low kicks, Arata fought well and moved efficiently and landed body punch to gain ippon and advance impressively. Kaga (Japan) and Goryushkin (Russia) was another messy fight with the large Goryushkin chasing down Kaga but was awarded a genten ichi that enable the Japanese fighter to advance.
Another two powerhouses met as Nishimura (Japan) took on Kapanadze (Russia), the first round was very even with both fighters sizing each other up before throwing powerful techniques and a draw was awarded. In the extension Kapanadze focused on the inside low kick against the heavier opponent but Nishumura threw a number of low kicks and combinations and appeared fresher and advanced 3-0 on the flags.
Luzin (Russia) again looked irrepressible against Nakano (USA) as he pushed back his opponent showing his immense fitness and hitting his opponent with a barrage of low kicks, hiza geris, and punches to get the decision 5-0 and move ominously to the next round.
Zarinyan (Russia) appeared to have injured his hand in the tameshiwari and could only punch with one hand as he took on Aksenenko (Russia). Aksenenko who was the larger fighter fought tactically the right fight getting on top of Zarinyan, cutting down the space and constantly moving forward. Aksenenko’s tactics appeared to be working perfectly but he slowed as the round moved on and was caught with some good shots from Zarinyan who upped his work rate and took the flags 3-0.
Kovalenko (Russia) who despite being much larger than Shimizu (Japan) was still quick and also showed great technique has he gained wazari-ippon both for sweeps and comfortably move to the next round. Ekimov (Russia) and Fedoseev (Russia) fought toe to toe and traded blows, as the round wore on Ekimov’s extra weight and power proved decisive as he drove Fedoseev of the mat and earned the decision 5-0.
The final fight of the round was a very interesting match up and re run a last 16 fight four years ago as Ueda (Japan) took on Karpenko (Russia), the Russian came out sharply from the blocks and landed some really powerful low kicks that rocked Ueda. Ueda to his credit regained his composure and grew as the fight went on landing strong hiza geris and mae geris, Karpenko tired significantly in the last minute of the round and Ueda was clearly on top and pushed him off the mat on multiple occasions and took the flags 5-0.
Kamada (Japan) versus Zagainov (Russia) was a scrappy opening round with larger Russian trying to get close and land knees and jodan mawashi geris as Kamada himself through some big shots, with little between them an extension was awarded, in the extension just as both fighters broke to move apart Zagainov through a well time jodan mawashi geri that landed perfectly on the side of Kamada’s face to drop the Japanese fighter and earn the young Russian a surprise heavy ippon and a place on the last eight.
Next up was a fresh Yeremenko (Russia) who had had not left first gear in the event as yet against a battle worn Tusseau (France), the Frenchman however was not deterred and worked hard and took the fight to the Russian and threw lots of hiza geris and shita tsuki as he matched the fresher Yeremenko, there was nothing in the first round and 0-0 in the flags. In the extension Yeremenko increased his work rate and pushed harder and earned the decision 3-0 against a gallant Tusseau who was one of the most exciting fighters of the tournament.
Takahashi (Japan) interestingly decided to go toe to toe with Gulyaev (Russia) instead of using his excellent movement, Gulyaev however landed a face punch for a genten ichi and then another for a genten ni and was subsequently disqualified, sad to see an excellent fighter and real threat exit the event like this but Takahashi was worth of his place in the next round.
Hoshi (Japan) used his size and power to completely dominate Higuchi (Japan) with punches and low kicks and easily took the flags 5-0. The next fight was very similar with Arata (Japan) much larger than Kaga (Japan) and Arata scored a wazari for a body punch that saw him advance.
Luzin (Russia) was once again relentless against the power of Nishimura (Japan), Luzin tried to land inside low kick on Nishimura that Kapanadze had in the previous round and this tactic proved fruitful as it slowed down Nishimura and earned Luzin the flags 5-0 where once again the Russian supreme fitness was impressive.
The injured Zarinyan (Russia) did his best to move around and pick off Kovalenko (Russia) as the larger Kovalenko stalked Zarinyan and close down the range well to land punches and low kicks, it was a shame this fight was fought with Zarinyan injured as it could have been an excellent fight but Zarinyan was missing a key weapon and Kovalenko earned the decision 5-0.
Ueda (Japan) and Ekimov (Russia) was even for most of the fight and perhaps the Karpenko fight had taken its toll on Ueda, late on in the end of the first round Ueda landed a mae geri chudan that floored Ekimov and earned Ueda a wazari.
Zagainov (Russia) was wary of Yeremenko (Russia) for both his power and his high kicks as he stayed at distance as Yeremenko stalked and launched punches and low kicks and gained a wazari for a fall by Zagainov as Yeremenko looked stronger and in control and took his place in the last four.
Takahashi (Japan) and Hoshi (Japan) saw Takahashi use his movement excellently as he switched from toe to toe and landing hiza geri chudans to moving back to evade Hoshi’s power and pick him off with combinations, this tactic worked perfectly and Takahashi took the flags 5-0.
Arata (Japan) and Luzin (Russia) was another absolute battle and credit to both fighters this late on in the event as they brutally battled it out toe to toe, Luzin as always pressed and thrrew mainly punches, low kicks, and hiza geris but in high volume but Arata isolated a leg and concentrated on low kicks on one side that trouble Luzin, the round ended and it was 3-0 to Luzin which was harsh on Arata who I think deserved an extension but Luzin high tempo was undeniable.
Ueda (Japan) looked to have his sharpness back against Kovalenko (Russia) and looked in control in the fight and pushed back the Russian on a number of occasions before landing a jodan mawashi geri for a wazari to advance.
Yeremenko (Russia) and Takahashi (Japan) were extremely well matched with both fighters wary of the other knock out techniques and so much at stake, Yeremenko stalked Takahashi who moved around well but neither fighter had an advantage and the flags were 0-0. In the first extension Takahashi came close with a jodan mawashi geri but Yeremenko increased his work rate but only enough for 1-0 on the flags. The second extension was very similar with Yeremenko gradually getting on top but again only enough to get 2-0 on the flags and the ref awarded a draw, the fight went to boards with the fighters even at 19-19, the fighters then headed to the scales were there was less than 10kg difference so a final extension was to be fought. The encho-sen was fought in good spirit and Yeremenko carried on the improvement from the previous extension and took the flags 5-0 to reach the final.
Ueda (Japan) kept his semi final to one round as he earned a wazari against Luzin (Russia) for a hiza geri jodan that took him through to the final to end the Russian’s hugely impressive run.
3rd/4th Place fight off
Luzin (Russia) exerted pressure from the start against Takahashi and pushed him back and came close with a Jodan mawashi geri, Takahashi looked tired after his long semi final and Luzin capitalised with his usual high work rate and combinations to get the decision 3-0.
Yeremenko (Russia) and Ueda were worthy finalists and, in my view, the two best fighters of the tournament so it was the right final I believe. Former champion and legend Francisco Filho was the referee in what turned out to be a titanic battle that ensued. The fight opened with Ueda the busier at the start as he threw a number of knees to the body and mae geris and Yeremenko concentred on punches and low kicks. Ueda used low kicks more as the round went on but continued to use his mae geris and hiza geris effectively, a late surge from both lead to an even first round, 1-0 Ueda on the flags, extension awarded
In the extension, Yeremenko came close with an ushiro mawashi geri jodan and was throwing some strong punches and low kicks looked the fresher of the two fighters and Ueda perhaps began to tire with Yeremenko slightly on top but little between the two, 1-0 Yeremenko on the flags and a further extension awarded.
In this extension the fight understandably slowed, with this the culmination of three days of fights and a war in itself, both fighters mainly concentrated on punches to reserve energy then Yeremenko close with another ushiro mawashi geri jodan and then straight away Ueda came close after with mae geri jodan. Yeremenko ended the round with a barrage of low kicks and punches but Ueda came back with powerful knees and punches himself, again nothing in it in my view, 1-0 Yeremenko on the flags. The fight went to Tameshiwari and Ueda had broke 21 boards versus Yeremenko’s 17 and was awarded the fight and became world champion.
My final thought was Ueda was a very worth champion and completely deserved his title, however I would say Yeremenko would have been equally worthy and there was nothing between the two in the fight or over the three days, the final itself was fought in great spirit and both were a credit to the spirit of Kyokushin and produced a great final.