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Posted: 2006-08-18 19:56:41
To Benares,

Yasuo Tabata was known for his superb ability to take punishment due to his intense physical training. His ace-in-the-hole were leg kicks and elbows. He was rated No.1 in middleweight in the Radjamnern rating. He defeated both Steve Sheperd and Blinky Rodriguez. His fight against Fred Royers was his last fight. Genshu Igari was another great the golden era of Japanese kickboxing. In his career, he defeated three champions from Thailand (I forgot the spelling of their names, but one of them unified both the Lumpinee and Radjamnern titles). One of his asset was his straight right. He studied the style of martial arts called nippon kenpo, which was full-contact/point fighting competition with armor. The style is known for the straight punches, and some of the accomplished boxers and kickboxers came from this style. Igari combined muay thai and the straight right of nippon kenpo to score numerous KOs. Igar beat Tabata twice and these fights are considered to be some of the classic in the golden era of Japanese kickboxing. Igari KOed Ray McCallum. Both Igari and Tabata later served as judge and referee for K-1.

Mitsuo Shima was a senior of Toshio Fujiwara in the Mejiro Gym. He was the first to defeat the champion of Thailand (I don't remember which stadium). Neither Lumpinee or Radjamnern title was at stake. There was a time the officials in Thailand considered to establish something like, "world muay thai federation." Shima was given a chance to fight the champion of either Lumpinee or Radjamnern for the new crown. He ended up winning the title by ko. He was a typical Japanese muay thai fighter;long-range punches and leg kicks. He scored many kos with those techniques.

Kunimitsu Okao was not undefeated. He was the first fighter of the Mejiro Gym. In those days ( as in today) being a top in Japan meant that he could be matched against the Thais. It is impossible to remain undefeated. He was not the teacher of Katsuyuki Suzuki either. He was supposed to be the first to fight Urquidez. But he suffered some injury in his hip, so he withdrew. Instead, Suzuki was appointed to fight Urquidez as the last minute substitute despite the fact he had just returned from Hiroshima (he was not a full-time fighter). After Suzuki was defeated, Okao finally faced Urquidez. It is true the knees and elbows to the head were prohibited. But in my opinion, it was Okao's fault to get beat. He was so cocky to use less and less leg kicks and clearly see he thought he could get away with his punches alone. Eventually he ran out of gas and got KOed.

In overall, the Japanese fighters excell in the leg kicks and long range punches. This is because the highest aim both the fighters and fans have is to win the title in Thailand (either Lumpninee or Radjamnern). Since they fight the same weight classes as the Thais, the Japanese had to focus on something the Thais do not. You can expect the majority of the Japanese fighters to fit into this mode. Fujiwara was exception. In addition to the leg kicks and long-range punches, he was versatile in the body kicks, head kicks, knees, elbows, and clinch.

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