Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kickboxing and Nagano

This weekend, there were no tournaments near Tokyo. The closest tournaments were in Nagano prefecture. I was able to form a team with Kunihiro and Akinori for Sunday, but since Kunihiro couldn't enter on Saturday, and I couldn't find anyone else, we decided to just go there on Sunday only, which also happened to be the area block finals for that region.

Since I wasn't going to any tournaments on Saturday, I decided to just chill at home with Ryoko on Friday night. We watched Gake No Ue No Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ). I got a lot of sleep which was good cuz I was pretty tired all week.

I woke up on Saturday and watched a little bit of the Evo live stream which was showing SSFIV pool matches. I ended up watching it until the very last second before I had to leave to catch my next train and made it to the station with only 1 minute to spare, but at least I got on the train.

When I transferred at Takasaki, I ran into Brendon, another local ALT, who was also on his way to Tokyo. Today's plan was actually to go see another ALT that we all know who would be fighting in a real kickboxing match at FACE in Shinjuku (this was the same place where the Dream Fighters Festival finals were held 2 years ago). I wont say the real name of the ALT who would be fighting today by his request, but his ringname is Bloodbath, so I will refer to him as that.

When I got to Tokyo, Brendon went separate ways to meet up with a girl and I headed to Mikado to get about an hour of GG casuals in before I had to go to Shinjuku. I ended up going undefeated the entire time I was there and got a 24 win streak. I left my credit when it was about time to leave.

I met up in Shinjuku with Emmet. He had our tickets that he got already from Bloodbath. I grabbed some quick food at Sukiya while Emmet had a beer. Then, we headed to FACE. I guess we got their early cuz the elevator to get on the floor with the venue was disabled but we waited a bit and eventually made it up there.

We got there right when doors opened so they were still setting up. We had a beer while we were waiting to get inside. Eventually they let us in. We found our seats and eventually several other ALTs showed up. I would say somewhere around 10-15 ALTs came to watch Bloodbath fight. In addition to Bloodbath's kickboxing match, there were several other kickboxing matches and also some MMA fights. There was even a professional wrestling match which was pretty funny which included out of the ring action, and bashing eachother over the head with chairs. It was unexpected but amusing, though I appreciate real fighting far more. I never really got too into pro wrestling before.

The very first match was actually some Junior High School kids who came from 2 separate kickboxing dojos. It was pretty crazy cuz this is the age of the kids I teach at work. It would be weird to watch my students kick eachothers asses in a kickboxing match. One of the kids had a dyed blond mohawk. This kid ended up beating both of the other kids from the opposing dojo and won the championship belt for the kids age group matches. He was only 12 years old too and they said he had already participated in over 100 ring matches. Pretty amazing.

At some point between some of the fights, I went to use the men's room and someone totally had smoked some herb in one of the toilet stalls and the smell was still quite strong. Made me feel nostalgic about the US. This is something I pretty much never encounter here in Japan. The laws for prohibiting it here are EXTREMELY severe...

Also, they had this cute young girl in a bikini to hold up the "round 2" etc signs between rounds and prance around in her high heels and look pretty. It certainly added to my viewing pleasure. Funny thing was they refered to her as Ryoko-chan... which is the same name as my girlfriend. I found it odd that at some, the ringmaster dude was like asking her her breast size in front of everyone and she seemed really embarrased. (they were C's by the way... Japanese C's)

Eventually after watching a bunch of the other fights (some of which were very entertaining, others were kinda so-so, but most of them were cool), it was now time for Bloodbath's match to start. His sensei was there and invited all of us to come sit in seats RIGHT next to the side of the ring, so we got a really good view. The match was 3 rounds. His opponent was a Japanese guy. The dude was pretty big. Bloodbath pretty much dominated most of the fight and certainly had the eye of the tiger. His opponent had blood running down his face by the end, but Bloodbath looked pretty much untouched. In the end, Bloodbath was declared the winner! We all got really hype throughout the fight and cheered him on, and his sensei was really encouraging everyone to root for him too.

After Bloodbath won, he came and sat with us to watch the remaining 2 fights. The last 2 fights were both MMA, and they were also a foreigner vs a Japanese fighter in both cases. Both of the foreigners lost their matches. One of the guys had his little son come and watch (the kid was probably like 4 or 5 years old or something). After his daddy lost, he was crying pretty hard. I felt kinda sorry for him. He must have felt really bad losing and then having to watch his son cry...

...but in any case, Bloodbath won, so we were all feelin pretty happy! We took a few group photos inside the ring. Then, the plan was for all of us to go to an izakaya to celebrate. While we were waiting for Bloodbath to get ready, Emmet and I took a quick run to Family Mart and got a drink, and then we met up with everyone in front of the izakaya. The place we went to is really nice. I went there once before with Rod and a bunch of his friends and sorta forgot about it since then, but I should go again sometime.

We ended up having quite a big group since all the ALTs, plus, Bloodbath and his sensei and some other people connected to his dojo came as well. We had like 2 full tables with maybe at least over 30 people. We ended up getting 2 hours of nomihodai (all you can drink), and everyone threw in a ton of money so that we pretty much could just order whatever food we wanted too. I got my fair share of drinks in and ate a lot of delicious food. It was good times. Towards the end, people started doing arm wrestling matches for some reason. I was drunk so I did it too. I beat 3 people (one was Bloodbath's sensei) and then lost to someone. My arm was a bit tired but he was strong. I rematched him later and won but then we used our left arms and he beat me.

Once our time was up at midnight, everyone got ready to head out. Everyone was planning to go drinking all night. Some people even asked me to show them Current. I even got an email from Pachi asking me if I was down to go drinking again tonight. Unfortunately, I had to decline because I had made plans to get up early and go to Nagano tomorrow morning. I said bye and headed to the manga kissa.

I woke up at 8 am and walked to the west exit of Shinjuku station. The plan was to meet up with Kunihiro and Akinori there. Kunihiro has a car and offered to drive us to Nagano, which is awsome cuz the arcade is really far from the arcade and it would be a hell of a long train ride and this way is cheaper too. On the way to the station I stopped at McDonalds and they had a 100 yen sausage mcmuffin deal going so I bought a big sack of those to share with everyone. Kunihiro was there waiting at the station when I arrived. At first, Akinori wasnt there but he arrived eventually.

The drive took about 3 hours to get to the arcade in Nagano. This was the first time I had ever gone to Nagano before. We talked a lot on the way about various things and it was an enjoyable drive with lots of nice scenery too. Sam kept me updated throughout the day on my cellphone through emails about Evo results and stuff. I would have liked to watch more of the live stream but I really couldnt given the circumstances.

Eventually we arrived at the game center, NASA. A few strong teams from Tokyo and Kansai showed up for this like
Ka2 / Haken / Ko1
Kishitaka / Nanashi / Kedako
HEVEN /BOB / AGF
and Eki-chan had a team too but I dont know who his teammates were
The rest of the teams there I am not sure about but they were probably from around that area. It turns out that Ka2's team was just watching the qualifer today because they had already won the preliminary yesterday and would be participating in the block finals which would take place today after the preliminary would end.

There were only 2 cabs going and lots of people were playing casuals so I didnt get many practice games in. I fought a May and a Slayer and lost both but they were close matches. My wrists were a bit sore from arm wrestling the night before, so playing felt a little funny at first but it didnt really mess with my execution. I figured since it was taking so long to get a turn for casuals in, I would just play a little SFIV cuz someone was playing it. I figured it would at least loosen up my wrists a bit and it did help actually. I ended up getting a 10 win streak with Blanka and then I eventually just told the guys that I didnt feel like playing anymore and wanted to play more GG so not to put any more credits in the machine lol.

The tournament ended up having 14 teams. Our match was the very first match of the tournament (which seems to happen a lot to me) and we had to fight a really good team first match (which also seems to happen a lot to me). Our first match was...

ElvenShadow (FA) / 92 (AN) / Heavenly (PO)
vs
Kishitaka (SO) /Kedako (MA) / Nanashi (VE)

We decided to let Kunihiro (92) go first. They ended up putting Kishitaka first. It was a really close match and Kunihiro played well but he ended up losing to Kishitaka. I went next cuz I am good against Sol. I won the first round, lost the 2nd round, and won the 3rd round. He had me in the corner and wasnt respecting my tension meter being half full (or I think he was going to go to try to bait a dead angle) so I just called him out and caught him in the middle of his standing kick animation with the scalpel super and killed him. Up next, I had to fight Kedako. As I am sure you all know by now, I fucking hate May... and Kedako is one of the best May's... ever. So, while I put up a decent fight, in the end I lost. It was now up to Akinori (Heavenly) to finish the job. He fought a good hard battle, and despite actually dropping a combo here and there, he managed to take out Kedako in a close win! Finally, he had to face Nanashi. This was also pretty close but in the end, Nanashi won, and we were out of the tournament first round. It was definitely really close. I think if I went first and we had Kunihiro to take on Nanashi, we could have won. I guess thats just the way it goes.

We stayed and watched the rest of the tournament. I didnt really both writing down results for the whole thing. In the end, BOB's team took out Kishitaka's team in the semi finals, and the finals were BOB's team vs Eki-chan's team. I dont remember the order but Eki-chan's team won.

The area final was to start soon but people were doing practice matches for a bit first. There were 5 teams in this area final and they were going to do round robin, which meant it was going to take a very long time. We sorta felt like getting back cuz we had a long drive ahead of us, so we decided to just leave. I dont know who all the teams were in the finals, but one of them was Kuni the Baiken player's team.

As we drove back, I got more updates about evo from Sam and Andy. I also mailed Kuni and he told me that after like 2 and a half hours after we left, the finals finally ended and the winner was KA2's team. It was only a matter of time until that team qualified so I guess I cant say I was really surprised.

We stopped for some Takoyaki along the way and I got some cheese takoyaki which I had never seen before. It was pretty unusual but it was ok I guess. Though I still think regular Takoyaki is probably better.

It ended up taking over 4 hours to get back cuz traffic sucked. We got back at 8 pm and headed right to Takadanobaba to play at Mikado. Kunihiro parked his car at a pay spot in the ally behind the arcade. I played for like an hour until I had to catch the last train. Akinori was beasting and got a big win streak. I played a few with Kunhiro and won a couple and he beat me slightly more. I also played a few other people and did pretty well. I had a small streak of my own but I forgot how many wins it was. I said bye to everyone and as I was leaving, MIU comes out of no where and starts talking to me on the way to the station. I got on the train platform and said bye to MIU and headed home.

Next week is a 3 days weekend and there are tournaments all 3 days of the 3 day weekend right in Tokyo. I will go to all 3. I havnt decided on my exact teams but I will team with Kunihiro and Akinori again on Saturday. On Sunday and Monday I will team with ゲいム (the May player from Sendai) again, and one other person who is still being decided on. Should be fun times. The tournaments next weekend are the start of the very final block. There will be 7 spots total in this next block to compete in the block final (3 next weekend, 2 in 2 weeks, and 2 more the final week). August 1st is the very last day of quals, so just 3 more weeks left. Gonna do my best!

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