Article courtesy of Chris Gunn
Photos by Dennis Dugan
Last night the 3rd Seiza event was held in Korakuen in Tokyo. While the promotion certainly has elements of Mixed Martial Arts, rather than labelling itself an MMA event, Seiza calls itself ‘Women’s Budo Entertainment’. It was certainly a novel and entertaining take on combat sports.
If you have seen Ganryujima, this is similar in look, rules and feel. The action takes place in a sumo-style, matted Dohyo, with the rules actually incorporating aspects of sumo by awarding a point if a fighter can push her opponent out. The points system also incorporates aspects of Judo and Kickboxing with points awarded for clean strikes and throws. Elbows are not permitted, neither are head strikes on the ground. There are three, three minute rounds with wins available by submission or pinning for a three-count, but stand-ups after only thirty seconds on the ground.
Rather than having single fights, the show is organised as a team battle, pitting team Seiza against a guest team of fighters. This time, they faced Team Date, a group of young Japanese athletes. The bouts are arranged in a battle format; the fighter that wins, stays in and faces a fresh fighter from the opposing team. The team that runs out of fighters first loses the battle.
A lot to take in? Well, so was the first bout of the night, which pitted team Date’s Karen against team Seiza’s Renge Wakayama. Both were only thirteen years old and Karen won by TKO after a fairly one-sided beating. This was a little tough to watch but mercifully didn’t last too long. However, young Karen then had to take on 20-year-old Nepalese fighter Radha Manandhar. Despite the age difference, this one was more evenly matched and Manadnhar took the result. After this, team Date’s Hana won the next two bouts leaving Seiza’s Tabatha Ricci (Brazil) with the unenviable task of having to beat three consecutive opponents for her team’s victory.
Tabatha is a very talented fighter with excellent judo skills and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Team Date’s fighters had much less experience on the ground and couldn’t deal with Tabatha’s grappling. However, the rules don’t really favour grapplers with fighters being stood up after thirty seconds, not nearly enough time to pass guard and finish a submission effectively.
Nonetheless, Tabatha won her first two fights convincingly. However, exhausted, she couldn’t keep up with a much fresher fighter in Nori Date in the final match, and Team Date took the victory.
Following this was a one-off fight between Team Seiza’s Julija Stoliarenko and Korean Choi Jeong Yun. Julia is a very talented, powerful Lithuanian fighter with a recent KO win in Lethwei and some excellent grappling skills. She got a dominant win as the evening came to an end.
This was a fun format and an entertaining evening of fights. Keep an eye on Julija and Tabatha in the future, both are in their early twenties and this is a great experience for them to build on as they continue to improve their skills and careers.