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#129335 - 03/04/04 04:18 AM Rickson Gracie: Choke Review (Minor Spoilers)
Anonymous
Unregistered


Rickson Gracie: Choke

Choke is quite an old film (I think it was released in 1996) so some of you may well have seen it. I had the good fortune to see it recently, and for those of you who, like me, had missed it on first release, here's my impressions of it.

Choke is a documentary following three fighters (Todd "Hollywood" Hayes, a kickboxer and wrestler, Koichiro Kimura, a wresler and shootfighter, and Rickson Gracie, a BJJ stylist and member of a quite famous family... [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG] ) through training and their fights in the 1995 Japanese Vale Tudo Championships.

The film divides roughly into two parts, one covering the fighters' background, approach to training, and their thoughts on the upcoming competition, and one covering the championships itself. The film makers have tried to show each aspect that they cover in a way that contrasts the approaches of the different fighters. So you'll see Gracie train, then Hayes, then Kimura, for example.

It's a useful device, as the contrasts are marked; Gracie comes across as someone whose art has been completely integrated into his life. In one of the opening scenes, you see him playfully scrapping with his kids, the way Dads do. Except that this Dad has his son drop into a perfect armbar on him mid-way through! It's a revealing scene, giving you something of an insight into what it is to be a Gracie - you get the feeling that BJJ is simply something they are, as natural as the more familiar family rituals and routines we all know.

Hayes comes over as someone who has been forced to fight; growing up in a tough environment, taking up martial arts for self defence. Even his entry to the championship has a motive not directly related to his fighting (he wants to compete in the Olympic bobsled event, and hopes to win enough money to further this dream). Hayes' segments have some wonderful reiterations of the "groundwork vs striking" and "sport vs street" arguments too, which will have you either cheering, or throwing popcorn at the screen dependant upon which side of the divide you stand. One of the most interesting things about Hayes' segment is that his family is never seen - whereas we see Rickson's wife worrying that he'll be injured, and Kimura's parents midly rebuking him for engaging in such a dangerous activity, Hayes' corresponding segments are delivered by his trainers. As though, in a way, Hayes' coaches are almost a surrogate family for him. An interesting contrast with Gracie, whose coaches *are* his family!

Kimura's motivation for fighting never seemed entirely clear to me; he seems somewhat out of his depth throughout, and at times it's hard to understand what this rather diffident man is doing all this for.

This first section is my favourite of the film - it's a real insight into the different fighters and their approaches.

The second section covers the championship itself, a combination of fight action, and reaction from the fighters (and their preparations between rounds) backstage.

There is a huge change in Rickson across the two segments - during the championship, he is focussed - terse, agressive - quite different to the man expanding at length upon what his training means to him, in the first part of the film. Kimura's lack of mental readiness for his task is also revealed, at turns angry and dejected, again, the impression of him being out of his depth is reinforced.

The second segment also reveals the film's scene stealer - 135 pound Yukio Nakai, a wrestler outweighed to a huge degree, and towered over by his opponents. Nakai is one of those people with an abundance of heart. In fact, Nakai has more heart than desire not to be blinded, or to not spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, it seems. In his first fight, his eye is closed by what he alleges to be a gouge by first opponent Gordeau (a Savate practitioner who towers over the hapless Nakai, delivering a beating until he succumbs to a heel hook submission at 26:41 http://www.sherdog.com/fightfinder/sherdogsfightpics.cfm?matchId=557).

Taking more punishment over successive fights, Nakai's eyes can barely open by his last fight, yet he fights on.

The fights are presented well, and fans should have nothing to grumble about in this section (as long as they bear in mind that they're seeing '95 vintage MMA) - much more fight footage would have overbalanced the film, and limited it's appeal outside of the MMA/MA market - I think the film makers have struck a good balance in the amount shown. The backstage footage is very interesting, and well presented. It's interesting to see the way the fighters react to success and defeat, and the way the trainers attempt to keep their spirits up and maintain their charges' focus between fights.

Choke is a good film in it's own right - and I think it's watchable even for someone with no interest in MMA. If you're a fan, it's essential viewing - a snapshot of a point in history of the sport, and a window into the lives of professional fighters.

[This message has been edited by JohnC (edited 03-04-2004).]

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#129336 - 03/04/04 01:48 PM Re: Rickson Gracie: Choke Review (Minor Spoilers)
immrtldragon Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/22/03
Posts: 1540
Loc: Just outside Philadelphia, PA
I agree, it's a pretty good film. I just saw it as well. That guy Nakai is on crack!! His opponents must have felt pretty crappy too. They were big guys even compared to most and he was tiny compared to most. Rickson also came across as a nice guy. JohnC, honestly, I couldn't stand Todd's trainers...excuses and complaints. It didn't even seem like Todd wanted to be there too much and he seemed scared of Rickson. Just things I gathered from it.

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#129337 - 03/05/04 05:25 AM Re: Rickson Gracie: Choke Review (Minor Spoilers)
Anonymous
Unregistered


[QUOTE]Originally posted by immrtldragon:
That guy Nakai is on crack!! His opponents must have felt pretty crappy too.
[/QUOTE]


He's unbelievable. They made him from the same mould as Sak, I think, just a smaller version [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG]

He comes out of the Gordeau fight going "Sh*t! He gouged my eye!" and looking like he should be eating hospital food for the next few days, and then has to face Pittman!

Life was harsh back then [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG]

[QUOTE]Rickson also came across as a nice guy.[/QUOTE]
I agree, although if you only saw the second segment of the film, you'd probably think he was a jerk. There's a huge difference in him, more so than for Hayes or Kimura.
[QUOTE]
JohnC, honestly, I couldn't stand Todd's trainers...excuses and complaints.[/QUOTE]

Yeah - especially the bearded guy at the rules meeting.

Otherwise I kind of gave them the benefit of the doubt. Read some ways, you could see the way they were talking as a way to keep their fighter from getting discouraged or self doubting.

[QUOTE]It didn't even seem like Todd wanted to be there too much and he seemed scared of Rickson. Just things I gathered from it.[/QUOTE]

I didn't pick up on him being scared, but I agree that his heart didn't seem to be in it. I got the feeling that his pressure to fight was all external - in that respect, he comes across as the opposite of Rickson.

Great film though.

Rites of Passage is good so far as well, not watched it all yet though.

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#129338 - 03/05/04 02:43 PM Re: Rickson Gracie: Choke Review (Minor Spoilers)
immrtldragon Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/22/03
Posts: 1540
Loc: Just outside Philadelphia, PA
[QUOTE]Originally posted by JohnC:
I didn't pick up on him being scared, but I agree that his heart didn't seem to be in it. I got the feeling that his pressure to fight was all external - in that respect, he comes across as the opposite of Rickson.


[/QUOTE]

I say that he was scared because when Kimura was fighting Rickson, Todd wasn't complaining about his shoulder too much. They showed him (Todd) watching the fight and he was saying to himself "come on Kimura, come on." Then Rickson won and Todd was like, "crap, I can't move my arm." I only watched it one time because I borrowed it from a friend, but that is how I saw it. If I get a chance to see it again I'll try to see it from a diferent angle.
What ever happened to Nakai?? Did he get eaten by one of his opponents? You would think after such a strong spirited showing the Japanese would have him in some other event. Then again, I don't even think PrideFC has a weight division that light (or anywhere near it).

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#129339 - 03/06/04 08:12 AM Re: Rickson Gracie: Choke Review (Minor Spoilers)
Anonymous
Unregistered


[QUOTE]Originally posted by immrtldragon:
I say that he was scared because when Kimura was fighting Rickson, Todd wasn't complaining about his shoulder too much. They showed him (Todd) watching the fight and he was saying to himself "come on Kimura, come on." Then Rickson won and Todd was like, "crap, I can't move my arm."[/QUOTE]

That's a good catch, I didn't pick up on that at all.

[QUOTE]What ever happened to Nakai?? Did he get eaten by one of his opponents? You would think after such a strong spirited showing the Japanese would have him in some other event.
[/QUOTE]


I don't know - his only MMA fights on Sherdog are the feeder shows for JVT '95, and the tournament itself.

Adcombat has him losing to Vitor Ribiero in JVT '99

Aha! A bit of searching turns this up;

[QUOTE]So you want to train in Japan?

Here. Let me see if I can help at least a little bit. I arrived in Japan on September 3rd and immediately got acquainted with the grappling/fighting scene in Japan. It was a great experience and I feel very fortunate that I got the chance to have trained with the highly skilled grapplers/fighters that I did. Ill catalogue my experiences as well as give a brief review of each school/ training location.


PARAESTRA ACADEMY

The school I have to mention first and foremost is PARAESTRA. Ex SHOOTO champion, BJJ Competitor (donít be surprised if Yuki wins the Mundial in coming years), and Japan VALE TUDO 95 Finalist YUKI NAKAI (famous for being eye gouged to the point of severe eye damage and still fighting to the finals against Rickson Gracie. This man is the definition of heart) runs this school.

Nakai san is a very down to earth and good-natured person.

Paraestra has a curriculum of Brazilian Jiu jitsu (BJJ), and Shooto. I came in and did BJJ first. Nakai San is a legit top-level black belt is all I can say about training with him. His school also has a very open door policy for students from other schools. One morning there were representatives from practically every top jiu jitsu school in Japan (Purbred, unbeatable BJJ, Gracie Barra, Etc) on the mat. It was nice to train with absolutely no politics.

I would come in the afternoon on MON-WED-FRI at 1pm for training. There were usually always at least three good purple belts and a black belt (at the very least). The training consisted of open sparing, five-minute matches. The jiu jitsu training was great and I donít think you will find a better place to train BJJ in Japan. There was always a black belt on the mat (One day I trained with arguably the two best black belts in Japan in Nakai San and Hiyakoya) and one day there were three.

Yuki is a first-rate competitor and teacher. It was an honor to train at his school, and he made me feel welcome immediately.

I also came to some of the Paraestra SHOOTO classes. Shooto is basically free fighting style. The instructor is SHOOTO ranked fighter Fujiwara. The classes are based on wrestling takedowns, Kickboxing striking, and Jiu jitsu groundwork. If youíre interested in TOTAL FIGHTING this is the style to train in.

I came in and did wrestling drills, wrestling drills with groundwork. I didnít participate in the striking, but it looked very high quality. The training consisted of 3-minute rounds, but I would usually do two in a row. The classes have a lot of good students and Pro fighters, so the level of training is great.

I canít say enough about this school. There are 10 PARAESTRA academies in the local area, but I trained at the Tokyo (main school) location. Classes are available everyday. The best way to get there is by Subway. The stop is Shin-Egota, off the OEDO LINE. The school is literally 3 storefronts from the A2 subway exit. The phone number is 03-5984-3209. Nakai San speaks English, so ask to speak to him.

(From http://www.onthemat.com/training_report_japan.html )
[/QUOTE]

Long story short, he's now a BJJ blackbelt (a good one, by all accounts) who has his own school - good on him.

[This message has been edited by JohnC (edited 03-06-2004).]

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#129340 - 03/06/04 05:54 PM Re: Rickson Gracie: Choke Review (Minor Spoilers)
immrtldragon Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/22/03
Posts: 1540
Loc: Just outside Philadelphia, PA
Whoa...pretty interesting. The guy who let me borrow the Choke video is a BJJ guy. We talked about the tape and a little about Nakai. I'll have to mention that he is now a BJJ black belt. Good research detective, thanks.

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#129341 - 03/08/04 04:18 AM Re: Rickson Gracie: Choke Review (Minor Spoilers)
Anonymous
Unregistered


He was competing last night too, it seems - I was checking Tatame.com this morning and saw this;

[QUOTE]Japan: Yuki Nakai faces Crane tonight

The upcoming BJJ professional event, the Ground Impact, will rock Japan's capital down. The 13 BJJ bouts are schedule to go on tonight (7) in Tokyo, Japan. According to the organization, resumes are already been analyzed for the upcoming Ground Impact 4, schedule to happen within this year. Female contenders must hold the rank of Purple belt or above. Male contenders must hold the rank of Brown belt or above. To join this group, please send an email with your information including your name, a team you belong to, belt rank you hold, your class division, your height, your weight and your fighting records. The email is gi@if-pro.com. />
Check out the fight card (subject to change):

Hayakawa Mitsuyoshi Vs Kazeka Muniz
Nakai Yuki Vs Alberto Crane
Wado Toshiyuki Vs Taisho
Tsuruya Hiroshi Vs TBA
Asakura Kouji Vs TBA
Watanabe Naoyoshi Vs TBA
Abe Hiroyuki Vs Uematsu Naoya
Fukuzumi Shinsuke Vs Oga Mikio
Shioda Ayumu Vs Agnaldo Taba
Miyata Takuo Vs Tan Yutaka
Hirose Takayuki Vs Kataoka Masato
Tokito Takuma Vs Aramaki Makoto
Ishikawa Yuki Vs Ikuta Makoto

[/QUOTE]

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#129342 - 03/08/04 10:30 AM Re: Rickson Gracie: Choke Review (Minor Spoilers)
immrtldragon Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/22/03
Posts: 1540
Loc: Just outside Philadelphia, PA
Interesting. I wonder if he actually fights in a weight class that matches him. I'll have to check for the results. Everytime I hear that guys name I picture his eyes swollen...he is nuts. You ever see the commercials for 'bitter beer face'? It may only be an American ad, but the guys drinks 'bitter beer' and his face kind of implodes and looks all nuts.

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#129343 - 03/09/04 03:07 AM Re: Rickson Gracie: Choke Review (Minor Spoilers)
Anonymous
Unregistered


Alberto Crane talks pre-match;
[QUOTE]
Alberto Crane is 5-0 in mixed martial arts competition. In his short career, spanning less than two years, he has defeated Javier Vazquez for the King of the Cage Lightweight Title, relinquished the belt, and made a successful return to the ring by defeating Christian Carvalho for the Ring of Fire Rocky Mountain Lightweight Title. Crane's last bout took place in Japan where he defeated Takuto Hida in an undercard bout on the ZST Grand Prix Tournament show.
On March 7th, Crane returns to Japan to face Yuki Nakai, not in an MMA out, but in a professional Brazilian Jiujitsu match on the Ground Impact 3 show. A BJJ Black Belt, jiujitsu is Crane's first love and he has dedicated his life to it. He won the BJJ World Championship in 2002, the top honor in the sport. Teaching BJJ at his school, the Santa Fe Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Academy, is a large part of the reason that he relinquished his King of the Cage title. He now gets to return to the sport he loves as a professional.

His opponent, Nakai (4-1 in MMA), is best known to those who have seen Rickson Gracie's "Choke" movie. Nakai was the fighter that faced Rickson in the final of Vale Tudo Japan 95 with both eyes nearly swollen shut, but displaying a ton of heart by still coming out to face Rickson, his only loss. Nakai, a BJJ black belt in his own right, is a legend in Japan and highly regarded as the best jiujitsu fighter in the country.

As he prepares to head out to Japan, Crane spoke with Ring of Fire promoter Sven Bean and had the following to say: "I'm looking forward to going against Yuki Nakai because he is considered the best Japanese Jiu-Jitsu fighter right now. The rules are regular Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu rules which include wearing a gi and a ten minute time limit. Yuki Nakai is a very impressive person, just watching his fights in Rickson's "Choke" video and knowing his JIu-Jitsu story. He has been studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu since his Rickson fight. Yuki Nakai always is traveling to compete in Brazil for the major tournaments like the Mundials (Worlds) and sometimes the brasileiros (Brazilian nationals). Yuki Nakai has committed his life to being the best and to making the sport grow in Japan. It is really an honor for me to get the opportunity to compete against him because, to me, he is a true warrior and a martial arts legend. Win or lose, I'm going to have a great time, but I'm going to win."

mmaweekly.com
[/QUOTE]

[QUOTE]Originally posted by immrtldragon:
I'll have to check for the results. [/QUOTE]

No need [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG]

They were on ADCC this morning;

[QUOTE]Ground Impact 3 - Results
Submitted by: Denis Martins
Posted On 03/09/2004


March 7th, 2004
Differ Ariake / Tokyo, Japan

Professional BJJ matches:
- Kazeka Muniz defeats Mitsuyoshi Hayakawa by points (2-0).
- Yuki Nakai defeats Alberto Crane by points (3-0).
- Toshiyuki Wado defeats TAISHO by points (2-0).
- Kuniyoshi Hironaka defeats Daisuke 'Amazon' Sugie by points (5-0).
- Cristiano Kaminishi defeats Hiroshi Tsuruya by choke at 6:08.
- Koji Asakura defeats Mario Sergio Yokoyama by points (4-0).
- Naoyoshi Watanabe defeats Cavalcante Junior by points (3-2).
- Tatsuya Onose defeats Naoya Uematsu by points (4-0).[/QUOTE]

Go Yuki!

(Not seen the commercial, sorry).

[This message has been edited by JohnC (edited 03-09-2004).]

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#129344 - 03/09/04 01:42 PM Re: Rickson Gracie: Choke Review (Minor Spoilers)
immrtldragon Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/22/03
Posts: 1540
Loc: Just outside Philadelphia, PA
Thanks John. Yuki turned out to be more impressive than just defeating giant opponents...he is a professional BJJ fighter!! That really is quite amazing. Thanks again for the info, good stuff.

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