Zach Arnold has transcribed some of Enson Inoue’s appearance on the Jordan Breen show, and the most interesting stuff as far as I’m concerned is Inoue’s talk about the yakuza in the Japanese MMA scene. Funny enough (considering it was alleged yakuza ties that basically killed PRIDE and the JMMA scene to begin with), he thinks that they’ll be responsible for the next boom cycle in the country:
Japan seems to have a lot of boom-bust cycles. How can this be fixed or repaired?
“Well, right now the most popular of events here is now the gangster events that they have here, they have over a dozen gangster events that’s happening all over Japan and this is an event, I say gangster event because they let the yakuza, they let the gangsters, they let anyone fight. They actually have guys on that day calling out people out into the ring who wants to try, like a Toughman competition but it’s an organized Toughman competition and a lot of fighters who get into that they really train but there’s a lot of gangsters that just think they’re tough on the street, they get in the ring and they get worked really bad but I think in the next two years the stars that’s going to help Mixed Martial Arts in Japan is going to be from there because these guys, I mean if you walk in there thinking you are going to see a K-1 type of kick or a perfect punch, you’re going to walk out very disappointed. But if you walk in there trying to see the deeper part of the MMA fight the fact that these guys are fighting for peanuts, they’re not coming out there because they’re going to be put on TV or PPV, they’re not coming out there because they’re going to get a six-figure pay day, they’re coming out there to fight for their pride, their family, their honor. And it’s a whole different level — I mean, when you walk in there and you see these guys fight and you guys see looking at each other across the ring you know these guys aren’t looking at how much they’re going to get paid after the fight, they’re not looking at how much attention they’re going to get if they win, they’re just in there doing it for their honor to be in a ring, man to man, one man against one man, and see who’s going to come on top. It’s a really different feeling in there, and I think we’re going to get the biggest stars from there because these guys are hot, exciting, go out for the kill from the beginning bell to the end bell.”
Yakuza MMA — like The Outsider?
“Yeah, you know it’s a good thing both ways because not only you are helping the MMA world but you are helping these gangsters realize that you can be proper, you can have values and you know you don’t need to react on your feeling all the time. When we first started these gangster fights there were riots like three or four riots at one event, it was like ridiculous because these guys were still gangsters on the street and that’s all they had is that mentality so when their guy lost they’re running in the ring trying to beat up the other guy, they had no idea what a sport was about, but you know I go to the gangster events, I have to go to one next week, I have to go one the following week, I go to one every two weeks to be a guest and I haven’t seen a riot in the past year about and you know these guys are learning how to control their behavior, they’re learning to understand how the world isn’t about the gangster life and you know if you don’t like something you go get it, if you don’t like something you go put it away, if you really like something you just go get it no matter what if you got to steal it, you know these guys are learning values and you know understanding a lot of things so I think it’s working really, really good both ways because gangsters have a lot of good things to offer to people because you know they’re in the news for stealing or beating up people or doing stuff but what is not shown is the honor that they have for each other, the loyalty they feel for their families, those kinds of things are kind of put in the back so these guys can start learning values and start learning to abide by rules that society has man these guys are going to have a lot to offer for the people.”
Enson makes some sense because new talent has to come from somewhere and those Outsider shows are sure to produce a few diamonds in the rough. But considering he just spent a month in jail and a year as a social pariah for smoking pot, he should understand that there are social lines in Japanese culture that just aren’t going to move very easily. The idea of gangster fighters ever achieving any kind of mainstream popularity seems pretty far fetched to me, but I guess anything is possible in Japan. They have a Transformers cartoon where the Autobots are powered by the love and kisses of little girls, fer god’s sake.