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Posts from Japan: Adventures with Okami

(Roxy Modafferi is one of the top female 135 pound fighters and also happens to hang out at Fightlinker with us for some reason. As part of our attempt to give you more interesting voices in MMA, we convinced her to throw a post our way whenever it tickles her fancy … about living and training in Japan, and fighting around the world. Here’s her first post!)

I went to the Keishukai Honbu dojo at 6:15, forty minutes early to practice with training-partner Sakura before the beginner’s technique class started at 7.   The light was on, and in the corner, I saw Eiji Mitsuoka and Yushin Okami   seated cross-legged on the floor, with three reporter-esque men.   A portable photographer’s lamp was set up, cord stretching across the floor.   Mitsuoka called out, “Oh, hi Roxanne!” as I walked in.   The others ignored me.

I tip-toed around, changed and stretched.   They talked and talked and talked. Sakura came in, changed, stretched, but we couldn’t train because they were still talking.

About what? I wondered.   It was great that Okami was back, though. After he broke his hand in March on Evan Tanner’s head at UFC 82, and had been MIA from the dojo for at least a month.   Along with the disappearance and retirement of K-Taro Nakamura, things’ve been kind of quiet.   He’s rumored to fight Silva in UFC 88, September 6th.

Then Sakura tripped over the light cord, and the lamp umbrella fell to the ground with a crash.   I laughed.

While sitting around waiting for them to hurry up a finish, I realized that although it was 7:00, no beginners had shown up yet.

The numbers of new enrollments has been decreasing, and just the other day, we had a guy quit the dojo because “things had become busy at work.”   Some would attribute this to the MMA boom leaving Japan and going over to the USA.   PRIDE disappeared and other organizations struggled in vain to fill it’s shoes, but keep going under, or morph into something else before they can really establish a name. (Yarennnoka, Heros, now Dreams?   Sengoku?)   One of my dojo-mates said it was because of the rising gas prices and increased commuting costs.   A one-way train ticket from my place to the dojo is about six dollars.   How long does it take to drive thirty minutes?

But come on, folks.

Finally, they finished talking.   I got Sakura to hold pads for me and started working combinations.   A few minutes later, they came back! “Let’s take a picture here,” Okami said.   “I’ll stand behind you guys practicing.”

“Huh?”   I say.

“They want a picture….that’s okay, right?”

“Sure, I guess,” I say.   So I go back to hitting pads, somewhat more nervously, hoping my form is good.   Click click click.   Then the camera man asked Okami,   “Do you teach beginner’s MMA?”   Okami hesitated only a moment before answering, “Yeah!!”   But actually, the correct answer is, “No!”

“Sorry, Roxanne, but can you….?”

“Sure,” I said, motioning Sakura to put on her MMA gloves.   The camera men proceed to take pictures of Okami “instructing” me on how to throw her legs to one side, and then step in and ground and pound.   I was
tense so I wasn’t actually listening to what he was saying.   Actually, my legs were reversed from his, and I was hitting with the other hand. So I technically wasn’t doing it right.

I hope I don’t find myself in a magazine labeled “Okami teaching beginner girls MMA” and then my wrong form.   But on the other hand, I guess the idea of being in the magazine “Kakutogi Tsushin” is kind of