View Full Version : Hatsu Hioki interview

Ger Maan
25-01-2011, 23:33
The Child of Shooto (http://www.mma-japan.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=360:the-child-of-shooto&catid=50:sengoku&Itemid=94) (bron)


In October of 2007, I attended my first Japanese mixed martial arts event in the quiet giant of Nagoya: Japan’s 4th largest city. Shooto Gig Central 13 was held in a relatively small room at the Nagoya international conference hall. I was lucky enough to have had a seat right on the the ring because of a friend at the time who worked for the promotion. It has been said that going to Shooto can be an emotionally moving experience. The fan-base is dedicated, passionate and seemingly intimately involved with the fighters and their battles. On this particular Monday, a young Hatsu Hioki took on Jong Man Kim, a Korean brawler who tossed wild, heavy punches like a mad bull. In the second round, a vicious left from Kim caught Hioki on the jaw, spraying blood across my can of coca cola classic. It was a visceral experience and after 3 rounds of delightful meat-crushing beauty, a technically superior Hioki lost a justified split decision to the slightly stronger Korean opponent.
Fast forward 3 years and the same Hioki holds the Shooto world 65kg title after a legendary war with “Lion” Takeshi Inoue, and a dominating decision over Brazilian knock-out artist, Marlon Sandro for the SRC featherweight strap.
In 29 fights, the Nagoya born Hioki holds a total of 23 wins with 4 KOs and 11 submissions. He has defeated the likes of the above mentioned “Lion” Takeshi, Marlon Sandro as well as Jeff Curran, Mark Hominick and Shooto patron saint Rumino Sato.
When approached backstage, Hioki is aloof, but polite. He spent his entire life in the world of martial arts and it shows. A week ago, I was lucky to have a few words with the Japanese ace known as Shooto no ko...The child of Shooto.

It is listed on your record that your first professional fight happened in 2002 when you beat Masanori Sugatani by way of rear naked choke. You’ve been fighting in this sport professionally for 8 years. Before your fighting career, what were you doing? Did you know you would be a fighter?
I was a junior high school student when I started my fighting career, so I wasn’t really doing anything. At that time, I had no idea I would become a professional fighter.

Fighters tend to grow up loving martial arts, or being in love with the idea of combat sports. I heard that you started training MMA in high school. Had you always been interested in martial arts as a young boy?
Yes, I had been interested in martial arts for as long as I can remember. There was a Shorinji dojo in my neighborhood and that made me interested in becoming a strong fighter when I was very young. That was in 1988 when I five years old.

How did you become involved with the sport of mixed martial arts? Did you immediately fall in love it?
Yes. I fell in love with MMA the moment I saw it.That was when I saw Mr. Yuki Nakai’s fight against Rickson Gracie (Vale Tudo Japan 1994 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vale_Tudo_Japan_1994)).

Why did you decide to start prize-fighting?
I wanted to see how strong I could be in this field.

What was the most difficult barrier for you in the beginning of your fighting career?

When I became a professional fighter in 2002, I was having a hard time making a living as a fighter. So I had a part time job and it was the most difficult time for me...to work and train twice a day.

Do you feel that there was a certain fight or period in your past where you experienced a “turning point?”
My first fight abroad...It was TKO 25 against Mark Hominick in Montreal, Canada. It was my first fight for a title. Before this fight, I had drawn with Bao Quach at Shooto and I almost lost my confidence so it was a big challenge for me and I beat Hominick. I think it was a turning point.

The very first time I saw you fight live was against Jong Man Kim at Shooto-gig central in October of 2007. After watching you defeat Sandro at SRC on December 30th, it seems that you have become a very different fighter.
I didn’t have much experience when I fought against Jong Man Kim in 2007. I think I have grown stronger physically and mentally as a fighter since then.

Would you say your fighting style has evolved, or have you stuck to a specific style throughout?
My fighting style has evolved...by trying to improve my skills all the time. Not just sticking to one style.

. People are calling you the #1 standout Japanese fighter of the year. I agree with them. How do you feel about that compliment? What other fighters do you think were exceptional in 2010?

I feel great about it that people approve that I am the #1 fighter but there are so many good fighters in the world. I believe I can improve my skills more so I will be an even better fighter.

Japanese MMA has had a tumultuous year. From the problems with FEG to low TV ratings, what do you think (in your opinion) should happen in 2011 for Japanese MMA to improve on a national and global stage?
First, I think Japanese MMA promotions like Shooto, SRC, etc... should apply the
same (unified) rules. Also, at the moment in most popular promotions, most decisions regarding match makings and weight divisions and rules etc... are being decided by how they could attract TV publicity and profits coming in from TV. MMA as a sport should not depend only on TV. It should stand on itself as a sport.

On December 30th, 2010 you defeated Marlon Sandro in maybe the best performance of your career. It was incredible, to say the least. Did you anything specific which you felt lead to your domination of Sandro?
My front kicks worked well to stop his moves.

This year we’ve seen stars like Norifumi “KID” Yamamoto and Michihiro Omigawa sign with the UFC. Looking back on your highly contested loss to Omigawa last year, what do you think about that loss now, after all that’s happened?
I've learned a lot from that fight. I should have tried to finish the fight more.

Do you foresee yourself testing your skills in the USA, possibly meeting someone like Omigawa in the UFC or another western promotion?
If a good opportunity comes to my way, I will take it.

You said before that your dream was to become Shooto Lightweight champ. You did that in 2010. What is the next dream for Hioki Hatsu?
Be the best fighter in the world.

When you go to a ramen shop, what kind do you usually order? I tend to order Tonkotstu (pork broth) and if they don’t have that, I go miso. What about you?
I like Tonkotsu too. Maybe we should go to your favorite Tonkotsu ramen restaurant down the road.

Who is your favorite fighter of all time? Mine is Kazushi Sakuraba.
George St-Pierre.

I would like to think that every fighter has a reason why he/she fights (save the concept of money). What would you say is the reason that you fight?
To improve myself as a man.

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