Bonsai Jiu-Jitsu” dominates the martial arts world, now we know the essence of strength! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Bonsai Jiu-Jitsu” dominates the martial arts world, now we know the essence of strength!

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From left to right: Satoshi, Sekine, and Krebel

The first lightweight champion of “RIZIN,” Roberto Satoshi Souza (32), was described by popular fighter Mirai Asakura (29) as “the best in the world in terms of Newaza. He won the first round of “RIZIN.28” against Mirai Asakura with the sanbonjime (three-punching) technique, and will be the next champion of “RIZIN” on May 5, 2012. RIZIN LANDMARK Krebel Koike (32) defeated Kyohei Hagiwara (26) in only 1 minute and 36 seconds of the first round at “RIZIN LANDMARK vol. 3” on May 5. And Hideki “Shrek” Sekine (48), the best heavyweight fighter in “RIZIN”. All three of these three fighters, who dominate the “RIZIN” ring, belong to “Bonsai Jiu-Jitsu Japan” in Iwata City, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Bonsai Jiu-Jitsu is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy founded in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1993 by Satoshi Souza’s father, Agilson Souza, a Japanese-Brazilian. The name “Bonsai” comes from the word “bonsai,” which means “to nurture each individual with care. Bonsai Jiu-Jitsu Japan was founded in 2004 by Satoshi’s brother, Mauricio Souza.

Why are Bonsai’s fighters so strong?”

During a recent close interview with Sekine, this magazine was able to get a glimpse of his strength.

At 6:00 p.m., Satoshi was sitting at the reception desk just inside the gym, busy answering the phone. In the dojo next door, about 20 “kids class” students, mostly elementary school students, were in the middle of training, and Satoshi himself was directly instructing the children until just before this magazine arrived. At 7:00 p.m., the “Kickboxing & MMA Fitness Class” begins, where elementary school students, young athletes aiming to become professionals, fathers on their way home from work, and even Sekine come together to receive direct instruction from Krebel. Sekine tells us.

Normally, amateurs and professionals have separate practice times, so they don’t interact with each other,” said Sekine. But here, everyone works together. It’s quite unique for a gym. Professional fighters and kids train together, and Krebel teaches amateur students directly. They also spar. For martial arts fans, it’s a great thing, but here it’s normal. The theme of Bonsai Jiu-Jitsu is, ‘Let’s have fun in practice.

A former police officer, Sekine’s encounter with Bonsai Jiu-Jitsu goes back to his previous job.

My transfer to the International Investigations Division was the first time I learned Brazilian jiu-jitsu,” he said. The International Investigation Division investigates crimes committed by foreigners, so it is important to have foreign collaborators and informants. At the time of Marubori, there were collaborators, but there were no foreign collaborators. So I decided to join a Brazilian jiu-jitsu dojo.

At the time, there were many Brazilian thieves around Hamamatsu, where I was working, and to be honest, I did not have a good impression of Brazilians. I was interested in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but more than half the time I felt like I joined as part of my duties as a detective.

But when I got in, I found that the community was very warm, and the whole atmosphere of the gym is ‘family. Japanese-Brazilians like Satoshi Souza and Krebel Koike are descendants of people who came to Brazil before and just after World War II to pursue their dreams. They still retain the good old Japanese culture. So the whole community is a family, with people respecting their superiors, families helping each other, and neighbors helping each other to raise their children after the death of a parent.

This gym, just like the Souza brothers invited the Crevelle to be a family, so is the whole gym. I’m part of that family, and all of my students are part of that family.

Sekine is known for his fights, which are always spectacular. His fight with 31-year-old Shobisai Shoma (31), who won at “RIZIN.33” on New Year’s Eve, was a tremendous beating, but even though he was dazed, he never fell. He never fell down, but he was able to overcome the 17-year age difference to win the fight.

I’m inferior to him in height, reach, striking skills, and age. He is also a jiu-jitsu fighter, and I have a little bit of an advantage in jiu-jitsu skills, because I have a longer career. Then, the only way to win is with guts, stamina, and feeling. So anyway, I tried not to let my opponent rest, and to always be in contact with him, pushing and pulling, and not letting him breathe. He is younger than me, so at first glance it looks like he has more stamina, but I am constantly sparring with guys like Satoshi and Krebel, who are lighter but have more speed and stamina. I have been practicing not to stop anyway, so I was confident in that respect.

There is one more major factor, he said.

Marcos Souza, Satoshi’s older brother, was my second fighter, and for this match, he didn’t say much about technical matters, but always encouraged me by saying, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll be fine,’ and ‘You can still do your best. Because I really trust him, too, and because I like him, I can carry out exactly the strategy he told me beforehand. That’s why I feel like Bonsai is my family. No matter how many blows I get, I can keep going.”

Toward the end of our close-up interview, Satoshi asked the students to pause their practice to make space for a photo shoot at Sekine’s dojo. Please take a picture with me, too, Sensei,” he said, placing Satoshi and Krebel on either side of him. Standing in the center, Sekine looked like a child about to have his picture taken with his favorite parents. The students of the gym sat in a circle and looked at him with smiles on their faces, a scene straight out of the good old Showa period.

Believe in each other, help each other, and practice is always fun.

These words are the essence of the strength of the students of Bonsai Jiu-Jitsu.

  • Photo Yuri Adachi

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