by Joshua Hagen
This is the first episode in my newest series of blogs, called Fight Review. I’ll be breaking down individual matches that I believe to be significant to Judo. In my reviews, we’ll look at why I believe the match to be significant, be it a huge upset, the start of a rivalry, or a monumental final. I’ll be analyzing technical aspects of the match, like athlete profile, style, and gripping strategies, and laying it all out clearly for any level of judoka.
Please feel free to let me know which athletes or match-ups you would like me to review next!
I think it’s fitting that the first episode is on Hifumi Abe, a supernova in the judo world. At 20 years of age, he is the defending World Champion at -66kg, and at 17, became the winner of the Toykyo Grand Slam. His style is a throwback to the -66kg Cuban, Yordanis Arencibia, or more recentlly, -73kg powerhouse Sagi Muki of Israel. There have been a number of athletes who have performed a great sode, but for Abe, Arencibia and Muki, it is a defining characteristic of their style. Abe’s varieties of spectacular sode tsuri komi goshis, o uchi garis, and o sotos have made him a superstar.
On the other side, we have Tumurkhuleg Davaadorj. His style is only classical in the most Mongolian way possible. He uses what we in the judo world think of as unorthodox gripping, often grabbing his opponent’s triceps. Although the techniques they use are different, I have used Mongolian Amartuvshin Dashdavaa as another reference to this style, which has made Mongolia a consistantly elite country in the world of judo.
The match I’m breaking down here is Hifumi Abe against Tumurkhuleg Davaadorj, in the quarter-final of the 2017 Tokyo Grand Slam. Why this match? Davaadorj is currently ranked 17th in the world and has 0 Olympic or World medals. This doesn’t mean that he’s not an incredible judoka, though. We’re talking about an athlete who has beaten Goliath on two seperate occassions: Abe has lost just 2 matches internationally on the senior tour, and both of those losses were to Davaadorj. Stylistically, this matchup is a nightmare for Abe. With Abe’s reliance on the double sleeve sode and o soto attacks, this gripping scenario takes Abe right out of his element.
Please enjoy the video, and feel free to let me know what match you would like me to review next in the comments!
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