Return to Tokyo: Women’s BJJ & MMA in the Land of the Rising Sun


One week and counting until I am back in Tokyo and I am super excited. Last time, despite being injured which it seems I am more often times than not, I got some training in as well as some some great fights. This time will be no exception! Part of my on going quest is to find Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes that are during the day. Apparently everyone in Tokyo works so it’s hard to find a place to train during daylight hours. I was fortunate enjoy to swing by a mini, in-house tournament the Jiu Jitsu Priest Kinya Hashimoto was putting on and had the privilege of meeting Japan’s elite female grappler Rikako Yuasa who is only 20 years old and tearing through some of the tops grapplers in the land. She recently took gold at the Abu Dhabi World Trials in Japan beating out both brown and black belts. I joined her and her team at Reversal Gym in Hachiman Yoyogi and rolled some gi , no gi and MMA with the team… four hours later I was tired but loved it! If you are a Jewels fan, then you might recognize her from the submission matches as well as her two team mates Shizuka Marcela Sugiyama and Yasuko Mogi both of whom are incredibly nice pro MMA fighters. Yasuko, 44 year old fighter, has an upcoming match March 30th at Jewels 23rd Ring which I am going to attend.

On my last visit I was also able to catch up with some old training buddies, Roxanne Modaferri and Celine Haga. They were both getting ready for a Jewels fight at the time and Roxy was slated to fight Shizuka, but she eventually had to pull out due to an injury. It was very good catching up with them and I look forward to again. Celine will also be fighting on the Jewels 23rd Ring card, just my luck!

I hope to get more shots and adventures on this trip, maybe catch some more shooto box fights and get some kickboxer portraits too. I was able to stop by AACC and get some very special shots of Megumi Fujii with her new cat Hime-chan as well as Jewel’s champ Ayaka Hamasaki.

Photographer’s Notes: These were shot on 120mm film. The landscape color ones are 6×9 on 400iso… I was skeptical that these would turn out since the indoor lighting was super low, shooting at a f/5.6 sub 1/60 shutter speed is always problematic but the I think I am finally acclimatizing to the tiny focusing screen on the Fuji GW690 and I take a smaller aperture over a quicker shutter speed to prioritize the depth of field. Out door shots are much easier but I don’t always have this luxury especially after training for 4 hours straight and feeling like I am going to collapse! I had the cat photoshoot right after this one, was a super long day! The black and white 6x6s are on the Hassleblad 500cm. With the AACC shots from 2010, I shot wide open on my 80mm lens at f/2.8 and a slow speed of 1/30-1/60… the originals where shot on color film that got majorly fogged by numerous xray machines so I had to convert it to BW in order to salvage the images. The originals are super messed up this serves as a reminder… have your film hand checked and use a lead safety bag!!!

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