The 9th All Japan Open Karate Tournament was held on the 5th and 6th of November, 1977, in the Tokyo Gymnasium, under the auspices of the International Karate Organization, Kyokushinkaikan Headquarters in Tokyo. 128 persons competed, including 9 foreigners, 2 from USA, one each from Canada, South Africa, Pakistan, and Yemen, and 3 from Guam. Also attending were 41 persons from 40 different styles. As this was the 9th Tournament, the format was thus well established and the tournament ran very smoothly. When all the spectators were seated, the 128 competitors filed into the arena to the accompaniment of a band playing Kyokushin songs. In keeping with past tradition, the tournament was declared open by the raising of the Japanese and Kyokushin flags and the playing of the National anthem. Speeches by President Mori, the Vice President, a Government representative and Kancho Oyama followed. Then T. Azuma, one of the most experienced and favorite competitors came forward to take the tournament oath. Following this the competitors were seated and a demonstration of accepted and foul techniques was given by Branch-Chiefs Matsushima and Masuda, compared by the Head referee, S. Oyama. Also present to assist with judging were Messrs.
Hollander, the European Branch-Chairman, Arneil, Lowe and all the Japanese resident in the U.S.A. The competitors then filed out of the arena which became a hive of activity as the first round of tameshiwari boards were set in place. Group by group the competitors completed their break and then the fighting began.
Unfortunately all but 3 of the foreign competitors were defeated in the first round and the remaining 3 in the 2nd round. Generally speaking the performance of the foreigners came across as rather weak and low geared compared to the more dynamic and determined fighting of the Japanese. The competitors from Yemen, Guam, USA and South Africa bowed out uneventfully in the first round almost as if they never even attended the tournament. In the 2nd round the competitor from Pakistan, one of the current foreign students at Tokyo Honbu, came up against his dojo Sempai, Hiroshige who eventually placed 7th, and simply couldn’t make any effect despite his gallant try.
Mr. Coulombe, a 4th Dan Branch- Chief from Canada who came across especially for the tournament, was also defeated in the 2nd round, but this reporter tends to think he bowed out more to somewhat biased judging than to actual superiority. At any rate he put up a good show and took his defeat all in his stride. The final foreigner to appear was Richard Constance, a non Kyokushin competitor from USA and the only one to wear a dark coloured Karate-gi in the tournament. Mr. Constance, although lacking in technique and obviously experience, had managed to bravely get through his first round only to be completely knocked out with a mawashi geri to the face in the 2nd round. Interval entertainment on the first day was provided by fanied actor Sony Chiba and his Action Club. To the accompaniment of highly dramatic Japanese music, he performed a demonstration on defense against multiple opponents, then performed Shihouwari, continuous tameshiwari from 4 positions. Finally he gave a speech on his feelings for Kyokushin-Karate, stressing it to be Budo Karate. During the tournament bouts, the eventual winner, T. Azuma, plowerd his way through the ranks like a human tank, his style being up and down – forward attack. He won his first fight by decision based on his effective low kicks, and the 2nd fight on the strength of his punches. The 3rd round was uneventful and in his fourth fight he received a number of kicks to the face that enraged and encouraged him. He won his 5th fight against Britain’s Japanese Instructor, Tatsuo Nakamura by decision on the strength of his low kicks. He then faced the enormous Makoto Nakamura in the 6th round for a long and hard bout. .The only techniques both Azuma and Nakamura have are low kicks, Seiken and power. However, after an extension, Azuma was finally able to win this, his hardest fight. The final fight for first place came rather easily for Azuma because his opponent was both tired and inexperienced. It was a tearful, but joyful Azuma who emerged winner of the 9th tournament to receive his hard earned prizes. However, perhaps the real star of the tournament was 2nd place winner Takeo Nakayama. This new corner, a student of Branch-Chief Ashiwara of Shikoku, was completely unknown to the crowd and surprised everyone with his ability, ‘even though he had been training for only one year; A fact that surprised even Kancho Oyama! He won his 2nd round against Constance of USA very nicely with. A well executed mawashi geri that broke Constance’s nose within 3 seconds of the fight. His 3rd round fight was just as dynamic, defeating the Saitama Prefecture’s champion, Ishikawa, despite Ishikawa’s kicking and experience. Early in the fight Ishikawa scored a kick to Nakayama’s face, but it did not move him at all, only motivated him to down Ishikawa with a low kick. However, it was Nakayama’s Ushiro mawashi geri to Ishikawa’s face that finally won him a 3rd round ippon: Nakayama won his way to the final fight, but simply couldn’t make an impression on the experience and determination of Azuma, and fm ally came out 2nd place winner.
In the more interesting fights, Saito K.Oed Hika with a Hidari mawashi geri in his first round and then K.O d his opponent with a Hiza-geri in the 2nd round. Unfortunately he could not keep up his effort and was subsequently defeated. Tatsuo Nakamura, a fine technician with natural ability and speedy kicks, K.Oed his first round opponent with a beautifully executed technique. However, his lack of weight prevented him from advancing beyond the 5th round. Ishikawa won his 2nd round against Alafujii, the only kick-boxer in this years’ tournament, with a T.K.O. by scoring with a strong Seiken to the stomach, and the excellent technician, Matsuda, lost to Simper’s superior strength and stamina. One particularly interesting person was Suzuki, 3rd Dan. Suzuki has been training Karate for 12 years despite his obvious handicap. He fought very aggressively, but was forced to give up after the 2nd round due to a broken finger. One of the tournament favorites, D. Orishi, 5th place winner in the 1st World Tournament, was forced to default in the 2nd round due to trouble from previous injuries to his knees and elbows, and his younger brother was defeated in his first round on account of over confidence and a subsequent lack of action. On the 2nd day, demonstrations were provided by juniors and ladies. The children performed tameshiwari, nunchaku Kata and Kumite. The ladies performed Kanku Kata and tameshiwari of various kinds. Perhaps the most dramatic and difficult demonstration was performed by Branch-Chief Soeno, who, after performing Seienchin Kata, performed Kamewari – the breaking of an urn filled with water. A difficult and dangerous task. After the presentation of prizes, the beating of the drum and the playing of Kyokushin songs, the tournament ended in a great success, having entertained an audience of over 16,000 in 2days with good, fair Karate. Afterwards a Sayonara Party was held for the competitors and officials and, 49 ended the 9th All Japan Open Karate Tournament.
The first 8places were:-
1st Takeshi Azuma
2nd Takeo Nakayama
3rd Makoto Nakamura
4th Noriyasu Hamai
5th Tatsuo Nakamura
6th Keiji Sampei
7th Tsuyoshi Hiroshige
8th Riyouichi Saito