Posts Tagged ‘Lyoto Machida’

Cougar Pride – Three Kaiser High Grads Making a Difference

November 1, 2010

When it comes to careers, they have an old saying… “Do what you love and you never have to work a day in your life.” Most of us chug along through the day to day of life, wondering if there’s a better way. Personally, though I love my job, I often wonder if the folks in Major League Baseball are still out there looking for a mediocre-ly built, over-the-hill, talented (in-his-own-mind) right arm to be the next best thing in the bigs. And then I wake up.

A lucky few, however, are fortunate enough to find something they fall in love with and follow that path towards something they can make a career of. Below is the story of three such men.

Jody Kamisato – `Ukulele Hale

Jody Kamisato is the owner of Ukulele Hale, an ukulele school in Kaimuki that teaches students – from small kid time all the way up to our senior citizens – the art of our beautiful 4-stringed instrument.

Though we both knew of each other from our Kaiser High School/Hawaii Kai days, I think I actually first met Jody when I asked him to perform at an event I was putting together back in September (the inaugural Rice Fest). Not only was I impressed by the talent he showcased during his performance on stage (through his group Heart & Soul), but I was also taken aback by the way he mentored and encouraged his students before their performances.

Here’s an interview I had recently with Jody:


An Interview with Ukulele Hale’s Jody Kamisato

[Edward Sugimoto] When did you first pick up the `ukulele and how long was it before you fell in love?

[Jody Kamisato] Geez, I first picked it up in elementary school. So I went to Kamiloiki Elementary and in their Hawaiiana class, they offered ukulele. So that was my first time, and started taking lessons, and actually it wasn’t until high school that I got really into ukulele.

[Edward Sugimoto] Kaiser right?

[Jody Kamisato] Kaiser. *winks*

[Edward Sugimoto] That’s right!

[Jody Kamisato] Kaiser! *laughs*

[Edward Sugimoto] Kaiser baby! *laughs* At what point did you know it was the path for you?

[Jody Kamisato] Um, well actually Jake Shimabukuro from Pure Heart had come to do one of our assemblies at Kaiser, and he was in a group called Pure Heart along with Jon Yamasato who’s another Kaiser graduate… Um, but after that, I just you know, I saw what he did and I was just amazed at what the ukulele, you know, the possibilities of the ukulele. And just the way he played and the style that he played in really caught my attention, so I just called him up and I was like “Hey, can I sign up for lessons?” and so I did and a few years later he asked me to teach. He opened a school called Ukulele Academy in Hawaii Kai and so that’s where I kinda got my start from… was teaching at his studio.

[Edward Sugimoto] Do you draw from any positive experiences from some of your mentors from your past and apply them to your teaching methods today?

[Jody Kamisato] Absolutely. You know, I think one of the greatest gifts with music is the ability to share it. And so, some of my mentors, which included Peter Moon, Jake Shimabukuro, Troy Fernandez…You know these guys have really done so much with music and really taken it to, not just Hawaii, but outside of Hawaii so, they’ve gone international. And especially with Jake, and so, just from that, he’s really opened a lot of doors with music and with ukulele. So that’s what I want to try to do with our music… it’s to take it on another level and share it with people not just from Hawaii but around the world.

[Edward Sugimoto] And you have a business: Ukulele Hale. Talk to me about your keiki.

[Jody Kamisato] Alright, well, we have a school called Ukulele Hale in Kaimuki and I’d say a majority is students, is the keiki. You know we actually teach students of all ages and skill levels. So we start them… Our youngest is 3 and a half years old, and we also have senior classes as well. Right now we have about 170 students.


Kody Kiyokawa and Jody Kamisato jammin’ on the uke

NOTE: Kody Kiyokawa recently represented Ukulele Hale at the Duke’s Ukes contest and came home with a brand new Kamaka Ukulele after winning the Best Showmanship award.

[Edward Sugimoto] On top of being a teacher, you also have a group with Chris Salvador called Heart & Soul? Tell me a little bit about that.

[Jody Kamisato] I partnered up with a friend of mine, his name is Chris Salvador, and we call ourselves Heart & Soul, and we are actually in the recording studio now working on our debut album. We’re hoping to have it out, gee, in the next few weeks and actually have our CD release party in November. It’s set for November 21st. Chris and I just got back from touring Japan as well as New York. We participated in the New York Ukulele Festival, and also Japan has this event called the Ukulele Picnic which draws 10,000 ukulele fans. So it was an amazing experience and we just feel very blessed to follow our passion and play music.

Poster for Heart & Soul Debut CD Release Celebration (click to enlarge)
Poster for Heart & Soul Debut CD Release Celebration (click to enlarge)

[Edward Sugimoto] Where can we pick up the album when it’s ready?

[Jody Kamisato] It’ll be available on iTunes and definitely in music stores and book stores throughout Hawaii. Yeah, so go out and support local music. *laughs*

[Edward Sugimoto] You were mentioning that you guys tour a lot, you were in New York and you go all over the place. You were at the Rice Festival of course…

[Jody Kamisato] Rice Festival, yeah!

[Edward Sugimoto] … Where else can we find you guys going forward?

[Jody Kamisato] We’re definitely going to be performing more. Right now we’re focusing on the recording. Once that’s finished, we plan to do more steady gigs for the public. And definitely we’re actually planning a Japan tour this coming December. We’re going up for about a week and a half. It’s a Heart & Soul CD Japan Release Tour.

[Edward Sugimoto] That’s awesome.

[Jody Kamisato] Yeah, we’re excited.

[Edward Sugimoto] You’re all over social media. You wanna give some plugs out there to your various locations?

[Jody Kamisato] *laughs* Sure. Alright well you can come check us out on Facebook. Um, I just set it up recently. It’s uh facebook…

[Edward Sugimoto] *shows Jody his notes*

[Jody Kamisato] *laughs* facebook.com/jody.kamisato. Or you can visit us on Youtube. Just type in “Jody Kamisato”, “Ukulele Hale”, or “Heart & Soul”. And Twitter. I’m ukulele…

[Edward Sugimoto] jody

[Jody Kamisato] jody *laughs* Thanks Ed! @ukulelejody

[Edward Sugimoto] Cool. Good stuff.

[Jody Kamisato] Thanks a lot. Take care. Keep jammin’ the uke and live aloha. *shaka*

Ukulele Hale
Kaimuki Professional Building
1109 12th Avenue Suite 203
Honolulu, Hawaii 96816 (map)
(808) 258-7237
ukulelehale@gmail.com

George Kotaka – IKF Hawaii

George Kotaka is legend in karate. He is a 4th degree black belt with 30 years of training under that belt. He is the son of Chuzo Kotaka (a legend in his own right), the man responsible for bringing IKF (International Karate Federation) Karate to Hawaii. George is one of the main instructors for IKF Hawaii teaching students at dojos in Kamiloiki, Kailua, Kaneohe, Kapolei and the University areas.

My first memory of George was seeing him grow through the karate ranks right alongside of the rest of us. Under Sensei Kotaka (Chuzo), I was fortunate enough to earn my brown belt, and I remember little (at the time) George showing up at our dojo to train periodically. Eventually our paths crossed again while attending Kaiser High School.

George sat down with me during this recent interview:


An Interview with IKF Hawaii’s George Kotaka

[Edward Sugimoto] First of all, please introduce yourself George.

[George Kotaka] My name is George Kotaka, I’m 33 years old and I’ve been taking karate since I was 3 years old.

[Edward Sugimoto] Back in the day, your father (Chuzo Kotaka) was my sensei at IKF in Kahala. Is this where your interest in karate first came from?

[George Kotaka] My interest in karate began, like I said, when I was 3 years old, and my father actually didn’t really force me to take karate. He was just bringing me by the dojo and kinda like just like anything else, you know, where you’re introduced to it so often, after a while you just start to pick it up. I just was really kinda just drawn to karate. Never forced to start it.

[Edward Sugimoto] As the sensei’s son, did you feel any extra pressure to be better and perform well because your dad was the sensei?

[George Kotaka] Being the sensei’s son, I really didn’t feel any pressure at all. I always just went to practice, worked really hard, always had goals in mind that I wanted to achieve since I was young. Just, you know, just like short term goals in the beginning and then later on, fulfilling my long term goals, but never had the pressure because I always just knew that if I just relied on my training and my skill, you know, good things would come about.

[Edward Sugimoto] Lyoto Machida of the UFC, he became the Light Heavyweight Champion a while ago (UFC 98 on May 23rd, 2009) and probably burst karate into the mainstream. Did you kinda feel that karate/”Lyoto Effect” in your studios/dojos?

[George Kotaka] I would say there was a little bit of an affect from the UFC fight where Lyoto won the UFC title. We saw a little bit of an influx of students inquiring about karate, interested in martial arts, especially the traditional martial arts. He comes from a traditional Japanese background, his style is called Shotokan, and it’s a very very popular, I would say one of the four major styles of karate in Japan. So I would say there was a little bit of an influx of students when that happened.


George Kotaka knocks out opponent (from shotokan68’s channel)

NOTE: George does not endorse this clip (a popular video on Youtube with over 29,851 views) and was frankly quite embarrassed of it when I brought it up. I snuck it in here just to give you a glimpse at what George’s karate is capable of.

[Edward Sugimoto] What inspired you to take the next step and become an instructor?

[George Kotaka] I always was intrigued and motivated to be an instructor, to be a teacher. Ever since I was about 14 or 15 years old, I began helping my sister at one of the local karate classes and being kind of like a junior assistant or junior leader and from since that time on, I was really just drawn to teaching, I always liked working with other people. So even after the competition aspect, I could always rely on going back to teaching and falling back to that background.

[Edward Sugimoto] You mentioned your competition background. You’re pretty much a karate legend here and around the country. What do you have in store going forward?

[George Kotaka] Most importantly right now, after retiring from competition in 2008, is just to really work on my students and giving back to the dojo and going back to that teaching. Whether it’s producing the next state champion, national champion, Pan-American PKF Champion or even world champion, that would just be great. I just want to produce quality students most importantly. They don’t have to be champions. If that comes along that would be great but overall I just want my students to be good mannered students, have good morals and ethics and really go by the karate way.


George Kotaka Highlights (from CHAMPOFFICIAL’s channel)

NOTE: This clip I found on Youtube is probably a better representation of what George is all about (as opposed to the previous one). Check it.

[Edward Sugimoto] Cool, thank you very much.

[George Kotaka] OK, thanks.

IKF Hawaii – Main Office
7231 Nuulolo Street
Honolulu, HI 96825
(Click here for individual dojo locations/information)
(808) 395-1774
ikfkotaka@yahoo.com

Todd Tanaka – Team HK

Todd Tanaka holds a black belt under the prestigious Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu system. He is the owner and head instructor of the Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu Team HK team, with locations in the University area, Kaimuki and Lutherville-Timonium in Maryland. He teaches the art of jiu jitsu and self defense to keiki (ages 5-13) and adults of all ages. He (along with George above) also just started a women’s cardio kickboxing class on Sunday nights (5:30pm-6:30pm).

Of the three, I probably knew Todd the best during high school. We ran in similar groups and hung out at some of the same places. Todd helped me land my first “celebrity” interview with his good friend Jason “Mayhem” Miller and even let me train at his dojo for a little while.

Here’s Todd and I catching up in this recent interview:


An Interview with Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu Team HK’s Todd Tanaka

[Edward Sugimoto] Please introduce yourself.

[Todd Tanaka] Hi I’m Todd Tanaka and I’m the head instructor and owner of Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu Team HK.

[Edward Sugimoto] Long before the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)/Jiu Jitsu explosion, you were training with Relson Gracie before anyone knew what it was. How long ago did you start training in the art of jiu jitsu and why did you first start?

[Todd Tanaka] I started in 1990 and I was in, I believe, 8th grade. That’s when (Jean Claude) Van Damme and Steven Seagal was all popular, and me and my friends John and Jared wanted to take a martial art because of the popularity of the martial arts. We were thinking about taking like kickboxing, aikido and stuff and Jared’s father suggested that we go with him to this jiu jitsu class, Brazilian jiu jitsu classes, and we were like, “What is that?” We had no idea. And the dad was like just come down and see if you like it. So we went down, met Relson, started taking the classes from there, and we fell in love with it from day 1.

[Edward Sugimoto] What inspired you to take the next step and become an instructor?

[Todd Tanaka] Well after the UFC started (1993), a lot of my friends wanted to learn and they’d always see me at the weight room and ask me to teach them and I was like “Man, sounds like a good deal.” You know, I could use the side cash so I asked Relson “Eh, can I start teaching?” and he said, “Well I want you to take an instructor program from my brother.” So he flew me up to his brother Rorion’s school in Torrance California, which Royce Gracie was there at the time and the dad (Helio)… And I stayed there, I took their instructor program, and I came back and I helped Relson open his new school in Kaimuki. And that’s pretty much how it all started for me in teaching.

[Edward Sugimoto] Talk to me about your kids. What brings you the most joy when you teach them?

[Todd Tanaka] The most joy is probably just seeing the smiles on their face and seeing how they really like it when they actually do the move correctly.

Todd Tanaka watching over his students
Todd Tanaka watching over his students

[Edward Sugimoto] Do you have an opinion or any comments to those who feel jiu jitsu is dangerous for young kids?

[Todd Tanaka] Yes. You take a risk in any sport… You do… but they have to understand that jiu jitsu and MMA is totally different things. I don’t teach my students to fight. I teach them to defend themselves, self defense, you know. And, you know, if you go in there and you think that jiu jitsu is all about fighting, then yeah, you’re gonna have that perception, but I’m gonna let you guys know that the Relson Gracie jiu jitsu system is about self defense and not fighting.

[Edward Sugimoto] What about personal goals? You received your black belt in July of last year? Anything else in store?

[Todd Tanaka] Um, well, I’m just gonna keep training. I currently just opened two other schools this past year. I have a branch in Kaimuki, and I opened one with another Kaiser classmate/alumni Stuart Ramos. He opened a school under me in (Lutherville-) Timonium, Maryland. Hopefully I dunno, maybe my schools can start growing.


Relson Gracie Promotes Todd Tanaka to Black Belt (from GracieTeamHK’s channel)

[Edward Sugimoto] How about any professional fighting for you at some point?

[Todd Tanaka] *laughs* No, I’m too small and old for that.

[Edward Sugimoto] Finally, you’re big into social media. Do you find that it helps a lot?

[Todd Tanaka] Yes. I can’t remember where I heard this, and I’ve always been using this for years… It’s not who you know, it’s about who knows you. So I’ve always put myself out there. You know, they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity right? Everything’s good publicity, so whatever I do, I put myself out there, I’m easy to find. *smiles*

[Edward Sugimoto] Why don’t we do some plugging of some of those web sites?

[Todd Tanaka] Alright, I got my web site: ToddTanaka.com, and I have my jiu jitsu web site: TeamHK.net, I have my Facebook: facebook.com/toddktanaka, I have Twitter: twitter.com/toddtanaka, Youtube: youtube.com/gracieteamhk, and, man, I got a couple others but I can’t remember all of them right now. *laughs*

[Edward Sugimoto] Alright cool, thanks a bunch Todd!

[Todd Tanaka] Thank you!

Team HK
(Click here for individual dojo locations/information)
(808) 277-1128
todd@teamhk.net

Three great individuals doing great things in their respective communities… who, oh-by-the-way, all happen to be graduates from my proud Alma mater of Henry J. Kaiser High School. They have found a way to follow their passion and find a career doing something that they absolutely love.

I guess you can say they never have to work a day in their lives…

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Fun Day Monday – Name That Band

May 10, 2010

So last week, a friend of mine posted something on his Facebook status that got me pretty excited. He said:

“What!?! Color Me Badd and Shai are coming to Honolulu?? Time to buss out the ol’ Z Cavaricci’s.”

I know, sounds kinda da kine to get excited over something like that, but sheez, that be some flashback memories right there (for a guy like me at least).


Color Me Badd – I Wanna Sex You Up

And when I say a “guy like me” I’m talkin’ about a:

* first-CD-I-ever-owned-was-C.M.B.
* grew-up-on-these-bands-and-used-to-make-“Love-Jams”-mixes-with-these-songs-to-impress-the-ladies…
* listened-to-these-songs-on-my-Walkman-(while-the-teammates-listened-to-n.w.a.-and-nirvana)-on-the-bus-on-the-way-to-a-game…
* put-it-on-repeat-in-the-car-as-well-as-in-the-shower-so-I-could-memorize-every-intricate-detail-of-the-song…
* sang-in-groups-who-used-to-harmonize-(or-at-least-try!)-like-these-bands…

… kinda guy.

So yeah, as you can tell, I was a fan! Hearing that they will be reuniting and doing a show here in Hawaii is of particular interest.


Shai – If I Ever Fall In Love

I’m curious to know what bands excite you. We’re of varying ages, races and sexes up in hurr, so I’m sure we’ve all got our interesting tastes in music. (And yes, though it does sound familiar, we’ve never had this as a topic before (I think). I checked. Feel free to include your favorite fashion stylings of those times as well!

Holla!
* Who were some of your favorite bands growing up?
* What memories do you have of those times?
* Do you remember the fashion then? What were they?

Post um in the comment area below!

Hijack This!
* Thoughts on Shogun Rua’s brutal knockout of Lyoto Machida?
* Thoughts on Paul Daley’s cheap shot on Josh Koscheck after the fight?
* Thoughts on Dana White cutting Kimbo Slice from the UFC?
* Thoughts on Iron Man 2 debut?
* Thoughts on Dallas Braden’s amazing perfect game on Mother’s Day?
* Thoughts on the Suns’ impressive sweep of the Spurs?
* Thoughts on Tiger Woods’ withdrawal?
* Thoughts on a Road Runner Mobile if the device was FREE? Special starts today, just FYI… 😛

Photography at the Right Angle – Caption Contest (10 of 23)

May 3, 2010

Well lookee here. Two weeks in a row of “eye candy”… well, sorta.

Last week had one bikini clad woman, albeit with an axe in her head, while this week, we gots a bikini clad shadow. Pervy fellas rejoice! LOL!

But in all seriousness, these were honestly numbers 9 and 10 in the “funny” that tita leerz forwarded to me, so play along k?

Got a good caption for shadow woman? Post um below! Maybe bruddah Kage has something for us? *grin*

World Wide Ed
Photography at the Right Angle – Caption Contest (10 of 23)

Big ups to Rosette for winning last week’s funny with her “do you like my new hair clip?” caption. Rosey… Nowheadis! Now that you won, that means you owe us like, at least 20 comments this week. *evil grin*


Da “Photography at the Right Angle – Caption Contest” Winnahz Circle! 🙂

  1. Week 1 – “Look, Ma! No hands!” (frankie)
  2. Week 2 – “Eh? No can hear. Got beer in my ear.” (Dave)
  3. Week 3TIE: “Pawn to Queen 4…errrr WOOF!” (b.) and “Doggie go long. On 3, On 3. Ready. Break.” (rayboyjr)
  4. Week 4“Eeeek!!! Spider . . . get it, get it!! Omigod, omigod, omigod!” (skycastles)
  5. Week 5TIE: “Turbo powers….ACTIVATE!” (JJ) and “Just blowing smoke out of my butt.” (M)
  6. Week 6“I’m CRUSHING your head.” (JJ)
  7. Week 7(Mr. Bill takes a ride on the whirl-a-slide..) “OHHHHHHH NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (uncle jimmy)
  8. Week 8“By the power of Greyskull” (Coconut Willy)
  9. Week 9“do you like my new hair clip?” (Rosette)
  10. Week 10 – ???
  11. Week 11 – ???
  12. Week 12 – ???
  13. Week 13 – ???
  14. Week 14 – ???
  15. Week 15 – ???
  16. Week 16 – ???
  17. Week 17 – ???
  18. Week 18 – ???
  19. Week 19 – ???
  20. Week 20 – ???
  21. Week 21 – ???
  22. Week 22 – ???
  23. Week 23 – ???

Post your most creative/funny/witty/entertaining caption below for the photo above.

Holla!
* Now that Mayweather beat Mosley quite easily on Saturday, what do you think the chances are for a Pacquiao/Mayweather showdown? Would you order it?
* “A Nightmare on Elm Street” topped the box office this weekend. What new movie do you wanna see? Personally, I still wanna see Kick-ass. Looks hilarious!
* Impressed with Japan phenom Ryo Ishikawa’s record 58 score?
* Planning on ordering UFC 113 this Saturday with Lyoto Machida, Shogun Rua, Josh Koscheck, Paul Daley, and KIMBO!? We HAVE to order this because Machida is wifey’s favorite. That’s ok, I get her back by telling her Arianny Celeste (MNSFW) is MY favorite. Good trade right? *grin*
* Thoughts on EdBron James winning the MVP again this year? 8)
* Favorite team to take it all in the NBA playoffs this year? Gooooo Magic! 🙂
* Thoughts on the changes going on today at the Advertiser/Bulletin? Cat covered it well in her pictorial. My thoughts and prayers are with the employees there in this time of uncertainty.
* Speaking of changes, this is my last week before making majah kine life changes myself. Will keep y’all posted (if you even care 😛 ) latahz. Have a great Monday and week y’all! Shoots!

Fun Day Monday: Time Flies…

October 19, 2009

With Halloween quickly approaching, I thought this email I received recently was quite appropriate. Have a good laugh and I’ll meetcha at the bottom k?

Seems like only yesterday…

BARBIE DOLL had her 50th birthday this year…….

World Wide Ed

TWEETY BIRD was 60 years old!

World Wide Ed

And what about all our other Childhood Superheroes?

SUPERMAN

World Wide Ed

THOR

World Wide Ed

WONDER WOMAN (touch of menopause here I think?)

World Wide Ed

BATMAN and ROBIN

World Wide Ed

SPIDERMAN

World Wide Ed

“Life is short, break the rules, forgive sooner, love with true love, laugh without control and always keep smiling. Maybe life is not the party that we were expecting, but in the mean time, we’re here and we can still dance…..”

Growing old is not for whimps….. Jock Smith & Bette Davis

Talk to me!
* Pretty funny yeah?
* Did it get you excited for Halloween?
* What are you planning to do/where are you planning to go?
* Any tips on haunted houses around the state? How’s that Haunted Lagoon one at PCC?
* Anyone ever experience Halloween in Lahaina?

In other news…
* World Series Playoff games continue this week. Gooo Phills!
* Windows 7 is scheduled to be released this Thursday. Hallelujah! Peace out Vista!
* UFC 104 is this Saturday! Gooo Machida!
* WWE will be promo’d on the front page of next Wednesday’s Advertiser (print version)! Gooo me! 🙂
* University of Hawaii Men’s Bball kicks off next week Friday against UH Hilo. Gooo Bows!
* Happy Halloween next Saturday!

Have a great week y’all!

UFC 94 Weekend In Vegas

February 1, 2009

Every so often, there comes a time in a man’s life when the stars just align. The perfect storm of pleasure if you will. The weekend of January 30th was one such time.

You see, The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) – the most popular Mixed Martial Arts promotion – was having their biggest, most highly anticipated fight card in history: UFC 94. The main event featured Hilo’s own BJ Penn against Canada’s Georges St. Pierre, arguably the two best pound for pound fighters in the sport. Superbowl XLIII (43) festivities, which featured the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Arizona Cardinals, was also going on that weekend. Did I mention that this was all going down in Vegas? ‘Nuff said!

It all started with a confirmation of UFC 94 fight tickets, just a couple weeks before the event (Mahalos to Bruddah DJ and the rest of the UFC posse). From there, it was pure pandemonium as I worked some flight, room and car reservation magic for less than $580 per. Not bad, given the current flight prices.

Wifey unfortunately couldn’t take off of work so my friend Dave “took one for the team” and forced himself to come with me on this once in a lifetime, sport-filled weekend.

We caught the red-eye on Thursday the 29th, and enjoyed breakfast at Ruby’s Dinette on our LAX layover.

Outside Ruby's Dinette
Outside Ruby’s Dinette

I’ve been by this place numerous times before, but never had the chance or the time to eat there. With our hunger, and a couple of hours to spare, Dave and I checked it out. It’s a good thing we did because it was surprisingly good.

Ruby's Breakfast Burrito: "A flour tortilla filled with fluffy scrambled eggs, salsa and shredded cheese. Topped with sour cream, black olives and chopped green onions. Served with black beans. It's our "South of the Border" specialty!"
Ruby’s Breakfast Burrito: “A flour tortilla filled with fluffy scrambled eggs, salsa and shredded cheese. Topped with sour cream, black olives and chopped green onions. Served with black beans. It’s our “South of the Border” specialty!”

Skillet Potatoes
Skillet Potatoes

Ruby’s Dinette – LAX
201 World Way – Terminal 6
Los Angeles, CA 90045
(310) 646-2480

We arrived in Sin City at about 10AM on Friday, the 30th, but by the time we got our luggage, stood in line to pick up our rental car, and took my mobile phone in for service (it stopped working for some reason), it was almost time for the first two events of the trip: the exclusive Q&A session with (fighter) Rashad Evans and the official UFC 94 weigh-ins.

UFC 94 Schedule of Events poster
UFC 94 Schedule of Events poster

Thanks to Bruddah DJ, we were able to get early access into the event and sit decently close.

Nate Diaz flexes at 156 as announcer Joe Rogan, brother Nick Diaz, ring girls Logan Stanton and Arianny Celeste, his opponent's brother Jason Guida, UFC President Dana White, and ring announcer Bruce Buffer look on.
Nate Diaz flexes at 156 as announcer Joe Rogan, brother Nick Diaz, ring girls Logan Stanton and Arianny Celeste, his opponent’s brother Jason Guida, UFC President Dana White, and ring announcer Bruce Buffer look on.

Lyoto Machida comes in at 206 as ring girls Logan Stanton and Arianny Celeste, and UFC President Dana White look on.
Lyoto Machida comes in at 206 as ring girls Logan Stanton and Arianny Celeste, and UFC President Dana White look on.

BJ Penn does his King Kamehameha pose while coming in at 168, as ring girls Logan Stanton and Arianny Celeste look on.
BJ Penn does his King Kamehameha pose while coming in at 168, as ring girls Logan Stanton and Arianny Celeste look on.

The much anticipated BJ Penn-Georges St Pierre stare down, as St.-Pierre's head trainer Firas Zahabi, an unknown male, UFC President Dana White, ring announcer Bruce Buffer, Penn's head trainer Rudy Valentino and fight matchmaker Joe Silva look on.
The much anticipated BJ PennGeorges St Pierre stare down, as St.-Pierre’s head trainer Firas Zahabi, an unknown male, UFC President Dana White, ring announcer Bruce Buffer, Penn’s head trainer Rudy Valentino and fight matchmaker Joe Silva look on.

Following the weigh-ins, I decided to check my voicemail from my friend’s phone and was surprised to hear that my Las Vegas (Hawaii transplant) friend Jen left a couple of messages. She wanted us to meet up for dinner with her and her boyfriend Brandon at an all you can eat sushi spot called Sushi-Mon. Since Dave and I were practically starving, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect!

Sushi-Mon sign
Sushi-Mon sign

For $26.95 ($21.95 for lunch), you can pick from a large array of sushi/nigiri, rolls, and side dishes, and go to town on them for one hour. And go to town I did!

2 orders of ikura (salmon roe) and 2 orders of masago (smelt egg) (one order already eaten... couldn't wait! *grin*)
2 orders of ikura (salmon roe) and 2 orders of masago (smelt egg) (one order already eaten… couldn’t wait! *grin*)

2 orders of hokkigai (surf clam) and 2 orders of hamachi (yellowtail tuna)
2 orders of hokkigai (surf clam) and 2 orders of hamachi (yellowtail tuna)

Dave's Moon Roll order (Freshwater eel, yum yum scallop & avocado served on a bed of tempura crumbs topped with eel sauce).
Dave’s Moon Roll order (Freshwater eel, yum yum scallop & avocado served on a bed of tempura crumbs topped with eel sauce).

Jen's recommended Cajun Albacore sushi
Jen’s recommended Cajun Albacore sushi

Snow crab meat sushi (you're only allowed one order)
Snow crab meat sushi (you’re only allowed one order)

Baked Scallop Shell side dish
Baked Scallop Shell side dish

Ika (squid) sushi
Ika (squid) sushi

Sushi-Mon (on Sahara)
8320 W Sahara Ave #180,
Las Vegas, NV 89117
(702) 304-0044
Open 7 Days a week, 11:30AM-2:00AM

And den, it was fight day! After fueling up on the $7.99 Garden Court Buffet Lunch at the Main Street Station Hotel in downtown…

My $7.99 buffet lunch (breakfast actually) at the Main Street Station Hotel in downtown (heart don't fail me now!)
My $7.99 buffet lunch (breakfast actually) at the Main Street Station Hotel in downtown (heart don’t fail me now!)

… we headed towards the Mirage to place some fight bets, as, according to my friend Kippy who messaged me on Facebook, they had Penn at +180, some of the best lines in town! By the time we got there though, the line had moved to +135, but that was still good enough for me to back our local hero. While there, I also dropped a bit on the Super Bowl for good measure (‘Zona with the 7 point spread). What the heck right?

Following that, we went back to our hotel to get a quick R&R before the big day ahead. Then it was time! We started by roaming the MGM casino area an hour before the gates were to open. We saw a cool photo opp set up for fight fans, and, after asking a girl to take our photo there, her friends thought it was a good idea to tell her to jump in the photo with us! Um, yeah, thanks!

Dave and I posing with some random girl.
Dave and I posing with some random girl.

At 4:15PM we started to slowly make our way to the gates. The heart started a racin’ and the adrenaline started a pumpin’! I couldn’t believe we were actually there son!

Shuffling in before showtime
Shuffling in before showtime

Here are the results with some personal observations sprinkled in between.

Dan Cramer defeats Matt Arroyo by Split Decision
– I thought Matt Arroyo, The Ultimate Fighter 7 alum, would take this one, but was surprised with Cramer’s perseverance.

Jake O’Brien defeats Christian Wellisch by Split Decision
– Another surprise as I picked Wellisch to come out on top for this one. As you can tell by now, my fantasy UFC picking is pretty horrible. Good to see O’Brien back from his injury and looking strong though.

John Howard defeats Chris Wilson by Split Decision
– This was too close to call, but both men gave it their all.

Thiago Tavares defeats Manny Gamburyan by Unanimous Decision
– Tavares was too big and too strong (and too quick) for Gamburyan, as expected.

Jon Fitch defeats Akihiro Gono by Unanimous Decision
– Gono impressed me by taking Fitch the distance. His entrance performance (where he dressed up in drag with two of his cornermen) had me in stitches!

Akihiro Gono's hilarious drag queen entrance
Akihiro Gono’s hilarious drag queen entrance

Clay Guida defeats Nate Diaz by Split Decision
– Not a huge fan of Diaz, but knew Guida couldn’t finish him. Picked Guida, just based on his energy and spirit. Gotta love someone who is passionate about what they do. Got hooked to his entrance song (Foo Fighter’s “My Hero“).

Karo Parisyan defeats Dong Hyun Kim by Split Decision
– From my vantage point, I thought Kim got robbed on this one. He impressed me. Looking forward to more from him.

Jon Jones defeats Stephan Bonnar by Unanimous Decision
– Woah! Where’d this guy come from? Jones was very unorthodox, but impressive at the same time. Bonnar must’ve been confused with the strikes coming from all ova tha place!

Lyoto Machida defeats Thiago Silva by Knock Out at 4:49 in the 1st round

Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva stare down each other as they get instructions from referee Yves Lavigne
Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva stare down each other as they get instructions from referee Yves Lavigne

– ALAS!!! A finish!!! Machida must’ve heard all of our groans from a card filled with decisions. And he made sure to bring it. Silva was completely out for a good minute or so. It was the first time I jumped out of my seat (other that to use the potty! *grin*). Mahalos Lyoto!

Silva still on the ground after a vicious Machida punch
Silva still on the ground after a vicious Machida punch

Georges St-Pierre defeats BJ Penn by TKO Stoppage at 5:00 in the 4th round


BJ’s Entrance Video

Animation of opening sequence
Animation of opening sequence

– D’oh! What a disappointment. But soooo worth being there in person. I was there when they first met at UFC 58 in March of ’06 so it was inevitable that I be there at this one. Unfortunately, the results didn’t reflect my (and probably most of Hawaii’s) wishes. That’s ok, BJ is still the man in my eyes! He showed great courage by not giving up.

On a side note, was it just me or did BJ not look all there from the very beginning? Even from where I was sitting, I could tell that something was just not right. He didn’t come out with the tenacity and that fire in his eye like he usually does. Something was just off. When I watched it back on my DVR at home, I noticed that his eyes were glassy and puffy and he had a look of stress/worry. Was it mental? Was it physical? Only BJ knows I guess, but the results from the fight seemed to confirm my spidey senses.

Following the fight, the rumors started to fly. My Google Reader started blowin’ up! I heard everything from BJ having a fever, to a stomach flu, to a nervous breakdown. I can’t imagine the pressure of having an entire state (and country) on your shoulders. And I know that BJ has that mental toughness a fighter needs to succeed, but something just wasn’t right.

And then there was the Vaseline(-gate) incident, but we won’t go there.

For you Canadian/GSP fans/readers out there, I’m not making any excuses. GSP followed a perfect game plan and fought a flawless fight, and truly was the better man that night. However, if, indeed, the Vaseline and stomach flu rumors were true, and BJ was able to fight at full strength (mentally and physically) against a fair, Vaseline-less body, I’m absolutely positive that the fight would’ve been A LOT closer than it was. If it turns out that those rumors were false, GSP is undeniably the better man at Welterweight.

Leaving the arena took a ridiculously long time as there was just one exit for all 14,885 of us fans in the Grand Garden Arena (I really hope the folks at MGM do something about this potentially dangerous situation). It did give us some time however, to observe some interesting things like the proud/happy Canadians singing their national anthem aloud and the local mokes trying to call them out fo’ beef. I really wish that that fight broke out to give us some entertainment. Not that I was upset at the Canadians. Heck, they deserved to be proud. I think it was more that my thirst for excitement was not quite quenched, with just two stoppages the whole night.

I got some consolation when I saw Pride fighting legend Takanori Gomi waiting in line for his car outside, and took a picture with him. He seemed intense, but gave me a proper, Japanese bow as I bowed and thanked him with “Arigatou gozaimasu.”

Takanori Gomi and I
Takanori Gomi and I

Wifey also called me later to tell me that my goal of getting on the historic DVD with my cheesy fluorescent green shirt had been fulfilled, albeit the back of our heads. LOL! So it was not all a disappointing night yo. 😛

Dave and I forever a part of UFC 94 history. LOL!
Dave and I forever a part of UFC 94 history. LOL!

We thought about going to the Official UFC afterparty at LAX (http://www.laxthenightclub.com/ ) at the Luxor, but decided to grab a bite instead. We called my high school buddy Jeff (another Hawaii transplant) to see if he and his wife Yvonne wanted to join us, but he instead, invited us over to his house to eat leftovers from their UFC 94 party. ‘Twas nice to see them and just chill after a long night.

The next day was Superbowl Sunday, but with our bets already placed, we said “Superbowl Shmuperbowl” and hit the slopes at the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort for a lil’ boardin’.

Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort Sign
Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort Sign

It was a gorgeous day with decent conditions (mostly smooth with some powder and icey patches), but the best part was that the Blackjack, High Roller, and Keno paths (blue square) and Jacks, Slot Alley and Grandma’s (black diamond) were relatively empty (see trail PDF here). I pretty much had half the mountain to myself! Awwwww yeah!

Empty path... Loves it!
Empty path… Loves it!

Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort
End of Highway 1506 in Lee Canyon
(702) 385-2754
Lift Hours: 9am to 4pm
Lodge Hours: 8:30am to 4:30pm

After a mandatory Trader Joe’s omiyage run following our boarding sesh, and a quick bite to eat at Panda Express (yes, we had the urge!), we got back to our hotel just in time to catch the most exciting 4th quarter in Super Bowl history.

Kurt Warner's look of disgust as his Cardinals allow Pittsburgh to move the ball closer and close to the end zone
Kurt Warner’s look of disgust as his Cardinals allow Pittsburgh to move the ball closer and close to the end zone

All in all, it was a quickie, but exciting 3 days of 3 breathtaking sporting events: MMA, football and snowboarding. The perfect storm of pleasure.

UFC 84 Predictions

May 23, 2008

Tomorrow is probably one of the biggest nights of Hawaii AND BJ Penn’s life. At UFC 84, Penn will represent the State and defend his lightweight title against Sean “The Muscle Shark” Sherk at the Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Nevada.

I don’t know about you, but I’m suuuupah excited about this event. Not only because Hawaii’s own BJ Penn will be bangin’ on the big stage, but because it’s a good excuse to gather the friends at the crib for a UFC BBQ Parrrrtay (see next week’s post for scenes from the party!)!

If you haven’t ordered it already, check out the UFC 84 Info Page at Oceanic.com (for Pay-Per-View info) or the Official 84.UFC.com site.

My picks for the fight are in bold below.

UFC 84 Poster
UFC 84 Fight Card

(My picks in Bold)
BJ Penn vs. Sean Sherk
Wanderlei Silva vs. Keith Jardine
Wilson Gouveia vs. Goran Reljic
Tito Ortiz vs. Lyoto Machida
Thiago Silva vs. Antonio Mendes
Ivan Salaverry vs. Rousimar Palhares
Rameau Sokoudjou vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura
Rich Clementi vs. Terry Etim
Jon Koppenhaver vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida
Jason Tan vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Christian Wellisch vs. Shane Carwin

Whatchu tink? Think I’m off my rocker? *grin* Let me have it below!