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Interview with

Suzuki Soma

鈴木

From Jiu Jitsu Today (aka ジウジツトウデイ)

Vol. 3, Fall 2022

Rising Star Soma Suzuki talks about his go-to Triangle Choke and other things

Translation and Commentaries by Roberto Pedreira

Revised and RePosted April 25, 2024

InterviewerIntroductionSuzuki is someone who continues to come from Hokkaido to enter almost every tournament. Especially he wins a lot by submissions with a triangle choke. Here, we are asking him about his special go-to technique and other things.

Interview begins:

Q1. Recently, Suzuki Soma has complied an impressive, remarkable record. In every tournament, you are getting good results, aren’t you!?

Soma: Thank you very much Since I always enter every tournament, coming from Hokkaido, I feel that my results have been good and I have no regrets so far.

Q2. There must be a lot of difficulties coming from Hokkaido?

Soma: Indeed. Because I live in Hokkaido, a lot of travel expenses are required, and coming up with money is not easy. Finding time to do what I have to do and the trouble involved in making arrangements and so on cuts down on my training time. Really, it’s not easy.

Q3. It seems that you have had good results even though the process has been difficult.

Soma: I think that my good results have been related to my choice of favorite technique. When I go back to Hokkaido from Tokyo, I feel satisfied and don’t regret anything knowing that I did everything I should have done and the result was satisfactory.

Q4. In competitions, you often finish by triangle chokes. Since when has triangle choke been your specialty (得意技)?

Soma: On my first day of jiu-jitsu (柔術) training, my teacher (指導者), 阿仁鬼さんsaid “this technique might suit you, why don’t you give it a go” (キミに向かいてる技だからやってみたら?”) and he taught me the triangle choke. Ever since then I’ve been using it. As he said, when I tried it, it suited me well. Really, I feel that it is a compatible technique for me. I always “polish” it, and it has become my favorite, trademark, go-to technique. So in that sense it was “lucky” (ラッキ) for me that “aniki-san”  (阿仁鬼さん) gave me the “wise advice” (適確なアドバイス) that he did when he did.

Q5. Do you have any go-to move for the triangle choke?

Soma: Mostly I go for moves from closed guard. The reason is that mastering one thing thoroughly could lead me to other opportunities. So it’s a good thing that I focused and polished the triangle choke from closed guard, without trying various “that and this” moves, I think. 

Q6: That leads to finishes by triangle chokes, doesn’t it?

Soma: I’m not just a one-trick pony. My arsenal holds more than only triangle chokes. I have (other) techniques to win by submission. I don’t think about winning by the “point game.” I’m always looking to win by ippon (一本) in a contest. So if I enter a SJJIF World tournament, my objective will be to win the tournament “title” (優勝)by triangle choke.

Will Soma be the next level competitor who is “winning everything? You be the judge. Here are a few clips of Soma in action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMjaZUB7yXA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFXevtsbdCI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGAzmByubEk

Translation Notes

The line over the top of a vowel (aka a macron) indicates that the vowel is twice as long as it would be without it. All syllables are equally long. You can create more or less the same effect by stressing it, as long as you otherwise avoid differentially stressing syllables, as in English.

Q1:The interviewer addresses Soma by his full name, which is typical in Japanese, in case a name is used at all. Generally names and pronouns are omitted unless absolutely necessary.

Q4: Soma refers to his teacher, mentor, whatever, as aniki-san,  阿仁鬼さん, see note below.]

Q5: Soma is talking about developing a firm foundation and building on it logically rather than dabbling in miscellaneous unconnected “that and this” (あれこれ) moves.] 

Soma refers to the person who taught him the triangle choke as “aniki-san”, using the kanji 阿仁鬼 + さん. Aniki means older brother. Aniki is how Kazushi Sakuraba referred to Rickson when he challenged him. Sakuraba was alluding to Rickson in terms of his “older brother” relation to Royce. Aniki would be written 兄貴in older books, or あにきorあにき depending on the reader demographic. (Japanese students learn their kanji in elementary and middle school in a particular nationally uniform sequence, so their age would predict what they would probably be able to comfortably read) and for whimsical reasons known best to the writer/editor/publisher. In this case Soma refers to aniki with the suffix “-san” which indicates that aniki isn’t biologically related. It also indicates that aniki is probably an older student at a club, not a “professor” or sensei (先生) at a dojo or academy. (Of course, the kanji were supplied by the editor, probably not Soma).

Soma also refers to aniki as his shidōsha (指導者) which loosely describes someone who provides guidance, supervision, or advice and isn’t more accurately described otherwise. (Mentor might be a good translation). The point being that people can learn jiu-jitsu almost anywhere and they can find success in the sport without spending a lot of money buying videos and time watching watching Youtube. It may sound counter-intuitive that more information is not always better. Sometimes less is more (equal or better results with less time, effort, cost, risk). Focusing attention on that which is important, and ignoring that which isn't, is a valuable skill to have (of course, knowing what is important and what isn't is the definition of "expertise." Beginners don't know, experts do.) Interested readers should refer to Gerd Gigerenzer (and associates) researches on "fast and frugal heuristics." Many can be found at scholar.google.com/ncr.

 

Comments

As can be seen in the competition links, Somas application of the triangle is effective in some cases, less so in others. Back in the day (early to mid 90s) triangles were not taught as basic techniques (or if they were, they were taught as do at your own risk.) The reason wasnt that triangles are difficult to do. They aren't. The reason was that attempting them without a well-rounded game can backfire, as we see in one of Somas bouts. One of the important things anyone needs to know about triangles is how to recognize when the technique begins to fall apart hence when to bail out and reposition. Beginners are better served mastering more fundamental concepts. Jiu-jitsu is not an exception to all other fields of human endeavor, although you might think it was from Youtube. Compulsively going for a technique that isnt there, is not a roadmap for success. To quote Inosanto Academy instructor Chad Stahelksi, now a Hollywood action-movie director, the roadmap to success is fundamentals first.

 

More Vocabulary Notes

凄い すごい. sugoi = great, a lot, much, many

こだわり, kodawari = favorite, habitual, go-to techniqe.

結果 kekka = results

結果を残す kekka wo nokosu = leaving results. The verb (nokosu) will be inflected according to the specific case). を is the direct object particle, pronounced “o”, and often omitted.

Kk (kk)  and k are different sounds in Japanese and are used to distinguish words and meanings. As an experiment, type them into google translate and listen to the voice function (copy the letters below). They may sound the same to you, or not different enough to matter, but they sound different to Japanese speakers and they definitely matter.

  1. 毛か (keka) けか
  2. 結果 (kekka) けっか

(Obviously you can do this with other phoneme contrasts as well).

労力 ろうりょこ rōryoku = effort, trouble, work

好成績 kōseiseki = good results, good grades, good record

選手 senshu = athlete, competitor. Used after a name, as in Suzuki-senshu, it indicates that the individual is a competitor/athlete, without regard to age, sex, status, personal relationship, intmacy. affiliation, rank, etc.

実感 jikkan = real feeling, experience (note that jikkan 実感is a different word from jikan 時間 and is pronounced and used differently)

充足感にjūsokukan ni = fully

柔道jūdō = judo

michiru = to fill up (infinitive form, must be inflected for tense, aspect, etc.)

得意技 tokuiwaza = favorite technique, best technique, special technique, got-to technique

指導者 shidōsha = teacher, coach, advisor, guide, mentor

指導する shidō suru = verb form of shidō

指導 shidō = noun form of shidō suru

極める kimeru = submit

極め技 kime-waza = submission

考え kangae = think (apply mental effort)

思う omou = (think, as in think so, but not sure)

教える oshieru = teach

優勝 yūshō, tournament victory

優勝者 yūshōsha = tournament champion, or winner in a belt, weight, age, sex category

一本 ippon =one point, full point, match-winning point. In a BJJ contest, ippon ( 一本), refers to a submission

SJJIF = Sports Jiu-Jitsu International Federation (see forthcoming interviews with rising next-level superstar Taniguchi Minoru (谷口実) and marketing mastermind Iso Takehiro (磯毅寛).

Thanks to 近藤洋子 for checking and suggesting some improvements.

(c) 2024, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.

 

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