Monday 23rd of July 2018
K-1 SEOUL 2007 2007-11-13

K-1 SEOUL 2007

Waiting for airport shuttle. The day after I arrived home from Moscow I flew to Amsterdam Airport to join up with Shihan Dai Dave Jonkers and Shihan Semmy Schilt for the long flight to South Korea for the Last 16 Tournament.

There were quite a few of the K-1 teams on the same flight to Seoul and one of the things that I noticed was the respect and open friendship shown between most of the various groups. Everyone was shaking hands with everyone else and it was more like everyone was going on holiday together.


 We all arrived at the hotel without any problems and the next day the usual round of media and TV interviews and photo sessions started.

Media photographersSem and international media.Sem and Japanese TV.

em is easily recognisable with his 212cms and 130kg so everywhere he goes he is constantly approached by fans requesting photos with him and autographs. And even when we were eating in restaurants there was a stream of fans and some were happy just to shake his hand. There were people from all age groups and even groups of businessmen who were on their lunch break lined up for photos with this great World Champion.
I am always impressed with the way Sem treats his fans, he never declines their requests for photos or autographs and now that everyone has a camera in their mobile phone this is quite a challenge.

Businessmen lining up to have their photo taken with Sem.Sem and fans.Starbucks papercus.

 As usual the Tournament was well organised and it kept to a tight time schedule. The opening ceremony was like something out of a Disney fantasy world. It was really impressive. Unfortunately the pre fights featuring Korean fighters was not so impressive but this did not seem to worry the enthusiastic Korean spectators who seemed to enjoy them anyway.

The last 16 fighters. The main Tournament was to decide who would be the eight fighters in the finals in Japan in December. One of the things that makes K-1 so exciting is the fact that all the top fighters are dangerous because they all posses knockout ability. The first fight between Badr Hari and Doug Viney was no exception and this match raised the standard of the fighting directly. Doug scored with some good techniques in the first round but the round went to Badr who kept cool and kept working away at Doug. Round two was continuing in the same way until Badr countered Doug’s inside low kick with a powerful right hand punch and that was the end of that fight.

 Sem and Paul before the fight.Checking out the ring.The long wait before the fight.

A happy Sem and Shihan T
he second fight was between Semmy Schilt and Paul Slowinski. Paul started very aggressively and got in some hard low kicks, which only served to get Sem to fight harder. Towards the end of the first round Sem hit Paul with a left knee kick to the head. Paul tried to block the kick but he misjudged the angle of the kick and it hit him flush on the jaw resulting in a first round knockout for Sem. Paul is a very tough fighter and the fact that he made it to his feet and wanted to continue gets my admiration because Sem’s knee kicks are exceptionally powerful.

The next fight was between Remy Bonjasky and Stefan Leko. Stefan was looking to get revenge for his recent defeat by Remy but unfortunately for Stefan this was not going to be the night. Remy started strongly but Stefan was right there with him and then Remy hit Stefan with his speciality, a jumping knee kick. Stefan had already successfully defended himself against a number of these kicks and obviously lost concentration for a second and that’s all it takes. Stefan was up and ready to continue at around a six count but the referee stopped the fight. It is a pity that Stefan was not allowed to continue.

 Before each match the crowd were shown highlights of each fighter’s previous matches. These short films clearly demonstrated why K-1 is so popular. The high ratio of knockouts and the fact that all the fighters have knockout ability nearly always makes the fights exciting up to the final bell. There are of course some circus acts but these are mainly due to the Japanese fascination with big fighters and they sell tickets and that is important.


Shiahn having breakfast with Sem and Chalid "Die Fist". Then it was the turn of Glaube Feitosa and Chalid “Die Fist”. I must admit that I like Chalid both as a fighter and as a person. Chalid is always dangerous until the final bell. His nickname is “Die Fist” - the fist, but it could just as well be “the fighting heart” because he never gives up even when he has been knocked down. And that’s just what happened; Feitosa knocked Chalid down twice in the first round and clearly won the round. The first knockdown came from a knee kick to the head. The fact that Feitosa is clearly taller than Chalid, 194cm to 179cm, is an advantage which Feitosa used well. The second came from a straight left punch. As usual Chalid got up after each knockdown and tore into his opponent. Round two was much more even with Chalid doing the most work. Feitosa covered well and caught Chalid with some good counter attacks.

The third round went to Feitosa who scored with a roundhouse kick to the head and although Chalid fought well and caught Feitosa with some good punches he was unable to finish his opponent off and the fight clearly went to Feitosa. This was one of the hardest fought matches of the night and the first one to go the distance.

 Next up was Jerome Le Banner and Yong-Soo Park who was a last minute substitute for Ruslan Karaev who was injured. The introductory film to this fight showed that Le Banner’s left arm had been so badly broken by the roundhouse kicks of Ernesto Hoost a year or two back that they had operated in a metal bar which was held in place by about eight screws. This fight proved the rule that the mistakes you make in your training are the mistakes you will make in your fighting. Yong-Soo seemed to have a background in Tae Kwon Do and when he kicked he held his arms straight down by his sides and it was only a matter of time before Le Banner, who was looking very strong against this fighter, would explode a punch against the head of his opponent. We did not have to wait long before a right punch to the head finished the fight.

 The next fight was between two Japanese fighters, thereby guaranteeing that there would be one Japanese fighter in the final eight. Yusuke Fujimoto against Junichi Sawayashiki. Early in the first round Junichi’s nose started bleeding and it looked as though the fight would be stopped. Fortunately for Junichi he was allowed to continue and the first round was uneventful apart from that. In the second round Fujimoto was down for two eight counts and he was also bleeding from his right eye and Junichi was still bleeding from his nose. In the third round Fujimoto was down for two eight counts and the fight was automatically stopped after the third knockdown. The standard of these two fighters seemed comparatively low and it seems that Japan does not have any really top class fighters at the moment.

 I thought that the match between Peter Aerts and Ray Sefo could be a tough one for both fighters but Peter was just too strong for Ray. Peter blasted away with powerful punches and low kicks and Ray was down for a couple of eight counts from the low kicks. Ray landed only a couple of good punches in the whole round. Ray was unable to come out for the second round thereby giving Peter a win by knockout.

 The last fight was between the Korean favourite Hong-Man Choi and Mighy Mo. Hong-Man was out to get revenge for his recent knockout defeat by Mighty Mo so there was a lot of excitement in the Korean crowd. K-1 has become very popular in Korea as a spectator sport because of Hong-Man. However the match left a lot to be desired. Hong-Man had obviously prepared for the fight and he used a left front kick the whole time to keep Mighty Mo away and he kept his left hand up to protect against Mighty Mo’s trade mark, an overhand right punch. During the first round Mo was very passive and Hong-Man kept flicking out his left front kick.

In the second round Mo was down from a left kick which everyone saw was a kick to the groin however it was counted as a knockdown. It must have been quite embarrassing for the referee when a slow motion replay was shown a few seconds later on all the big screens which showed quite clearly that it was a kick to the groin for which Hong-Man should have been penalised. During the round Hong-Man connected with two more kicks to the groin but these were not quite hard enough to give him more points.

In the third round Mo was more aggressive and he caught Hong-Man with a couple of punches. Hong-Mans tactic now was to hold onto Mo as hard as he could and the referee had to work hard to separate them. Not surprisingly Hong-Man won the fight and although he was not impressive, his trainer had obviously worked out a strategy to defeat Mo and for them that was all that was important.

Strangely enough most of the time at the “Rules” meeting the day before the Tournament was taken up of a discussion about kicks to the groin and groin protectors. The organisers seemed to feel that the fighters were showing too much pain when kicked in the groin. In my opinion it is impossible to know the level of another person’s pain. Very often the groin protectors which are made of hard plastic are driven into the fighters testicles by the kick thereby causing a lot of damage. It is a pity that the fighters are not issued with an effective groin protector.

The last 8 fighters

Sem and Galube Feitosa The day after the Tournament was taken up by the usual round of interviews and photo sessions.  There was also the draw for the finals in Japan in December. This ceremony took over one hour and was in itself an interesting event.

The fighters came out one at a time and before they came out a short film with highlights of their matches the previous day were shown, obviously for all the media that attended the ceremony. The background of the stage had been specially prepared with eight sections and a stall in front of each section. After posing for the photographers the fighters went and sat on a stall. Then after some formalities one at a time they went forward and pulled a small cloth bag out of a container and then went and sat on another stall about twenty meters away facing the stage. The bags contained a ball with a number on it and then the fighter with number one on his returned to the stage and choose a section. Then came number two who could choose any section and so on. Le Banner was the first back on the stage and number two was Junichi Sawayashiki who chose the other end of the stage. Hong-Man was number three and chose to stand by Le Banner which meant that they would meet each other first. Peter Aerts chose to stand by Junichi Sawayashiki and so those two matches were decided. Remy chose to stand by the side of Peter and Badr chose Remy which matched those two up. This left only two places which automatically meant that Feitosa and Sem would face each other in their first fight. The interesting part of this system is that it gave three fighters a chance to choose their first opponent.

So there are four Dutch fighters in the last eight which shows just how good the fighters from Holland are. They have dominated K-1 since it started. There could have been five Dutch fighters if Le Banner had accepted the Dutch fighter he was offered instead of Ruslan Karaev but he wisely turned him down and took Yong-Soo Park instead.

Shihan and Dave out for dinner. The trip back to Amsterdam was uneventful. I then spent a week in Dave and Sem’s home town Zuidlaren. This was a good time to visit because their Gym had been completely refitted and decorated so they were having an Open House day. 

Zuidlaren is a town of about eleven thousand people but despite its relatively small size there are quite a few good shops and restaurants. This is due to the fact that Zuidlaren with its forests and nature is a holiday destination for many people and during the summer there are many people taking cycling holidays there. Zuidlaren is also famous for it’s once a year Horse Trading Fare which is the largest in Europe.
The sign at the gym and dojo.Sem in the gym reception (wearing a proper T-Shirt).Shihan Dave teaching a kickboxing class.

 At the Dojo they teach Karate for children and adults and Kickboxing of course and some MMA. In the mornings Dave holds special training for fighters who are competing in Kickboxing and MMA. This is a relatively small group but the standard is high with fighters coming from other parts of Holland and abroad.
Sem had not been home more than a couple of days before he started his preparation for the finals in Japan. Both Dave and Sem are very good Instructors and they are in constant demand for seminars and to attend Tournaments so they spend very little time at home on the weekends. And now it was time for me to return to my home.
Soke David Cook.


Copyright © 2008
David C. Cook, All rights reserved.