War Stories from Japan

Ahh, X-Mania. Yes, I did play. Either twice or three times, I can’t actually remember.

The way X-Mania worked (back in 2000 or so) was a 3-on-3 team tournament. You see, in Japan, tournaments aren’t run like in the US. In the US (at least back in my day – mid 90s), you’d generally double blind pick characters. Then, the person who lost would get to change characters while you’d be stuck with yours. This led to a lot of metagaming, and counter character strategies.

In Japan, you picked ONE character and you got ONE game. Needless to say, tournaments were pretty brutal and unforgiving. So the game in Namiki weekly tournaments were a pretty fast affair. Depending on the size, it would either be single elimination or round robin. Game in Namiki tourneys usually had a dozen people attending. With three head to head machines, you’d play everyone else once, and the person with the most wins won the tournament. A very fair system (unlike double elimination, which really only places 1st and 2nd accurately). Brutal, but fair.

So X-Mania was a huge tournament, and worked a little bit differently. You had a team of three players. Every player had one character, and you could order your team however you wanted. Whoever won the game would stay on the machine, and would fight another player from that team. The first team to lose all of their players would lose the game. The tournament was single elimination, so if your team lost, it was sayonara.

I played one year with Kuni, and another gaijin named Joe. I had Boxer, Kuni had Zangief, and Joe had O. Ken.

That year, we did pretty poorly. I went first, with Boxer against the other team’s Honda. This is a match I would rate as advantage Boxer – but it’s very easy to lose. Jumping back fierce hits all torpedoes, and you can do a dashing kick rush to knock any jump in out of the air. Low strong hits the HHS. The main risk is ending up cornered having to block a series of flying “superman” moves, with the threat of oochio throws. So position is the key to the game (imho), and it’s much better to be safe and do blocked damage than to do the risky move and go for big damage. For those of you who play Magic: The Gathering, Honda is the “beatdown” and Boxer is “control”.

Anyways, this was my match to win, and I lost it. I felt really bad about this. Kuni had Zangief next, and as we all know, even the most valiant Zangief is no match for Honda. I’m not sure if Joe won or lost, but we lost the match, and that was it for that X-Mania. I felt so bad – I felt like I had let my team down, and put them in a losing situation. Kuni, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry for letting you down!

Anyways, despite the sour feeling in my stomach, I stuck around to watch the rest of the tournament. It ended up being won by a team with YuuVega playing Dictator, and I’m not sure who else. YuuVega was very good, and deserved to win.

After the tournament, there is a tradition at X-Mania where Kanto and Kansai play against each other in a giant team battle. For those of you unfamiliar with Japan, Kanto and Kansai are where the two largest cities in Japan are located, Tokyo and Osaka respectively. There is a huge rivalry between the two cities/regions, in everything from sports, to politics, to culture. This rivalry extends very much to games, and Street Fighter was no exception!

So after X-Mania, the tradition is that each region forms a giant team. Then the teams go head on in one giant elimination bout. So basically, imagine all the players from the Kanto, and all the players from the Kansai standing in line to play on a machine. All Kanto is on the left and all Kansai is on the right. When a player lost, he was out for good. The battles are projected on a gigantic screen that everyone can see. So each player has his own private machine, and there’s a huge screen towering over everything so that everyone can watch.

Now obviously, in such a situation, you’ve got your great players (Kurahashi, Shooting D, etc), and your “randoms” (Beasley, girls, eight year olds, trained monkeys, etc). The line was more or less mixed, and so you’d get fairly large win streaks when a top player would hold the machine for his side for a large number of games.

Now there is a Kansai player named Tsuji who has a very good Boxer. He’s probably the best Boxer in Kansai, if not Japan. I won’t say the best in Japan, because in my very humble opinion, Tama-chan (Tamashima) and Kurahashi are both incredible. Of course, both Tama-chan and Kurahashi are from Kanto, and I tend to rate the Kanto players higher since I’ve played them and lost first hand :lovin:

Anyways, Tsuji got on the machine, and he started a rampage. He started winning a few games, and then all of a sudden it was a lot. Kurahashi’s turn came up, and there was a huge “oooooohh” from the crowd as the Great One approached the machine. I was sure that that would be the end of Tsuji’s reign. This was a master of epic skill! But, to my dismay, Kurahashi lost. Arrgh! Tsuji was beating everyone, even our best players! His win streak was something like 15… at this rate, it wouldn’t even be a contest. It was unthinkable that Kansai rip through our entire team with ONE PLAYER. I was shocked.

And then, my turn came up. As my name was called, there were a few smattered claps from those that knew me (thanks whoever clapped! Kuni probably :rofl: ). I was a “random”, certainly not Tokyo’s best. I took a deep breath and sat down on the machine. I wasn’t really nervous. I had lost to some random Honda, not even made it past round one, and I didn’t have any illusions. I just figured I would try to not embarrass the Kanto area.

So the game started, and I just went for the attack. Standing fierces, low strongs into rushes, and ticks without mercy. Hell, if I couldn’t win I would at least throw the hell out of him! I was doing ok, and before I knew it, I had won a round! Yay!! I won a round! I was officially not an embarrassment to Kanto. I could now leave with my head held high.

Round two started, and I don’t remember much except that I lost. I didn’t get creamed, I did some damage, and I felt like I did okay. At this point, the battle was to save face, and lose in dignity, not ignominy.

Round three. Again, I don’t remember much, but I know I hit him with a few standing fierces, and got him cornered. At this point, I went for the trap I had learned from Kurahashi. Jumping strong, low jab x 2, jow strong, dash upper-> buffalo headbutt. It worked! Then I did it again, except that after the dash upper, I just threw. And then I just did a low forward, throw (my favorite! What can I say, the basics work!). I then looked at his lifebar. Oh my god, he had almost no life left! Holy shit!! I dawned on me that I could win this!

Trembling, I stepped back, and did the super motion. Please jesus, don’t screw it up. Don’t screw it up. The super came out in slow motion.

BLARG (4 ticks of life)
BLARG!! (3 ticks)

The screen went bright yellow. My hands were shaking, my arms were shaking. And then I heard it.

A huuuuge cheer came up from the Kanto team. I saw in my peripheral vision arms being raised, and people clapping. I had won! I’d beaten the huge win streak! I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I had represented the Kanto side.

After that, I played a Chun Li player, whom I beat, and then another one, whom I lost to. It didn’t matter. I had done well for my team this time. I felt this sense of euphoria. It was silly, this was just an exhibition “fun” game, but I really felt like all of those countless hours playing had paid off. I had done well.


i want moar!!

good read :tup:

Dope read. More please~

good story, I liked it. a david/goliath scenario

List of Japanese players

I thought I’d add some of the posts from another thread, to consolidate these war stories"

Here’s some Japanese players that weren’t on nohoho’s list:


MORE Vega. This is the best Claw player I’ve ever seen, period. I used to think that Claw vs Boxer was an unwinnable fight for Claw. I fought him 20 games in a row and didn’t win a round. He also decimates Dictator players.

Chun Li:

Akishima. I saw you mentioned he retired?? Please say it ain’t so. My sempai :sad:


I don’t know his name, but he’s a very very famous and good Blanka player in Tokyo (I met him around 1999). He had a very detailed Japanese web page on Blanka. He has (or had) long shaggy hair… kind of looked like Blanka :slight_smile:

T Hawk:

I’ve forgotten his name, but I’m sure Japanese players will know who I’m talking about. He was staple of the Shibuya Kaikan arcade, along with Yoshimi and Tencho. Student at Todai. We’d play Hawk vs Hawk for hours… always a fun match!


Yoshimi. How in the hell can Yoshimi be missing from this list! I remember explaining to the American delegation how brutal new ken was before SBO1. No one believed me! And then Yoshimi/Akishima/KKY made it to 2nd place. Yoshimi went from a random Ken that one day told me “Mou dame. Kattenai. ZETTAI kattemasen” (after I’d beaten him about 10 games in a row with Boxer) to someone I considered lucky to win a round from. I also consider him a great friend :slight_smile:


Makoto. A clothes designer and another staple of Shibuya Kaikan. A great Dictator player, who played tirelessly with Yoshimi and Tencho. I must have played at least a thousand games of Dictator vs Boxer with him.

Then, my reply to Nohoho

Yes! Harahi, that’s him!! A really nice guy with a perfect knowledge of Blanka. So quiet, so unassuming, and yet he rips through people like wet toilet paper. That’s so great that you know who he is! This sounds silly, but it makes me really happy to meet another person who knows about him!! I really feel that he is an unsung hero of Japan. Boxer vs Blanka is one of the easiest fights for Boxer to win, but Harahi wins it!
Now that I think about it, I think I always called him Hirahi. I guess he was such a nice guy that he never corrected me.

More Balrog, yes. A very quiet guy, and despised (in the Shibuya Kaikan crowd). But an amazing Claw player. I don’t know the nickname Sky High Claw. He was called More Balrog.

This player (that I’m thinking of) played new Hawk. It’s very possible he’s not active anymore.

Thank you for the post. I can’t tell you how many memories this is bringing back. I feel this fire in my belly… I have this absolutely burning desire to play ST now. I wish there was a place I could play it. In Seattle, arcades are dead!

Ouroborus asks why Claw is despised:

Well, when I lived in Japan, playing Claw or O. Sagat was considered “weak”. I guess it’s pretty close to being considered “cheap” in the US.

Time out
Way back in the mesozoic era (1994), there were big debates on a.g.sf2 about “cheapness”. After many many arguments, it was agreed that nothing is cheap, and no character is cheap, except for Akuma (for reasons outside the scope of this post). I agreed with this philosophy, and happily repeated tick threw opponents over and over again over the years.
Time in

When I moved to Japan, I found to my suprise that no one played O Sagat! There was a couple of new Sagats, but no old ones. Also, no Claws! None except one who was really good at MORE arcade.

For my first year or two in Japan, I didn’t really speak to Japanese players or know them very well. I played some A3, some A2, a bit of ST, but most of my time was spent playing Everquest :). Finally, after several years, I found a little arcaded called Shibuya Kaikan, safe from the ravages of Kurahashi and More Balrog, and I started playing there regularly. I know this sounds like a scrubbish thing to say, but at this arcade I could win 5 or 6 games in a row without too much work, unlike MORE where every single round had to be won from blood, sweat, and tears. Anyways, I started to recognize the players there, and they me. The first one to talk to me was a ken player called Yoshimi, who kept trying this incredibly annoying trap based on jumping jab.

After a few weeks, I knew most of the regulars by name, and I started talking to them. I also noticed that if I played Boxer, Hawk, Chun Li, or Ryu, people would play against me a lot. However, when I played Claw, I didn’t get a lot of competition. Usually I’d win and then people would play on another machine (there were 2-3 head to head machines). So I’d win the game with Claw, and then move to another machine.

I finally asked Yoshimi what was going on. When I mentioned the name “Claw”, he got this grimace on his face. He explained that Claw was an easy character to play, and not fun to play against. I thought this was a little wierd, because I don’t think that ken’s jumping jab, low short x 2, and then either DP or knee bash trick is very fun either. And I actually thought that Claw required skill. After all, I won a tournament at Game in Namiki with him.

Time out
To this day, this is the achievement I am the most proud of in SF. Not B2, or B3, or Sunnyvale Golfland tourneys, or any of the money matches or road trips or anything that I did in the US, but winning the weekly ST tournament at this arcade called Game in Namiki. I’m sure no one has heard of it, but this was the arcade where I met Tamashima, and he worked with me on my Boxer. It’s the arcade where Akishima showed the US delegation how to do walk up, low forward, super with Chun li. This arcade had weekly ST tournaments, and I usually finished smack dab in the middle of the pack. But I won it once!!
Time in

Anyways, I felt that Claw required skill. Especially when I saw More Balrog dominate matches that I had thought were impossible (Claw vs Dictator, Claw vs Boxer). But I was also a stranger in a strange land, and I didn’t want to disrupt the “wa” with my play. I was happy that I had found an environment with dedicated ST players, players that knew me, talked to me, and discussed strategy with me (Unlike MORE arcade where I was a quiet observer). I did not want to jeopardize this just to win more games with Claw. So I quietly retired my Claw and focused on Boxer, and, with the help and encouragement of the most amazing Chun player (Akishima) I had ever seen, Chun Li.

I never saw anyone play Claw except for MORE Balrog at MORE. Whenever he did well at tournaments, I would hear a kind of “meh” reaction from other players. “After all, he’s playing Claw”. I didn’t really hear the same from O. Sagat, but there was only one O. Sagat player, a friend of Daigo’s. Maybe it was because he played with Daigo, or because he was a regular at a different arcade, but I never heard the same explicit derision towards O. Sagat that I heard towards Claw. But in general, there were no more than one Claw or O Sagat players at X-Mania, the major ST tournament.

Looking back, I have to say that this play environment was much more enjoyable than the US play environment. When I played in the US, there was invariably a Boxer, Dictator, or O. Sagat dominating the machine. I actually learned Boxer because I felt I had no other choice. Most of my ST play was focused on these matchups.

In Japan, the lack of O. Sagat was a very nice experience (for me). I felt like I could play Hawk and be “only” an underdog, instead of having no chance at all. I felt like I could experiment with new characters from time to time. Getting raped by Kurahashi’s guile was more of an educational experience like “Oh, I can’t use my stand fierce here because I get hit by this move”, as opposed to the US where it felt like “Yep, had to block a low tiger again. Now that’s an expected loss of 10% life before I can get a blocked rush”. I came to appreciate this “lower powered” environment. I felt like I got to explore the game space of all the middle tier and lower tier matchups. I liked it, beacause I got to appreciate how interesting and fun these matchups were, and I could pick a character without thinking about the O. Sagat factor.

O. Sagat was my bugbear, but I can see how Claw would be for others. I don’t know why people didn’t have this reaction with Boxer. When I asked Yoshimi about it, he said that it took skill to win with Boxer, a lot more skill than O. Sagat and Claw. Personally, I didn’t mind… it gave me a character I could win with when I was sick of learning with Chun :).

Sorry for the long winded answer! I guess it turned into more an old man’s diatribe. I can see myself in a nursing home, in my rocking chair, mumbling about ST and Game in Namiki tournaments from 1999 :rofl:

I realize that was a very long winded answer, sorry!

Nohoho asks about more Japanese players

Thanks for listening. I didn’t realize anyone actually played ST anymore. I would have posted long ago if I thought this game was still played at all in the US.

Tanaka Ryu: Oh my god, you know about Tanaka’s old ryu! This is just awesome, I didn’t think anyone else actually knew him.

Tanaka played all the time at Namiki. I actually made fun of him a little bit, because he used jump roundhouse so much. We called him “Dai jump kick ryu” (jump RH ryu). He never used the DP, just jump RH.

I actually liked playing Tanaka, because he was a great person to play against. I would pick O. Ryu or O. Hawk, and it felt like super again. I never talked to him but I liked playing against him, since his style was very safe. The worst thing that would happen to you playing against Tanaka was that you’d just eat a jump RH :). I don’t think I ever said a word to Tanaka, he probably has no idea who I am, but I was always glad to have him as an opponent.

Tanaka won one of the namiki weekly tournaments once when I was there. I have to say I was a little suprised, because he’s not top tier (normally Tama-chan [Tamashima’s nickname], Akishima, or someone like that would win). On the other hand, if this hairy uncouth barbarian can win it, Tanaka certain can.

There was another player at Namiki that maybe you’ll know. We called him SenretsuChun. I don’t know his real name, but I’m sure you can guess what he did. Jump forward, lightning kick. That’s it! That’s all he EVER did. He was easy to beat, but every so often he’d kill someone that thought he might try something else. So the game would go something like this.

SenretsuChun: Jump forward
Player: (Thinks: hmm, he’s done lightning kicks the past 499 times in this situation. Maybe he’s going to try to throw?). Tries counter throw
SenretsuChun: Lighning kick

I would always get a chuckle whenever that guy won a game. Obviously he’s not one of the top tier players.

Ken-O/Gian: Yes, of course I know Ken-O. He’s a great guy. I think I may have talked to him all of five times, but he’s a really nice guy. Before I left Japan we had a large street fighter “nomikai” for me where a ton of Tokyo area ST players came to drink and say goodbye. I felt very touched. Anyways, Ken-O, whom I had played for years and never really talked to, started talking to me, and suggested we go out together. He also said hi when I came back to Japan in 2004 to visit.

That said, Ken’s dhalsim is top notch. According to Kuni, Ken-O won the all-japan CE tournament with his dhalsim. I wouldn’t be suprised. I beat almost every dhalsim I ever met with Claw or Chun, but not Ken-O’s dhalsim. I would be suprised if it took more than the fingers on one hand to count the number of games I ever took from him

Takiba Dhalsim: Are you talking about T. Akiba? He usually played new Ken. If not, I don’t know who that Takiba is. There was KKY, Ken-O, and another regular at Shibuya Kaikan, he had a beard (pretty unique in Japan), and was a professional pachinko guide writer.

Bonus Blanka: Don’t know who that is. I did play once against Komoda, and he was very good, but in my (humble gaijin) opinion, Harahi is the best. Harahi was simply inspiring. Harahi disappeared sometime around 2000, and I never saw him again. Does he still play? Do you have a link to his Blanka web page?

Hamaki Honda: Again, I don’t know. There were honda players at Namiki, and Makoto (see above post) would pull out honda every so often. I personally always hated honda as a character. He just seemed like he brutalizes anyone without a FB (except Boxer), and dies to anyone with one. Bob Painter showed us all the power of Honda at the first Vegas ST tournament by winning the whole thing with the sumo (Great quote from that tournament: “I can’t believe I lost to fucking BOB PAINTER” – Mike Watson). But I never liked Honda, and perhaps my dislike of the character prevented me from really noticing good players. I did learn some very fun (for me) and very annoying (for him) anti honda tricks with Boxer and Chun.

Are you living in Tokyo now? I did play against Harahi a lot… Kuni knew him, but as I said, he disappeared around 2000. What I would suggest is (cue A Team music): If you have a Blanka problem, if no one else can help you, and if you can find him, maybe you can get Harahi’s help. :lovin: I played Harahi quite a few times with Boxer. I can win it, but I’d have to play perfectly. You screw up once and you’re dead. What I can do ist list some of the things I remember him doing (this is like 8 years ago).

  • hop past you, cr forward, cr forward, ball, which dizzies.
  • short ball into either bite or electricity.
  • repeated crossovers with jump forward. Really annoying on boxer because he leans so far back, he’s easy to cross up that way.
  • very very precise with his combos. Jump fierce, low forw, stand strong, ball every time, never missed it.
  • good use of straight jump fierce as anti air.
  • his own version of the new ken “mix up”. Jump forward as you are getting up, then low forward. Then either bite, or low foward + ball combo. Repeat.

As for Claw, yes I did play him against Harahi. I think he pretty much raped me straight up and down.

I wish…

Thanks for letting me ramble :sweat:

I just thought I’d start posting these stories. I had no idea that ST was still played at all in the US. Back around 2000, it just seemed that a.g.sf2 was all about MVC, and I just thought that ST was a Japan only thing. Anyways, thank you all for your patience in reading this. It feels really nice to be able to tell these stories and have people know what I’m talking about!

This thread is sexcellent. Thank you for taking the time to type all this stuff up.

Sorry to highjack the thread really quick…

Holy crap, had no idea you moved to Seattle. I’ll fill you in on what I know of the ST scene in Seattle.

There pretty much is none.

Preppy, used to I think, and may still own a ST machine at his house, and I know Airthrow and XTG are trying to find some ST players, but it may be console, not sure. The only arcade that people really even go to in Seattle is Gameworks, and Marvel or 3S are the only Capcom Fighters there.

You might want to try posting in the Northwest section if you want to try and find some ST comp. I would think some people would be eager to play an ST Old-schooler such as yourself.

I suppose I could’ve just PMed you about it, but…


re: X-Mania. Were you wearing a grey shirt that day?

Holy shit!!! I can’t believe it!

Yes, that’s me!


I had no idea that pic was there. That’s awesome! I think that’s Otochun holding the camera. That’s my Balrog with the super there, against Tsuji :).

<standing O>

Excellent read. Nice work winning for Kanto.

awesome work winning for Kanto,
and how was your second X-Mania? you did better?

This thread needs stickied.

Wierd, it seems like part of this thread got eaten by the forums :). I do have more stories, I will write them as soon as I can.

It got deleted with a bunch of the other posts, but I was curious how that hawk technique works with honda since someone in that old thread said it does. I’m just wondering which are the exact moves to use since i dont know if Honda’s jumping jab is a safejump. the other dude mentioned “crossing up” so I was confused how Honda’s splash worked with that technique unless you just press and hold jab during the splash.

Also wondered if that guy who said he was going to make an in depth ken guide translated by you and/or kuni ever did, and if so, where it is :slight_smile:

Keep up the great work, I could read this shit all day!

I don’t have any personal experience with Honda, but from my understanding of the game mechanics I don’t see why not. It seems like Honda’s command throw can be used without a miss animation, so the only question is whether or not he has a same jump. I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to that. Perhaps Bob Painter would know (I don’t know if he still posts here).

You know, I forgot about that. I kept Yoshimi’s email address but I never really kept in touch with him about that guide. At this point, I don’t know if my Japanese is even good enough to translate… I tried going to T. Akiba’s forums the other and I had a really hard time with them. Sigh, and to think I used to post there.

It sounds like nohoho or NKI are in Japan now? They might be able to see if Yoshimi still plays, and if so, get in touch?

thats cool. im not crazy into ken really, i just love and study every character, so ill read a detailed guide on old dj if someone wants to write it lol any cool techniques you can think of youve seen for cammy, dictator, ryu, or zangief? man, if something akin to that hawk technique DOES apply to honda, may have to give him some attention too hehe

It’s like chess openings and magic colors(havent played that in forever, but saw you reference it)… I cant just focus on one or two… theyre all too great not to learn!


zass who are these 3 people? i see them alot in various japan tourney results

Quite honestly, this is the best thread I have ever read on any forum.