Yasuko Tamada is one of Japan’s top female atomweight fighters. Standing exactly five feet tall 100lbs with a record of 15-8-3 she fights out of Abe Ani’s Combat Club (AACC), teammate to Megumi Fujii, Ayaka Hamasaki (Invicta) and Hitomi Akano (Strikeforce, Invicta). After nine years of fighting in Japanese promotions, she’ll take her talent overseas for the first time to face Michelle Waterson on September 6th in Invicta 8, Kansas City, MO.
Thirteen years ago, Yasuko decided to take a training course for a martial arts exercise class. “I work as an instructor as a sports club,” she said. “At the training class, I met Hiroyuki Abe. (Shooto/PRIDE veteran) I decided that I wanted my striking technique to look good in front of my clients, so I joined Abe-sensei’s dojo, “the AACC.”
Her first competitions were grappling and jiu-jitsu. A number of years later, she began MMA, went pro, and the rest is history.
She has competed in now defunct promotions Smackgirl, G-Shooto, Valkyrie, Jewels, and currently fights for DEEP-JEWELS. She became Valkyrie Flyweight champion in 2010. Atomweight fighters are hard to come by. Interestingly, she fought trilogies with three other fighters, and has fought a few others twice. Deep-JEWELS alongside Pancrase now seem to be the two biggest stages a Japanese female can aspire to. These promotions continually put on great matches, giving female fighters a chance to showcase their hard-earned skills. Other than that, options are limited.
Times have changed, and although MMA is more accepted world-wide, it’s harder for the casual Japanese fan to have access to MMA.
“When I first started MMA, fights were being shown on TV, so even people who didn’t do martial arts knew about MMA as a sport,” Tamada explained. “Nowadays, fights aren’t really on TV anymore and it seems like only the die-hard fans follow.”
MMA fights are broadcast on certain cable and satellite channels, so access is limited.
“Fighting overseas is a dream for me!” Yasuko said. “I’m super nervous, but incredibly thrilled at the same time! I’m so happy to be signed to Invicta, and frankly, at the same time, amazed. I sincerely thank the people who offered me this wonderful opportunity to fight, and even to have a title shot!”
“My impression of my opponent Michelle Waterson is that she’s a strong, well-rounded, fantastic fighter. I’m prepared to face my hardest fight to date,” she said. “I’m going to take everything I’ve got within me and bring it to America.”
Located in Tokyo in Gold’s Gym Omori, the AACC is home to other top female fighters. “I have the honor of being instructed by Abe-sensei, his younger brother Masa-sensei, and Ms Fujii (Megumi). I also train a lot with Ayaka Hamasaki, and now-retired Hitomi Akano. It’s a great environment for me,” Yasuko said.
She works as a sports club instructor, teaching aerobics, step, dance, water aerobics, and children’s gymnastics, from babies through middle schoolers. “In my free time, I like to relax with my cats. I have four!” she said, siting her favorite animal, and also Megumi’s, who’s blogs, Twitter and Facebook’s posts are 50% cats. “My hobbies are watching sports and cooking.”
Questions from fans:
1) What’s a goal that she’s accomplished that’s made her happiest.
In 2010 I became the Valkyrie flyweight champion. Also, last July I climbed to the top of Mt. Fuji with the AACC girls team.
2) What is her favorite cheat meal?
Junk food snacks! Especially potato chips.
3) How does she view the current landscape of Invicta 105lb division?
I never thought I’d fight in Invicta, so honestly I only know about Michelle Waterson, who I’m going to fight. However, from my point of view everyone who fights in Invicta is a strong fighter!
Check out her blog at http://blog.livedoor.jp/aacctamada/