Results have shown from his core training that started a year ago, but aside from that, there was training that he started because he decided to make a comeback, which Umeno said played a huge part.
「In addition to the core training, I also trained with GACKT-san, and practiced Aikido together with Yamato-san and the others」
GACKT, refers to the singer-songwriter and actor GACKT, while Yamato is the kickboxer Yamato Tetsya who is currently an active kickboxer in the K-1 tournament.
「I have a mutual businessman friend with GACKT-san, and through that I trained with GACKT-san. He asked me if I was coming so I decided to go and try things out but I heard that it was really so tough that even top athletes will soon stop showing up. Even for me, it was initially so tough that I thought I’d get hematuria but I would be angry with myself if I stopped going at that point so I went. I suppose GACKT-san might’ve also had the thought that I’m different」
Surprisingly, not only did they train together, he also「learnt from」GACKT punches, kicks, and more. GACKT has practiced ITF (Japan’s International Taekwondo Federation) Taekwondo since 2007, and speedily advanced, earning his black belt in 2009. Even after that, rose to the second degree in 2012. He also has experience in Karate, boxing, Jiu Jutsu among others. He is, at present, friends with Sakakibara Nobuyuki, CEO of『RIZIN』, and has also revealed in his blog that he was invited to take part in PRIDE and RIZIN too.
「I think that learning punching and kicking techniques from GACKT-san, in a different perspective from the Muay Thai that I know, has broadened my horizons. Similar to how it looks if you have a gymnast teaching boxing to a boxing world champion, everyone’s probably wondering what the hell is going on. But when it comes to punching techniques, I think that boxing techniques, Muay Thai techniques, K-1 techniques, mixed martial arts techniques, and all the other types are all different from each other. Don’t you think that I can learn a lot from those techniques that I don’t use? Like, ah so there’s a technique like this as well.
I think that it’s alright to know about it and not use it. Because it’s my own choice. But if you’re putting it down when you don’t understand it or throwing it aside from the very beginning because you think that it’s unnecessary, I think that you’ll be narrowing down your own potential.
What GACKT-san taught me were techniques for punches and kicks that don’t exist in Muay Thai. If it can be used, it can be applied in my own fights, and if it can’t be used, I can store it in my brain as knowledge that such a technique exists. There are only positive outcomes for this.
From all of that, there maybe things that can’t be used in Muay Thai for me but in an action that consists of A→B→C, only A can be used so I’ll incorporate it in as well. Rather than not teaching it to me, it’s better if he did, and even concepts about things outside of fighting sports, like food and methods of reducing weight, he goes far more into detail than martial artists do, so there were a lot of things that I could learn from him」
Videos of techniques Umeno has learnt from GACKT and pictures of Umeno learning Aikido have been posted on SNS. He had expected that fans and associates would raise their opinions, questioning「What the hell is Umeno doing」.
「That’s also because everyone simply doesn’t know. In the morning I’m training on my own with all my might, then in the afternoon I head to GACKT-san’s home for training, and at night I give my all in Muay Thai training at PHOENIX. I’m not playing around at all, and GACKT-san isn’t messing around either. I believe that there are people who are surprised by the results of this time’s fight too. I think there are many people who assumed that I wouldn’t win because I was doing things unrelated to kickboxing that they can’t make sense of. But in my opinion, there are nothing but advantages for me. It’s simply just going up to 120 or 130% in addition to training at the gym at 100%. That’s why I had confidence prior to this time’s match.
I understand the fans’ feelings of disagreement in this but I don’t want to become a person who rejects something without trying it. There are people who, no matter what, say that any other method except for their own is wrong, aren’t there. I think that those people are wrong. Especially with Aikido, it’s easy for people to say to me that there’s no way I can do something like that, isn’t it. But there are athletes who actually create results. That means that there’s also a possibility that it can become a plus for me too. There’s also a chance that it could but unsuitable for me but I won’t know until I try doing it. I did it because I decided to try, and since the results were good, I think that it was a good thing that I did it」
Translation: GACKT ITALIA Team
Translation © GACKT ITALIA