Tatsuya Kawajiri held a public training session and interview on September 15th at TOPS gym in Ibaragi, Japan. Kawajiri will face off against Takanori Gomi in BUSHIDO 9 "The Lightweight Tournament 2005 First Round" on September 25th, to be held at the Ariake Coliseum.

In the Q&A session immediately preceding Kawajiri's training session, Kawajiri discussed his feelings about the upcoming battle with Gomi.




Pride Fighting Championships : How do you feel?
Tatsuya Kawajiri: I'm in perfect condition. I'm not tired at all.
Pride: You were cut during the fight. Are you okay?
Kawajiri: I did get cut but it didn't affect the fight. It hurt a little but I was concentrating on grounding and pounding him.
Pride: Have you done any special training in preparation for the Gomi fight?
Kawajiri: I trained as usual. I didn't do anything special. I thought of a few things that I need to be careful of and I was careful of them when I was sparring. It's the same as always. If you think about it too much, you'll be confused if your opponent does something unexpected. I've watched his fights, so I have rough image in my mind. Otherwise, I just need to be careful of his movement. There are a few things that I have to watch out for but if I do, I will be okay.
Pride: Who wins in your image?
Kawajiri: I win in my image. I'm always going for a KO or submission, not just in this fight.
Pride: What do you have to be careful of?
Kawajiri: Gomi is strongest on his feet. I noticed a few things about his standing attacks when I was watching his videos. I kept Gomi's attack style in mind when I was training.
Pride: Are you excited?
Kawajiri: I want to fight soon. There're two fights that day. Thinking about that makes me tired.
Pride: Why is it so much fun for you?
Kawajiri: He's a tough opponent and he absolutely refuses to be broken, and part of me wants to break that kind of fighter. I want to have an extreme fight, to see whose spirit breaks first. I think I can have that kind of fight with Gomi.
Pride: Gomi said in his public training session that he wants to use karate kicks.
Kawajiri: It's MMA so of course there will be kicks. (laughing) There's nothing special about that. Kicks are allowed and I've been fighting with kicks allowed the whole time, so I don't think anything of it. To me, kickers are easy to counter so that may make it easier. It'll be fine if I keep that in mind when I'm training.
Pride: Are you confident that you can overthrow Gomi?
Pride: I don't put "overthrow" and "Gomi" together. I just want to fight him because he's strong. He's a great fighter and that's why I want to fight him. That's all. I just want to see who's stronger. Of course, I believe that I'm going to win and he probably thinks he's going to win. I hope the fans will enjoy seeing us test our wills against each other.
Pride: Other than Kotani, all of the competitors in this tournament have pro SHOOTO experience. Do you want to prove your strength as a World Champion?
Kawajiri: Of course, I think it would be an honor if I can win as the (SHOOTO) Champion and it would be good for SHOOTO. People say that my fight with Gomi is a clash of the Champions but I don't care about that at all. I just want to find out who is stronger. I may not be able to give as much in the second fight but I will give everything I have in this first fight. I want the fans to be glad they came to watch.
Pride: Have you thought about the second round?
Kawajiri: Hmm. I saw Azeredo's fight with Gomi. I haven't see Kotani's fights so I have no idea. Azeredo and Buscape were evenly matched so I don't think he's a problem. If I can get past Gomi, I will just keep fighting with that momentum.
Pride: You might take a lot of damage in the first round, right?
Kawajiri: There's a good chance of that. (laughing) I want to finish it as quickly as possible but I don't think it will go that easily. All I can do is pray to the gods and fight the fight as it comes. Even if I'm damaged, my spirit won't break and I won't lose to anyone in a battle of wills. I'll get through both fights with will power.
Pride: Is there a god in this gym?
Kawajiri: The god of poverty. (laughing) I think I can win this fight because of this gym, though. As you can see, it's a filthy gym. I want to prove that if you use your head and train hard at this gym, you can be a world-class fighter. That'll be a boost to fighters that live in the countryside. In that sense, I can't lose, either.
Pride: You don't want to lose to city fighters?
Kawajiri: Exactly. I don't want to lose to someone who was blessed in their environment. I've felt like that since I was an amateur and I still do. There are two fights in one day so if I don't lose, in terms of spirit rather than technique, I believe I can win. I want to focus on the mental side.
Pride: Will you rebuild this gym will the prize money?
Kawajiri: No comment. (laughing)
Pride: Have you done any special training to prepare your mind?
Kawajiri: I thought of standing under a waterfall but I didn't because I realized that I would catch a cold. (laughing) I always put my mental state first when I'm training. It's about will power. There's nothing but will power and pride at this point. That's all I'll bring into the ring with me.
Pride: To win the tournament, you will have to fight Mach. Mach apparently said in Seattle that he'd fight you.
Kawajiri: I'm also a professional so I knew that was possible from the moment it was decided that I be in the Grand Prix. You can say anything you want but in the end, there's nothing to do but fight. If you're going to fight, you fight with everything you have. That's all. I don't want to fight him but that doesn't mean I'm going to hold back. I'll fight as always. That's a way to repay him and the fans will be happy, too.
Pride: What do you think, as the SHOOTO Champion, of beating a former Champion?
Kawajiri: I don't think anything of it. This is just about my own will power and pride.
Pride: The Final Round will be held on New Year's Eve. Does the New Year's Eve event mean anything special to you?
Kawajiri: There have been fighters in my weight class fighting in New Year's Eve since last year, so I don't want to miss my opportunity to join in. I think it's the biggest event and since everyone will be watching, I definitely want to fight.
Pride: Does anyone recognize you in your hometown yet?
Kawajiri: There have been a lot of people recently, sometimes asking me if I'm Kawajiri. (laughing)
Pride: Gomi is BUSHIDO's ace. Beating him will make you the ace. What do you think of that?
Kawajiri: I think Gomi helped to create all of this and I don't think the (title of) ace will be so easy to get. I'd like to be the ace of BUSHIDO and the martial arts world and make everything exciting. That's one way I can repay SHOOTO. I want to beat Gomi and show everyone the lightweight division. Get everyone excited and then take that momentum into next year, as if I were going to attack the heavyweight division.
Pride: From Ibaragi to the world.
Kawajiri: Yes. (laughing)
Pride: Are you going to bring the SHOOTO belt with you in your entrance?
Kawajiri: I have decided this time. I may not.
Pride: Because you are fighting for yourself this time?
Kawajiri: Yes, that and I always feel like I'm responsible for SHOOTO...
Pride: Gomi said that he didn't have anything to say to you. Do you have anything to say to him?
Kawajiri: Hmmm. Well, he's a great, strong fighter. I think I'm a great fighter too, so I think this will be an extreme fight. I want this fight to be one that makes everyone's hands sweat, from the moment we make our entrance until we leave the ring. I think he's an opponent that I can have that kind of fight with.