Monday, November 15, 2010

Japanese MMA referee list

People have really started to pay attention to referees recently, so I made a list of Japanese MMA referees.

I won't critique these referees here, but knowing the background of these officials should help create a greater interest in the third man in the ring or the cage, especially in Japan, where many fans don't know the individual officials.


Yuji Shimada
: A famous referee since the Pride era, who gets booed when he's introduced (because of his pro-wrestling character). He did his own gym, BCG, in Hamamatsucho, Tokyo.

Daisuke Noguchi
: Noguchi also belongs to Yuji Shimada's BCG gym.

Ryogaku Wada: Wada started his career with UWF International, a shoot-style pro-wrestling organization, eventually moving to Rings. He made the Rings King of Kings rules, as well as ZST's official rules. He's also a personal physical trainer; Akihiro Gono, Eiji Mitsuoka, Hideo Tokoro and Kazuyuki Fujita have trained under him.

Minoru Toyonaga: Toyonaga started a pro-wrestler in Kingdom, eventually becoming a Pancrase 1999 Neo-Blood Tournament finalist and a Pride veteran. He founded the martial arts school Try.

Moritaka Oshiro: Oshiro started his career within Kingdom, eventually moving to Kenichi Yamamoto's Power of Dream gym, where Hideo Tokoro started his career. He founded and leads the gym Core in Kamata, Tokyo.



Toshiharu Suzuki: For a long time, Suzuki was Shooto's only referee.

Taro Wakabasyshi: (retired from referee world) Wakabayashi started his career in Rings and eventually was an event coordinator with K-1, but those were short periods in his career. He is known for being a Shooto referee and being a founding member of the Paraestra gym network, with Yuki Nakai. His greatest contribution is the development of Shooto's amateur system, creating a system in which amateur Shooto is contested in every city and prefecture in Japan.


 Kenichi Serizawa: The leader of Wajutsu Keishukai Surugua Dojo in Numazu, Shizuoka. In his fighting career, Serizawa actually challenged for the welterweight King of Pancrase title against Kiuma Kunioku. He has recently come out of retirement and started to fight again.

Ryogaku Wada: See above.

Kenji Kosuge: A former amateur wrestler and judoka, Kosuge debuted as a Pancrase referee in 1995.

Yoshifumi Oyabu: Oyabu fought in amateur Pancrase events before becoming a referee for the promotion in 2004.

Tomoki Matsumiya: A Kokushikan University alum, Matsumiya studied sports systems and rules as a graduate student. He believes MMA should have two basic rules sets: MMA, the fusion of martial arts and vale tudo, a real 'fight' with less restrictions and.

Samio Kimura: Kimura is the head of the CMA Ikusa Gym. CMA is an MMA management company who also rents rings and cages. The company is led by Hidekatsu Morooka; CMA Korea is part of this company. Japanese event Gladiator in run by CMA, as well.


Yoshinori "Chiba" Umeki: Umeki originally wanted to be a Pancrase fighter, but in 1995, he suffered a head injury and had to abandon his fight career. He debuted as a referee in 1996. He's the head of Pancrase's official gym, P's Lab Tokyo, and is responsible for the development of the fighters from the gym. He became famous for being the third man in the ring for the Kazushi Sakuraba-Yoshihiro Akiyama incident. He is Sengoku Raiden Championship's chief referee. He has recently taken on the stage name "Yoshinori Chiba".

Big thanks to Jordan Breen (from Sherdog) for English and editing.


  1. Wow! Cool post! I couldn't find this information anywhere in English! Thanks!!

    My favorite ref is Kakuda san!

  2. Thanks for this post. It helped me find the referee who refereed my amateur kickboxing match. I think it was Daisuke Noguchi.

  3. Actually, I tell a lie. It was Ryogaku Wada. I remember thinking "Famous Pancrase referee, and he's refereeing my amateur fight. AWESOME!" Then he deducted a point because I forgot my protective cup. F**K!

  4. Wada is known name because bald and macho. As a quality referee, my favorite is Samio Kimura.