"Inside Shooto's Scandal, Legacy and Future"
I helped Tony Loiseleur put this article together. It was praised by one of its sources, Noboru Asahi himself, on his blog.
I believe it is the best Japanese MMA article by a non-Japanese writer so far. It was detailed, timely, and had multi-dimensional perspective on Shooto's current situation and the Shooto community's fight for transparency.
Personally, I support transparency in organizations like Shooto, but before explaining why, I would first like to share the perspective of people on Taro Wakabayashi's side of the situation as a supplement to the article.
His brother, jiu-jitsu competitor Jiro Wakabayashi, said, "At least my brother has no cause to receive blame, but rather only suspicion. He worked so hard [for Shooto] and got a stroke because of it, but he doesn't seem any richer for it. 'What are the Shooto Association people doing?' I thought.
"Given [Taro's] personality, I think that he is someone who cannot work less, even if there's a chance it will make him ill. In a way, it's nice to have this type of problem.
"But I say to those who speak critically of him that you must acknowledge how strong my brother's work ethic is."
I read what many of Wakayabayashi's relatives thought on the Web, but this much aggression only seems to come from his brother Jiro. There is also support for him within the Paraestra group, of course, where Wakabayashi has a long history with the gyms and his gym mates.
Returning to the Shooto situation, however, it isn't good when one person receives absolute responsibility and power, according to Asahi. Asahi wants a more systematic approach to Shooto as well as an even distribution of responsibility and work amongst its community.
I personally believe this is the right step, but now is the time where he must back up his critiques. For example, amateur Shooto in Kyushu has recently received a bad reputation when it comes to organizing and running events. Given Asahi's proposals, however, even if the work is redistributed amongst the community there, poorly managed events can still happen. With Wakabayashi now removed, though, the structure of the system itself can be changed. An example of a viable plan would be to widen the lines of communication between the Shooto Association and local Shooto communities in regions like Kyushu; allowing the Association the ability to observe and offer suggestions and assistance in executing events. Since amateur Shooto in Kyushu has already failed when only one person controlled things, the Shooto community needs to think of new ways to manage regional operations beyond just redistributing the work amongst separate people.
On a related note, the media cannot run a promotion, so they sometimes feel unfairly ridiculed when they receive blame from promotions for reporting bad news. Sometimes, the media is responsible for unreasonable hysteria, however. Take the sensationalized international coverage of the Fukushima Nuclear reactors, for example. However, this does not mean that promoters and fighters can or should refuse to talk to the media.
Being transparent has more value than just doing publicity with the MMA media. I don't think every single figure and organization needs to be 100-percent open, but answering questions from relatives and the general public is critical.
For the sake of fairness, the media needs to improve their approach to covering and reporting, too; particularly in the MMA media. Rather than simply focusing on the reporting of bad news, the media should be active in covering events and people in MMA that elevate the sport and its community, as well as proposing and promoting ideas to that same end. In the past, the focus of the media on reporting "the sky is falling"-type news has generated tension between them and many MMA organizations. In Japan, it is difficult to maintain steady and open relationships with this kind of tension between parties, but openness is absolutely necessary if our society is to be elevated to a new level of understanding and cooperation.
Articles on SKILL MMA use a lot of book research, many of which you can see via my LibraryThing link. This kind of research is integral when you can't draw conclusions or make a sound judgment in a particular situation. In these instances, you need to examine and judge the sources of information behind the situation. There is no need to feel shame by having no knowledge. Nobody can come up with competent conclusions if they are not adequately informed first. After forming a conclusion or judgment, you will be tested and evaluated based on what source of information you have chosen. The most important determining factor in what you believe should depend on science or fact. You know that water will boil at 100-degrees centigrade. That's something that cannot be changed by emotion, blind faith, or superstition.
I believe that you can get the same kind of information from what official organizations can provide as information as well, but only if they believe in ideals such as cooperation and transparency.
Full disclosure of information along with transparency will elevate all of us, and bring us to a point where we can have a fresh start.
Big thanks to Robert Sargent (editor of MMARising.com) and Tony Loiseleur (Sherdog) for English editing.