Men's rhythmic gymnastics has attracted a lot of fans all over the world. Now I'd like to introduce Ms. Sarah Hodge, who has recently fallen in love with this sport when she watched MRG videos on YouTube.


She came across the famous Ibara High School group routine of 2016 on Facebook, and after that, she just couldn't stop watching other MRG videos on YouTube, including those of Kokushikan and Aaomori Yamada. Her story reminds me how I became a fan of MRG two and a half years ago. I was just like that. I was shocked by their precision, power, and beauty. I was desperate for more information. I wanted to know everything related to MRG. However, except for GymLove and Aomori Yamada HS blog, there was little information which told me where, when, and how MRG competitions were held.


Fortunately, Sarah contacted me and I could tell her the information she needed. She went to watch All Japan Youth Championships of Rhythmic Gymnastics last Sunday, and enjoyed her first MRG competition. Here's her impressions posted on Facebook. With her consent, I'd like to share it with readers.


Sasaki Cup 2017 – 8th Annual Men’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Youth RG Competition
My impressions:
I am a relatively new fan to Men’s Rhythmic Gymnastics, a sport that originated in Japan over 60 years ago and combines elements of various gymnastic disciplines (artistic, acrobatic, rhythmic) with great depth of emotion and flawless synchronization. Today in Japan there are over 1,000 men’s rhythmic gymnasts ranging from youth clubs to university RG teams to performance teams such as Blue Tokyo, but the sport is not recognized by governing body FIG (Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique) or the Olympics, leaving many of Japan’s top RG to either turn to coaching or join performance groups such as Blue Tokyo or Cirque Du Soleil.

ササキカップ2017 - 第8回男子新体操団体選手権
私は比較的新しい男子新体操のファンですが、男子新体操は日本発祥のスポーツで、60年以上の歴史を持ち、様々な分野の体操の要素を融合させたものです(器械体操、アクロバット、リズム体操)。今日、日本ではジュニアのクラブから大学チーム、BLUE TOKYOのようなパフォーマンスチームに至るまで、1,000人以上の男子新体操の選手がいますが、この競技はFIG(国際体操連盟)に認められておらず、オリンピック競技にもなっていません。そのため、トップ選手の多くはコーチに転身するか、BLUE TOKYOあるいはシルク・ドゥ・ソレイユのようなパフォーマンス集団に加わることになります。

Once you’ve witnessed the power, precision, and elegance that is men’s RG, you’ll quickly see why these incredible athletes should have the right to compete on the international stage. Aomori University Men’s RG team performed at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics in a bid to bring more visibility to men’s RG.


For individual men’s RG, they use apparatus similar to women’s RG: clubs, rope, double rings, and stick. Points are based a 10-point scale that measures the difficulty of the tumbling and 10 points for apparatus handling for a possible total of 20 points. Individual performances clock in at a brief 1:15 - 1:30, while team RG performances run at 2:45 - 3:00 and do not use apparatus. Team RG routines are also scored on a scale of 20 possible points, 10 points for difficulty and 10 for execution. For men’s RG, tumbling is performed on a spring floor.


I arrived at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in time to catch several of the men’s RG individual gymnasts, including first-place winner Tanaka Keisuke’s performance. It was the first time I had witnessed individual men’s RG as I tend to focus on team RG. At Sasaki Cup, the setup was to run two women’s RG routines, alternating with a men’s team RG routine. The floor was divided into two mats, the left side for women (thoughtfully edged in pink!) and the right side was the bulkier spring mat required for men’s tumbling. The judges were also divided by gender. I also had the great pleasure of meeting up with and sitting with Men’s RG superfans Iseno and Masashi Ueda, who were the most gracious hosts in explaining various elements to me in English and providing translation when talking with gymnasts and coaches. Gymnasts’ classmates would yell out “fight!” (good luck) and "good luck!” as individual gymnasts and teams took the floor; Aomori Yamada high school Men's RG had the largest cheering section of parents and friends waving fans and towels. (Confession: one reason I wanted to attend Sasaki Cup was SPECIFICALLY to see this top team compete!!)


There were 28 men’s RG teams competing on Sunday, but the pacing was so aggressive (one individual women's RG routine, next female RG up while men’s team took their places towards the end of the second routine) that it went very smoothly. I was excited to see several teams that I’d been watching extensively on YouTube, particularly reigning champions Aomori Yamada HS RG Team (who were recently profiled on NHK).


Watching Men’s RG on YouTube and witnessing the power, beauty, synchronization and skill in real life: no comparison! Men’s RG uses the whole body to elicit emotion through carefully placed hand gestures and movements almost like ballet at times (interestingly, women’s RG includes fouettes), and the team routines alternate between slow, martial-arts-like synchronized movements to high-energy tumbling, lifts and throws with incredible height and speed.


The beautiful costumes (reminiscent of men’s figure skating), great music choices (women performed to samba, several Gipsy Kings songs, Zaz, and Christina Aguilera; for the men, there was some David Garrett thrown in and “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence,” yay!), and countless hours of training, sweat and tears paid off into polished performances. Afterwards, many of the teams came up into the fan stands to thank family and friends and presented their moms with carnations for Mother’s Day. Afterwards, I had the chance to talk to several athletes from Aomori Yamada HS and other top schools, as well as meet some of the coaches from BLUE TOKYO KIDS (thank you Kawato-sensei!), a MRG gymnast now performing with Cirque du Soleil, and spotted several members of Blue Tokyo as well (Coach Sakae Arakawa, coach of Aomori Yamada Men’s RG for over a decade, also started BLUE TOKYO as a venue for Men’s RG athletes to continue performing after university).

フィギュアスケートの男子を連想させる美しい衣装、素晴らしい音楽の選択(女子はサンバ、ジプシーキングスの曲、Zaz、クリスティーナ・アギレラなど。男子はデイヴィッド・ギャレットや「戦場のメリークリスマス」、イェイ!)、そして最高の演技を作るために費やされた、とてつもなく長い時間のトレーニング、汗、涙。演技後に、多くのチームが観客席に来て、家族や友達に挨拶したり、母の日のカーネーションをお母さんに贈ったりしていました。私は青森山田やほかの学校の選手たちと話す機会がありましたし、BLUE TOKYO KIDSのコーチともお会いしました(川戸先生、ありがとうございます!)。現在シルク・ドゥ・ソレイユで演技している男子新体操選手にもお会いしましたし、BLUE TOKYOのメンバーも何人か見かけました。(10年以上も青森山田のコーチをしておられる荒川先生が、大学卒業後に選手たちが男子新体操を続けられるようにと、BLUE TOKYOを作りました)

All in all, an incredible afternoon and congratulations to all of the coaches, individual gymnasts and teams! <3




This article is written both in Japanese and English. English comes right after Japanese.



I once wrote about Russia in this blog. Since then, there have been many new findings about the recent development in Russia, so I’d like to share the information with the readers.



「男子新体操には、ロシアでも強い偏見があります。男子新体操はなにか犯罪的で、アブノーマルで、男らしくないと。インターネットで拡散されている映像がさらに誤解を与えています。スペイン人が女子と同じ手具を使って、女子と同じ動きをするあれです。正直に言って、私にはちょっと理解できません。男子が女子と同じことをするのは美しくないですし」とロシア人初の世界チャンピオンであるAlexander Buklov氏は語った。

日本発祥のこのスポーツは、2005年にイリーナ・ヴィネル女史が始めたものだ。才能ある男の子を探している時に、SamaraでAlexander Buklovを見つけ、数ヶ月後には彼を世界チャンピオンにしたのだ。

その後、どういうわけか男子新体操は急速に忘れられてしまった。しかしこのスポーツが長い間忘れられっぱなしになるなどということを、イリーナ・ヴィネルは許さなかった。全ロシア新体操協会(WFHG)の会議で、男子新体操部門を作ることが満場一致で決議されたのだ。その担当者はAlexander Buklovである。







すでにモスクワその他の都市で男子新体操のクラスが存在している。最近行われたAmina Zaripovaカップでは、ロシアの新しい種類のスポーツ(=男子新体操)の代表9人が演技をした。この地球上で最も成功したコーチであるイリーナ・ヴィネルにとっては、ロシアといえども広すぎて手に負えないということはないだろう。イリーナのおかげで、男子新体操がFIGの傘下に入るのも、遠いことではないと思われる。

(Google translation of the Russian website)
Viner will lead the men to the championship titles

Text: Marina Gubina / Infox.ru

Irina Viner decided to make another revolution in rhythmic gymnastics. First, she achieved the fact that the International Federation (FIG) allowed athletes to go to the platform in skirts. Now the head coach of the Russian team creates a new national team.

"Why is men's gymnastics considered something abnormal?"
Those who want to offend representatives of this sport, already call it "men's artistic gymnastics."
"We do not call this the men's artistic gymnastics, because we already have a clearly established stereotype in Russia: male artistic gymnastics is something criminal and abnormal, not typical of men. And what they spread on the Internet, misinforms the people even more. I saw these videos: the Spaniards performed, they did women's exercises with female objects. To be honest, I did not understand this, for a man to do it is ugly, let's say softly, "Alexander Buklov, the first Russian world champion in male rhythmic gymnastics, told in an interview with Infox.ru.
The development of this sport, which originated in Japan, the famous trainer Irina Wiener took up in 2005. She went to Russia to view talented boys. She came to Samara, found there Alexander Buklov, and a few months later made him the world champion.

"We do not want to be confused"
After this success for rhythmic gymnastics for some reason quickly forgotten. But for a long time not to remember about this sport Irina Wiener could not afford. In December 2009, he became official in Russia. At the reporting conference of the All-Russian Federation of Rhythmic Gymnastics (WFHG), all representatives unanimously voted to create a department of male rhythmic gymnastics. Curator of it was Alexander Buklov.
"Everything acquires official features, and it will be necessary to work several times more seriously, so that they will hear about us and finally understand what kind of sport it is - male rhythmic gymnastics. We do not want to be confused with artistic gymnastics, so that there are some "but" and prejudiced or disparaging attitude, "Buklov said.
"The Academy of Irina Viner is now launching a new program - a program of comprehensive and harmonious development using the means of gymnastics called" Star Children ". We recruit both girls and boys from three to twelve. We are watching all comers, "he continued.
Already next year will be formed the Russian team of 20 people. "We have applicants from several regions. This is Kazan, this is Petrozavodsk, this is Moscow, this is Barnaul, I think that my native city, Samara, will be connected in the future. We will select talented children across Russia, "said the curator of the men's rhythmic gymnastics.

"Male gymnasts have a different ideology"
Irina Wiener is not going to dress men in swimsuits with rhinestones and give them a ribbon. Male rhythmic gymnastics actually has little to do with art, but more like acrobatics with an object.
"Items in male rhythmic gymnastics are different from women's. These are two men's heavy maces, two rings, a 90-centimeter wooden cane and a rope. But, naturally, we have a different ideology. It's no secret that male rhythmic gymnastics originated in Japan. Therefore, in our sport there are elements of martial arts, in general, all in the oriental style. So we are not going to make girls out of boys, "Alexander Buklov told Infox.ru.
"Even the elements with the same rope men perform much more dynamic, with elements of acrobatics - with all sorts of flips, screws, pirouettes. There are group exercises, they are performed by six people. The subject in this form is not, but there is a crazy acrobatics and elements of cooperation, "the athlete added.
Already now in Moscow and other cities there are sections of male rhythmic gymnastics. And at the recent Cup of Amina Zaripova, nine representatives of a new kind of sport for Russia were already out of the test.
It is clear that the level of the country is not too large for one of the most successful trainers of the planet. But not far off is the day when men's rhythmic gymnastics thanks to Wiener will be able to enter into the FIG.

As well as Mario’s classes in Canada, men’s rhythmic gymnastics in Russia started when the MRG committee tried to expand the sport abroad in the past. Kei Ishida, currently a teacher at Saitama Sakae high went to Russia and taught Alexander Buklov the basics of MRG.

Most people consider the past attempt of the MRG committee failed, but actually it didn’t.

The seeds are starting to put forth leaves now in Canada and Russia. It is only us Japanese that didn’t know it mainly due to the luck of communication means and kept thinking “MRG is very unique to Japan”, “MRG is the sport which has a savor of Japanese-ish.”

It has been more than ten years since the attempt of internationalization of MRG. Now we can learn anything through SNSs. There still is a problem of language barrier, but we cannot use it for an excuse for not cooperating with people in other countries.

Whether MRG is internationalized or not, and whether we cooperate with Russia or not, we definitely need someone who has information and share it with the rest of us in the course of decision-making, and who can facilitate the interaction between the involved parties. Hopefully those people should appear from the MRG society. Otherwise, we might face various disadvantages such as revision of rules which makes Japanese gymnasts difficult to win. We’ve seen those stuffs happening in other field of sports very often. It is easy to guess language barrier has played a significant role there (of course that is not the only reason, you know…).

It might to be too late, but better late than never. I sincerely hope someone with English competence and international mindset will appear from younger generation.

I used the word “hope”, but only hoping does not bear anything. We need someone to act. I personally think that that “someone” will determine the future of MRG.






Do you play tennis?


Are you happy?



Who is he?(あの人誰?)



I don't know who is he.


I don't know who he is.



最初の文章は、I don't know. と Who is he? という2つの文をくっつけたのだから、I don't know who is he. でいいじゃないか、と言いたくなりますよね。


Do you know who is he?
Do you know who he is?


Do you happen to know where is the closest public library?
Do you happen to know where the closest public library is?

















I don't know who is he.


I don't know who he is.









Good luck!



Kokushikan RG Team 国士舘大学新体操部

I visited Kokushikan RG team on April 9th, 2016. They were working on new team routine.


Their coach, Kotaro Yamada (center in the above picture) was watching them repeat flips and other movements sitting in his chair, but very often got up and went to the gymnasts and discussed very small details with them, which I hardly noticed. He sometimes asked for opinions from S. Oshita (left), a former captain who led the team to win back "All Japan Championships" title in 2008 and now a coach of Kokushikan Highschool RG team, and T. Saito, two-times champion of "All Japan" and now a graduate student of Kokushikan. I had an impression that this team was very agile and efficient. Their practice went like this:


“Let’s try this pattern of flips”, says Kotaro Yamada. The six gymnasts do the complicated combination of flips. “Ummm… could you recognize the movement?” Yamada asks to Y. Ichinohe, who is taking the video of gymnasts. Then everyone watches the iPad screen with such a serious look, and exchanges their opinions freely regardless of their age and order in hierarchy.

In this way, their movements changed very slowly, but got better and better. I heard that Kokushikan used to have extremely harsh and strict senior-junior relationships. Not any more. The gymnasts, full of youthful energy, were trying to build their team routine through collaboration between members and coaches.


“Kokushikan balance” -- I love this unique posture very much. It’s unique and original, like gymnasts in this RG team. Mr. Yamada proudly told me that he was trying to find good aspect of each gymnast and nurture their individuality. Exactly! Hayami Yumita and Takahiro Saito, two very different types of legendary gymnasts were brought up in this club!
「国士舘バランス」-- 私はこの独特なポーズがとても好きです。独特で他にはないポーズ。この新体操部の選手たちのようです。山田監督は、個々の選手の良い面を見つけて個性を育てるようにしていますと、誇らしげに語ってくれました。まさに!弓田速未選手と斉藤剛大選手は全く違うタイプの伝説的な選手ですが、どちらもこの新体操部で育ったのですから!

Mr. Yamada said, “We are happy to have visitors in our club. You can take and use pictures or videos of anyone, anything.” That is, I must say, very very rare for a top-level RG team like them, especially at this time of the year. From these things, I could feel his passion to promote MRG. When he was young, he even went to Malaysia for a year to spread MRG, which existed only in Japan, to the world. Now he gets older and has become a chairperson of MRG committee, but his mind seems to be still as young and flexible as it used to be.


Kokushikan RG team has its own website that provides much information not only on current members of the club but also on retired athletes. The contact address is on the top right of their page, so you can contact them if you’d like to invite Kokushikan RG team for events, or ask ANY questions about men’s rhythmic gymnastics (You can write in English)!