Hayabusa, GSP apologize for “Rising Sun” Gi

March 31, 2013

Last week Georges St. Pierre came under criticism for wearing a gi with the Rising Sun flag inspired by Imperial Japan.  The Korean Zombie Chang Sun Jung wrote an open letter to GSP on KZ’s Facebook page criticizing his apparel.

In response, Hayabusa has taken the product off the market and GSP added a personal apology for those it may have offended.

KZ compared the Rising Sun flag similar to the German Hakenkreuzflagge.

The Rising Sun Flag and symbol was used by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.  It is a symbol of oppression for many Koreans as expressed in KZ’s letter.

This may not be just a publicity stunt but a legitimate issue.  As Maggie Hendricks of Cagewriter points out, some South Koreans took offense to a Rising-Sun inspired uniform worn by Japanese gymnasts at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. 

Fortunately, Hayabusa and GSP acted swiftly and issued an apology in pulling the gi off the market.  Via Hayabusa Facebook:

Since Georges St-Pierre wore our walkout gi at UFC 158 we have received attention surrounding the negative connotation of the rising sun graphic used. The last thing we want is to offend or alienate anyone with the choice of design on our products.

We at Hayabusa have the utmost respect for culture and history and appreciate all of our customers worldwide. As such, we accept full responsibility for this design and are taking all complaints and comments very seriously.

The gi worn by GSP will not be brought to market. In addition, we will be very conscious of this specific design element when developing future communication materials and products.

Please accept our sincerest apology for any offence this has caused. If you have any questions or comments regarding this matter, please feel free to discuss it with us at customerservice@hayabusafightwear.com. One of our representatives will be happy to assist you.

Sincerely,

Craig Clement

Co-President

Hayabusa Fightwear Inc.

GSP also issued a public apology on his Facebook page: ” I’d like to also personally apologize to anyone who was offended by this. I am very sorry, that was never my intention.”

Payout Perspective:

It was a good move by Hayabusa and GSP to act swiftly to avoid further conflict.  Certainly Hayabusa realizes its market and it does not want to offend those in it especially after the origins of the design have been highlighted as a symbol of oppression.  Which begs the question, why didn’t research and development for Hayabusa realize the negative connotations of the Rising Sun design.  The Rising Sun design was worn by GSP in his last fight vs Carlos Condit (although the Rising Sun design was black on his gi). So, this was not a new design for UFC 158; just a different color.

KZ’s letter was pointed, articulate and argued his point of view without being confrontational.  Obviously, one might also think his letter as a way to garner some press on the heels of one of the bigger PPVs in over a year.  Still, if KZ honestly believed that the Rising Sun flag is a sign of oppression that he felt deeply about he should be applauded for taking a stand and pointing out a wrong.  

There are many designs and logos that are culturally and racially insensitive that go by without being noticed because no one complains or the complaints fall on deaf ears.  Certainly pulling the gis from sale is a business hit for Hayabusa but it immediately saw that the PR hit would outweigh the economic benefit.  In the end, all involved handled the issue without it getting bigger than it could be.

One Response to “Hayabusa, GSP apologize for “Rising Sun” Gi”

  1. CodeMaster on April 1st, 2013 7:38 PM

    In the west, the rising sun symbol does not have much impact–so GSP can be forgiven for not realizing its offensive nature to many asians. Hayabusa does not have an excuse–they should have known.

    This is supposed to be MMA Payout—right?

    I have heard numbers of UFC 158 from Meltzer–who says the PPV ‘topped 800 k, but Kevin Iole said the number were almost 1.1 million PPV buys.

    These seem to be fairly big stories–and I wonder why MMA Payout has not written one article about these numbers?

    Now I am very curious as to what the PPV number of UFC 158 really are.

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