He is called “Tobikan Judan”, or “The Grandmaster of Flying Submissions”, because of his aggressive submission game. Former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya Aoki is considered the world over as one of the most talented grapplers in all of martial arts.
This Friday, 26 May, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Aoki takes on American grappling superstar Garry Tonon in the promotion’s first ever Grappling Super-Match. The bout will take place on the main card of ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES, and features just one round of 15 minutes, with the only way to victory being by submission or referee stoppage.
Aoki and Tonon are two of the world’s best grapplers, and are poised to give fans a show of technical mastery. Aoki, in particular, will get to do what he does best, and that’s get guys on the ground and work to finish.
Before he climbs into the ONE Championship cage to face Tonon, let’s take a look at five of Shinya Aoki’s greatest grappling performances.
#5 Twister Against Yuki Yamamoto At IGF – Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2014
There are so many ways Aoki can finish his opponents, because he has mastered so much of grappling that he knows every position on the ground. Aoki’s grappling awareness allows him to easily scout possible finishes, even ultra-rare submissions such as the Twister.
Against Yuki Yamamoto, Aoki pulled off one of the most uncommon submissions in the sport with ease. While many fans were surprised at the outcome and didn’t realize what they just saw, for Aoki it was just another day at the office.
#4 Rear-Naked Choke Against Kotetsu Boku At ONE: KINGS AND CHAMPIONS
In just his second fight for ONE Championship, Shinya Aoki challenged Kotetsu Boku for the ONE Lightweight World Championship. Although Boku is a tremendous fighter in his own right, he was no match for the smooth ground game of Aoki. Although known for his great submission and takedown defense, Boku fell to Aoki quickly.
In addition, no one takes the back like Aoki does. When he gets the body triangle and snakes his arms around an opponent’s head, Aoki doesn’t need to be under the chin for the rear-naked choke. Most of the time Aoki just smothers the face or cranks the neck until his opponent taps. Kotetsu Boku was utterly powerless in trying to stop the Japanese legend.
#3 Flying Triangle Against Toshikatsu Harada at IGF – Inok Bom-Ba-Ye 2013
Although the majority of his game is focused on grappling, Aoki’s dominance on the mat is overwhelming. Opponents know he’s going to try and take the fight to the ground at any cost, yet they are unable to prevent it.
Toshikatsu Harada found out the hard way that there was no stopping Aoki’s impeccable submissions. In a flash, Aoki leapt into a triangle and yanked on Harada’s arm until he tapped. It was a perfect showcase of how quickly things can end with the slightest mistake.
#2 Heel Hook Against Eddie Alvarez At K-1 Dynamite!! Power of Courage 2008
With nearly 50 professional fights on his resume and countless wins at grappling tournaments all across the globe, Shinya Aoki has faced the best of the best in combat sports. When he fought former world champion Eddie Alvarez in 2008, Aoki took on a gargantuan challenge posed by the man known as “The Underground King”.
Although Alvarez’s heavy hands were apparent early on in the fight, it was only a matter of time before things moved to the ground. Once there, Aoki truly shined. As soon as the fight hit the mat, Aoki grabbed a hold of Alvarez’s leg and never let go, quickly earning the heel hook submission.
#1 Gogoplata Agasint Katsuhiko Nagata At Dream 4, 2008
When talking about rare moves in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the Gogoplata submission always comes up. Executed a mere handful of times in professional competition, the Gogoplata requires incredible flexibility and situational awareness. Thankfully for Aoki, his guard is widely considered one the most dangerous in the game.
There is just no respite from Aoki’s grappling game. Opponents have to constantly be on the lookout for a possible submission from any position. Because Aoki is such a master at using all four of his limbs to his advantage, opponents often don’t see the finish coming.
As Katsuhiko Nagata quickly found out, Aoki’s grappling chops were legitimate. During one exchange on the ground, Aoki comfortably went to work as expected. After spending some time in mount pounding on Nagata, Aoki showed off his flexibility by snaking in his right foot across Nagata’s neck, completing the rare finishing move.