Standing next to the likes of Hayato Sakurai, "JZ" Calvancante, or Joachim Hansen, Shinya Aoki doesn't look like much of a fighter. He's tall and lanky and lacks much muscle mass, and to top it all off, Aoki is dressed in brightly colored spandex pants.
How does a guy of his stature gain notice here in the states?
The answer is, he probably never will.
"Tobikan Judan," which translates into "The Master of Flying Submissions," is best known for his world-renown grappling skills, amazing flexibility, and the ability to submit his opponent from any position—which for the most part, is something most Americans tend to boo.
Puzzling to say the least.
The thing with Aoki is that he takes his time in the fight. Like Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva, Aoki knows his own capabilities and rarely jumps into his opponent's strengths.
One strength his opponent will always have is striking, where Aoki is pestering at best. He has but one knock out in his 21 victories. Another weakness of Aoki is his chin. Three of his four losses came by way of k.o. or t.k.o.
So why jump on board with the ship of Aoki?
MMA is more than just a bloody slug-fest, that's why. It's called Mixed Martial Arts for a reason. True fans not only cheer for those who excel in brutal knockouts, but technical ground maneuvers and amazing control, as well.
Shinya "Tobikan Judan" Aoki falls into the latter part of that statement. He's a world renown Jiu Jitsu and Judo specialist, having a black-belt in each style.
Aoki's rubbery limbs could challenge the like's of B.J. Penn as the most flexible in the world. His control is top-notch, especially in his body triangle and wrist control, where most fighters blow irreplaceable amounts of energy in a frustrated attempt to escape.
However, Aoki is best known for his submissions. Not only has he flourished in the world of MMA, Aoki has gone on to win numerous Jiu Jitsu matches with flying submissions, earning him the nickname of "Tobikan Judan."
A clear example of Aoki's presence in the submission world is his fight with Eddie Alvarez. After flopping to his back in a failed attempt to lure Alvarez to the ground, Aoki began to chase him in a crab-like walk as Alvarez ran away and circled around the ring.
Shinya's Triangle Choke is deadly and nearly impossible to escape from. Caol Uno is one of the few fighters to escape the deadly clutch, but he was clearly discouraged by Aoki's dominant control and lightning-fast submission attempts.
If he can't get you with the Triangle Choke, Aoki is one of the very few fighters who is able to transfer to and submit someone with the Gogoplata. Katsuhiko Nagata tapped from the move while Aoki was on top, something that has rarely been witnessed in the sport.
As stated earlier, Aoki's control is top-notch. He is able to transfer through numerous submissions with ease. In just about every fight, a fan will see attempted Armbars, Kimuras, Omaplatas, Knee Bars, Triangle Chokes, Gogoplatas, Arm Triangle Chokes, and Heel Hooks.
Hopefully the mainstream audience of MMA has been slightly intrigued by this article. The truth is that most of them will overlook it, as it has no mention of the P4P king, the UFC's heavyweight champ, or the failed attempts of a clothing company turned fight promoters.