DREAM.15 Preview: The Judo Chops of Shinya Aoki

via www.mmaontap.com

To help the long lonely hours pass until DREAM.15 airs at 3am EDT in the States, I thought I'd compile a couple of the Judo Chops we've done in the past featuring Aoki's amazing grappling:

MMA Fighting's Daniel Herbertsontalks about Aoki's career:

Shinya Aoki's career has been like a roller-coaster ride. A roller-coaster ride filled with gogoplatas, heel hooks, triangles, the infamous "Keiichi Sasahara 2010" on Mizuho Hirota and the DREAM lightweight title. They are the peaks of Aoki's ride, and they have been exhilarating.

The drops are devastating though.

A no-contest with Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante left fans calling him a wimp and a cheat. A Joachim Hansen TKO left him in tears and without a title. Hayato Sakurai KO'd him with some of the sickest ground and pound ever seen in the sport. Most recently Gilbert Melendez humiliated him and his country.

One of MMA's most polarizing figures, Aoki badly needs to reclaim some pride here and one of the most aggressive and successful submission artists in MMA's history has a statement to make in his first title defense.

Here's Sherdog's Tomas Rios talking about Aoki:

Normally working from the guard is no big deal for Aoki. His tentacle-like limbs and all-universe technique are simply too much even for well-respected grapplers like Joachim Hansen and Gesias Cavalcante. Where Kawajiri differs is that he has near impregnable submission defense and the ground striking to make life hard on Aoki. Melendez proved that Aoki can be vulnerable to ground-and-pound as long as you avoid getting sucked into his closed guard, and that game plan is one Kawajiri can easily replicate.

Obviously any deviation from a disciplined approach could easily end with the "Tobikan Judan" entrapping Kawajiri in some horrifically painful contortion or compression.


For all his foibles, it's still hard to pick against Aoki because he is one of the very best submission artists this sport has ever seen.

It's currently fashionable to write off Aoki as one-dimensional, but let me remind you that Melvin Manhoef is also one dimensional. MMA is a rock-paper-scissors game and while some fighters master two of the dimensions and some are jack of all trades, very few fighters are as dangerous as the true specialist. Just as Manhoef is a threat to KO anyone at anytime, Aoki is a submission threat in any fight. And in the ring, with its four corners perfect for trapping opponents and forcing them into a grappling match, with his grappling pants on and refs who understand that crab walking towards an opponent is very different than butt scooting away from an opponent, Aoki becomes a master in front of his canvass. 

More gifs and fights in the full entry.


Here's Aoki landing a gogoplata from mount -- I didn't know what to call it at the time, thankfully BE readers corrected my mistakes!:

Everyone agrees that the submission Shinya Aoki pulled on Katsuhiko Nagata at DREAM 4 was the shizzle. But no one is quite sure what to call it.

As Michael David Smith from AOL Fanhouse says:

Shinya Aoki defeated Katsuhiko Nagata by first-round submission today at the Dream.4 event in Japan, and watching the way Aoki finished Nagata has me thinking Aoki might be the best submission artist in MMA right now.

Aoki's submission took advantage of his extreme flexibility to go from a full mount position to get his shin up toward Nagata's neck. It was so unique that no one is quite sure what to call it -- Jim Murphy at the Savage Science calls it an omoplata shoulderlock from the top mount, while Sherdog lists Aoki as having won with a gogoplata. Bas Rutten, calling the fight for HDNet, said he had never seen Aoki's submission before. When you've got a submission move that Rutten has never seen, you're doing something special.

UPDATE: As usual our readers are more knowledgeable than I. In the comments, Tanner Mathews explains that its a gogoplata from the top, something that Eddie Bravo has explained on DVD AND my colleague Nick Thomas points out that Shinya himself used the move in a grappling tourny a couple years back.

Here's an excerpt of the Eddie Alvarez post -- this is another one where I totally blew the call, but this time Jordan Breen stepped into the breach:


I was pretty confident that the FiELD Dynamite! show would produce something worthy of a Judo Chop and sure enough Shinya Aoki came through.

As the gif to the right begins with both fighters standing and Aoki behind Alavarez with his arms wrapped around Eddie's waist.

Alvarez responds with a nice judo takedown -- I'm going to call it Harai Makikomi but please correct me in the comments. The announcers called it Harai Goshi.

Alvarez lands in side control and quickly takes mount attempts to get mount but Shinya gets his right knee between Eddie's legs and messes things up. In 99% of fights, that's the move we'd be discussing cause it's pretty bad ass.

From there Aoki immediately wraps up Alvarez' right leg and when Alvarez stands up, Aoki spins around and immediately achieves total control of Alvarez' right leg and the heel hook finish is imminent.

UPDATE: As Jordan Breen Points out in the comments, Alvarez never got full mount. Shinya gets his right knee up high between Alvarez' legs and was working for half-guard. Eddie made the fatal decision to stand up, thereby giving up his leg.

You'll have to click thru to the full article to see Aoki get the tap out. To me that Alvarez fight is the most relevant for the Kawajiri fight. 

And from the Keichi Sasahara 2010 post:

Aoki-6_mediumOn the left is the moment that Hirota, tired of being battered to the face, decides to give up his back. That's never a happy decision to have to make and it won't end well. Note that Aoki almost immediately works to lock in a figure four body lock with his legs.

Aoki-7_mediumThe rest of the gifs are just the grisly but inevitable process that happens when a fighter gets caught in a submission and won't tap out.

To learn more about the old days of catch wrestling -- back when submissions were a key part of professional wrestling and the bouts were actually sporting contests, I highly recommend tracking down Mark Hewitt’s Catch Wrestling an excellent history of the glory days of the sport -- with several chapters discussion Japanese grappling pioneers who brought their judo and jiu jitsu games to the U.S. and competed with the wrestlers here.

Look at the pictures while we hear from some of the legends of old time catch wrestling talking about their approaches to the hammerlock.


Look at the pictures while we hear from some of the legends of old time catch wrestling talking about their approaches to the hammerlock.

These come from GnarlMaster's excellent Catch wrestling technique and history page. Here's the legendary Frank Gotch's take on the hammerlock:

There are several varieties of the hammerlock.  The hold is usually secured when working over an opponent on the mat.  The aggressor reaches inside the left arm of his opponent and grasps his hand with his own right hand if working on the left side.  The attacker also grasps his opponent`s fingers with his left hand.  He works the imprisoned hand up and back, using the leverage thus obtained to accomplish his purpose.  When the imprisoned  member is pulled back, the grip may be retained with one of the attacker`s hands and a waistlock added to force the hand towards the shoulder blades.



The hammerlock is usually secured in conjunction with some other hold.  A hammerlock and grapevine or a hammerlock and crotch (hold)  are very effective combinations, but not easy to secure on strong opponents.

Aoki-10_mediumNote that Gotch mentions nothing about using the legs to wrap around the opponents hips. That kind of positional control using the legs really originates with Helio Gracie as far as I can tell. It was certainly alien to catch-wrestling.



And here's an oldie but a goodie (or baddy) -- Shinya Aoki snapping Keith Wisniewski's arm with an absolutely vicious standing Waki Gatame variation:

And here he is tapping out Joachim Hansen in their first meeting back in 2007 with a gogoplata. I believe this was the first ever gogoplata landed in professional MMA competition:

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