Sinya Aoki is famous for a lot of things other than wearing colorful tights:
Ok, so mainly his Magical Rainbow Submission Pants.
Legends tell of a time when Shinya Aoki’s rainbow tights were used to power a new sun after Fedor’s overhand right knocked the first one out of orbit.
The child of Crayola and Spandex, Aoki’s tights are also the head professor of seizure-inducing color variations at the Carebear Art and Science Institute.
But believe it or not, there was a time when Aoki didn’t even wear grappling tights/spats.
In his exhibition fight against Yuki Kondo, Kondo was the one wearing the spats, not Aoki.
Shinya Aoki fought Jutaro Nakao in the DEEP Welterweight Tournament. Still no spats to be found.
In his first fight with ‘Mach’ Sakurai… still rocking shorts.
Here’s his Shooto fight with Hironaka in 2006. Still no spats. I feel like I don’t even know him any more….
Pride Bushido 12. August 26th, 2006. Aoki’s fight-ever pride fight against Jason Black and the debut of the school-bus yellow long tights. Also acceptable: Banana, mustard, sunshine.
Against George Sotiropoulos, back in Shooto, Aoki kept his tights, this time going for red and black. It was a great fight too, until George ended it, opening the second round by walking straight at Aoki and booting him directly in the groin.
Back in Pride, this time against Clay French, Aoki went back to the sunburst yellow tights, but this time with red stitching. Here, he’d again prove his namesake ‘Tobikan Judan’ (Master of Flying Submissions) by submitting French via flying triangle.
Probably one of the top 2 or 3 most famous pairs of Aoki’s spats came next. In his match against Joachim Hansen, Aoki not only wore his Magical Rainbow Submission Pants, but also won by gogoplata.
In his final Shooto fight, Shinya Aoki once again went back to the yellow pants against Akira Kikuchi.
In his final Pride fight versus Brian Lo-A-Njoe, Aoki went for the half-yellow / half-blue tights helping him to win via armbar in the first round.
Aoki didn’t fight for most of 2007 until he showed up for the Yarennoka new year’s eve show looking like C-3P0.
Shinya Aoki fought Gesias Cavalcante twice during 2008, the first time winning controversially after Gesias was disqualified for illegal elbows.
But in typical Aoki fashion (literally) he redesigned his tights and came back a month later to beat ‘JZ’ via decision. Who needs a full training camp when you can just change your tights?
Against Katsuhiko Nagata, Aoki’s magical submission pants would once again submit his opponent via gogoplata.
In mid-2008, Aoki decided to change things up a bit and show up to fight Caol Uno looking like Apollo Creed.
That very same night, Aoki opted for a wardrobe change to pay tribute to the Osaka fans by wearing the colors of the Hanshin (Osaka) Tigers.
In Dream 6, Aoki wore one of MY personal favorite pairs of his tights against Todd Moore. Why are they my favorite? Because they’re freaking ORANGE. That’s why they get two pictures instead of one.
What? Are you actually reading the text?
I figured by this point most people would just be scrolling through the pictures and quickly minimizing this window when our co-workers walk by so we don’t have to explain why we’re looking at 20 photos of a tiny man in tights.
On New Year’s eve 2008, Aoki’s pink and yellow tights submitted Eddie Alvarez via heel hook.
Up next was David Gardner in Dream 7. Hello Japan!!!
Despite again going with the C-3P0 looking tights, the magical submission pants weren’t enough to stop Hayato Sakurai.
A few months later in Dream, just the day before his match against Vitor Shaolin Ribeiro, Aoki’s lower half was tragically run over by a truck carrying candy canes and Candyland game pieces.
Reports are that the driver was distracted trying to beat level 30 of Candy Crush (which I may, or may not, have been stuck on for the last month. How do you beat this thing!?!?).
Against Joachim Hansen (again), Aoki would go back to the old-school and once again bring out a pair of Neon Magical Rainbow Submission Pants.
Aoki’s pants also may, or may not, have given Hirota the finger.
Tragically, this was the final time that Shinya Aoki’s magical submission pants would make an appearance in the ring or cage.
I was so excited for Metamoris and thought ‘SURELY, he’ll wear them for this!’
Will we ever again see the Tobikan Judan don his grappling tights for competition? Only time will tell.
Photography on this page courtesy of Susumu Nagao.