Shinya Aoki’s Magical Rainbow Submission Pants: A Pictorial History of the Tobikan Judan’s Grappling Spats and Tights

aoki shinya magical rainbow submission pants header

Sinya Aoki is famous for a lot of things other than wearing colorful tights:

Flying Submissions….



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.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 2

In his first fight with ‘Mach’ Sakurai… still rocking shorts.

shinya aoki grappling tights mach sakurai

Here’s his Shooto fight with Hironaka in 2006.  Still no spats.  I feel like I don’t even know him any more….

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 4 hironaka

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.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 6 George Sotiropoulos

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.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 8 joachim hansen 1

In his final Shooto fight, Shinya Aoki once again went back to the yellow pants against Akira Kikuchi.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 9 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.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 10 Brian Lo-A-Njoe

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 grappling tights spats 11 yarrenoka c 3p0 jung byu kung

Shinya Aoki fought Gesias Cavalcante twice during 2008, the first time winning controversially after Gesias was disqualified for illegal elbows.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 12 Gesias Cavalcante

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?

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 13 Gesias Cavalcante

Against Katsuhiko Nagata, Aoki’s magical submission pants would once again submit his opponent via gogoplata.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats Katsuhiko Nagata

In mid-2008, Aoki decided to change things up a bit and show up to fight Caol Uno looking like Apollo Creed.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 14 caol uno

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.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 15 joachim hansen 2

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.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 16.1

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.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 16

On New Year’s eve 2008, Aoki’s pink and yellow tights submitted Eddie Alvarez via heel hook.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 17 eddie alvarez

Up next was David Gardner in Dream 7. Hello Japan!!!

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 16.9 david gardener


Despite again going with the C-3P0 looking tights, the magical submission pants weren’t enough to stop Hayato Sakurai.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 18 hayato mach 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.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 18.1 vitor shaolin ribeiro

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!?!?).

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 18.2 vitor shaolin ribeiro

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.

shinya aoki grappling tights spats 19.2 joachim hansen

On New Year’s Eve of 2009, Aoki’s put on his latest incarnation of the Magical Rainbow Submission Pants to defeat Mizuto Hirota in the first round.

shinya aoki grappling spats hirota

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!’

But no.

Will we ever again see the Tobikan Judan don his grappling tights for competition?  Only time will tell.

If you’re looking for your own grappling spats/tights, I’d highly recommend you check out these.  Also, a few friends of mine make some awesome ones as well. You can check them out here and here.

Photography on this page courtesy of Susumu Nagao.

Which of Aoki’s grappling spats/tights are your favorite? Let me know by commenting below!

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{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Mark October 28, 2013, 9:24 pm

    The rainbow spats are easily one of my favorites.

  • olof January 7, 2014, 9:46 pm

    where can I buy his spats?
    I only found one pair of these online.. :(

  • Erik January 24, 2014, 4:38 am

    Brendan, why did you plagiarize this article linked from a Lockflow link in 2009?

    • Brendan January 24, 2014, 11:10 am

      Hey Erik! Not sure what you’re talking about with regards to plagiarism, but that article was definitely an inspiration. It stopped short of Aoki’s spats career (pun intended) so I extended it. This article has 100% original text and photos compared to that post. Hopefully it’s a little funnier, but probably not :)


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