Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao gets to train with Japanese icon Shinya Aoki 

Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao (ONE Championship Images)

Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao has long been trying to figure out the puzzle that is Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki

Sangiao had to prepare his fighters for the brilliant Japanese grappler four times now, as Aoki shares a trilogy with fellow former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and a win over inaugural ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario

So when he finally had a chance to see Aoki up close and personal right in the comforts of his own gym – as a friend, not as a foe – he finally figured out what makes the Japanese man one of the best submission artists in mixed martial arts history. 

“Usually we do through the hips, and then we go to the arms, but for him, he’s very basic. He only grabs onto one thing, he holds you, controls your head, controls your leg, and then drags you down. Looking at his fights, that’s basically his technique. He does that all the time,” he said. 

“Same thing when it goes to the ground. His grips are so strong. It’s so basic, but it’s so detailed – it’s perfect execution. Once he gets a perfect hold, no matter how you defend it, you’ll definitely tap.” 

Sangiao had no qualms taking the backseat and learning from Aoki himself, especially since moments like this don't come often for Team Lakay. 

Ever a student of the game, Sangiao welcomes all comers as he takes the role of an eager pupil looking to learn from someone who’s made a career as a successful mixed martial artist.                                                                                                                                                                                                   

“I keep learning, and I’m not surprised that I still don’t know a lot of things. I’ve seen a lot in my course of coaching, in the field of grappling, but I’m very happy because I’ve learned a lot from just one person. That’s martial arts for you,” he said. 

“I’m willing to learn,” he said. “Even though I’m the coach here, I still learn. That’s the mentality we want to keep here.” 

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