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Judo Olympian Satoshi Ishii to Fight in Polaris 11

Judo Olympian Satoshi Ishii to Fight in Polaris 11


Polaris announced that Olympic Gold Medalist Satoshi Ishii is set to fight Roger Gracie blackbelt Arya Esfandmaz on August 31st in Manchester.

Esfandmaz, a British fighter, belongs to the London Shoot fighters team, and has competed in a number of BJJ’s largest grappling events (including Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, IBJJF Europeans and Worlds, etc.).

Satoshi Ishii, born and bred in Japan, won Gold in the Heavyweight Division during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He was just 21 years old for the 2008 Olympics, and was the Judo Junior World Champion in 2004.

Ready to learn some of Ishii’s secrets to Judo? Click Learn More!!


In recent years, Ishii has transitioned to No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu and MMA. He was promoted to BJJ black belt by Yuki Nakai and competed in the 2018 IBJJF No-Gi World Championships.

Ishii has a 22-8-1 MMA record as a heavyweight.

Because of his interest in competing MMA, Ishii developed ways to use his Judo experience without the gi. 

For example, in this video Ishii teaches Ouchi Gari, a powerful foot sweep, for no gi:

Here, Ishii not only shows the grip that allows this technique to be used in no gi, but also shares some important adaptations that make this sweep really effective.

Instead of the traditional collar-sleeve grip that’s used for this technique with the gi, Ishii uses an underhook and elbow grip to control his opponent’s upper body. Note that Ishii is showing this technique using a left-handed stance. 

Ishii also mentions one way of doing Ouchi Gari that he doesn’t prefer to use in no gi. 

Some judo players will take their lapel hand and move it to grip their opponent’s back. They then “hang” off of their opponent, as Ishii demonstrated briefly. The point of this is to use your weight to force your opponent’s weight onto their target leg. Then, when you perform the sweep, your opponent falls, since the leg that was carrying all of their weight was taken away.

In this case, however, Ishii uses timing to perform the sweep rather than weight distribution. Ishii pulls his opponent towards him -- making his opponent step. Then, Ishii sweeps when his opponent is about to put his foot back on the ground. 

This moment is when Ishii’s opponent has the least amount of weight on their target leg, since his opponent is temporarily has all of their weight on the non-target leg. No weight on the target leg means it’s easy to sweep, as Ishii shows.

If the timing is right for this sweep, your opponent goes down easily.

Ishii also explains the need to keep your sweeping foot close to the ground. This is because your opponent has a chance to regain their balance and step out of the sweep if you raise their leg too much.

Look for this in the next Polaris! With all this experience, Ishii and Esfandmaz are sure to have an interesting match. Especially since Esfandmaz said he plans do standup with Ishii.

Be sure to check out Ishii and Esfandmaz in Polaris 11 on August 31st!

Satoshi Ishii has had quite the storied career and the story continues with his involvement in events like Polaris and Quintet. He is now sharing his Japanese Judo Secrets. Get ready to throw and be thrown!



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