JANUARY 08, 2020, it has been confirmed that one of the first big jiu-jitsu names to come out of Japan, Mr. Yukinori Sasa has been found dead earlier this week. Although the cause of death has not, at this point, been made public, two sources have confirmed to BJJ Heroes that the evidence points to suicide.
A student of Japanese BJJ pioneer Yuki Nakai, Sasa was one of the most talented gi competitors to come out of the Paraestra Academy, a sentiment solidified by his IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Championship gold medal of 2005, as a brown belt, as well as his bronze medals in both the Worlds and the Pan American Championships in the black belt division (2013).
Well known for his “impenetrable” Lasso-Guard as a light-featherweight competitor, Sasa would go on to become a formidable jiu-jitsu instructor at the Paraestra gym and is largely credited with the development of 4x black belt world champ Rikako Yuasa.
If the suicide rumors are confirmed, Yukinori Sasa is the second Japanese legend of the sport to pass away under these unfortunate circumstances, after Dai Yoshioka’s passing in 2016. A true tragedy for jiu-jitsu, who lost one of its most important figures. Our sincere condolences to Mr. Yukinori’s family and loved ones.