As deaf person Ignacio Sato has always let his hands do the talking. But on the night of March 15, 2012 his fists made a bolder statement when he became the first deaf person in Bohol, possibly the Philippines, to join a mixed martial arts tournament, and win!
Ignacio dominated the fight early in the first match of Sagupaan sa Bohol. He steadily stalked his opponent and bombarded him with kicks and punches, forcing the other to stay on the defense and kept running away for most of the fight, leaving his opponent unable to continue in the second round.
Ignacio Sato is a cook at the Garden Cafe, a restaurant in Tagbilaran City, Bohol. Garden Cafe is supported by the International Deaf Education Association (IDEA), an NGO dedicated to the education and employment of the Deaf in Bohol.
Over at Garden Cafe he has gotten more respect from his co-workers while maintaining the same cheerful demeanor he’s always had.
His reliance on sign language means he cannot be given instructions as he fights. Instructions in sign language would mean that he’d have to look away, and that is not something you’d want to do in a fight. This meant Sato had to execute his gameplan from memory. Not an easy feat when under pressure.
He has become a sort of celebrity among his co workers at Garden Cafe and has opened their eyes to another area where “the deaf can.”
When he began training at Red Dragon MMA two years ago under the tutelage of Master Voltaire Gonzales. There were three other deaf training with him then. Sato did not let his deafness get in the way of his training. Among the four deaf students, only Ignacio continued his training. Through a lot of patience and sign language interpretation support from fellow Dragon Khris Marc Ronquillo, Ignacio steadily progressed in the field of MMA.
He diligently attended to his conditioning for the fight, a rigorous regimen to build up his stamina, speed and technique, always keeping pace with his fellow fighters in training.
“He is a challenging student to teach and source of inspiration for me. I am proud of him as his instructor and I know he will go a long way,” says Gonzales.
And so the story of Ignacio “The Silent Striker” Sato begins.