The Shoot Boxing champion – who will return to action in a Muay Thai bout against “Baby Face Killer” Savvas Michael Petchyindee Academy at ONE: WARRIOR’S CODE this Friday, 7 February – is one of three brothers who push each other to achieve greatness through their training together in Aichi, Japan.
Taiki, 24, is in the middle, with younger brother Keito, 21, and the eldest brother Ryota, 25, completing the trio.
Taiki and Ryota first began karate together after they got a strong push from their mother who wanted them to learn the discipline and respect that comes with the martial art. Keito joined them at the dojo as soon as he was old enough.
The three boys could be a rowdy trio growing up together, but they were united by combat sports and are very close despite their differences.
“We argue, but we’ve always been close. Because all three of us do martial arts, we spend a lot of time together, so basically we all get along well,” Taiki says.
Although all three brothers were highly motivated, Taiki says he loved karate the most, and he was also the first to transition to kickboxing in junior high school. He was quickly followed by Ryota, and although Keito stepped away from karate for three years to learn kendo, he joined his brothers when he started high school.
“I think they saw how much I enjoyed kickboxing, so they decided to do it too,” says the “Silent Sniper.”
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Taiki is known for his bright personality, and he says his brothers see him as the one who sets the mood when they are together. However, each of them has different personalities and kickboxing styles that help them help each other.
“[Keito] picks things up quickly. He has good athletic sense and ability, and he is positive,” the ONE athlete says.
“He has a good sense for martial arts too, so basically he can do anything. He watches carefully – he’s a counter fighter.
“[Ryota] is kind and diligent – consistent in his efforts. He never quits. His style isn’t fancy – it’s quite straight forward. He drills over and over so that he can go for the win precisely. He’s an aggressive fighter – he pushes forward.”
After all that training in their youth, the Naito brothers were destined to compete. Taiki was first to make his professional debut in Shoot Boxing in 2011, Ryota was next under the same banner in 2014, and Keito had his first outing in 2017 in Deep Kick.
The brothers also followed Taiki to Bell Wood Fight Team in January after he made the move last year to train alongside Shoot Boxing World Champion and ONE Super Series bantamweight ace, Hiroaki “Kaibutsukun” Suzuki.
Now that they are all under the same roof again, they can push each other through the toughest training sessions and ensure they all fulfill their potential. Once a week, Taiki usually leads them as they take extra time to do stair sprints together, too.
When one or more has a match confirmed, they step things up again to take their skills, strength, and conditioning to new levels.
“We all want to raise each other’s levels and win. It’s a good atmosphere when we all train together,” Taiki says.
“We share techniques and during hard training, we encourage and drive each other. We push each other’s stamina in a mutual effort.
“If one of us falls behind in training, we all know it’s hard, but it’s usually [Ryota] or me that says something, but mostly me. I’m proactive, and even though we’re brothers, I can’t let myself settle. Of course [Ryota] is the same, but I feel like I’m spurring them on.”
ONE fans will see Keito in “Silent Sniper’s” corner whenever he competes overseas, and all three will be together whenever they are in their homeland.
Having that familial support when he goes to battle against the best athletes in the world could be key to giving Taiki the edge on the global stage.
“On fight day, we’re all together as normal, so we’re very relaxed. I have peace of mind [with them there],” he explains.
“We understand each other completely, we can be as we are, we know each other’s personality, and I think that’s big.”