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Shooto is a combat sport that is governed by the Shooto Association and the International Shooto Commission. Shooto was originally formed in 1985, as an organization and as a particular fighting system derived from shoot wrestling. Practitioners are referred to as shooters, similarly to practitioners of shootwrestling. Shooto competitions are often considered to be mixed martial arts competitions, since they share similar rules to several other mixed martial arts competitions.

The word shooto is an English transliteration of 修斗 (pronounced shū-to), an ateji derived from the English word "shoot". The word 修斗 can be translated as "learn combat".

Techniques and strategies

The aim in a shooto match is to defeat the opponent by a knockout or a submission, but fights can also end in a referee stoppage or by a judge decision. Legal techniques include general grappling, chokeholds, joint locks, kicks, knee strikes, punches, takedowns and throws. Illegal techniques include biting, elbow strikes, eye-gouging, forearm strikes, hair pulling, headbutting, kicking or kneeing the head of a downed opponent, small joint manipulation, strikes to the groin or throat and since September 1, 2008, strikes to the back of the head.

Fighter classes

Shooto fighters are categorized into four Classes.
  • Class-D: Amateur (2x2min, Headgear, Special point system)
  • Class-C: Amateur (2x3min, Headgear, Special point system)
  • Class-B: Pro (2x5min)
  • Class-A: Pro (3x5min)

Fighters start out as Class-D or Class-C fighters and enter amateur competitions that Shooto hosts together with the help of local gyms all over Japan. Class-D Shooto does not allow knee strikes to the face or striking on the ground. Class-C Shooto does not allow striking on the ground, but knee strikes to the head are allowed. There are regional championship and once a year the All-Japan amateur championships. Then a fighter can get a Class-B pro license, these fights are 2x5 minute long and use the same rules as Class-A fights. For new pros Shooto each year hold a rookie tournament in each weightclass.

When a fighter has gathered enough wins and experience in Class-B he will get awarded with a Class-A license, as a sign that he's part of the elite professional fighters.


Shooto was established as an organization in 1985 by Satoru Sayama (also known as "Tiger-mask"), a Japanese professional wrestler trained in shoot wrestling, who wished to create a sport that revolved around a realistic and effective fighting system. Compared to the other professional wrestling organizations of the time, such as the New Japan Pro Wrestling and the Universal Wrestling Federation , Shooto was aimed at having no predetermined results. The first amateur event was held in 1986 and the first professional event in 1989.

The Shooto organization hosted the Vale Tudo Japan tournament in the summer of 1994. Previously to this tournament, Shooto did not feature punches to the face in a ground position, but after seeing effective usage of punching by foreign participants, Sayama decided to incorporate these striking techniques into shooto. In 1996, World Shooto, the Shooto Association and the International Shooto Commission were formed. This marked the end of Shooto as a single organization, and turned it into a combat sport with governing bodies. Vale Tudo Japan events were held annually from 1994 to 1999.[109201] In May 2009, it was announced that Vale Tudo Japan would return for the first time in ten years on October 30, 2009.

There has been an ongoing effort to bring Shooto competition to the United States and Canada that has been spearheaded by Rich Santoro. He was officially named the Director of the International Shooto Commission - SHOOTO Americas division (the North American branch of the Shooto Association) in 2001. He has worked with both U.S. event promoters and state officials to spread the Shooto brand of competition throughout North America. As of 2006 Shooto has taken place in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri, Nevada, Hawaii, and Vancouver, British Columbia. Promoters of Shooto events in North America have been HOOKnSHOOT, The Ironheart Crown, Midwest Fighting, Tennessee Shooto, RSF Shooto Challenge, TUFF-N-UFF, World Freestyle Fighting, SHOOTO Hawaii and Mannidog Productions.

Previous to 2009, Shooto's rules included a knockdown rule giving knocked down fighters a eight-count to recover as well as allowing strikes to the back of the head. Shooto had argued that the potentential for a knocked out (and thus unconsious) fighter to receive unnecesarry damage while on the ground necessitated the rule, but with Shooto being one of the lone organizations still having the rule, consideration of the potential for injury allowing a knocked down fighter time to recover thus allowing additional blows, and with the original vision of Shooto's founder being a synthesis of striking, throwing and submitting - the rulechange was institued in mid-2008. The disallowment of strikes to the back of the head was done for similar medical reasons.

Current Shooto World champions

Division Weight limit Champion Gym
Name Country
Flyweight below 52 kg / 115lbs Rambaa Somdet M-16 Gym
Bantamweight below 56 kg / 123lbs Shinichi Kojima Paraestra Tokyo
Featherweight below 60 kg / 132lbs Masakatsu Ueda Parestra Tokyo
Lightweight below 65 kg / 143lbs Takeshi Inoue Shooting Gym Yokohama
Welterweight below 70 kg / 154lbs Willamy Freire Nocaute Fight
Middleweight below 76 kg / 168lbs Shinya Aoki Paraestra Tokyo
Light-Heavyweight below 83 kg / 183lbs Siyar Bahadurzada Afghanistanmarker Golden Glory

Current Shooto Pacific Rim champions

Shooto Rookie champions

Shooto European Amateur Champions 2008

Division Weight limit Champion Gym
Name Country
Bantamweight below 56 kg / 123lbs Raby Williams Francemarker Haute Tension
Featherweight below 60 kg / 132lbs Patrick Lengelo Belgiummarker Chaput
Lightweight below 65 kg / 143lbs Jani Ketolainen Finlandmarker MMA Imatra
Welterweight below 70 kg / 154lbs Loic Korval Francemarker Kordaf
Middleweight below 76 kg / 167lbs Antti Toiviainen Finlandmarker MMA Imatra
Light-Heavyweight below 83 kg / 183lbs Sauli Heilimö Finlandmarker FFG
Cruiserweight below 91 kg / 200lbs Max Djumbo Francemarker BOCAO Team
Heavyweight below 100 kg / 220lbs Claude Hermann Belgiummarker Shihaishinkai
Super-Heavyweight above 100 kg / 220lbs Josef Ali Mohamed Swedenmarker Brasa

Notable Shooto fighters

External links

See also


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