Shooto is a combat sport derived from shoot wrestling, originally formed in 1985.  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.

History, Origins and Etymology

Shooto was created by 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. Sayama wanted to create a sport that would combine the excitement and showmanship of live competition, with the integrity and sportsmanship of martial arts. The basic philosophy of Shooto is defined by the 3 "R": Rebirth of Pankration, Respectable sport and Real fighting.

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".

Principles and Techniques

The aim in a shooto match is to defeat the opponent by a knockout or a submission (or a choke-hold/joint-lock that forces a competitor to "tap-out", literally tapping his hand on the mat several times - the equivalent of saying "uncle"), but fights can also end in a referee stoppage or by a judge decision. Shooto is the most comprehensive fighting style, with nearly every fighting technique allowed. Some bouts are fast and furious, lasting just moments - ending with a flurry of strikes or with a slick submission hold - while other bouts may be more strategic and methodical ending when a competitor out manoeuvres his opponent. Legal techniques include general grappling, strangling, chokeholds, joint locks, kicks, knee strikes, punches, takedowns and throws.  Fighters are even permitted to strike opponents on the ground.

However, unlike in No Holds Barred fighting or Ultimate fighting where no rules apply once on the ring, in Shoote, strict rules and regulations are enforced regarding the specifications of gloves, protective equipment, the number and length of rounds and the correct matching of opponents in weight classes. Illegal techniques include elbow and forearm strikes, eye-gouging, pressure point attacks, hair pulling, twisting the fingers or toes, biting, headbutting, kicking or kneeing the head of a downed opponent, small joint manipulation and strikes to the groin, throat or spine. Following these rules, ensures fighter safety, and legitimacy of Shooto as a combat sport.

Amateur Shooto is made even safer with shorter rounds, mandatory head protectors, shin pads, kneepads and the strict forbiddance of striking on the ground.

Each round lasts 5 minutes (3 minutes in Amateur competitions). The match of class A competitors is 3 rounds, and the match of class B competitors and amateurs 2 rounds. The interval between rounds is 1 minute. Shooto combats are fought on a square-shaped ring.

The refereeing is carried out by both one referee and two sub-referees. The sub-referees shall be out of the ring, and watch for fouls which the referee can not detect.

Mouthpieces and protection cups are compulsary. Kneepads may be worn (in amateur competitions they are compulsary, as are shin-gaurds and headgear). Feet must be bare. Pants and tights suitable for fighting must be worn.

The Shooto weight classes are as follows:

Flyweight -55.0 kg
Bantamweight -60.0 kg
Featherweight -65.0 kg
Lightweight -70.0 kg
Welterweight -76.0 kg
Middleweight -83.0 kg
Light-heavyweight -91.0 kg
Heavyweight -100.0 kg
Super-heavy weight +110.0 kg

Students learn from three different ranges:

   1. Standing Striking Range - using traditional boxing, kickboxing and Thai boxing skills.
   2. Standing Grappling Range - close quater fighting using punches and knees from Muay Thai and Boxing, plus throwing and takedown techniques from Olympic
   3. Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling.
   4. Ground Fighting Range - this is where many fights in the sport are decided. In A & B Class Shooto fighters can punch to the head but only kick to the body on the ground. In C-Class there is absolutely no striking on the ground. Fighters can use any submission technique from Japanese Ju-Jutsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Russian Sambo or Submission Wrestling to submit the opponent.

The sport is governed by the Shooto Association and the International Shooto Commission.
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FullContactMartialArts.org © 2009. All rights reserved.
Photos by Gregory Brophy (hand wraps), Gerville Hall (TaeKwonDo girl), Lucian (Karate fight).
Reproduction strictly prohibited.
External links:
Official Shooto website
Australian Shooto Commission
Flemish Academy of Martial Arts
Shooto Sweden
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