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This article is about a martial arts organization. For the baseball pitch, see Shuuto. For shutō, see Knifehand strike.
Industry Mixed martial arts promotion
Founder Sayama Satoru

Shooto is a combat sport/mixed martial arts system and mixed martial arts organization 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 shoot wrestling. Shooto rules have evolved such that their events are now true 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".


Shooto was established as a "New Martial arts"(Shin-Kakutōgi) in 1985 by Satoru Sayama (the original 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.[1][2] After its establishment New Martial arts was renamed "Shooting" which came from Shoot, a term of professional wrestling meaning "Serious match", but this changed to "Shooto" to avoid confusion with Shooting sports. Compared to the other professional wrestling organizations of the time, such as the New Japan Pro Wrestling and the Universal Wrestling Federation (Japan), Shooto was aimed at having no predetermined results. The first amateur event was held in 1986 and the first professional event in 1989.[1][2]

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 April 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. Since establishment of ISC, the champions of Shooto are called "World Champion". Vale Tudo Japan events were held annually from 1994 to 1999.[3] In May 2009, it was announced that Vale Tudo Japan would return for the first time in ten years on October 30, 2009.

Shooto was brought to America in the late 1980s by top student of Satoru Sayama, Yorinaga Nakamura. He began teaching Shooto at the Inosanto Academy in 1991, and is the instructor of Erik Paulson, Ron Balicki, Dan Inosanto, Larry Hartsell, and many others.

Shooto South America, also known as ShootoBazil is managed by founder of Nova União mixed martial arts academy, André Pederneiras.[4] Its first event was held in Rio de Janeiro in May 2002[5]

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 an eight-count to recover as well as allowing strikes to the back of the head. Shooto had argued that the potential for a knocked out (and thus unconscious) fighter to receive unnecessary 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 rule change was instituted in mid-2008. The disallowment of strikes to the back of the head was done for similar medical reasons.[1]

2016: Long-running Japanese league Shooto and sister organization Vale Tudo Japan will live-stream at least five shows on UFC Fight Pass in 2016. Broadcast schedules for both promotions were announced April 20, 2016 during a press conference in Tokyo. Shooto will make its Fight Pass debut this Saturday, April 23, when “Fight & Mosh” emanates live from Maihama Amphitheater in Urayasu, Japan. Two world titles will be on the line, with Masaaki Sugawara making the first defense of his 125-pound belt against Hiromasa Ogikubo, plus Koshi Matsumoto and Yuki Kawana vying for the vacant 155-pound mantle. Following Saturday’s card, Shooto will return with events on July 17 and Nov. 12, both set to take place at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. Vale Tudo Japan, whose bouts are contested in a cage instead of Shooto’s traditional ring, will have a pair of events streamed on Fight Pass this summer. “VTJ in Osaka” takes place June 19 at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, while “VTJ 9th” on Sept. 19 will see the organization return to its birthplace of Chiba prefecture.

Techniques and strategies[edit]

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.[1]

Fighter classes[edit]

Shooto fighters are categorized into four Classes.

  • Class-D : Amateur (2x2min, Headgear, Special point system)
  • Class-C : Amateur (2x3min, Headgear, Special point system)
  • Class-C+: Amateur (2x3min)
  • 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.

Current Shooto world champions[edit]

Men's division Upper weight limit Champion Since Title Defenses
Light Heavyweight 185 lb (83.9 kg) Afghanistan Siyar Bahadurzada July 15, 2007 2
Middleweight 170 lb (77.1 kg) Brazil Hernani Perpetuo August 25, 2013 0
Welterweight 155 lb (70.3 kg) Japan Koshi Matsumoto April 23, 2016 0
Lightweight 145 lb (65.8 kg) Japan Yutaka Saito January 11, 2016 0
Featherweight 135 lb (61.2 kg) Vacant December 2015
Bantamweight 125 lb (56.7 kg) Japan Hiromasa Ogikubo April 23, 2016 0
Flyweight 115 lb (52.2 kg) Japan Ryohei Kurosawa July 17, 2016 0

Current Shooto Pacific Rim champions[edit]

Men's division Upper weight limit Champion Since Title Defenses
Middleweight 170 lb (77.1 kg) Japan Akihiro Murayama June 11, 2011 0
Welterweight 155 lb (70.3 kg) Japan Koshi Matsumoto April 18, 2015 2
Lightweight 145 lb (65.8 kg) Japan Yutaka Saito May 3, 2015 1
Featherweight 135 lb (61.2 kg) Japan Daichi Takenaka March 21, 2016 0

Current Shooto Brazil champions[edit]

Men's division Upper weight limit Champion Since Title Defenses
Heavyweight 265 lb (120.2 kg) Brazil Caio Alencar December 21, 2014 0
Cruiserweight 205 lb (93.0 kg) Brazil Amilcar Alves August 21, 2015 0
Light Heavyweight 185 lb (83.9 kg) Vacant
Middleweight 170 lb (77.1 kg) Brazil Ismael de Jesus December 21, 2014 1
Welterweight 155 lb (70.3 kg) Brazil Ronys Torres June 23, 2013 1
Lightweight 145 lb (65.8 kg) Brazil Felipe Froes May 17, 2015 0
Featherweight 135 lb (61.2 kg) Brazil Luciano Benicio November 13, 2015 0
Bantamweight 125 lb (56.7 kg) Brazil Ronaldo Candido September 27, 2015 0
Flyweight 115 lb (52.2 kg) Brazil Yago Bryan December 21, 2014 0
Women's Featherweight 135 lb (61.2 kg) Brazil Priscila de Souza April 19, 2015 1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Breen, Jordan (2008-06-08). "Changes Come to Shooto, Fighters React". Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  2. ^ a b Breen, Jordan (2009-05-08). "A Blood Called Shooto". Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 12, 2007. Retrieved August 28, 2006. 
  4. ^ Jordy McElroy (2013-12-17). "Shooto Brazil Promoting 'First Male vs. Female Fight in MMA History'". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2016-04-12. 
  5. ^ "Shooto Americas Fights, Fight Cards, Videos, Pictures, Events and more". Retrieved 2016-04-12. 

External links[edit]