the martial arts in Japan. Though it is called Shooting
in Japan, it could be easily misunderstood as a competition
of guns in other countries. Shooto was started 15 years
ago by Satoru Sayama who was previously a super star in Japanese
professional wrestling. The reason behind Sayama's Shooto
was that he wanted to create the strongest martial arts in
the world and promote it in the sport of real fighting. Shooto
had the term of Amateur status for 5 years and then began professional
fight cards about 9 years ago. Shooto has all the techniques
of striking, throwing and grappling; hence, the characteristics
of Shooto. Shooto has been regarded as one of the highest
level of "total fights" in Japan and also held the "Vale
Tudo Japan Open" in the summer of 1994 to challenge Rickson
Gracie - the strongest fighter and representative of the Gracie
Jiu-jitsu clan. Before fighting with Rickson, Japanese
fighters had been defeated by fighters from Europe and the
USA by punches to the face while at the ground position (bottom
position) - this was their first experience. Sayama realized
the importance of the positioning and reformed Shooto rules
introducing punches to the face which had been previously forbidden
at the ground position. The Shooto style with the new rule
which permitted punches to the face was established proceeding
the Vale Tudo Japan Open 1995 - when Shooto fighter Yuki Nakai
defeated Gerard Gordeau from the Netherlands. Shooto
is "total fighting" composed of the four elements
of martial arts: striking, throwing, submission, and positioning. A
talented Shooto welterweight fighter, Rumina Sato defeated
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt, Ricardo Botelho in January
1997 by heel hook, defeated famous American wrestler, Alan
Fried by arm bar in August 1997, and defeated American fighter
John Lewis (BJJ) in the '97 Vale Tudo Japan . Shooto fighter
Enson Inoue (Machado JJ) also defeated Royce Alger in the May
'97 UFC and more recently won over team RAW's Randy Couture
in '98's V.T.J. Some other good Shooto fighters would
include the likes of Noboru Asahi and Hayato Sakurai.
separate powers found in the world of Shooto are: the Shooto
Commission, the Shooto Association and the Shooto promoting
company/World Shooto, Inc. (founded in 1996). Starting
in 1999, events will be promoted by Shooto gyms, who are licensed
by the Shooto Commission to promote official Shooto events. Events
at the Korakuen Hall - capacity 2,200 - are mainly organized
by STG Omiya. The other smaller events will be held at
the Kitazawa Town Hall - organized by Kiguchi dojo (Guts Man
Promotion ) and K'z Factory. World Shooto, Inc. supports
all the Shooto events. Shooto is a recognized name in
martial arts but is not an event - like the UFC - or an organization
like Pancrase. Shooto has nine gym branches, 13 authorized
clubs in Japan, USA Shooto in Los Angeles, and gyms such as
AUS Shooto in Australia. The amateur Shooto (Shooto Class
C) competitions are held by each gyms and an annual "All
Japan Amateur" Shooto tournament is held by the Shooto
Association. In the professional circuit, there are two
classes. Class A fights are three 5 minute rounds and
Class B fights are two 5 minute rounds. The World Shooto,
Inc. presently is networked overseas and establishing good
relationships with the USWF - Unified Shoot Wrestling Federation
(Amarillo, Texas), UFCF - AMC Pancration of United Full Contact
Federation (Seattle, Washington), Mark Coleman's Hammer House,
RAW team (led by the Chiapparelli brothers), Charles Anzalone
Freestyle Promotions, Extreme Sports Production (Honolulu,
Hawaii), JAB fighting Enterprise (Brazil), Red Devil Mix Fight
Promotion (Russia), Samurai Club Survival Jiu-jitsu (Canada),
Greek Pancrase (France), International Mix Fight Association
(Netherlands), and Branco Cikatic's Tiger Gym (Croatia).
*taken from Manabu Takashima, ADCC Japan (some basic proofreading and
grammatical corrections down by the NSC Media webmaster)
might be the most all round martial art the world has ever seen.
The best styles of the world have contributed with their specialties.
Stand up fight from muay thai, clinch and take downs from judo
and Wrestling and from sambo and ju-jutsu the ground fight. Stand
up fight and ground fight is equally emphasized. There is always
something new to learn as a result of the versatility. Since
you can specialize on the training that suits you, it never becomes
Jiu-Jitsu, among other styles, has during the recent years showed
the importance of well working skills in grappling. However,
the stand up fight can not be left in the background. Shootfighting
is the style that combines stand up fight, clinch and ground
fight the best. It has become a success. Fighters who train according
to the shootfighting concept dominates within the NHB. Here you
can find fighters as Bas Rutten, Frank Shamrock, Randy Couture,
Maurice Smith and others.
was created when a German wrestler, Karl Gotch, was teaching "real
Wrestling" or "shooting" to a group of Japanese
elite fighters. Two of the fighters, Masami Soronaka (karate,
judo and sumo) and Yoshiaki Fujiwara (muay thai/kickboxing and
judo) created what was called UWF or "hard style" in
Japan. Fights have been arranged during more than 10 years.
took the style to the west. He was the first champion who was
not Japanese. Bart was also the person who came up with the term
became well-known all over the world through UFC and other NHB
arrangements. It is the third most popular "audience sport" in
Japan and is continuing to grow fast.
It is important
to emphasize that Shootfighting unlike UFC etc. is a sport with
certain limits. This is to protect the fighters and improve the
quality of the techniques.
by Paul Herzog
of current shoot-style wrestling can arguably be traced back
to April 10, 1984, when a group of professional wrestlers, led
by Akira Maeda, formed the Japanese group UWF. A couple of months
after that, Satoru Sayama, who had already gained an immense
success as the original Tiger Mask in New Japan Pro Wrestling,
and Kazuo Yamazaki joined UWF. With the later arrival Yoshiaki
Fujiwara and Nobuhiko Takada, the group moved from professional
wrestling into a stiffer, stronger style. The outcomes of the
matches were predetermined, but the bruises and submissions were
By the end
of 1985, the original UWF had broken up. On September 2nd of
that year, Akira Maeda had a match with Satoru Sayama that went
horribly wrong. Maeda threw several intentional kicks to Sayama's
groin, and the match went from shoot-style to a true shoot, with
the two men trying to kill each other. Maeda was fired from UWF.
The UWF had their last show nine days later, at fabled Korakuen
Hall. Many of the wrestlers were unhappy under the selfish leadership
of Sayama, but didn't have the organization to keep the promotion
alive when Sayama left on October 11, 1985. Many of these shoot-style
wrestlers, including Fujiwara, Maeda, Takada, and Yamazaki, went
back to their roots in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
incarnation of UWF started on November 27, 1987, when Akira Maeda
(once again) intentionally kicked wrestler Riki Choshu in the
face, breaking three bones. Maeda was suspended, and then fired
in March of 1988. In April, Maeda, Takada, Yamazaki and others
formed the new UWF. The group began to thrive with the addition
of wrestlers Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki in April of 1989.
The UWF's peak came with their show "Atlantis" at Tokyo
Dome on October 25, 1990, a show that pitted Akira Maeda v. Masakatsu
Funaki, Nobuhiko Takada v. Yoshiaki Fujiwara, and featured wrestlers
Yoji Anjoh, Naoki Sano, and American Wayne Shamrock. On December
1st, 1990, UWF president Shinji Jin fired all of the wrestlers
after a show in Nagano, Japan, and disbanded the promotion.
4, 1991, Yoshiaki Fujiwara formed Professional Wrestling Fujiwaragumi
(PWFG) with Funaki, Suzuki, Yusuke Fuke and American Bart Vale.
Shortly after that, the other two major names in Japanese shoot-style
wrestling formed their own promotions. Nobuhiko Takada formed
the Union of Wrestling Forces International (UWFI), using most
of the leftover UWF talent. Akira Maeda created RINGS, using
a lot of sambo players and kickboxers from Europe. The two Americans
made important moves in 1992. One, Bart Vale captured the PWFG
title, a title he would hold for the better part of three years.
Wayne Shamrock left UWFI to join PWFG in 1992 as well, uniting
with Funaki, Suzuki, and Yusuke Fuke.
men left PWFG and formed Pancrase. Led by Masakatsu Funaki, they
were looking to establish a wrestling organization that had no
predetermined outcomes, the first of its kind since the early
days of pro wrestling in the U.S. Pancrase had their first show
on September 21, 1993, and became a big success, culminating
so far in their first U.S. PPV in April of 1996. With Shamrock
becoming a star through his involvement in the Ultimate Fighting
Championships, Pancrase has developed a lot of momentum for the
four of their major stars, PWFG started having fewer and fewer
shows. Yoshiaki Fujiwara went back and appeared on professional
wrestling shows for New Japan, in order to help finance PWFG.
They had their "official" final show on November 19,
1995. Bart Vale has had successes with his "Shootfighting" organization
apart from PWFG, and continued establishing his style with a
good performance at the World Combat Championship PPV.
UWFI is enjoying a strong resurgence after nearly going out of
business early in 1995. They have combined with New Japan Pro
Wrestling, putting on several joint shows, including one in front
of a record 67,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome. Nobuhiko Takada won
the IWGP title, the top belt in the New Japan promotion, and
helped save UWFI, but in the view of some fans, compromising
the UWFI style.
burgeoning success of Pancrase and UWFI, the RINGS promotion
has had a tough time in the past couple of years creating its
own niche in the shoot-style market. Akira Maeda is still the
icon of the promotion, but none of the Europeans brought in have
been fully embraced by the Japanese fans. It will be difficult
for them to return to prominence without a new, preferably young,
established shoot-style promotions in Japan, plus Sayama's "Shooto",
Fujiwara's new "BattleArts", Submission Arts Wrestling,
coverage of the Ultimate Fighting Championships and others, shoot
appears to now be firmly entrenched as a true sport in Japan.
Next stop: the United States.
THE AUTHOR: Paul Herzog has been a fan of professional wrestling,
boxing, and the martial arts for nearly 20 years. He is approaching
blue-belt status with Carlos Machado Jiu-Jitsu in Dallas, Texas.
Paul covers Texas wrestling and shoot events worldwide for
the Wrestling Lariat, a newsletter encompassing the world of
professional wrestling. He would like to thank Hisaharu Tanabe
for providing a great deal of the information given above.
Check out the Great Hisa's Puroresu Page at http://www.albany.net/~hit/puroresu/.