Shootfighting was previously used synonymously with mixed martial arts competitions in Japan, as opposed to shoot-style professional wrestling competitions. The term is now technically retired because it became a registered trademark to Bart Vale who uses it to describe his hybrid fighting system derived from shoot wrestling, but it is still sometimes used colloquially. Examples which were shootfighting styles, tournaments or organizations are Pancrase, Shoot boxing and Shooto, where many fighters considered themselves to be shootfighters.
Currently, shootfighting is a combat sport and martial art, with competitions governed by the International Shootfighting Association (ISFA). Shootfighting incorporates techniques from a multitude of traditional martial arts, the most principle of these being Muay Thai and Catch Wrestling.
History of shootfighting
Shootfighting as a synonym for mixed martial arts, had its genesis 1970's, when Karl Gotch taught a group of Japanese professional wrestlers catch wrestling techniques, called "hooking" or "shooting". In 1976, one of these pro-wrestlers, Antonio Inoki, hosted a series of mixed martial arts matches. This led to an increased interest in real and effective technique, and eventually led to the creation of shoot wrestling, with some shoot-style professional wrestling organizations hosting legitimate mixed martial arts bouts, called "shoots". In the 1990's the interest grew, and certain shoot-style organizations like Pancrase evolved into pure "shoot" organizations. The term "shootfighting" was frequently used to describe these events and styles.
Shootfighters like Ken Shamrock are amongst the most recognizable figures in mixed martial arts
The word "shootfighting" was however coined by Bart Vale, an American with a background in wrestling. He was the Japanese Professional Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi (PWFG, a Japanese shoot-style professional wrestling organization) champion for close to three years. Upon moving back to America, Bart Vale used the term "shootfighting" to describe his own hybrid fighting system, which was a combination of the shoot wrestling techniques he had learned in Japan, and his experience in American karate and kickboxing. He also founded the International Shootfighting Association to promote shootfighting as a combat sport.
- (Extract from the ISFA homepages')
Currently professional shootfighting matches consists only of a heavyweight (200 lb or more) division. But there are lighter divisions for amateur competitors. Pro matches run 30 minutes non-stop, amateurs 10 minutes. Held inside a standard wrestling ring, competitors are allowed to kick, knee or elbow any part of the body except the groin, as well as headbutt. Punches are allowed to the body. Since no gloves are worn to facilitate wrestling, punches are not allowed to the head through open hand palms, but slaps and punches are allowed. Any type of throw or takedown is legal and competitors are allowed to hit a downed opponent. Additionally, any type of joint lock is legal as are chokes against the side of the neck. The only foul consists of punches to the face, eye-gouges, techniques against the windpipe and groin strikes.
Fights are won when a competitor is knocked down for a ten-count, knocked down five times or forced to submit. A fighter caught in a submission hold may grab the ropes to break the hold, but this counts as a 1/3 of a knock down. Grabbing the ropes 15 times equals a loss. Bouts that go to the full time limit are declared a draw.