The martial arts/sport of Shootfighting® is a recent creation. It had its genisis less than 25 years ago when a famous German wrestler taught the art of real wrestling or "shooting", to a group of top Japanese martial artist. The wrestling they learned bore only a superficial resemblance to today's professional wrestling. Two of these Japanese martial artist, Masami Soranaka, practitioner of karate,judo and sumo, and Yoshiaki Fujiwara, a muay thai kickboxing champion and judo expert, combined their knowledge of these diverse styles and created what has come to be known as UWF wrestling or the strong style. Official matches have been held for almost 10 years and the sport's popularity has grown till it is now the third most popular spectator sport in Japan behind baseball and sumo. There are currently three main organizations sanctioning matches and teaching the style. Of these the oldest and largest is the Fujiwara Gumi (family) run by founder and former champion Yoshiaki Fujiwara. The current world champion of the Fujiwara Gumi is Miami's Bart Vale, The first foreigner (American) to reach the highest levels of the sport. Vale who coined the term Shootfighting® to describe the style, combined the wrestling and muay thai techniques he learned in Japan with his experience in American karate and kickboxing to advance the sport further. He is presently attempting to promote regular matches in Florida and California.
Currently proffesional Shootfighting® consists only of a heavyweight (200 lbs 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. Additionlly, 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. grab the ropes 15 times and you lose. Bouts that go to the full time limit are declared a draw.
American martial arts legends like Bill Wallace and Joe Lewis have called Shootfighting® the ultimate fighting for self-defense. To develop the stamina and toughness necessary to compete in such a grueling sport, professionals train in Japan up to 14 hours a day. The training consists of several hours of each exercise, bag work, wrestling and kickboxing. Some of the world's top athletes, includung former kickboxing champions and olympic wrestlers, now compete in Shootfighting®. Techniques are drawn from all the various martial arts mentioned and favor no one style. However, the top fighters are usually the most versatile, able to kick, punch or wrestle as the situation calls for. Most martial artists are drawn to Shootfighting® to learn the unique form of grappling often neglected in other systems. Takedowns combine judo with other wrestling throws. The ground work uses a variety of joint locks against all parts of the body. Most of these techniques use the entire body weight against an individual joint and devastatingly effective regardless of size. Other basic martial arts principles, such as using an opponents weight and momentum against him, also play a big part in wrestling.
Those interested in learning more about Shootfighting®, whether for self-defense or competition are encouraged to contact Bart Vale at the International Shootfighting® Association (ISFA) Headquarters located at 10162 NW 50th St, Sunrise, Florida 33351 Phone: (954) 746-0202