Due to the vast quantity of combative techniques involved in Shoot Wrestling, Shooters must have a comprehensive knowledge of several different martial arts styles and ranges. The punching and kicking ranges are primarily cultivated through modified Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) training methods. The Muay Thai training methods are modified in order to compensate for the grappling and throwing involved in Shooto match. The majority of throwing, grappling, and wrestling techniques in Shooto are incorporated from English Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling, Russian Sambo, and Japanese Judo.
The founder of Shoot Wrestling is Satoru Sayama. Satoru was a famous professional wrestling champion in Japan prior to organizing Shooto as a professional sport. He studied and trained in Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling under the great Karl Gotch, a German who is famous for applying over one-thousand submission techniques. Satoru learned Russian Sambo under the first Sambist from Japan, Victor Koga, who happens to be Japanese and Russian. Under Toshio Fujiwara, Satoru developed his Muay Thai kickboxing skills. Toshio is the only former Muay Thai champion from Japan and the first non-Thai champion.
Karl Gotch, Victor Koga and Toshio Fujiwara
As a teenager Satoru had visions of creating a "totally combative sport martial art." His concept was to employ all martial arts applications with all ranges into one style. Although Satoru's first sport was Judo, a grappling art, he understood the various ranges of physical contact in the martial arts.
According to Satoru, a totally combative sport martial art should begin at long range, utilizing kicking, punching, kneeing, evasion and footwork. The competitors should then be allowed to throw or tackle one another to the mat. Once upon the ground, competitors should engage in ground fighting and submission locking. This is the most natural way to end a fight. Of course, other options exist, such as a knock-out following a strike.
In 1983, while still one of the most popular wrestlers in Japan, Satoru retired form the professional wrestling circuit to develop the realistic fighting skills used in Shooto. In 1984 he opened the Tiger Gym, which is now known as the Super Tiger Gym. Super Tiger is the name Satoru used as a professional wrestler. Since its grand opening, thousands of students have trained at the Super Tiger Gym.
The training is physically demanding and requires students to progress through several levels in order to earn their professional status. After beginning students acquire a basic understanding of Shooto's various ranges, they are promoted to advanced students. Advanced students are required to pass a test before progressing to the level of Pre-shooter, which is the level of competence required for amateur competition in Shoot Wrestling tournaments.
Professional Shoot Wrestlers are known as Shooters. Shooters are personally selected and tested by Satoru in the areas of mental and physical Shoot Wrestling competence, integrity, character and morals. All Shooters are certified instructors or coaches. An A-Kyu Shooter is one who has exceptional teaching ability which is recognized and certified by Satoru Sayama.
The USA Shooto Association was founded by Yorinaga Nakamura in 1992 and has trained several professional fighters including Erik Paulson, Ron Balicki, Michael McAuliffe and Chad Stahelski.