What Is Japanese Shootboxing? Beginner Guide

What Is Japanese Shootboxing? Beginner Guide

Shootboxing is a standup martial art and a combat sport. It first appeared in Japan in 1985, consisting of a combination of hitting, grappling, and standing submissions. Kicks, punches, knees, elbows, and throws are allowed, as well as standing chokes and locks to submit the opponent. It’s like a combination of kickboxing and shoot wrestling.

History Of Shootboxing

Shootboxing has two connotations. First, it refers to a combat sports promotion started by Ceasar Takeshi in Tokyo, Japan, in 1985.

Takeshi was the former “Asia Pacific Kickboxing Federation” champion and a previous top kickboxer. He began training in pro wrestling with Satoru Sayama at one point in his career. 

Sayama, on the other hand, was a well-known wrestler at the time. The two used to train together at the Super Tiger Gym.

Takeshi chose to develop his own wrestling technique after spending enough time on the mats. His first endeavor, however, was a disaster.

Despite that, he would soon come up with another brilliant concept. He invented a new combat sport that combines elements of shot wrestling and judo.

Shootboxing Rules Explained

You’re probably new to hearing shootboxing. If you are and are intrigued about the rules of this sport, let’s take a closer look.

Match Duration

In shoot boxing, the rules are quite simple and very straightforward. In the professional competitions, matches only last for 30 minutes without interruption. However, if you were to compete for an amateur event, note that competitions last 10 minutes.

Fighting Area

Shootfighting is a combat sport that takes place in a wrestling ring. Its size ranges between 18 and 22 sq ft. As for the ring platform, it is about three to four feet front he ground.

Ways to Win

The rules here are a bit like a mixed martial arts fight where elbows, kicks, and knees are allowed.

But, unlike in mixed martial arts, shootboxing allows all headshots. Yet, groin shots are not.

You can also throw strikes on the body. However, you should do it in an open palm. If you’re going for the head, you should attack with open hand slaps alone.

Takedowns and throws are permissible too. But, note that they should be done at the grappling level, just like hitting an opponent on the ground.

In case your opponent catches you in a submission hold, you can simply break it by grabbing the ring ropes However, you can do that at the cost of a third of a reversal.

This is crucial since Shootfighting only needs 5 knockdowns to lose the battle. Adding to the complexity, catching the ropes 15 times will cost you the match.

Like in boxing, a 10-second knockdown will immediately end a bout. You can also end the match by having your opponent submit. Anything that goes all the way to the end is a tie.

Only one heavyweight classification exists in professional shootfighting tournaments – 200 lbs and over. There are lighter divisions in amateur groups, though.

The International Shoot Fighting Association is in charge of establishing the rules and regulations.


There are usually three judges in shootboxing events. They sit beside the ring in Shoot Boxing competitions. They score the fight round each round using the well-known 10-point boxing scoring system.

To win, you have to receive ten points. You’ll lose if you receive lower than that. The judges add up all of the points from each round after the fight to declare a winner. There are no draws since the judges must decide who won if the fights are tied in points.

Is Shootboxing Used By MMA Fighters?

Is Shootboxing Used By MMA Fighters?

Mixed martial artists don’t use shootboxing inside the cage. However, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work in a cage fight. In fact, it is actually effective. This is because some of the standup techniques, throws, as well as standing submissions are helpful in a fight.

So, why has no mixed martial artist has used it in the cage, you say?

Apparently, shootboxing isn’t that popular in the western part of the world. Most western fighters typically train martial arts, such as Muay Thai and boxing rather than shootboxing. This is because these extreme sports are more popular.

In spite of that, you can still learn it in a few places if you’re in the United States. Fortunately, there are several gyms that offer shootboxing classes.

Is Shootboxing Used For Self-Defense?

Many combat sports are useful for self-defense. Shootboxing is one of them. Its techniques are extremely practical in case you got caught in a fight where you have to physically defend yourself. It’s a flexible method that trains you to deal with any threat, especially on the streets.

Why You Can Use Shootboxing for Self-Defense

In shoot boxing you utilize all of their limbs as weapons. You can learn how to hit from a distance and inside the clinch with kicks, punches, knees, and elbows.

The striking aspect and training approach are extremely similar to kickboxing and Muay Thai too. Plus, it incorporates the fundamentals of grappling.

This includes trips and throws, to name a few. In addition to that, it teaches you how to use chokes, joint locks, and wristlocks as standing submissions.

Street fights are frequently frantic, all over the place, and involve lots of close-range grabbing and pulling. Shoot boxing tactics suit very nicely here.

This is because you’d have a weapon to employ regardless of where the fight took place. You’d know how to deal damage with devastating elbows and knees if the battle ended up in the clinch. This is a position from which the normal person would struggle to get out.

Also, remember that the majority of average people have never grappled before. If you encounter a non-experienced opponent, their natural reaction would be to block a strike by covering their head and you can use many shootboxing techniques against them.

But then, again, shootboxing takes years to master. But, it will give you a huge advantage in a fight, especially on the street.

If the assailant grabs you or gets in your face, shoot boxing teaches you how to take them down with throws and trips, or neutralize the situation with a submit.

Shootboxing vs Shootfighting: What Are The Differences?

Shootboxing and shootfighting are often confused with each other. But, they actually have differences. To distinguish one from the other, let’s take a closer look at each of them.


Shootboxing is a Japanese martial art that was created in the 1980s. It’s a mix of techniques from kickboxing and shoot wrestling.

Here, you strike using all your limbs. But, you can also perform grappling moves and submissions while standing up. As said earlier, you can use kicks – both high and low –, punches, knees, trips, elbows, sweeps, submissions, and throws.

When it comes to the duration of the fight, at the expert level, you have five rounds. Each round is three minutes long with a one-minute break in between.

But, for amateurs, matches are only up to three rounds. Each of them lasts three minutes. In between rounds, fighters have one-minute breaks.


Shootfighting, on the other hand, didn’t appear until in the early 90s. Its foundation is from catch wrestling, jujutsu, Kenpo, and Muay Thai. Because of its foundation, it has a huge resemblance with modern mixed martial arts. It also focuses on striking, grappling, and ground fighting.

Like in shootboxing, you can also use high and low kicks, elbows, and knees. What makes it different, though, is that it uses headbutts, open hand palms, slaps, takedowns, chokes, and joint locks.

When it comes to the duration of the matches, shootfighting bouts last 30 minutes. There are neither time-outs nor rounds.

In amateur events, however, matches only take ten minutes long.

Shootboxing vs Muay Thai What Are The Differences?

Shootboxing vs Muay Thai What Are The Differences

Shootboxing is also often compared to Muay Thai. This is because both of them use limbs as weapons. What makes it different, though, is that its emphasis is on landing hard kicks from the distance instead of knocking your opponent out alone. Here’s a side-by-side comparison.

ShootboxingMuay Thai
Uses all limbs as weaponsUtilizes all limbs to strike
Utilizes kicks, punches, elbows, throws, knees, sweeps, and standing submissionsUses the same striking techniques but doesn’t allow trips and submisions
Matches are five rounds with each being three minutes long with one-minute break for experts. Amateur events only have three roundsAll matches have five rounds that are three minutes long. Each round gets two-minute breaks
Fighters use open gloves, shorts or leggings, mouthguard, and groin cupEquipment includes armbands, full padded gloves, shorts, mouthguard, and groin cup

Shootboxing vs Japanese Kickboxing What Are The Differences?

ShootboxingJapanese Kickboxing
Created in the 1980s in JapanAlso invented in Japan but in the 1950s
Utilizes a combination of grappling and strikingUses karate kicks, western punches, as well as knee and elbow strikes
Allows kicks, punches, elbows, knees, trips, throws, sweeps, submissionsOnly utilizes kicks, punches, knees, and elbows
Expert matches have five three-minute rounds while amateur events have three three-minute roundsDuration is the same with shootboxing’s expert matches

Japanese kickboxing is a combat sport that you will enjoy if you’re adept in mixed martial arts. And if you’re already knowledgeable about the former, you can easily switch to the latter too. You can also use it as self-defense. So why not sign up for a class now?

About Carla

I'm a journalist passionate about extreme sports. I love writing and reading stories about those brave people that are going beyond the limit of their physical capabilities.

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