Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol 1

Attention! The hits just keep on coming over at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad. Our 2nd installment of The Footfighting Chronicles continues, this time with a rare event from March of 1992. We will see Peter Aerts continue his reign of terror, as he faces Darius Alibec, Frank Lobman wind his legendary career down with another win, and two great matches featuring Pethe Wattaya vs. Bolem Belaini & Habib Bensalah vs. Antoine Druif, respectively.

Snapshot circa 1986 of the Maeng Ho Gym at the Speelhuislaan, Breda, The Netherlands. Notice a young Bas Rutten, Orlando Weit, and Ramon Dekkers in this photo. This Gym is one of several that will have fighters competing for this event. (Photo Credit to Bas Boon)

Kakutogi Road Presents: Sayama’s Corner "The Story of Shooto Vol.1"

Recently, we at Kakutogi HQ were able to get a mother-lode of rare materials, some of which include several of the book/magazines that Satoru Sayama put forth in the 80s where he introduced his new sport of “Shooting” to the world at large. The first was a publication put forth in 1986 (!) where he introduces his new sport, in addition to covering his fighting system and philosophies in great detail. It’s fair to say that this was a comprehensive manual about MMA, 7 years before the UFC was even invented. No, it didn’t have the position-over-submission approach of BJJ, but it did cover fighting in all of its ranges, from what could be arguably the first modern/complete perspective that we now take for granted. Sayama studied whatever he could, I.E. sambo, judo, kickboxing, wrestling, karate, etc. and put everything he knew into a comprehensive curriculum and made a sport around it.

Up till this point, this has never been professionally translated (that we are aware of) so I hope to include the pages of these tomes, translated into English, which should prove once and for all that MMA was not invented by Zuffa, and had a well-rounded comprehensive approach taken to it, far before the current American narrative of taking place somewhere in the mid-'00s.

I was orginally planning on including all of this to the general public, but since we don’t half-ass things over at the Kakutogi Road, we not only hired a professional Japanese translator, but one that is well versed in early MMA history, which I can assure all of you, is not an easy task. Because of the cost of doing this, I will likely include the first couple of chapters for free, but then keep the rest over at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad where those that wish to be part of an unprecedented undertaking in locating and preserving MMA history, can show their support.

So without further ado, here is but a few pages, and if all goes according to plan I’ll be able to keep adding to this every week or so.

Special thanks to Hebisasori for his efforts in translating this great piece of history.

Satoru Sayama’s Introduction to Shooting {Publisher: Kodansha)

The 1st Shooting tournament opening ceremony.

Reversing a neck throw with a back throw.

Leading figure in sambo [in Japan], Victor Koga gives a speech of encouragement.

Exciting fighting continued one match after another!

Sayama’s Corner “The Story of Shooto Vol.1” (Continued…)

The chance for KO! Circle around him.

It’s only been a few months of training in joint submissions. They end up relying necessarily on the sleeper hold. But they are not slack in their method of striking.

Previous Page Translated


The time has finally come to bring to the world an introductory text of this comprehensive martial art, shooting, that had been my longtime dream, and which involves “striking,” “throwing,” and “submitting.”

I organized this book to take the form of a “technical manual” on the basis of my theory that “Winning or losing in martial arts is based on technique! One cannot become strong without learning the technique.”

One observes with the eyes, learns with the mind, and practices with the body the theory of techniques. In order to learn techniques with the body, one must be endowed with the physical strength that can endure it.

In shooting, we compare technique, that is the technical knowhow, to the software; and we compare the body that embodies that, that is, the physical strength, to the hardware; and we follow a training method that mixes both the soft and the hard with balance.

(soft {technique}  hard {physical strength} = shooting

I established the martial art [combat sport] of shooting as a sport in which win, or loss is clear. This is because I think of martial arts [combat sports] as something that essentially should be refreshing. Shooting is a sport in which one competes the results of training to one’s heart’s content within the bounds of set rules, order, and courtesy.

But shooting is something born out of my own martial art experience and does not have a history or tradition like other martial arts [combat sports]. But I think if you read this book you will sufficiently understand that the techniques of shooting contain the essence of every martial art.

Those who are about to start training in shooting will thus bear the role the top runner who simultaneously builds the history and the future of shooting that had just been born.

I intend to endeavor, from here on, to spread shooting and improve its techniques, so that the beauty of combat sports can be understood not only through Japan but throughout the world.

Mid-summer 1986, Satoru Sayama

Previous Page Translated

What’s the shooting?

[photo captions]





American-style full contact karate





Previous Page Translated

Birth of the unknown martial art [combat sport] shooting:

Shooting…. a word many are unfamiliar with.

Satoru Sayama… a name some may have heard of before.

Prowrestling fans would know of these two. And yet surprisingly most are unfamiliar with “the true meaning of shooting” and “what Satoru Sayama is aiming for.”

After all, Sayama, way back when, was a young man who had become the superhero Tiger Mask. During his period as Tiger Mask, much of his freedom was under bondage.

He was forbidden to assert himself and to show his real face. This was the tragedy caused by him becoming a popular hero.

But the young man nevertheless sought his freedom. He had suddenly of his own will taken off his mask. This was the start of Satoru Sayama’s long and persevering struggle.

This was his parting from prowrestling and his aspiration for shooting that is to replace it. The fans who were shown his real face as he took his mask off were disappointed.

For their dream of Tiger Mask was destroyed. But they did not try to understand why Sayama had thrown away the golden mask.

But that was not unreasonable since Tiger Mask had provided them with such amazing dreams and excitement. They could not afford to pay attention to shooting.

In other words, there was a huge difference between what the young man, who had sought freedom within the mask, really wanted to do, and the dream the fans staked on that mask.

Sayama’s toughness is in the fact that he had thrown away his framework while conscious of this discrepancy. He proclaimed this unknown martial art [combat sport] shooting while desperately erasing the popularity and glory of the mask.

For Sayama himself his “existence became a self-contradiction.” Malicious people gossiped, “how can he do that when it was due to Tiger Mask that he achieved his current status?…”

The only way to get rid of this heavy cross would be to make the world understand that shooting is more excellent than Tiger Mask. In this way shooting sent out a challenge to the popularity of the false image of Tiger Mask.

Shooting was born of this struggle to erase his past self. In any case, who could easily throw away such a “money-making tree” like Tiger Mask?

Without comprehending this point we will not be able to understand the man who is Satoru Sayama. In Sayama’s heart, shooting was something many times heavier than Tiger Mask.

This is just the beginning. There is 195 pages in this volume. As I’ve gone through more of the book, it would appear that he envisioned Shooto to be a bit different then what it wound up becoming. It was supposed to have a giant octagon ring, way before the first UFC (although it wasn’t a cage) and everyone had to wear masks straight out of an Italian post-apocalyptic film. Also, it would seem that he originally wanted only palm strikes to the face, but this all changed quickly. By 1989 he regulated the masks to “Armature Shooto” and even back in 88’ normal punches to the face were allowed. So, from 86-88 it went through some changes, the masks were dropped in 89 (AFAIK) and punches to the face of a grounded opponent started in 94. (Before 94 kicks, knees, and punches were allowed to a grounded opponent’s body, but not the face.)


Awesome stuff… please don’t abandon this forum, although I can totally understand if you did…


This is Thom Harincks, the founder of chakuriki gym, recollection of the 1981 Chris Dolman birthday party pankration. Taken from harinck’s autobiography


Chris Dolman wanted to organise an event with no-holds barred fighting that mirrored the ancient Pankration of Ancient Greece. It was held in Amsterdam’s pop temple Paradiso. Chris organised it together with a journalist whose name was Ton van Dijk. Chris asked me if I had some participants, and of course I had. I came with four guys and one girl.
The girl was Saskia van Rijswijk. She didn’t have to fight, because her opponent didn’t show up. The guys included Coban and Muzaffer Yamali. All my boys won their matches by way of knockout. There were wrestlers, participants from a kyokushinkai gym and an individual entry who totally got his butt kicked.
The event was very crowded and Paradiso was completely full, but there were still between 300 and 400 people standing outside and they had to be sent home. This crowd of people were milling around in front of the building and even preventing the trams from passing.
Me and Chris Dolman refereed the matches. They also did some strong man stuff like tearing up telephone books. The fighting matches were a bit like MMA nowadays but in a very raw form. Head butts and biting were prohibited. Knees and elbows were our best weapons. They didn’t fight on time, there was no time limit. You fought until there was a winner.
Most of the fights ended very quickly though. There were no skirmishes in the hall fortunately, and all the fights took place in the ring. Later there were problems with the police who were not amused. This was the first and only event of its kind ever to be held in Paradiso. "

That’s an awesome find! I recently reached out to the winner of the tournament. Geurt Roos, for a possible interview but he hasn’t responded, as of yet. I have a possible phone number for him, so once I figure out international calling procedures, I might try and get ahold of him that way. lol

he also calls the 1988 match between lieveld and hamaker as the first “professional” mixed match in the netherlands

no shit

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A Public Service Announcement:

In the days to come, we at Kakutogi HQ will punctuate our normal columns with a “Best-of” overview of the UWF from 1984-1990. For example, after Vol.37, we will present the “UWF 1984 Year in Review” then Vol.38, “UWF 85” etc.

We feel that this will give ourselves, (who don’t remember all the details from that era) more context, and hopefully will do the same for you, our readers. With this improved grasp of the players involved, hopefully it will answer some questions that everyone will have going forward.

Stay tuned.

Kakutogi Road Presents: Sayama’s Corner "The Story of Shooto Vol.2"

Note: This is a continuation of where we left of last week, as we continue to rappel the depths of all shoot-mysteries. In this case, as we forge ahead with our translation of “Shooting: The Technical Shooting Fight” from 1986. If you appreciate what we are doing, then please consider becoming a member of our Patreon, over at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad

Previous page translated (continued)

A Pure martial art [combat sport]: That is what shooting is:

Sayama aimed for a “complete martial art” during the period when he was a prowrestler.

There was the claim in prowrestling that “it is the culmination of every combat sport [martial art] of the world,” and Satoru Sayama the prowrestler agreed with this idea.

The one who had aspired to be a wrestler with the idea of “becoming strong,” became obsessed with martial arts.

Sayama, who above all intended a pure martial art, began using the word “shoot” from this period.

Shoot in English spelling is SHOOT . Translated into Japanese it means to “shoot [an arrow],” “shoot [a gun],” “fire.”

Eventually he began calling this technical shooting fight or shooting .

SHOOTING … in a dictionary of English, it is defined as “discharge,” “firing,” “hunting rifle.”

At the gym, young women and boys also train alongside strong bodied youth

Previous page translated:

The elements of every martial art [combat sport] is here

During the period when Sayama joined the New Japan Prowrestling dojo, he placed on the wall of his dorm room in the training camp a note paper on which he wrote, “Combat begins with striking and kicking, then throwing, and ends by submitting the enemy,” and he would read it every day, when waking up in the morning and before going to sleep.

Even while spending every day wrestling after diving into the world of prowrestling, he already felt the necessity of striking.

The content of this note paper was something that indeed expresses in an easy to understand manner the world of “striking, throwing, submitting” that became the genuine motto of shooting.

Striking means kicks and punches, throwing means throwing techniques, and submitting means joint locks. Strictly speaking “striking, throwing, submitting” can be “striking, kicking, throwing, submitting.”

When comparing shooting with other combat sports [martial arts], we can see its characteristic in a glance. Boxing involves striking but no kicking, throwing, or submitting.

Kickboxing has striking and kicking but no throwing or submitting. Judo and sambo, as jacket combat sports, in turn have throwing and submitting but no striking or kicking.

And karate, which is also a gi -wearing combat sport, in contrast to judo and sambo, have striking and kicking but no throwing or submitting. In other words, shooting is a mixed martial art that includes all the elements of various martial arts [combat sports].

It involves the two worlds of stand-up techniques and ground techniques. Stand-up techniques involve fighting from a distance and ground techniques involve fighting in close contact with the opponent.

In boxing or kickboxing, the match cannot proceed when the fighters remain stuck to each other [as in a clinch]. These are sports in which the fighting must proceed strictly from a distance.

In the same way that learning, even within the same field, became finely specialized, combat sports [martial arts] also became specialized, for example, fighting with only punches.

In such times, shooting, without any delay, is striving to establish its aim in the direction of being comprehensive [synthesis] and to plump a new potential for combat sports [marial arts].

Furthermore its techniques involve fighting by aiming to replicate the best techniques of boxing, kickboxing, judo, sambo, and wrestling and mixing them.

And that’s the entirety of the new combat sport born in the last half of the 20th century, or more precisely the mid-1980s, called shooting. If you think about it, shooting is the most natural combat sport.


Previous page translated:

Martial arts [combat sport] is anthropology [study of man]

Every part of the human body can be weapon. In turn weak points are scattered throughout the body. Martial arts [combat sport] involves their offense and defense.

In boxing, the only weapon is punching. Certainly the punch of a heavy weight boxer may be able to easily kill a man. We can regard it a deadly weapon. But in boxing only punches are allowed.

Should not combat be freer? That was how Sayama thought. In response to the opponent’s punches, why not respond with kicks? That would be more natural for a martial art [combat sport].

Will it be a punch? A kick? Or a tackle? One must read the opponent’s moves in an instant.

A rolling savate kick [spinning back kick] that saved the day showers the face. It would be perfect if he hit him a little more deeply.

Previous page (s) translated:

Mixed [comprehensive] combat can involve the world of offense and defense in stand-up techniques and settling the fight from a distance. On the other hand it can also involve the offense and defense of ground techniques and settling the fight in close bodily contact.

Compared to boxing or judo, matches in shooting are not simple. The matches become more complex as the technical level improves.

For the spectator it would have to be a sport that’s difficult to understand. Shooting is a combat sport that Satoru Sayama, the founder, was fascinated with even to the extent of throwing away the glory of Tiger Mask.

Only through experiencing it by practicing it, rather than as something to look at, can it have meaning. Only by experiencing it can one understand its value.

In any case, mastering kicks, punches, throws, and submissions require immense time and effort. Any combat sport [martial art] requires the time for repeated practice and research. But because shooting is a combat that synthesizes them, it requires many times more of the energy.

For those who train in shooting, the joy of investigation is its greatest attraction.

Martial arts [combat sports] is essentially something that appeals to the instincts of man. Fighting has been one of the most intimate passions for the human race. No matter how far the human race develops its civilization, the will and passion for fighting remains in the genes of man.

As long as it remains, man is tempted to fight. No one can control this passion. If it goes in the wrong direction it can lead to violence or murder.

To manage this instinct for fighting in different ways, man has repeatedly struggled with his genes. Up to now many martial arts [combat sports] have been born on this earth.

They were born in the form of sublimating the fighting instinct into a sport or in the form of a martial art itself. But no one has skillfully controlled the genes of this fighting instinct. Shooting, as conceived by Sayama, is a martial art that holds the potential for this.

This is because it includes many aspects freer than any combat sport and win or loss depends on their application. As the fighting changes successively from stand-up to ground, kicking to submission, its freedom is closest to the instinct of combat sports.

Moreover its safety measures, such as the shooting shoes, shin protectors, head and face protectors, and so on, are unsurpassed. It checks in advance the potential dangers.

At a glance it may look as if these protectors are denying the whole point of fighting, but that is not the case. To the extent that human beings are fighting, there are vital points in the body as parts that must not be attacked. Shooting is a fighting competition founded on this acknowledgment.

Seeking the possibility of fighting without limit and to the utmost point: Shooting, as conceived by Satoru Sayama, was born of the consumption of the passion and talent taken as far as possible in those two directions.

“In fighting we come to know our humanity. Or rather, combat sport is anthropology [the study of man]. But if it was only about beating up someone, I probably wouldn’t have felt like staking my whole life on shooting” (Satoru Sayama).

By hooking his opponent’s right wrist with his right hand, he tries a cross arm hold. By learning to squeeze the knees, this technique can be mastered.

I always wanted one of those shooto masks to wear whenever the jehovah’s witness came around. They’d think watchtower when they beheld me shirtless wearing the mask, speedos and shin-instep pads over wrestling shoes whilst making unintelligible growling noises . I reckon they’d head for the timber like their heels was on fire and ass catching.

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It’s amazing… these last two pages have done more to dispel a lot of current mma myths then any number of documentaries could.

If this project accomplishes nothing else, then I hope it cements Sayama as the true Godfather of MMA. Here was someone that was thinking, training, and writing on a realm that was 15 years ahead of most of the world.

Oh yeah, it’s interesting that he calls it MMA. That predates every other claimant

I think I’ve heard John Perretti, Big John McCarthy, and maybe even Tank Abbott make that claim? I have no doubt there are several others.

Michael- good point. The Gracies and other Brazilians were doing Vale Tudo, but most of that was still BJJ or a striking style I think (mainly art vs art). There was the Luta Livre, but I don’t remember when they started (1970’s maybe?)

Karl was teaching wrestling mixed with submissions, but not striking.

From what i recall, Jeff Blatnick had been the titleholder in regard to the term as he had used it on pre-1993’ UWFI PPV’s. Sayama may have been using the term as early as 84’.

This is a Tigermask instructional along with some early shooto match highlights, i uploaded this for my monstrous thread some time ago. Sayama’s Way Of Shooting, Circa 1990.

I may have already posted it here. As my brain continues it’s descent into the dust from which it came, i can’t keep track of what i’ve done or haven’t done. :sleepy:

It’s funny, the other night I was watching the “Final Inoki Tournament” from NJPW. It was the event where Antonio Inoki defeated Don Frye and then had a retirement ceremony, and Jeff Blatnick, Eric Bischoff, Muhammad Ali, Satoru Sayama, and Akira Maeda were some of the people present in the ring during the proceedings.

For what it’s worth, Don Frye had a wonderful heel persona, but was a terrible shootstyle worker. Brian Johnston had some matches too, and he wasn’t any better.

Yes, most MMA folk tend to be very American-centric in their thinking. Obviously, Brazil is incredibly important to where MMA is now, especially in the United States, but all those Vale Tudo matches in the decades before the 90s were not MMA, at least in the modern sense and spirit of the word. They were style vs style matches, oftentimes an excuse for Jiu-Jitsu guys to squash inferior opponents. Of course, there were BJJ guys even then that cross-trained and wanted to be more well-rounded, but they weren’t approaching this as a sport that required a need to be well-versed in all ranges of combat (with a special emphasis on physical conditioning). Sayama’s approach to this was far, far ahead of his time.