Once again, Jordan Breen has the scoop:
In a move that will assuredly garner praise from the MMA world, the International Shooto Commission has announced that in the coming months all Shooto events worldwide will abandon two of its most contentious rules: strikes to the back of the head and the much-maligned knockdown count.
Because of Shooto's ongoing rookie tournament series already having its rules defined at the year's onset, the knockdown rule will be abolished officially on Jan. 1, 2009. However, strikes to the back of the head will be outlawed as of Sept. 1, due to a more pressing medical necessity.
According to ISC secretary general Toshiharu Suzuki, the European Shooto Commission asked the ISC in March to consider revising the two provisions, which have long been critiqued.
It's about time this rule has changed, although in a roundabout way, it's understandable Shooto would take this long to come around (the International Shooto Commission is under some spell where they almost view Shooto itself as a sport, not an organization per se).
So what's the upshot of this rule change? Perhaps you'll see a Shooto event near you. To wit:
However, the rule alterations have repercussions outside of Japan. Although Shooto has internationalized with events under the Shooto banner all over the globe, the ability for Shooto events to be held in North America has been limited by the existing restrictions of the unified rules, which make no concessions for knockdowns and explicitly prohibit strikes to the back of the head. With these reformed rules, Shooto will now have a chance to grow in North America.
While the echo chamber of the Shooto world makes change painfully slow, this most recent change is absolutely critical. Many MMA purists enjoy rule sets that vary depending on the organization's geographic location, but they should also pause before enjoying a different set of rules they clearly do not follow the advice of medical professionals in the wake of research and experience. Shots to the back of the head and the knockdown rule are vestiges of a sport that's long since evolved and don't embrace basic medical necessities. While I appreciate the differences in MMA among the nations that host the sport, there are a few rules that must be prevalent anywhere and everywhere for the safety of the fighters and continued growth of the sport.