Keeping Catch Wrestling Alive

Our journey in the Martial Arts has taken many twists and turns over the years. Coach Kiser and I have had many wonderful adventures and met many incredible instructors, but few have made as much of an impression as Coach Billy Robinson of Catch As Catch Can.

We shared our experience with you, the very first time we met Coach Robinson and Coach Shannon, when they visited our old school in Bountiful, Utah. It’s been a few years since that time, and our respect for these two and what they’ve set out to do has only grown.

You see, Catch Wrestlers are somewhat of a dying breed. Catch Wrestling as an art can be considered, in my humble opinion, as one of Martial Arts Endangered Species.

How did this happen? How could such a formidable art with so much to offer dwindle into a handful of practitioners and even fewer trainers to ensure the survival of the species?

I’m not even going to pretend to know. Perhaps it first began as a business decision as proposed in “The Unreal Story of Professional Wrestling“. Perhaps it has to do with modern conveniences and distractions such as the Wii, Playstation, XBox, and Girls as Coach Robinson once relayed it to me. “Back in our day, we had none of these, it was Wrestling, Boxing, or sitting at home alone.”

Maybe it has to do with the brutal nature of Catch and the feminization of modern human males, who’ve embraced the Metrosexual movement over getting their faces cranked and their shins splintered.

Or maybe the art has suffered due to the lack of an organized governing body to ensure standards and accredit coaches/instructors.

I empathize with this last assertion as I feel that arts such as Muay Thai have suffered from some of the same maladies as Catch.

The lack of a formal ranking and hierarchical structure has made it exceedingly difficult for the layman to know where to go for legitimate instruction.

By contrast, arts such as Judo or Brazilian Jiu-jitsu have flourished under their organization and structure. When looking for an instructor, the first question usually asked is, whether or not the instructor is a “Black Belt”. The Judo and Jiu-jitsu communities are usually tight knit enough that claims by instructors regarding their ranking can be corroborated with relative quickness and ease.

Begin a search for a legitimate striking instructor or in this case a Coach of Catch As Catch Can and what basis do you have to judge your prospective instructor’s ability? This is one of the many reasons why pioneers such as Ajarn Surachai “Chai” Sirisute, Coach Billy Robinson and Coach Jake Shannon are so important to the arts of Muay Thai and Catch As Catch Can respectively.

These forefathers have begun the gargantuan task of establishing organization, structure and an accrediting body to their arts. Under that guidance of Ajarn Chai, the Thai Boxing Association of the USA has taken root and is thriving. I know personally of the high level of skill and the consistent level of quality in the TBA and the instructors it continues to produce.

This gives me hope that the same feat can be accomplished for the art of Catch Wrestling.

Enter Coach Robinson and Coach Shannon and their Certified Catch Wrestler Program. According to Jake Shannon

“The purpose behind the certification program is two fold: 1) to
verify that it’s participants have indeed trained first hand with
someone like Dick Cardinal or Billy Robinson and 2) to insure that
the REAL sport of CACC is carried on, not some cobbled together
mutant born from just watching instructional DVDs and messing
around with your buddies.

Our certification concept is the same quality control concept as
belts in many Eastern martial arts. Each certification provides
evidence that the participant has trained at least 15 to 20 hours
under Billy Robinson, Dick Cardinal, etc.

The assistant coach level is only reached after 100 hours of
verified time, and at the discretion of Billy and I. We’ve only
got two of them besides myself, Sam Kressin and Jesse Marez. Once
you’ve clocked either 800 – 1,000 hours or 8-10 years (depending
upon your other contributions to the sport) of verifiable, and
deliberate effort with qualified expert CACC men, then you can be
full coach in our system.”

As you can see, the foundation for a structured CACC program is just now beginning to take shape with only a few intrepid souls taking the lead on bearing the torch for future students of the game.

I will not deny that there are other perfectly qualified Catch Wrestlers and Catch Wrestling Instructors out there, but the Scientific Wrestling/Certified Catch Wrestler program is taking great strides towards organizing a structure for learning, promoting and preserving the art. Something that I think is paramount for CACC’s survival and future success.

In these formative years of CACC’s rebirth, with only a few good years left for it’s only surviving Practicing Instructors, Catch Wrestling needs you!

If you enjoy Catch Wrestling and want to see it continue to be a fixture in the combat sports scene, you need to get involved. The Certified Catch Wrestling Program is an excellent way to get hands on with Coach Robinson, one of the few authorities on CACC who actually competed in the art. There are also Toe Hold Clubs (New York,United Kingdom, Carlsbad, Inland Empire, New Jersey, St. Emelie)that you can join in your local area where you can learn more about Catch and help to ensure it’s survival.

Will you be part of the conservation or simply watch as one of Combat Sports greatest contributers withers into extinction?

10 replies
  1. KJ
    KJ says:

    Great article and videos. I also recommend Kris Iatskevitch who’s also developing a Catch Wrestling accreditation program as part of the formation of the ISWA. Not sure on Neil Melanson as I think his system is more hybridised though Catch influenced (similar to Coach Erik Paulson’s CSW which is a complete MMA system as you well know!).

  2. naturalbornfighter1
    naturalbornfighter1 says:

    Really great column Dr.Sick! I believe part of the reason that CACC is not booming is due to anyone wanting to learn some grappling they see the UFC and hear the commentators always mentioning BJJ and using BJJ terminology. This leads people to believe BJJ is the be all and end all when it comes to grappling. CACC, Sambo, Judo and other grappling arts only get about 5% airtime compared to Wrestling and BJJ.
    I would hate to see Catch dying out. I think however it is just starting it’s boom phase. I think more and more people will come around to the art. It only needs exposure for people to get behind it again and folks like yourselves will be helping that to happen.
    I’ll try to spread the word myself. It is a great art and I love Coach Billy Robinsons theory. Well done for getting behind such a great cause.

  3. Dr Sick
    Dr Sick says:

    Great points naturalbornfighter1 and KJ. As you know, we featured an article written by Kris Iastskevitch not that long ago. And in regards to the UFC and Catch as you mentioned in your comment natuarlbornfighter1, I think it can also be traced back through the history of UFC. Back in the beginning, Jiu-jitsu was THE ONLY featured grappling art, which helped to perpetuate it’s dominance in popularity for those who follow MMA as a sport.

    And I’m not complaining about Jiu-jitsu, I’m a active practitioner of that wonderful art as well. I’m just saying, that I think that UFC history has a part to play in the commentating and exposure that Jiu-jitsu has seen in the UFC as opposed to Catch. The UFC was founded by a Gracie afterall.

  4. KJ
    KJ says:

    The first UFC was a showcase for Gracie jiu jitsu. I think it’s probably just as well they didn’t really seek out the best in the world as I could see a guy like Gokor Chivichyan beating Royce Gracie at that time.

  5. Kiser
    Kiser says:

    Great article Dr Sick. I am so excited about our exposure to Catch Wrestling and love seeing anything about Catch on DCMMA.

  6. Allen
    Allen says:

    My dad did five years as a kill as catch can wrestling expert in the 1930s. Tuff times and tuff people. Thanks to all of you saving this art.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Excellent article AND videos from the guys at Damage Control MMA from our last http://CertifiedCatchWrestling.com

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