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Hail to the King of Catch: Godspeed Billy Robinson

CoachBillyShinLockI would like to start this post by explaining my editing decisions regarding the video above. You can see that I clearly disregard Coach Billy’s request to turn off the tape. A blatant show of disrespect. But my motivations for doing so were the exact opposite. Since Coach Billy’s passing, every word, every moment that we have on film seemed so precious and important, that I felt he would understand if I left his explanations in the clip so that you could see what a perfectionist he was and how he would always explain why it was that he wanted you to do something in a particular way.Some of you may wonder why it is that I am writing this blog post. After all, there are many others who knew Coach Billy much better than myself and were therefore much closer to him. I would be the first to agree with you. But I felt compelled to put this together because of how Coach Billy made Kiser and I feel.

You see, we were all aware of our distance from the core of the Catch As Catch Can and Scientific Wrestling family. Brandon and I play only a tiny part in the big scheme of things. We were like bastard children to Jake Shannon and Coach Billy who knew we came from Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Thai Boxing and CSW backgrounds. But they took us in and treated us with the same warmth, respect and regard as their very closest and most dedicated students.

I have never forgotten that and I never will. My love for Catch as Catch Can is more so a Love of Coach Billy and the way he treated me. The two are inseparable in my eyes, Catch and Coach. They were one and the same and for Coach Billy, it was no less important for me, a half blooded Catch Wrestler to master a technique he was demonstrating, than it was for one of his full blown Catch Representatives.

While others were turning their noses up at Kiser and I when we’d ask if they’d like to share something with us for Damage Control, Coach would be asking if he could do a video clip. It was such a refreshing and welcomed change.

And that is all I have to say about this great man. Not because I don’t have more to say, but because I feel that I don’t deserve to say it. That whatever else I have to say should be said by those who’ve truly earned the right to say something about the Legend of Catch. The ones who have dedicated their lives to the study of the art in its entirety. His students. Below are a few words and thoughts form the friends we have made through our trials and shared thrashings on the Wrestling Mat.

I thank you all for supporting Jake Shannon and Coach Billy. And thank you Jake Shannon for bring us into this wonderful family.

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BillyAndSamI’ll never forget the first time I ever met Billy Robinson. I could tell right away that he was special and I knew I had found someone amazing. From that moment forward, I did everything I could to train with Billy as much as possible. Today, I feel so fortunate to not only have gotten to know Billy Robinson as a wrestler and coach, but also as a good friend. Billy really impacted my life and helped me in more ways than I could ever explain. He lifted everyone up around him. He was still so young in spirit, always having fun, making jokes, and living life to the fullest. He took his wrestling seriously and he lived for it. Never have I met anyone more passionate about anything than Billy was about wrestling. He demanded perfection and you were expected to perform that way. He would push everyone to do things right. Although Billy Robinson, the last of the Great Catch Wrestling Masters, has left us, his legacy is still here. He has given us all a wealth of knowledge and it is up to all of us now to continue carrying it forward.

Sam Kressin
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RickyAndBillyBilly Robinson,
The world suffers a major loss with the passing of Billy Robinson. To the world he was a Father, Husband, World Champion and world class coach. In my eyes, Billy was a role model, a mentor, the best coach, a superb friend, historian and gentleman. He taught me humility, proper wrestling technique, confidence, creativity, and allowed me to peek inside his vast knowledge and experience of wrestling, physics, body mechanics and anatomy. Billy’s vision was one of perfection for all who studied under him. If a technique was incorrectly executed, he would have you do it again over and over until it was perfect. Billy will surely be missed and will never be forgotten because his voice will forever be in the back of my mind telling me to do it again.
WIP Billy (Wrestle In Peace)

Ricky Lazaro
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BillyAndJohnOver the past 30+ years, I have trained in many styles of martial arts & achieved high rank in several different styles. But one of my most cherished ranks is Assistant Coach under the legendary Billy Robinson.

Billy was an amazing coach, friend & mentor. I loved nothing more than practicing a technique & hearing him yell NO! DO IT AGAIN! Then he would make a slight adjustment in the way I was moving that would make the technique seem effortless & ten times more effective. His attention to detail was second to none & his stern abrasive coaching style showed just how much he cared about the art of Catch Wrestling & making sure his students learned it correctly.

Although he appeared to be tough & maybe sometimes even a bit scary, he had a huge heart of gold.

Some of my favorite times were just hanging out having a beer with him & listening to his stories. He had an amazing journey in this life & I am truly honored to have shared a small part of it.

It’s because of Coach Billy that I have become the catch wrester that I am today!
He has taught me not just how to teach but how to learn as well.
He will be forever in our hearts & always remembered for being the great man he was.

Godspeed Coach.

John Potenza
Snake Pit USA Catch Wrestling Association
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BrandonAndBillyAs painful and terrifying as it was at times, I am so grateful for every minute I got to spend with this man! He didn’t just make me a better grappler, he made me a better person. He taught me how to teach and most importantly he taught me how to learn. I will never forget when he told me I was the god damn laziest bastard he ever met and then he said his classic line NOW DO IT AGAIN!

Brandon Kiser

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BrazenAndBillyGarry and Mickey started training under Coach Billy in 2010 after being introduced to catch wrestling by Sensei Erik Paulson. Gillian began in 2012 at the request of Coach Jake Shannon with the hope of introducing more women to the sport of catch wrestling. Garry has successfully implemented elements of catch wrestling into both the Jeet Kune Do and Submission Grappling curriculums at Brazen Martial Arts. Mickey was primarily interested in improving his stand up game, but after training under Coach Billy he came to love the mix of submission grappling and wrestling — with the focus on being on top as opposed to playing from the guard. Gillian has successfully used techniques learned under Coach Billy to defeat much more experienced opponents in high-level grappling competition. All of us will continue to use Billy’s concepts to help our students blend the different arts in a way that works for them individually. Coach Billy was open-minded to all of the other arts, and extremely helpful in countering techniques encountered in grappling tournaments even when the catch wrestling rule set was not directly in play. He loved competition and adapting his knowledge to different circumstances.

Coach Billy was never just a coach to any of the three of us. Garry and Gillian would tease Mickey endlessly about how excited Mickey would get when Coach Billy walked into the room. We emailed with Coach Billy even when we weren’t at training camp and not always just to talk about wrestling but just to check in and say hello. Coach Billy demanded perfection from everyone he trained, but he never did it for himself or without reason. He demanded perfection FOR us, to help us be better wrestlers, better learners, and better teachers to preserve something that was his whole world. We loved him dearly and miss him greatly.

Garry Davis, Mickey Hall, Gillian Silver
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Guard Pass Quick Kills

In the past, we’ve seen a number of “Quick Kills” from Sensei Erik Paulson. But these were in the context of a takedown sequence.

Now he applies the same concept to passing the guard and he shares his expertise with us at the 2013 Combat Submission Wrestling Camp.

Escape Bottom Across the Side by Using Your Head

Gustavo Rodrigues is back, and this time he is showing a very ingenious way to escape from bottom Side Cross when your arm is trapped between your opponent’s arms and endangered. There is a lot to learn here if know what to look at.

Notice the precision and attention to details when Gustavo explains the finer points of how to position your legs to prevent the mount while also accounting for your opponent’s potential to turn your hips away and take your back.

He says it’s a basic move for beginners but I think it’s the experts who will really appreciate the beauty of this technique he’s shared.

Arm Pin Attack From 50 States of BJJ

Recently, Charles Haymon from www.50StatesOfBJJ.com visited our home gym, Mushin Self Defense in North Salt Lake, Utah. Traveling from his home town of New Orleans, Louisiana, Charles has set out to train Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in every state of the US. An ambitious, nobel and courageous goal indeed.

It takes a lot of courage to step into a new gym. Even more so sometimes when you have previous experience in the arts. It’s intimidating to walk into a place, being a beginner and not knowing what to expect. It can be even worse when you know exactly what to expect. You see, in the combative arts, there’s almost always a feeling out process.

Think of it like a pack of wolves. When a pup joins the pack, the elders and warriors of the clan see it as little threat. But when a grown wolf seeks acceptance, there’s always have one eye and ear turned up to see what the new guy’s intentions are. They’re always sniffing for anything that smells fishy. Is this guy a friend? Is he a foe? Is he here to test his mettle and the strength of this new pack? Where will he fit into the hierarchy?

I have experienced both sides of the coin. I’ve had to roll over and show my belly, and I’ve had to defend home turf. So I really appreciate Charles sense of adventure in trusting that everything will turn out and that in the end, he will be the beneficiary of a great wealth of knowledge and experience after all is said and done.

We got to train together, and it was like a scene from an old Kung-Fu Classic. He started working on a few techniques that I immediately recognized from another friend of the Damage Control MMA project, Reilly Bodycomb. In fact, the techniques were practically identical to those shown, Reilly three years ago in our article Sambo and MMA Tie the Knot: A Marriage of Skill. I wanted to say “Huh, the White Lotus Kick?… You must be a student of Master Bodycomb, from the Southern Province.”

Turns out that Charlie actually does work out with Reilly at his home gym, NolaBJJ. Rolling with him was a very interesting experience. Charlie is a big, and deceptively strong man. That coupled with his technical expertise and the validity of the Sambo Leg Knot resulted in me getting caught in the very move I recognized and then spending the next few nights lying awake in bed, contemplating the meaning of what happened.

I was frustrated that I saw the move coming and was unable to stop it from progressing. I was standing up and attempting to pass Charles’ guard. As he threw his leg under mine to initiate the knee reap, I took ahold of his foot to remove it from my hip and even with both hands was physically unable to lift the heft of his leg and thus preemptively stop the knot from being tied in the first place. I simply could not lift it. He was too strong.

Getting caught was not what troubled me. It wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last (I hope). Being caught is a learning opportunity. A chance to grow and discover. No, I was troubled with the fact that I saw it coming and could not prevent it with a method that had worked many times before with partners smaller than Charlie. I don’t like relying on stuff that I can’t pull off on opponents of all shapes and sizes. Especially since I am almost always the smaller man.

My conclusion was, and it remains in the initial testing phase, that rather than removing the pieces of a progressively tightening knot, preventing the knot from starting in the first place, was my best bet, in terms of defending against larger, stronger opponents. No duh! right? But here’s where my personal revelation came in. Most of my partners don’t attack the legs aggressively as did Charlie. And thus, using a standing Guard pass is a pretty solid choice as it keeps my neck and upper limbs safer from harms way. But what I hadn’t realized is that these same standing passes, expose your legs (Hell, they’re already extended and isolated from the body, just from the nature of standing) to those with a strong leg locking game.

So how do you prevent the leg lock from starting? Again, my theory is in its infancy and it remains to be further tested, but my approach is 2 fold. I can either go for a leg lock myself instead of attempting a pass. I can use a kneeling, or sitting pass as opposed to a standing one, or I can combine the two, attempting a kneeling pass that may set up a leg lock or vise versa.

Either way, the experience was awesome and as you can see has given me plenty of food for thought. I’d like to hear what you think about the situation. And I’d love to hear about your learning experiences. Tell me about how getting caught has upped your experience points and changed your game for the better in the comments below.

Judo Throws with Adam Blackburn

What’s not to like about Judo. Originally the synthesis of many forms of Jujitsu, Judo has had a lasting impact on the world of Martial Arts. All modern belt ranking systems owe their existence to Judo’s founding father Jigaro Kano.

“The Kimura” as it is widely known now, was named as such, as a result of Judo Master Masahiko Kimura traveling to Brazil to face off with Helio Gracie who named the technique in honor of Master Kimura who dislocated Master Helio’s shoulder with the technique during their challenge match.

In modern times Judo has made a reputation for itself as a leading proponent in the art, and science of throwing. In the video above Sensei Adam Blackburn shares a few variations with us.

Throws a very versatile in that they can be used in Jiu-jitsu Matches, Submission Grappling Matches, MMA competitions and Self Defense. Many think of throws as simple means of getting their opponent to the mat, but to the un-prepared or un-educated in the throw can be the end in and of itself.

Take a look at a few of the case examples below. Then imagine if these techniques had taken place on hard concrete and then ask yourself how effective a Judo throw could be in terms of ending a fight.

So what do you think? Do Judo throws have a place in your MMA, Submission Grappling or Jiu-jitsu game? Leave a comment and let us know whether or not they are a useful tool in your arsenal.

CACC Single Leg Suplex!

Catch As Catch Can Living Legend Billy Robinson is back again, and this time he’s helping Assistant Coach Sam and Ricky Lazaro refine a Kick Catch/Single Leg Suplex variation.

When I first met Coach Robinson, I had a few brief moments to just sit and talk with him. Well, when I say, “talk” what I really mean is, sit and listen. And during my listening, I recall him reiterating the idea of “Learning how to learn.” A concept given to him by his mentor Billy Riley.

I don’t know how many times I expect to use this particular series of moves in my own game, but there is plenty here to learn. Various concepts of leverage and body mechanics; general principles that I have extracted from this lesson and have begun to apply to techniques more suited to my personal style of Submission Wrestling and MMA.

I’d like to believe that I’ve begun to “learn how to learn.” And in so doing have learned how to look beyond what is directly in front of me. To see the driving principles that make the techniques work and then apply them to improve techniques that lie elsewhere in my repertoire. This has happened before with ideas taught to me by Mike Diaz in regards to butterfly guard, arm control and sweeps. To this day I am not a big butterfly guard player, but the lessons taught to me that day have improved my standing clinch game, my guard passing game and closed guard game.

And thus, I encourage you to look at your lessons, to watch your videos and to try to get just a little more out of them that what is immediately in the foreground. Look deeper and do your best to learn how to learn. Maybe I’ve got a little foothold (pun intended) into “Learning how to learn” or maybe I still haven’t got a clue. Either way, it can’t hurt to keep trying.

On a separate note, and I apologize for the abrupt and complete change of topics here, but as I’ve watched this season of The Ultimate Fighter (Team Rousey vs Team Tate), I couldn’t help but notice a few familiar faces. Jessamyn Duke, who is from Ajarn Chai’s Thai Boxing Association and is actually an Associate Instructor, and Shayna Baszler who I recognized, and this is why I bring this up, from a video with Coach Billy at one of the Catch Certifications.

I’ve never trained along side of Shayna, but as I’ve watched her interact with her fellow house mates. Last week, taking Japanese language lessons from Roxanne Modafferi, and then comforting her after her loss, I couldn’t help but become endeared by her plight.

Her journey was cut short with an upset loss to Julianna Pena, but I wish her the best and I hope to share the mat someday, perhaps, if I am lucky, under the watchful eye of Coach Robinson at a Catch Certifiaction.

Sweep Counter to Guard Pass

This year at the Damage Control MMA World Conference we brought in 4 Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Black Belts. Even going outside our foundations in Pedro Sauer Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and taking a look at BJJ through the Rolls Gracie Lineage with an instructor we’ve never worked with before, Gustavo Rodrigues.

Kiser and I have crossed paths with Gustavo many times while cornering fighters, in the back rooms, waiting, wrapping hands, warming up, etc. And what immediately stuck out about Gustavo was that he was the only man who would smile back at us and say hello, rather than mad dogging which is so commonplace in situations like that.

It made a huge impression on me. It was an indicator of his confidence, of his professionalism and his mutual respect which is exactly how Kiser and I felt towards him and everyone else back there. When we got an opportunity to work with him first hand, I was very excited.

Gustavo has a very soft, and technical style. One I can very much relate to as we are similar in size and stature. Which is to say, nothing he teaches is forced or relies on strength. Everything works, but works with subtle set ups and cunning use of leverage and redirection of force.

This technique stuck out in my mind because it looked so similar to one I learned from Ajarn Greg Nelson as a counter to a Triangle Choke Counter/Guard Pass. This is an excellent way to defend a non-technical Guard Pass. One, commonly encountered by ballistic and powerful opponents. It has basic elements that players such as myself can grasp and use, but contains follow ups for more advanced fighters.

Check back often as I will be updating this page with additional videos from Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Black Belt, Gustavo Rodrigues.

Basic Muay Thai Pad Drill: Shield and Kick Return

Harkening back to a series we’ve been visiting and revisiting over the last year or so, we share another Basic Muay Thai Kick Drill. This simple drill is designed to develop defensive reactions and coordination that will allow you to see various kicking attacks and apply the appropriate defense while also conditioning you to immediately retaliate with either the left or right Thai Kick.

As a coach, we encourage you to start out simple. Feed the right kick and have your student return a right kick. Then progress to feeding the right, and having your student return a left kick. Then progress to feeding the left kick and receiving the right. The last basic feed will be to send the left kick and have your student return a left kick.

After your student is comfortable using all the possible returns, vary your feed and be ready to receive whatever return your student executes.

Finally, the idea is to seamlessly weave this particular drill into a varied and active Thai Pad Round. Feed Jabs, Hooks and Crosses to develop your student’s punch defenses. Hold for punches, kicks, knees, elbows and combinations thereof while keeping your student alert with your kicks. This will create, realistic, dynamic and very effective training rounds and your student body will love them.

Taekwondo In MMA

Some time ago, we shared a few set ups for the Turn Back Kick when we did a shoot with Sensei Erik Paulson. But long before that Coach Kiser was using them in the Taekwondo Junior Olympics and as a result developed his own favorite set ups which eventually made their way into a few of his MMA fights.

The Back Kick has a few different uses as it can be used to counter an opponent to circles to your left flank and attempts to create an angle (this variation can be seen in the clip with Sensei Paulson). And as you can see it can also be used as a follow up to a missed or evaded Thai Round Kick.

But in both of these situations, the Turn Back Kick has a secondary effect. It acts as a deterrent, keeping your opponent from rushing in to take advantage of a flanking situation. Even when your opponent backs away or evades your Turn Back Kick, they give up the ability to bridge the gap and thus trade safety for an opportunity to counter. This gives you time to repost and reset.

Share your favorite set ups and uses for the Turn Back kick. Leave a comment and let us know what other TKD techniques you like to incorporate into your MMA game.

Brad Pickett’s Peruvian Necktie

Sometimes MMA is a formal affair. Better put on a suit and a Peruvian Necktie.

To be honest, the Peruvian Necktie has never been a strong move for me. I think it has to do with my extremely short arms. I’m like Rex in the Toy Story Movies, just look at my little arms. I can’t press the fire button and jump at the same time.

But each time I see it, I pick up a new nuance and find more ways to cinch up an inch or two of space, making it that much easier to catch the hold. A special thanks go out to Damage Control MMA member Robert Carlin of Antonine MMA in Glasgow Scotland and Brad Pickett for sharing this little beauty with us.

Because of you two, I am that much closer to being able to tie my own Peruvian.