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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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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.

Catch Wrestling Kimura Killer Recounter

Here is another gem from our good friend Sam Kressin. Sam is one of our favorite guys to work with and learn our Catch Wrestling from. He has his own Brazilian Jiu-jitsu background and as a result, I feel like I can relate to his way of breaking down the techniques a little better. I also feel like he understands me, understands that I don’t need to be sold on the painful nature of some of the moves. I get it, I don’t need to have my face cranked off 15 more times to believe in it.

Yeah I know, the purists out there are already turning their noses up at me right now and that’s their right. But you know what, I’m approaching 40 and I just don’t get a lot out of being broken down. Like I said, I already believe in the value of Catch Wrestling, and the incredible talent of Coach Billy Robinson. I just want to learn the basic concept of the move and to this end Coach Sam Kressin does a fantastic job of teaching you everything you need to know while not abusing you in the process. And hey, if you’re into getting twisted, he has no qualms about breaking your stuff either.

Here he shows an awesome way to re-counter the Double Wrist Lock, popularly known in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu circles as the Kimura. But to get the real skinny, you should check out his website at: www.embodiedstrength.com Where you can pick up all sorts of great tid bits like his most excellent article “5 Principals From Catch Wrestling That Will Benefit Any Grappler” where I learned few things that definitely benefitted my grappling game. And besides, he talks about something we learned in person from Coach Robinson, learning how to stand up, catch style. In addition, he’s got some great blog posts about his recent tour across Europe with Coach Robinson as they re-kindle the Catch Wrestling Fire across the pond.

If you liked this clip, go visit his site and tell him we sent you. That way, the next time we see him, it might be just a little easier to coax him into taking some valuable time out of his busy schedule to share more techniques with us.