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SAMBO and MMA Tie The Knot: A Marrige Of Skill

My first encounter with leg locks was with my Cousin Kelly. He had seen a technique sample clip from one of the original UFC productions where Ken Shamrock taught how to hit a toe hold and heel lock off of a broken guard. We drilled and worked leg lock quick draws for hours.

Later I would see more locks, different variations, set ups, entries and chain techniques while working with Coach Brandon Kiser. This I would supplement by soaking up everything I could from material released by Sensei Erik Paulson via his seminars, DVD’s and online instruction.

Over the years, what I’ve come to realize is that the more skilled, the larger, and the stronger my partners and opponents, the more the course of a roll or fight would bring me towards a leg lock.

It would be the only opening or set of joints that I could manage to isolate and control with relative safety against my stronger, highly skilled counter parts.

Needless to say, I fell in love with Leg Locks and have become an avid student of their many uses and subtle intricacies.

Inevitably, any thorough study of Leg Locks will eventually find it’s way to Russia’s Sambo. As far as Leg Locks go, few individuals can say they specialize on a subject as in depth as Sambo Practitioners.

It would be an understatement to say that Sambo has a complex history. But what would you expect from an art that has grown from such a large country with so much cultural diversity. Sambo is a relatively modern art, it’s formative years comprised of the first part of the 20th century. However, you could say that the seeds that would finally germinate and begin to bear fruit as a nationally recognized sport, had been present since the birth of Mother Russia herself.

In those early times pre-dating it’s forefathers, Sambo finds it’s ancestry in the form of numerous tribal, folk and indigenous wrestling styles ranging from Mongolian Wrestling to Tartar Koras and seemingly everything between, on the boarders, and from the center of Eastern Europe.

The formation of a comprehensive empty handed combatives curriculum for the Red Army would be the impetus for what could be considered the conception of early Sambo. Two men (who’s names I have seen numerous spellings for) are consistently credited with the early development of the Russian art, Vasili Oschepkov and Victor Spiridonov. Each had a different area of expertise and each had their own ideas about how Sambo should be developed and propagated (either as a system for military combat or as a national sport).

According to sources on Wikipedia

Oschepkov (a second degree black belt in Judo) would eventually be executed under orders of Stalin for his refusal to deny education and ties with Judo’s founder Jigaro Kano.

Despite the effort to expunge the influence of souces outside of mainland Russia, the similarities between many of the throwing techniques of Sambo and Judo are too compelling to ignore.

It’s important to look at the translation of SAMBO to really understand what’s under the hood of this high octane martial art.

“SAMBO” is actually an acronym for a series of Russian words that can be intrepreted as “Self Defense Without A Weapon”.

As such it’s open ended and pragmatic scope does much to explain the art’s ecclectic appoach and the numerous variations that have arisen over time. During correspondance with Reilly Bodycomb, he has mentioned that

“Sambo is not taught as a collection of techniques but rather as a series of principles which will allow a faster development of combat skills.”

I can relate to this on a personal level as I gave a name to my own gym “Mushin Self Defense” with the same intentions. I didn’t want to limit an individual or myself to any one method. I wanted to empower my students with and “ends justify the means” mentality and in so doing, lay a foundation from which the most efficient technique for the individual could be employed to that end.

SAMBO’s principle of “use what works”, works well for those of us who enjoy the freedom to experiment and modify systems and tools to suit our own needs.

Another interesting fact concerning SAMBO is that unlike it’s contemporaries,

it does not have a formal structure or ranking system.

This has, in my opinion, enabled it to spread rapidly. Less encumbered by oranizational politics, it has been able to gain a foothold in countries around the world in a very short period of time (within 2 to 3 generations of its original inception as a national sport at the hands of Anatoly Kharlampiev in 1938).

To bring this breif history full circle and back to the original discusssion, the bottom line is winning. Surviving an un armed altercation and giving an individual the best chances for victory. And there is no better way to do this than Sambo’s library of Leg Locking techniques.

Time and again, leg attacks have bailed me out of otherwise unsalvageable situations.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Reilly Bodycomb for contributing his time and expertise so that I and the followers of DamageControlMMA.com can continue to expand our understanding of these wonderful equalizers of the MMA world.

If you enjoyed this series of instructional videos, you might also enjoy Reilly’s DVD’s which are available for purchase. Not only is the content unique and well presented, but the price is unbeatable.

Sambo Leglocks for Nogi Grappling 2 DVD Set by Reilly Bodycomb
Sambo Leglocks for Nogi Grappling 2 DVD Set by Reilly Bodycomb
CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Sambo Leg Locks for No-Gi Grappling DVD Vol 1 with Reilly Bodycomb
Sambo Leg Locks for No-Gi Grappling DVD Vol 1 with Reilly Bodycomb
CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Sambo Leg Locks for No-Gi Grappling DVD Vol 2 with Reilly Bodycomb
Sambo Leg Locks for No-Gi Grappling DVD Vol 2 with Reilly Bodycomb
CLICK HERE TO ORDER

$29.95 USD$19.95 USD$10.00 USD

Reilly Bodycomb: Sambo Grappler

A special thanks to www.lockflow.com who agreed to share Reilly with us here at DamageControlMMA.

Wrestling’s Jab: The Basic Double Leg Takedown

I don’t really know why I’ve saved this one for so long before making it available to the public. I do that sometimes with techniques that have sentimental value to me. And this one does. I guess the technique itself isn’t all that unique. But whenever I watch it, and I watch it quite a bit, it reminds me of when I learned it from Coach Wells and to me

what was unique was how he taught the technique, which, for the sake of time, was basically, in a way that even a self proclaimed idiot like me could understand it.

On top of that, it wasn’t just the technique, it was the concept that he taught to me. That

the Double Leg is the Jab of Wrestling. A probing, long range technique used to measure the opponent’s responses and create openings for second and third beat techniques.

Sure it works as a stand alone technique, but when used in conjunction with a bigger, broader takedown scheme, it becomes something altogether different, better, more potent.

And thus began my quest to develop such a game. And under Coach Wells, it has been exceedingly easy. At least for me to understand… execution is an entirely different story, but as the old addage goes, only a poor craftsman blames his tools, and in the case of Coach Well’s takedown game, I know it’s not the tools that fail.

The quest continues to this day, as do my other pursuits. And

during a conversation with Coach Wells while we watched a couple of mutual friends fight at a recent MMA event, he imparted yet another idea that has hence forth brought about a second revelation in how I look at the takedown game in general.

I have for some time now attempted to develop “games” from every conceiveable position known to me. A “game” would constitute a series of at least 3 technique options for any given position/situation whereby at least one techniques covers any given opposing energy. This would be for escaping a postion, passing a guard, or in this case finishing a takedown.

As I spoke with Coach Wells I told him that I had felt that for the hips in, I was comfortable with his Takedown Trifecta “game” (Spiral Takedown, Knee Tap Takedown, Body Lock Takedown).

However, once hips were way, I didn’t feel like I had the same 3 or more options.

He explained to me that he had tried to offer me (and his other students) this in the form of an over hook series he had us working on and then I began to put the pieces together.

Days later,

as I shoveled the walks in front of my home, I contemplated this further and began to hypothosize that maybe what Chris had been teaching me would also answer another question that had been rattling around in the dusty, cavernous, emptiness of my brain. Why use and Underhook as opposed to an Overhook?

Why an Overhook as opposed to an Underhook? Was it a matter of personal preference? Was it a matter of body type or natural attributes?

Certainly, my hypothosis would include possibilities for the above, but what seemed to make just as much, if not more sense, especially after looking at the techniques that Coach Wells had presented (both for close range, hips in clinching as well as for medium/long range, hips out clinching) was that there was something consistent going on.

It would seem that the closer the hips, the more, the techniques favored the Underhook, which made sense mechanically, physiologically, and kinesiologically.

And conversely, it would seem that the farther the hips are away relative to each other, the more the techniques favorered the Overhook. Which too, made sense, as the farther the hips are back, the more your opponent is tempted to break the head, knee, toe rule in the frontal plane. In being situated in such a way, it would make sense that you would want to be able to exert presured downward to help him break this plane and the Overhook is a better tool for doing so than the Underhook in this situation.

I’ve been playing around with the idea of including a Flow Charting Program with the members area of DamageControlMMA.com and in light of this idea, I’ve thrown together a quick, dirty, diagram of how this hypothosis looks on paper.

Keep in mind, there are plenty of other techniques that could be filled in, different branches that could be added, exceptions, etc. etc., but my goal was to show the general idea of hips in and hips away and the correlating Underhooking/Overhooking Scheme and subsequent takedown options.

A Rapid Prototype Flowchart Drawn On A Whim To Demonstrate The Possible Connection Between Hip Distance and The Most Advantageous Arm Control (Overhook vs Underhook)

A Rapid Prototype Flowchart Drawn On A Whim To Demonstrate The Possible Connection Between Hip Distance and The Most Advantageous Arm Control (Overhook vs Underhook)

I’ve also added the other 3 techniques shared with us by Coach Wells, so that you can see the whole picture; i.e. the Double Leg Takedown as an entry into the Wellian Trifecta, The Spiral Takedown, Knee Tap and Body Lock (hips in, close range clinch *) game from Over, Under 50 – 50 Clinch Position.

The quest continues, as I am sure it will until my final days.

Remember, what I’ve presented here in terms of general principal (hips in = underhook vs hips away = overhook) is a hypothosis, which means, it is untested and unverified by those more qualified than I to make such generalizations. But at any rate, I hope it has at least given you some food for thought.

Best wishes and happy hunting!

Modern Catch As Catch Can: Written By Kris Iatskevich

Eddy Wiecz Carpentier

Eddy Wiecz Carpentier

” Let me show you how to properly do a front face lock”

Thinking that there wasn’t much an old ”pro” wrestler could teach a veteran grappler like myself, but having been brought up to respect my elders (and this guy was old, very old) I let him do his stuff, telling myself it would make the old man’s day ( I’m nice that way). He wrapped his still massive arms around my head, placed a hand on my shoulder, figure foured his wrists and cranked. Although he didn’t seem to apply much pressure, my knees buckled. My jaw, neck and spine made a loud cracking noise. I was certain he had just ripped my head straight off of my shoulders.

But he wasn’t done yet…he took me down and put me in a leg lock, a half Boston of all things, a fake ”pro” move (or so I thought).

What hadn’t cracked on the earlier move cracked then. Two weeks of regular chiropractor visits later, I humbly made my way back to the gym, armed with a new found respect for the old ”pro” wrestler and a desire to learn more about the old wrestling methods.

And so began my journey into the world of Catch as Catch Can wrestling… REAL ‘‘pro’’ wrestling.

(you can see the half boston crab in a MMA fight at 6:00 in, in the clip above)

Much like today, the Catch wrestlers of old were always looking for new ways to pin and submit their opponents. Their livelihood depended on it. In the past, these men dedicated themselves to the very real tradition of wrestling and engaged in completely real professional bouts. Furthermore, this wrestling was not the collegiate, free style or Greco-Roman wrestling we see today. It was submission wrestling, using techniques these men called “hooks’’

These submission wrestlers, called “hookers, shooters, pistols” by those in their trade, were the sort of men who sought real challenges and were not afraid to learn or show anything, Of course, this lead to a blend of wrestling styles. European styles mixed with Russian, Indian, and Japanese styles. So anyone claiming to know the ‘’true system’’ of CACC is either ignorant or trying to confine it to a mould that never existed before. There is no ‘’one way’’ of doing things, only principles and rules for you to use and play with. These principles and rules are what define Catch as Catch Can Wrestling and give it its unique flavour. I do admit that there are some Catch techniques and set ups that I have yet to find in other grappling systems, but what really sets it apart are the underlying principles behind the techniques, the philosophy of the art if you will.

After making its way to North America, around the end of the 19th century, the English Lancashire CACC wrestling style was blended with the “rough and tumble” American mentality of the era and a more aggressive catch-as-catch-can style of wrestling emerged, creating some of the most outstanding grapplers of that period.
In all the annals of history you would be hard pressed to find tougher and more skilled mat men than the Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestlers. These old time shooters took on all comers from all over the world and emerged victorious through a flood of blood, sweat, tears, and broken bones.

You can get a feel for the type of person who would study this art back in the day.

You can get a feel for the type of person who would study this art back in the day.

Catch can be particularly aggressive. Unfortunately, some mistake this aggressive pace for a lack of technical finesse.

The system is based on domination and pain compliance, but also on leverage, physics and control. The use of pressure points is also encouraged to set up techniques and keep opponents on the defensive.

All forms of submission holds, heel hooks, neck cranks and small joints manipulations are allowed within the CACC curriculum.

Catch has a wide appreciation of body mechanics and demonstrates a flexible and innovative mindset when it comes to submissions.

Not only does it use the typical subs you see across styles, but also flows freely from one technique to another, often times improvising subs to better take advantage of whatever the opponent leaves open during a scramble. Hence the name Catch as Catch Can (Catch a hold anywhere you can).

Basically, besides gouging, fish hooking, biting and deliberate striking, all is permitted within the CACC rule set. It’s all about getting the job done, as quickly and as effortlessly as possible.

Here you see typical wrestling holds, arm bars similar to in jiu-jitsu, and throws found in sambo

Here you see typical wrestling holds, arm bars similar to in jiu-jitsu, and throws found in sambo

Actually, the term ‘’ No Holds Barred’’ was originally used to describe the wrestling method prevalent in CACC tournaments during the late 19th century

, Meaning that no holds were banned from competition. That is why the CACC Wrestling men had to know how to throw, control, pin and submit their opponents from every angle and position imaginable. These men coupled brutal submissions (double wristlocks, neck cranks, toeholds etc) with an ability to twist their opponents into pretzels to pin them.

Since a Catch as Catch Can match can be won by either submission or pin, Catch wrestlers pay particular attention to positioning; high level of proficiency in breakdowns, rides and pins is required to excel in this system. Position is crucial to pulling off any submission, and even more so to obtain a pin.

Bottom escapes is another aspect of the game that is perfected. knowing that your opponents will work extra hard at keeping you on your back to obtain the pin, an incredible amount of time is spent working our way back up from bottom .

CACC became by far the most popular American sport during the post-Civil War period up until just before World War I, especially in the carnivals and fairs.

The carnival’s wrestlers challenged the locals as part of the carnival’s “athletic show”

and the locals had their chance to win cash reward if they could defeat the carnival’s strongman by a pin or a submission. This eventually led to the carnival’s wrestlers preparing for the worst kind of scenario and aiming to end the wrestling match quickly and decisively. As carnival wrestlers traveled, they met with a variety of people, learning and using techniques from various folk wrestling disciplines, many of which were accessible due to a huge influx of immigrants in the United States during this era

An ad for a "Catch As Catch Can" Wrestling Bout

An ad for a "Catch As Catch Can" Wrestling Bout

It is important to remember that there were also many style vs. style matches. In this way, the Japanese, amongst others, became very aware of the CACC tradition and vice versa.

Judo expert and prize fighter Mitsuyo Maeda also known as ‘’Count koma’’ perfected his fighting system by competing in and learning Catch as Catch Can before moving to brazil and teaching is style of fighting to Carlos Gracie.

Another judoka, Masahiko Kimura, also learned Catch as Catch Can while working as a professional wrestler. Kimura would go on to defeat Helio Gracie with a staple hold of CACC the Double Wrist Lock aka ‘’The Kimura’’.

Karl Gotch after honing his skills at the infamous ‘’Snake pit’’ in Wigan were he learned CACC, travelled to india and studied Pehlwani (Indian Wrestling) and then to Japan were he studied Judo and Sumo. My coach Edouard Wiecz Carpentier, , practiced Greco Roman Wrestling, Boxing and Savate before turning his attention to Catch as Catch Can. Later, he also became an avid Judo player.

Much like many of their contemporaries, these men were cross training even before we had coined a term for it.

I often thought that, were Karl Gotch, Billy Robinson, Edouard Wiecz and many of the old time greats in their prime today, they would be at the forefront of MMA fighting, as it is results oriented instead of performance oriented like pro wrestling. Given their training and dedication, they would have been at the top of the mma food chain.

Eddy Wiecz Carpentier, Paul Leduc, Bob "Legs" Langevin

Eddy Wiecz Carpentier, Paul Leduc, Bob "Legs" Langevin

Unfortunately, while many of the ‘’Old Timers’’ kept a very open mind towards training. Some coaches today seem to adopt a very dogmatic approach to teaching.

Beware of all teachers who tell you that their method is the only legitimate one. All Grappling styles are good, it’s up to you to find witch one suit you best.

On a closing note, here is what I have learned in my 30 + years of practice.

Judo, Sambo , Wrestling (Freestyle/Greco Roman/Folk style) , Catch as Catch Can and BJJ are all legitimate combat sports. They’ve all been proven effective.
Nothing else needs to be said.

If you want to be good at grappling, find a good grappling club and train there. The rest all comes down to the instructor and the individual.

We all know what styles are effective and which ones are not. Just pick one you have access to and train hard. For the best grappling system out there, the only one worth devoting yourself to, is the one you enjoy practicing.

And to paraphrase my good Friend Jake Shannon president of Scientificwrestling .com

‘’So what is modern Catch as Catch Can Wrestling? ANYTHING that is legal under the rules of a catch wrestling contest IS catch wrestling. I think a lot of people get confused that because catch wrestlers show a lot of little known but effective techniques that they think there is some sort of secret society where a few anointed people “know” catch wrestling. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Catch wrestling is “Open to suggestion”. Anyone can contribute as long as their contribution “works”.

The only “proper” way to pin or submit a man is the way that works. That’s it. Catch wrestling isn’t necessarily a canon of technique; it is a METHOD and a set of rules.
Each person will chain the techniques their own way. Each person will apply the subs and pins based on their individual body types and knowledge base. Catch is rigorously individualistic.

That is why we are here, to continue experimenting in new ways to pin and submit people; no points. The permutations are endless.

That is why it is called Scientific Wrestling; test it, prove it, use it, teach it to others to help them.

These men will champion catch (their own brand of catch) and will have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they know their subject. It is truly an exciting time!’’

Exciting times indeed!

As an addendum to the original article, Coach Iatskevich asked me to include the following links for reference:

first is an article written in 1905 and debates catch wrestling vs Jiu jitsu
http://ejmas.com/jcs/jcsart_leonard_0802.htm

second Is an overlook of the history of MMA and it,s link to catch wrestling
http://www.kocosports.com/absolutenm/anmviewer.asp?a=18493&z=9

third is the story of Ad Santel vs judo
http://www.sherdog.com/news/articles/ad-santel-and-catching-our-history-11623

From Kris Iatskevich: “I know some of these stories seem a bit negative,I personally don’t like comparing systems. But what you get from them. is the understanding of how much these arts influenced each other.”

Kris Iatskevich has studied different fighting arts for the last 30 + years.

– Catch Wrestling under the guidance of Eddy Wiecz Carpentier since ’96
– Lead Instructor for the Scientificwrestling.com certification program
– Black Belt and Regional rep. for SAW (submission arts wrestling) Hidetaka Aso
– Black Belt Judo
– Canadian rep for FIAS Sambo
– President of Catch Wrestling Canada Association
– Owner and Head coach of the Quebec Toe hold Club

You can learn more about him, his system and more at his official website:
http://www.catchwrestlingcanada.com/

__________________________________________________________________

As a final note from me (Brian Yamasaki), I would like to add that I own both of Coach Iatskevich’s Competition Catch as Catch Can DVD’s and consider them some of the best DVD’s I own.  They contain an enormous amount of useful information and give a fresh perspective to the art of Submission Wrestling.  I highly recommend either or both of these wonderful volumes.

Competition Catch As Catch Can Volume 1

Competition Catch As Catch Can Volume 1

Competition Catch As Catch Can Volume 2

Competition Catch As Catch Can Volume 2