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Top 5 uses of Jiu-jitsu in the Movies

If you were thinking Mel Gibson, triangle choke, Lethal Weapon or Gina Carrano and RNC in Haywire, you’re way off! No, I’m talking deep Jiu-jitsu, real Jiu-jitsu, Meta-jitsu, I’m talking Jiu-jitsu that’s so hard core, it transcends Jiu-jitsu itself. Yeah, I’m talking about the good stuff. So let’s get started.

At number 5 we have Lucifer and his play for John Constantine in the movie “Constantine”. You see, old Lou has been waiting desperately to take Constantine’s soul back to Hell with him, but in a final selfless act of sacrifice, Constantine earns his place in the pearly gates. Just as he is about to ascend to Heaven, the Devil reaches inside Constantine’s lungs and removes his terminal cancer then repairs his opened veins thus bringing Constantine back to life, giving Constantine a second chance to screw things up and giving himself another crack at his coveted prize, John Constantine’s soul.

I can’t count how many times I’ve had to give something up, not to win, but to give myself a second chance to have the other guy make a mistake and screw himself up. It’s like being mounted and having a guy go for a V-Lock/Figure 4 Americana Shoulder Lock. Sometimes the only move you’ve got is to turn and give up your back just to stay alive and hopefully allow your opponent to slip up and let you back into the game. It is for this desperate but savvy maneuver that Constantine comes it at number 5 for the best use of Jiu-jitsu in the movies. No Neo, you don’t know Jiu-jitsu but Lucifer surely does.

At number 4 we have “The Hunt for Red October”. WTF you say? Yes, you heard me right, when the captain of the Russian sub hunting fleet fires on Captain Ramius of the Red October, Ramius does the unexpected. Instead of turning away from the oncoming torpedoes, he turns into them and moves to engage them at full speed. By doing so he is able to collide with them before their safeties can disengage and thus arm their explosives. This leads his foe to disable the safeties which eventually leads to his own demise.

There is so much here that merits it’s place on the top 5 list. First is the idea of closing the distance and smothering your opponent to minimize damage to oneself. This is an essential element in Jiu-jitsu. But then there’s the idea of off balancing your opponent, both physically and emotionally and allowing them to kill themselves. It is for demonstrating these key characteristics that The Hunt for Red October gets it’s spot at number 4.

And this leads us to number 3 on our list, the “The Avengers”. Here we see a perfect example of luring, and off balancing used by the Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson (insert an Austin Powers purr here…). Oh and we’re not done yet. The fact that she’s a knock out is an integral part of the reason that “The Avengers” is at number 3. You see, many times, misdirection is utilized in Jiu-jitsu to grab a hold and keep a hold of your opponent’s attention. While they’re looking at the shiny, sparkling, glittery thing over here, the real threat is over there and by the time they realize it. It’s already too late.

And it is for the picture perfect execution of this concept and the Black Widow’s ability to feign weakness and vulnerability, coaxing her opponent to over commit, that “The Avengers” gets number 3 on our Top 5 uses of Jiu-jitsu in the movies.

The runner up on our Top 5 List is “Searching for Bobby Fischer”. In it, our Hero, Josh Waitzkin while competing in a highly anticipated and prestigious Chess Match, corners his opponent and offers him a truce. What happens next is not as important as was Josh’s gesture of compassion, understanding, mastery and true gamesmanship. What does any of this have to do with Jiu-jitsu you ask?

It has everything to do with Jiu-jitsu. Beginners only see the move in front of them. They are checkers players. Great players see two, three and sometimes many more moves ahead. They are Chess players. And then there are the Josh Waitzkins of the world. Players who not only see the moves that inevitably follow based on the positions of the pieces and the eventual end games they will produce, but also have the ability to see what lies off of the board or the mat as it were. These players understand how certain moves like face cranks, or the manner in which you catch a guy will effect how teammates will view him. How the way he rolls will result in the admiration of his peers, and in being the guy who everybody wants to roll with, or how they may make him the guy who people run from like a raging case of mat Herpes or that ring shaped lesion peeking out from underneath a pair of TapOut shorts. They understand the bigger game that’s at stake. Crank your instructor too many times or in a nasty way and how long do you think he will continue giving you the inside lane. I mean, let’s face it, who wants to go out of their way to make their own life more difficult and miserable to lead. Checkers players play the move in front of them. Chess players play two and three moves ahead, but still they are focused on winning a game. Josh Waitzkins are looking at having people to play games with tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that. They are interested in keeping their mentors counsel and in losing battles to win wars.

Josh Waitzkin saw what was at stake off the mat. He could see that losing this match for the boy in front of him would mean earning the disapproval of the boys father. He could see how it would destroy his self esteem and spirit and to Josh it wasn’t worth it. He didn’t need to win the game to have that sense of validation or self worth. He was bigger than the moves he made or the roll he was in with his opponent. And this is why “Searching for Bobby Fischer” is numba two.

This brings us to what you’ve all been waiting for. THE BEST USE of Jiu-jitsu in film… Drum roll please…

“WATCHMEN”

Oh yes! Rorschach! My favorite! I’ll just let the movie clip speak for itself.

You see, many of these clips have personal significance to me and my experience with Jiu-jitsu. And being the size of an prepubescent teen, I am always getting dominated and held down in “bad positions.” For years I learned the escapes and on players at my level and below, they worked alright. But on my seniors, my escapes only seemed to lead into deeper, murkier, more sinister waters and eventually they’d drown me… or better yet, they’d watch sadistically as I drown myself.

And then I realized that these positions, Back Mount, Mount, Across Side, Quarter position and the like were like my prisons. Every time I tried to escape, I was shot or got burned by the electric fences or entangled in the razor wire. So I decided to take a step back. I changed the way I looked at things. My prisons would no longer be what caged me in, but rather what kept the bad guys out. They would be my fortified castle, not my source of imprisonment. As Rorschach would say, “you guys just don’t get it. I’m not locked in here with you… YOU’RE LOCKED IN HERE WITH ME!!!”

You see, if they lock you in a cell, they’ve got to open it up and take you out in order to walk you down to the executioner’s chamber. That’s when I’ll make my break. In the meanwhile, I’m going to sit back in the deepest part of my cell and if anyone sticks their hands inside to tug at me… I’ma break em off.

Don’t like my list? Think you’ve got a better example or question some of my picks? Leave me your thoughts and your picks in the comments boys. The score is 1 to nuthin… come and get me.

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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