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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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The Sit Out Drill

Here we present an in depth look at a simple building block of any serious MMA practitioner’s ground game. The humble, yet indispensable Short Sit Out.

Learning how to Sit Out is only half of the battle though, and in the video above we present a drill designed to teach you WHEN to sit out. Like many escapes, if you wait to long and allow your opponent to sink in and fortify their position, it makes your escape exponentially more difficult. The secret is to begin your escape as your opponent is only beginning to gain an advantageous position rather than after he/she secures it.

For those of you who are having difficulty learning the progression, we have supplied it below. It is a repeating and redundant sequence patterned after the training methods of Kali and Escrima known as Sumbrada, only here utilizing the movements and techniques of Wrestling and MMA.

Partner A: Obtains double overhooks from top North South Position
Partner B: Utilizes a 180 Sit Out (S Turn) and obtains Quarter Postion on Partner A
Partner A: Immediately utilizes a 360 Sit Out and obtains Quarter Position on Partner B
Partner B: Immediately utilizes a 180 Sit Out and obtains an overhook and underhook position from top
North South on Partner A
Partner A: Immediately utilizes a 360 Sit Out and obtains an overhook and underhook position from top
North South on Partner B
Partner B: Immediately utilizes a 360 Sit Out and obtains a double overhook position from top North
South Position on Partner A, completing the first half of the overall drill

Now you will continue the drill with the roles simply reversed so that both partners get a chance to develop the timing and techniques from all the possible positions in the drill.

Be sure to leave a comment below and let us know how you like this drill and if it has been helpful for your game.

And for our members, check out the Side Cross Escape Series to see yet another example of how to apply your new found Sit Out skills!

Cradle Counter to the Single Leg Takedown

Here we are again with a DamageControlMMA.com exclusive with the legendary Coach Billy Robinson. A special thanks to the folks at CertifiedCatchWrestler.com for being so inviting and welcoming to the Damage Control MMA project. Believe it or not, it takes a lot of work to bring these videos to you and not everyone is friendly to the idea of us bringing in our filming crew to grab an interview or a technique. Coach Billy Robinson, Jake Shannon and the Catch Wrestling Community at large has been so accomodating and for being so open to our questions and interest in Catch As Catch Can.

Last week I bored you with a long post. This week I spare you the long lecture and simply offer you this spectacular counter to the Single Leg Takedown which puts you squarely in control with a far side Cradle. Whether you’re a wrestler looking for a pin, a submission grappler looking to reverse a takedown and end up on top or a MMA practitioner, this move will have a useful place in your bag of tricks.

Check it out, the Catch as Catch Can Cradle Counter to the Single Leg.

[box size=”large”]Join our online MMA academy for access to our huge video library including takedowns, setups and takedown defense techniques.[/box]

The Single Leg and Double Leg change of angle Takedown Chain

What an absolute treat to have my friend and takedown mentor Chris Wells come and share his continuation of a whole series he began teaching over five years ago. As was the case with our previous article, this one is concept driven, as if it wasn’t already cool enough.

For those of you unfamiliar with the backbone of our takedown series from the over under 50/50 clinch, a great deal of it is based on attacks to the leg nearest us which usually occurs on our overhook side.

Below is the Spiral Takedown, note Coach Well’s left hand and how it taps at the inner thigh of the leg nearest him on his overhook side:

Next up is the Knee Tap Takedown, notice again, the tap occurs with Coach Well’s left hand on the leg closest to him on his overhook side:

The third piece of the first section of the basic over/under takedown series is the Body Lock Takedown. After this we either transition into the Whizzar series, or can attack the far side (underhook side) leg which we will address in this post. But still, it is important to notice that again, the attack occurs on Coach Well’s overhook side, moving toward the leg and hip that are nearest to him.

The premise of this new series, offered in the featured video at the top of this page is to address how one might attack the leg on our underhook side. It is important to develop attacks on both sides of the body. This is so because as your opponent defends one side, he begins to offer the other. This is the case in striking as well as submissions or in this case takedowns.

The concept driving this whole series, is a constant change of direction and angles of attack. This allows you to take the initiative and keep it, while your opponent attempts to stay on his feet, always 1 step behind what you have in store for him until eventually, the onslaught is simply too much and he eventually is taken to the ground.

If you enjoyed this series and would like a to lear a little more about what our guests have shown us in terms of takedowns, you might enjoy one of our previous articles it is a collection of closely related takedowns from the likes of Coach Robinson, Ajarn Greg Nelson and UFC fighter Nick Diaz. I’ve put them together in one spot because they all seem to play off of each other. You can find them at http://damagecontrolmma.com/2009/06/a-solid-clinch-game-for-takedowns-and-submissions/

Weigh in and let us know if you liked this article and would like to see more from Coach Chris Wells.

The MMA Takedown Breakdown: The How of Pressure

This post is equal parts concept and technique. The concept being, to continually pressure with real time, technique revisions and adjustments that will result in the most efficient means of accomplishing your goal… achieving a takedown in an MMA fight.

Phew! That was a mouthful. Restated and in simpler terms, sure, you could just drop in on a double and claw your way towards a takedown. Then again, you may just be clawing your way towards premature exhaustion and ultimately spinning your wheels.

But when you initiate an attack and are prepared to quickly adjust and circumvent the defense your opponent may throw up, perhaps repeating this sequence until your objectives are achieved; you make your opponent’s job that much more difficult, and thus, your job that much easier.

This concept of continual forward pressure, while phasing through various levels (high/head, mid/body, low/hips-legs) and types (takedown, clinching, striking) of attack is great, but just as important is the HOW, or the techniques best suited for applying this concept. That is what this video is all about.

Do you have to use the techniques that we’ve presented here verbatim? No, not at all, but these particular techniques are great examples of how to effect the concept of varied, constant pressure.

Do you always have to finish against a wall or cage? Of course not. There are plenty of situations where you may not be in a cage or enclosed area. Maybe your fight is in a ring, or maybe we’re talking a self defense situation in an open arena. You might want to incorporate some of the techniques presented in our over under clinch series with Coach Chris Wells.

Finally, are the cage takedowns presented in the above video the only ways to finish while against the fence? Absolutely not, it’s just a starting point. We’ve shown you plenty of options in our other videos regarding this subject, which we’ll include below for good measure.

Here are some additional cage takedown defense ideas for you.

Using this Limp Arm Counter just might get you Double Wrist Locked

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Yes you heard me right, using this Limp Arm Counter to Wrestling’s Whizzer just might get you Double Wrist Locked/caught in a Kimura. Why bother showing it then? Well because I still think it’s a very valid and useful technique.

If you’ve ever clinched or as I mentioned in the video, worked your way up to your knees from bottom Half Guard, chances are, you’ve encountered the Whizzer. This little beauty gives you an option for dealing with it. “But what if you get Double Wrist Locked?” you ask. Well, just knowing that that is a possibility is going to keep you out of much of the danger, and should you still fall prey to the Double Wrist Lock/Kimura, well, you need look no further than last week’s post (Catch Wrestling Kimura Killer Recounter) to give you some options for getting out of that mess.

For those of you who never saw the throw that got Mr. Schultz disqualified, you might want to check out the video below:

And for those of you who want a little bit more detail on how to use the Kimura Throw, or Double Wrist Lock Takedown, fear not, we covered that years ago with Coach Billy Robinson and Jake Shannon.

Arm Drag Trip Takedown with Olympic Gold Medalist and UFC Veteran Mark Schultz

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Short and sweet, just like this post, the Arm Drag Trip is a quick and easy takedown to learn and use. We’ve had some great success combining it with our Universal Set Up series and Progressive Striking to Takedowns.

There are so many different ways to set it up as we learned at the Mark Schultz seminar at the Ultimate Combat Training Center earlier this year. Hopefully, you’ll find as many uses for this great technique as we have.

Enjoy!

MMA Techniques: The Snatch Single Leg

Guest instructor Mike Stidham shares a basic Snatch Single Leg technique.  Mike explains that he’s amazed at how many high-level fighters out there don’t  use basic stuff.

To get the most out of this technique here are some tips Mike shares:

  • Cage Position – Rather than wasting energy going for takedowns in the middle of the cage where an opponent has a better chance of defending it, Mike tells his guys to wait until their opponent is near the edge of the cage where there is less room to sprawl or maneuver away from the takedown attempt.
  • Snatch vs Shoot – Instead of shooting up his opponent, Mike likes to “pickpocket” his opponent by snatching his lead leg.
  • Suck Leg into Chest  – Grasp leg with a Gable Grip and suck your hands into your chest.  If your hands are against your chest you have control of your opponent so don’t let him stretch your arms away from your torso.

On another note, I wanted to use this post to relate a story to you. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to check out our forums, there are some pretty cool threads on there that you may have missed.

One of which is our thread dedicated to Instructors, Trainers and Gym Owners. You see, during the 2012 Erik Paulson Seminar, Kiser and I had lunch with a friend of ours, Mike Stidham, a local fight promoter (one of Utah’s first and for a time, most prominent). He had been attending the seminar along with a number of his students and we took the opportunity to hang out, have a laugh or two and thank him and his team for supporting our efforts in spreading CSW.

During our conversation, Mike began to discuss strategies for promoting seminars and getting more students from various, outside gyms to attend. He explained a few of the ideas he had tried out in helping us to promote the Erik Paulson Seminar, which he plugged frequently on his Friday evening radio program, the Ultimate Combat Radio Show.

I expressed my feelings on the subject and asked Mike if he thought that the very strong prejudices, politics, school loyalties and team rivalries that are commonplace in our stomping grounds could be overcome. As in my mind, these obstacles were insurmountable. But Mike stood firm in his belief that these things could in fact be overcome and explained that no one will ever convince someone from outside their gym to come and take a seminar from so and so, because he’s so much better and cooler than their instructor or lineage.

Instead, he suggested that the way to dissolve these “enemy lines” was instead to be the first to step forward and enter “enemy territory” and take a seminar at these other schools. To look these school owners and seminar hosts in the eyes, shake their hand, expose his own students to these different ways of thinking and training and take it from there.

I left the lunch, still doubtful of his views on the subject. But then, it hit me. Here he was, the owner of a rival gym.  Both school’s fighters have handed the other school some bitter defeats. And yet, now we were friends. Eating at the same table, after the second year of seeing him and his students in our camp, supporting our instructors.

Now he’s hosting a seminar with UFC Veteran and Olympic Gold Medalist, Mark Schultz and he’s extended an invitation to Kiser, me and the Mushin Crew. Our calendar is marked and we are looking forward to learning some new ideas and making new friends. I guess Mike was right after all and the lesson he taught us reminded me of something I had realized a few years ago.

Friends can do you much more good, than you can ever harm an enemy.

On that note and coincidentally, our friend Jake Shannon has also done some work with Mark Schultz with his Scientific Wrestling project. You can see the fruits of that labor, on the DVD that they produced together

Total Violence with Mark Schultz

So here’s to mending fences, extending an olive branch, and making new friends. “We are all one.”

If you have any experiences on making peace with a rival gym or school, please share with us in the comments below.

The Frontiers of Submission – Redux!

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to just surf, dig, dig, and dig some more until I unearthed some burried gems. New artifacts (oxymoron alert!) for the Frontiers of Submission. If you read our earlier post on the subject you know that I enjoy seeing new ideas (perhaps not new to the world, but at least new to my eyes).

There was a dry spell there for a moment. Finding new, interesting and or useful material on the internet had become exceedingly difficult. Then things got busy and I simply didn’t have the time to sift through the muck to find a few viable possibilities. That is until now. As of late, I’ve found a few new ideas that are pretty interesting.

First up is this awesome Butterfly Guard Counter from www.DSTRYRSG.com A Guard Pass and Quick Kill all rolled up into one. What’s not to like? And anything that has anything to do with a Chicken Wing/Kimura/Double Wristlock is good fare for my tastes.

Next up are a couple of really nifty little wrist locks from www.vt1gym.com. I use that little Bicep Control Wrist Lock for quite some time now but that little hip shift detail has made it even more successful and efficient for me.

Below is some old school footage of Russian Wrestling. New? I think the video speaks for itself but I’ve never seen it, so it’s new to me, and I love it. If nothing other than for the pure eye candy of it. But there are plenty of great pointers you can pick up from checking this series out. I mean, it’s part 12 guys. There is a whole series, which could arguably keep us all busy for a friggin lifetime of study.

Barnett, Footlocks, NUFF SAID!

And I’ve saved desert for last. So much goodness to be said about this last clip. If it wasn’t awesome enough to have a Bravo clip sitting right next to a Barnett clip (If you aren’t privy to the keyboard war between the two concerning 10th planet JJ and Catch as Catch Can, you’re going to have to look it up on the MMA Underground yourself because I’m not going to go into here).

And as if that weren’t enough, we’ve got a leg lock set up from and Arm Triangle. Those of you who know how proficient Kiser is at using them and the hundreds of set ups he uses, know how useful this might be for him. Why do I post it here then when it will only make my life more miserable? Because I know he’ll never see it because he never reads my posts. I don’t even know if he’s literate to be honest. And I have to admit I get a kick out of hiding it here in plain sight.

Oh, and if that’s not enough to do it for you, did I mention Eddie’s partner is none other than Joanne of the MMA Girls… MEEEEEEEEEeeeee-OOOOOWWWW!!!

MMA Cornermen: Unsung Heros Part 1

What fighter worth his salt would ever go into a fight without padding his proverbial hand as much as possible in his favor?

Having a rock solid wing man is one of the most overlooked and under rated pieces of prep work that a fighter can have in place for his/her up coming fight.

If you’ve ever taken the time to listen to the corners during a fight, you’d be surprised at the variance in ability and quality. It’s amazing how often the advice you hear being shouted from the corner is something along the lines of “F*** him up bro!” Really?

An important part of any successful competition is communication between Coach/Instructor and Student/Competitor.

This article will focus on a couple of methods we use to communicate to our students when they are in the middle of their matches. They can however, be applied to effectivly communicating during any traumatic or stressful event.

A good coach is like a second pair of eyes for their student. But what the coach sees is useless if he/she is unable to communicate that information to his/her student.

Below are a list of tips that we have found helpful in communicating to our students when they are in the middle of a match.

Less is more… Keep It simple

If there is a constant barrage of chatter comming from the sidelines, it tends to blend in with the myriad of other noises already being muted by the tunnel vision/hearing experienced by the student. Be patient, hold your tongue and only bark out an occasional observation. AND when you do give some instruction, keep it simple. Suggestions such as this, “slip the jab, then uppercut, overhand, left hook right kick and shoot.” Simply are too much for a student under duress to handle. Something like the following would be more helpful “SLip and counter”.

Use the student’s name.

During one of his fights, Trevor “Little Bang” Osborn related that when everyone was shouting, he didn’t know who was saying what to whom. He didn’t know if it was the opposing team or our team speaking to the other competitor or to him and pretty soon he simply tuned it all out… that is until he heard us shout his name. Then he was able to take focus and listen.

Proper use of use of this method would sound something like this:

“Trevor, be first.”
“Trevor, circle! Keep your back off the cage.”
“Trevor, Go Now!”

Make eye contact.

When your student is fatigued and or rocked they tend to do a little slot machine number with their eyes. Their head will roll lazily around and their eyes will roll up under their lids etc.

If this happens between rounds, control their head with your hands and force them to look into your eyes.

If they are in a contol position mid-round, tell them to look at you. This will again, help to re-focus them, not just on your instruction, but also onto the task at hand.

Trigger Words

Trigger Words are words or phrases whose meaning you and your students have agreed upon. They are words that have been used during training sessions leading up to the event so that the student is used to hearing them and reacting to them.

For instance, we use the Trigger Words “Go Now”. We all know that this means, it means that there is 30 seconds left in the round. We have trained the student to go all out upon hearing that phrase (Pavlov eat your heart out). “Establish Base” means, chill out. Don’t blow your wad just yet. Re-establish your position and calmly look for openings and opportunities.

These phrases should be reinforced and used repeatedly in the gym during training sessions.

Don’t use more than one or two Trigger Words in your gym. The more Trigger Words you have, the less impact and significance they carry.

Communicate Visually with Hand Signals and Expressions

There are many times that a student’s battle stress will completely debilitate their ability to hear your voice. There are also times that the venue is so loud that your voice simply cannot be heard above the rest of the noise. In these instances it is helpful to commuicate visually as well as verbally. For instance, we will point to our eyes, then look up and point to the ceiling if we want our students to arch their backs more, lift their head and put more body into straightening out the armlock, guillotine, etc.

We’ll point to the ceiling and loop our finger around in a circle if we want the student to relax and burn some time off the clock.

And remember… every communication should be prefixed with your student’s name.

I hope these tips are helpful to you and your crew and we wish you all the best of luck. Train hard… we’ll see you out on the mat!