Colossal Concerns - MMA Blog

BILLY ROBINSON & CATCH AS CATCH CAN

I’m sad to say that most of you won’t know who Billy Robinson is or the style of fighting that he mastered. Even though Catch wrestling is one of the most effective grappling styles, it’s somehow been over-looked. I was introduced to Catch wrestling (“catch-as-catch-can”) by the legendary Eric Paulson and Josh Barnett at their home in LA, CWS. My grappling brain wasn’t developed enough to capture the golden grappling information that was flying around the gym at the time. But it did peak my interest, and as the years rolled by I continually, but sporadically, dipped my toe into the ignored yet massively effective world of Catch wrestling without ever fully submerging myself.

I decided fairly recently, after coming across the website www.scientificwrestling.com, that this had to change. So after trawling though 100s of different Catch wrestling vids, including on YouTube, and ordering up loads of Catch wrestling books – like “Say Uncle”, written by the aforementioned Billy Robinson along with Jake Shannon, a man who has committed himself to breathing new life into this effective but sadly forgotten grappling art – I also bought books by legendary Catch wrestlers like Frank Gotch and Farmer Burns and, of course, Billy Robinson.

When my books finally dropped through the door, I ran down the stairs like an excited kid at Christmas who’d overdosed on sugary treats. I started explaining to my long suffering other half, the Merlean, what the finer differences between Catch and Jujitsu were, and how I was going to submerge myself into this sport, get as good as I could get etcetera, etcetera, etc. But after one too many eye rolls, which signify she was about to tap out – or even worse, about to make me tap out for inflicting this blitzkrieg of unwanted information on her – I ended her misery and instead tried to decide which of my new books I’d download into my cerebral cortex.

But just then I saw the sad news on Facebook that Billy Robinson, a bonafide legend of the grappling art Catch, who taught MMA greats like Sakuraba and Josh Barnett the art of Catch, had sadly passed away in his sleep at the age of 74 at his home in Little Rock, Arkansas.

I’d made vague plans with myself around seven months ago to go train with Jake Shannon and Billy in the States, but life and all it entails had got in the way and now, on the day all these great books had dropped through the door, the man who contributed to them all in so many different ways had died. I’d never been more gut-churningly sick at the passing of someone I’d never met, and I curse myself for procrastinating and missing the golden opportunity to meet and learn from a legend. I made a Facebook status about his passing and nothing, literally nothing – no comments, no likes, nowt. I’m not a person who attributes the importance of things by how many comments/likes something gets; I think it’s a dangerous thing to do, but in this case I was mad. In a world of tap out wrestling and ‘I do UFC’ wannabes, all who claim to love the sport of MMA and all it entails, where was the love for this great man who had done so much for the grappling world and, indirectly, MMA? So I contacted Jake Shannon to see about plans to go over and train. I was shocked but delighted when he contacted me recently to tell me about a two day Catch seminar in Doncaster he was putting on from the 5th to the 7th of this month. Here’s the link:

www.certifiedcatchwrestler.co.uk

If you’re into your grappling, it doesn’t get any better than this. But unfortunately, me being me, by the time you read this, the seminar will already be happening. Yeah, sorry about that. Find out about the next one through www.scientificwrestling.com or, if you can only make one or two of the days, add Jake Shannon on Facebook: Facebook.com/jake.shannon. I’m sure you’ll be able to work something out. If you live close to the below address, you’ll find us there:

Andy Crittenden’s Martial Arts Centre
4 Sandford Rd, Balby
Doncaster
DN4 8PL
01302 858335

Okay, back to the blog. So if Catch works, if Catch is so great, why don’t you know more about it? Why don’t more fighters know or use Catch? To answer this, we have to go back to the late 1800s to the North of England. This is the birthplace of Catch, where the coal miners and labourers would hold brutal Catch matches for the wages of a brutal day’s work. Catch wrestling was one of the biggest sports around at the time, filling large arenas with paying customers who would watch the toughest men engage in tough matches that sometimes could last hours. Over time, promoters realised that by fixing the matches they could control the time limits and so get more matches on the card while making them more exciting for the crowd. This turned the realest sport around into pro wrestling, the fakest sport around, making this story another of life’s great ironies. There’s a chapter in Robinson’s book “Physical Chess” which I feel sums this up. Billy Riley, owner of the long gone famous Catch As Catch Can gym in Wigan, The Snake Pit, says to his student Billy Robinson, “You owe me a steak dinner”. Robinson says to Riley “I’d love to buy you a steak dinner, I just can’t afford it”. And Riley says “That’s why it’s time: you’re turning pro”. This sums up why Catch faded away: the top guys always had to follow the money, and the money led to pro wrestling. That’s an overview of why you haven’t heard as much as you should – if anything at all – about Catch and how it it gradually faded out and pro wrestling came in. Sad but true.

While you might not have heard much about Catch, it’s worth remembering that a lot of today’s standard moves were original Catch moves going under different names: a figure four scissors in Catch is a triangle in Jujitsu, and ask Josh Barnet how to do a Kimura – he’ll correct you and call it a “double wrist lock” before handing you your arm back to you. You see, a Kimura was always a double wrist lock until Kimura beat Helio Gracie with it. Kimura learned the move from Karl Gotch, and Gotch learned it in Wigan. The more you look back into the history of grappling, the more Catch you’ll find. One of the other differences between Catch and Jujitsu is that Jujitsu is more of a flowing martial arts where you can fight off your back, while in Catch – like freestyle wrestling – if you end up on your back, this would be counted as a pin, thus ending the match. But in a sport like MMA where if you don’t evolve you die, I believe Catch wrestling will make a resurgence. Here Billy explains how moves and styles go in and out of fashion in his and Jake Shannon’s book ”Physical Chess”.

What happens is young people watch what the current champions are winning with. They copy it, even try to better it, but it’s the same hold or moves. They forgot a lot of other stuff that’s won other matches, then maybe 30 years go by. One of those forgotten holds comes up again, and a champion starts to beat everyone with it. So everybody wants to learn it. It’s a cycle. For example, at the 1948 Olympics in London, the Turks did very well with the top ride, and people started calling it the Turkish ride. Everybody was talking about the Turkish ride.

Riley said “Well, what is it?” So I described it to him.

He said “come in here”. Riley’s offices was a library of wrestling books and prints. He brought out etchings that were 400-500 years old of exactly the same ride and he said “The Turkish ride? We were doing that over 500 years ago”.

I love how Billy explains this with the database of grappling moves, old and new, growing and being learnt and taught with some being forgotten until used in a big fight – which sparks more learning, and the cycle grows and continues.

Like I said earlier, I never met or trained with Billy Robinson. So I asked a very close friend and student of his, Jake Shannon, if he could write about Billy. This is want I kindly received from him.

Billy was one of a kind. Here was a guy who could not only soak up the catch-as-catch-can knowledge from legendary old times like Billy Joyce and Billy Riley, but he could apply in championship competition and coach others to become champions themselves. I am not sure there is anyone like that in catch-as-catch-can right now. He was severe as a coach, but it’s really because he cared, he really wanted you to get it right. He came from the old school, and as such sometimes had a hard time passing along what he learned to a generation of young people distracted by video games and the Internet. At the same time, he demanded hard work, but outside the gym he played hard too. He could drink the younger guys under the table and never failed to ask for a cute barmaid’s phone number. He was larger than life and this world is smaller without him.

This is quite a disjointed blog which I apologise for. I started it when I first heard about Billy passing. But what with having to train for a fight, it’s got put on the back burner till now. Writing this it struck me how Billy and Catch are alike and how you can’t have one without the other. Billy was born in the north of England, as was Catch. While he was alive, he was a devastating force of nature because of Catch, but little is known about either. Hopefully this blog has whetted your appetite to learn more about Billy Robinson and Catch, as well as the origins of some of the holds you might learn in your grappling class or you see while watching MMA. If so, I can’t recommend his book – Physical Chess: My Life In Catch As Catch Can Wrestling – any more highly to you. It takes you back to the north of England, where both Billy and Catch were born, and tells of some of the forgotten champions, and goes into more detail how Catch faded almost completely away while being packed with plenty of funny stories and interesting grappling knowledge. Plus, you don’t get a better tour guide than the British Lion, Billy Robinson.

www.amazon.com/Physical-Chess-Life-Catch-As-Catch-Can-Wrestling/dp/1770410627

So all that’s left for me to say is thank you and R.I.P. Billy Robinson

CONSPIRACIES IN MMA

I love a good conspiracy theory (please see http://colossal-personal-concerns.com/2012/12/02/where-to-draw-the-line-conspiracy-theories/ ) and with the recent stories circulating (that I’ve painfully read through – I’ll never get that time back) that Anderson Silva took a dive because, errrrrr, he got a bit bored at being champion…

It got me thinking about other Mma conspiracies that have echoed throughout the timeline of Mma, and I’ve put together a few, of varying distinction that run the gauntlet ( if this was on TV; which is a strange thought in itself since it’s a blog, but bear with me, we’d be going into the flash back dream sequences bit right about now)

Seeing as the ‘Anderson Silva took a dive’ dribble is what inspired this blog, I’ll start with that (Don’t worry it won’t take long).

- Spiders Web:

Anyone who says Anderson Silva took a dive is either a troll or a fool and I don’t have time for either. Maybe Silva was lacking motivation, and maybe subconsciously he was fed up, but since there isn’t an app out there yet that delves into the subconscious of mma greats it’s something we’ll never know and, anyway, who cares? Weidman stepped in, did the business and went home with the title. All this talk of Silva ‘gifting’ him the title dilutes this great achievement for Weidman.

Colossal Conspiracy Conclusion: If you believe Silva took a dive, or in any way ‘gifted’ out this fight, then you should do two things. The first is repeatedly hit yourself over the head with a large rock, and the second is get another hobby…. maybe you can combine the two: Rating 0/10.

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MMA and the Ego - Colossal Collective

MMA & THE EGO

Throughout my 10 years or so in Mma I’ve gone back and forth with my opinions on the ego and how important it is in Mma.

The first thing I believe that you have to do is recognize that you have one. Seems like a silly thing to say, but I think so many fighters fall foul of recognizing when their ego is doing the talking, and maybe they should give it a rest and take over for a while. But is letting your ego run away with you a bad thing and if so why? This is a very complex, convoluted question, one which I’ll do my best to answer.

First off since everyone is different, not to mention every situation is different, there isn’t any right or wrong answer.

Now, when I first started Mma I would’ve argued that I didn’t really have an ego. I knew I was a beginner, I had no illusions of grandeur and I listened and tried to learn as much as I could. I linked someone who had an “ego” as a bad thing because like most people… I link ego with arseholes (not literally as I’m not quite sure how that would work).

Because I haven’t ever classed myself as an arsehole, I didn’t think I had an ego. I’ll explain why I was wrong.

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MEETING MY HERO – THEN HIM KICKING THE SHIT OUT OF ME

Meeting my hero (then him kicking the shit out of me)

This was originally meant for the book I’m writing titled Gym tales and COLOSSAL adventures.
But seeing that I’ve got so many exciting, action packed, fun filled tales I thought- what the hell I’d throw out a bit of a free taster for you guys. Why? Well that’s just the kind of guy I am. So join me as I take a trip down memory lane and recall what it was like to meet my hero, Randy Couture, then have him kick the shit out of me.

So, I had been fighting mma for just over two years. I’d had two fights in pride and the daunting task at hand was starting to dawn on me. You’d think it would have hit me before this but a mixture of ego and the fact that I’m a slow learner delayed this process. I started to realise that if I wanted to improve- which I did- I needed to be pushed. Even though I was by no means the most skilled person at Trojan mma club where I was training at the time, I was the biggest and I’d muscled my way out of trouble thus far. I realised when I fought some one that was my own weight I wouldn’t be able to do this and there wasn’t anyone my size to spar with at Trojan either.

It became clear I was going to have to travel to get the things I needed from training. Where to go, where to go?

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MAN UP (Not too much)

This next subject I’m about to tackle on Colossal Concerns surprises me in so much that when I first heard about it, I thought most people would overwhelmingly agree with my view point, which doesn’t seem to be the case now I’ve had the chance to read some of the articles and opinions floating around about the said subject.

So what I’m I talking about? Well it’s the transgender fighter called Fallon Fox. Fallon used to be a man and has now had the operation and medication to help her achieve his goal (it gets confusing) of being a woman. Hence the transgender part.

The part that has caused the controversy in all this is that Fallon now fights woman Mma. Now, maybe I’m naive. When I first heard about this I thought the up roar would be immense about the fact Fallon is competing in a violent sport and the fact she used to be a man would give her a massive advantage. Not only that but Fallon KO’d two of her female opponents, that weren’t even aware of the fact that she used to be a he!

How can that be right? I mean let’s just boil it all down to facts here, no political correctness just facts, and then go from that point.

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MIND, BODY & SOUL AND ENSON INOUE

If you would have said to me, three months ago, that I would have written on my Facebook status and started a thread on mma.tv about the fact I will never tap in another mma fight again then I would have looked at you with an element of distain, whist thinking “you really don’t know me at all”

Why would I ever feel the need to make such bold statement and put pressure on myself? Plus, if a fighter makes a mistake and gets caught in a fight the normal mantra is you tap, you lose, but you learn from it and you come back stronger (hopefully). It’s all very acceptable to tap out in a fight if you’re in an unlucky position you can’t get out of. I have thought this way for pretty much all of my fighting career. No fighter want’s to tap, but we know that it will be ok if we do as sometimes in a fight there is no other way out other than to tap… or is there…

I look at it as ‘my old way of thinking’, and now I have a ‘new way of thinking’.

Old way of thinking = ok to tap (if you HAVE to). New way of thinking = Not ok for me to tap, I’m just not going to do it.

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MMA vs. BOXING

This old, tired, semi functioning, bed ridden ‘shitting where it lies’ debate has been given mouth to mouth and resurrected by a man that, funnily enough, fits the above description.

Tyson, real name Luke, called out Cain Velasquez ( The current UFC heavyweight champion) and any other fighter who’d ever put Mma gloves on, in what I think was an attempt to gain some kind of notoriety and get his name out in the States.

Now, I don’t want to go into this too much as I think covered it in my video (which is at the end of my blog), and verbally beating My Fury up is like taking candy from a baby with no arms, I.e. easy to do but you feel bad afterwards.

So instead I want to dissect the question: MMA VS. BOXING

I hate this question. To me it’s not even really a question. True, both are combat sports. True, Boxing is a large part of Mma, True, in both sports you have to be strong physically and mentally to compete but that’s where the similarities end.

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SHAWN TOMPKINS

I’m writing this blog about Shawn, a couple of years after his passing, because I’ve decided to write a book called Colossal Concerns: Tales from the gym and other colossal adventures.

As I started to plan these epic tales of Mma wonderment for your consumption, I sorted through the filing cabinet in my brain (Which is full) and selected the best stories that will both amuse and interest you.

Whilst recalling various episodes during my career for the book I arrived at the part where I trained at Randy Couture’s gym, Xtreme Couture, in Las Vegas back in 2008.

As I was cataloguing these stories, I arrived at ones with Shawn. As I relived these events I was hit with a flood of guilt. Why hadn’t I done a blog about him sooner!?!

Now, please don’t mistake me here, me and Shawn weren’t best buddies or anything like that but I got to know him a little during my stay in Vegas as he had little choice but to see me every day!

When I was training at Xtreme Couture I didn’t know a soul, apart from Jay White, who had taken pity on me and let me stay at his home and invade his and his family’s space for ten weeks!

While I was at this strange new gym I was doing my best not to seem intimated or out of place while sharing mat space with legends like Randy Couture, Wanderlei Silva, Heath Herring, Forrest Griffin, Grey Maynard, Tyson Griffin and Mike Pyle – to name drop a few. Not to mention the constant influx of the best fighters in the world that had casually ‘swung’ by.

I can’t tell you how invaluable it was to have a guy like Shawn Tompkins that, while not knowing me from Adam, took me under his wing and made me feel like part of his extended fight family.

When you experience something like this it really is comforting, especially as I didn’t know anyone there and was away from home, hence the guilt I expressed earlier about not having done this blog before.

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“SO, YOU WANT TO BE A FUCKING FIGHTER” ?

“So, you want to be a FUCKING FIGHTER” ?

To many who hear these words reverberating off of their eardrums from Mr. Dana White, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.” But since I’m not in that pressure cooker like these new fighters are and since I actually AM a fucking fighter, I took time to ponder what the question really means.

Nowadays, this question is being asked more and more. Why? Because the UFC is having more and more shows, which means more fighters are getting injured, which means more fighters are needing to step up on some short notice, causing Dana White to bark out the inevitable question. I’m going to look at both sides of this coin, and, since every case is different, I’m going to do my best to give you my humble opinion of what makes a fighter. So are you fucking ready? Ready for some fucking MMA knowledge bombs, motherfucker?

I apologize–I’ve got that all out of my system now.

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FREAKY MMA

Roll up, roll up, let your eyes feast greedily upon the wonders of man as warriors from around the globe in all manner of shapes and sizes are pitted upon each other using mind, body and soul in the ultimate form of combat, MMA. Where, from the ashes of battle only one true victor will emerge and be left standing. Roll up, roll up!

This is how I imagine the M.C. of a Carnival would sound selling the ‘freak show fights’ that we witness in MMA today. If you live in Japan then you get a lady from New Zealand with a crazy cool voice to do it. With Japanese Mma now struggling and the UFC not having adopted the kind of format that showcases the ‘freaks show fights’, it looks like the ‘freak show fight’ might be on it last (overly long) legs.

So this time on Colossal Concerns I want to give my views on whether this is a good or a bad thing. To answer this we have to delve into what a ‘freak show fight’ really is.

Now, this isn’t an easy question it’s like a freakily shaped onion, by that I mean it has many strange layers. So please join me while I take a closer look at what the ‘freak show fights’ are all about (clears throat) Roll up, roll up! Don’t be scared, pay your money at the door and prepare to enter the many faceted world of the ‘Freak Show’.

The ‘freak against freak’ fight

(Zulu vs. Butterbean)

Image

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