Catch Wrestling and its underground influence on MMA, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu & The Gracie Hunter with Jake Shannon
I talk to Jake Shannon who is the founder of Scientific Wrestling and The King of Catch Wrestling Tournaments. We discuss how the history of submission grappling can trace its roots back to bored English miners who loved to gamble, how Japanese MMA emerged out of the theatrical and entertainment-driven world of professional Wrestling. The moment a quirky, professional wrestler bested the most famous grappling dynasty in all of fight sports and how that professional wrestling training helped him do it and could still even be used today in your own training practice.
Jake has also authored the best selling book ‘Say, Uncle!: Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling and the Roots of Ultimate Fighting, Pro-Wrestling, & Modern Grappling’ and ghostwrote Billy Robinson’s memoir titled ‘Physical Chess: My Life in Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling” and was also the assistant coach to Billy Robinson, 2007 – 2014 and now has two instructions out on BJJ Fanatics covering catch wrestling submissions and takedowns.
Episode 005 – Podcast Transcription
Sonny Brown: -you could even still use a few of those tricks in your training practice today. Now, let’s go to the podcast. Jake, many people when they talk about how they got into Mixed Martial Arts, it’s they’ve seen UFC 2 on videotape. That’s how they learned about the sport. That’s what inspired them to get into it. You have to be one of the few people who can actually say that you were their live at UFC 2. Is that right?
Jake Shannon: Yes. 1994, there was a Bruce Lee movie that came out at around then, Jason Scott Lee. I was very into that. I just got my ass kicked by my roommate who’s a judo guy, a Taekwondo Black Belt. I thought I was going to be tough like Bruce Lee and challenge my buddy in the backyard. He was a Judo Green Belt. Man, he just threw me all over the place. I sucked the world. I had never experienced grappling. He and I started going to the Boulder Gym Club. Anyway, there was a flyer for UFC 2 and I was like, “Oh my God, we have to go. This is so crazy.” We actually go. I lucked out. If you get that old UFC 2 footage, there’s a couple of scenes where I’m waving to the camera, but I’m sitting right behind the Gracie’s, in fact, which was neat. I’ve been following this sport and mostly practicing grappling. I never did MMA. When I started in ’94, I was probably, in addition to one of the first people to see the UFC alive, I was probably one of the first people to practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Colorado, and for that matter, probably the United States. I would pretty much say Colorado because there was nobody here doing it. Pedro Sauer was up in Salt Lake at the time, so we’d fly him down and Ricardo Miguel, these guides. Back in ’94, ’95, ’96, there was no real Naga, there was no real Grapplers Quest, there’s no Fight 2 Win. There weren’t these opportunities like these young guys have today, where you could go in and you could just enter tournaments until you start killing it. I got a little burned out, to be honest. Instead of going into MMA, because there was really no opportunities for a young guy that was not connected myself. I went into pro wrestling. That was a whole other weird, bizarre detour, but it was what led me eventually to catch wrestling because I never really did like– I thought pro wrestling was fun, but I’ve always liked grappling. Grappling is the thing that I’ve always done. I’ve always been drawn to it since I was really young. All the guys in pro wrestling were always like, “Man, you need to learn about Lou Thesz, man. He likes all the shit you like. You need to learn about Karl Gotch and Verne Gagne, and these other guys that were shooter pro wrestler types.” Right around that time, right around ’99 and 2000, Sakuraba came out. I was training at a Japanese style pro wrestling dojo up in Northern California. I was put on by a couple of the gaijin wrestlers from Pro Wrestling Noah at the time, Michael Modest and Donovan Morgan school. They’re Pro Wrestling Iron or pro wrestling Tetsuo. That was right when Sakuraba came through. Again, I’ve been around for all these different phases of this sport from the very beginning so it’s really interesting to see the evolution. Back then in 2000 to say that you, first of all, didn’t need Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to succeed in MMA, yet let alone that pro wrestling would be beating Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. People looked at you like you were a flat Earther. It was the most preposterous, you would have lost, but here was Sakuraba doing it and repeating the experiment over and over and over and over in such convincing passion. I just happened to be in a very lucky position and that’s really when I started my research. It’s funny, it’s actually MMA that brought me to catch wrestling, but it was by a way of pro wrestling because I couldn’t get into MMA. [laughs]
Sonny: Which is also funny because I think if we actually look at where MMA comes from and where pro wrestling comes from, if we go back to the very beginning, it actually is from catch wrestling. I think even freestyle wrestling as well and folkstyle wrestling, that all has their roots in catch wrestling. Is that correct?
Jake: Yes. The arguments can definitely be made for that. You could even make the argument that’s not really popular in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu circles, but I think it’s a defensible historical, that without catch wrestling, BJJ wouldn’t exist in the way it is. In fact, I think it’s my opinion, that guard work– What’s the traditional story that Maeda went to Brazil, taught the Gracie clan, yadda yadda, right? Well, Conde Coma crafted his skill in catch wrestling tournaments against catch wrestlers. It’s my contention that that’s where he learned how to be a bottom player, how to actually be offensive. It may not necessarily be orthodox, but I think it’s a defensible position to say that even Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu owes its origins to catch wrestling. It’s not controversial. The first Olympics, you know how when say, the Olympics first went to Korea, they allowed Taekwondo as an Olympic sport. Well, in the 1904 Olympics, it was in London. Their sport that they entered was Amateur Catch-As-Catch-Can , which they dropped the name and called it Freestyle. Freestyle, BJJ, obviously pro wrestling, that’s not even really controversial. You could definitely say MMA through the Japanese route because you can go back to the Inoki, Muhammad Ali fight. That was largely Inoki’s pushing and whatnot, the Japanese promoter, but all the proto-MMA that existed. Some people include Pancrase and say that Pancrase opened its doors first before UFC. I think they held their first show a month or something before UFC. The people forget that the UWFi had a pay-per-view called Shoot Wrestling Real and that preceded the UFC. I honestly believe that it was the UWFi’s which is where Billy Robinson trained Sakuraba ironically enough. I think that that pay-per-view because all the footage from the UWFi was filmed in Japan, and they had sellout. They were selling out like Korakuen Hall and all these fight venues back in the ’80s with UWFi. I think that it’s fair to say that Shoot Wrestling is Real or Shoot Fighting, I think it’s Shoot Wrestling is Real. That pay-per-view in the early ’90s was really what showed probably Rorion and Royce, “Hey, why don’t we do that? Let’s do it on pay-per-view and all that kind of stuff in the early ’90s.” Because it was pretty successful that– Anyway, catch-as-catch-can is very interesting because it’s totally obscure, nobody really knows what the hell it is but all the roads go back to it funny enough.
Sonny: Yes, because that’s how I became interested in it, is just obviously start doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I’d never really heard of catch, even though I guess you could say Ken Shamrock, in his early days, was catch. When I start reading about the history, I’m just fascinated that there’s this whole other lineage and tree that the more I read about it, the deeper it goes. Just recently, I was reading that Maeda competed in, I think it was London World Catch Championships at some point and came second or something or semi-finals, something like that. I’d never heard that before. I think it’s a probably unique part of the story that might need to be told, or it should be more common knowledge at least. I find that stuff fascinating. The evolution then of pro wrestling, is it right that they were just– It was the catch wrestlers that originated before the establishment of judo’s Kodokan. Then they start the catch wrestling but then they realize that, “Hey, if we start to predetermine the outcomes, people get less injured, we can put on more exciting bouts, we can put on more bouts and then that just slowly morphs into pro wrestling.” Is that how that evolution happened?
Jake: It’s sort of. There were some key players. If you think about, what is the word professional mean? What does that mean and why do people put that term and connect it to wrestling? Why is it connected to catch-as-catch-can? Well, catch wrestling has almost always been about money. Sometimes there was honour involved, but largely, it came about in an era when there was not Zoom. There wasn’t Xbox, or Playstation, or virtual reality or Tinder or Facebook or Instagram or any of that shit. They didn’t even have TV and they were all really poor. My point is this, people were really hungry. The era in which catch came about was in the early-mid 1800s in the northern parts of England and I would also say Ireland, because of most those early catch wrestlers names . I’m fairly certain that because the Irish were probably doing something similar to this. There’s an interesting amalgam and an evolution to it all. Anyway, a lot of these early guys, what they were doing in, they were the Irish coal miners, up in the north of England and in those territories. After a long day at work, and Billy Robinson would tell me these stories, that what those Irish miners got was one meal a day. It was toast with an egg and some beans. I mean you went and picked coal, hunched over in a tunnel all day and then when they were done with that, because they were so desperate and bored, they would bet on anything. They used to bet if you could jump into those giant wooden barrels. They would make bets if you could jump in or out of barrels. They would do all kinds of stuff because they were bored. One of the things they started doing was fighting and wrestling and because a lot of these guys had to go back to work the next day. They weren’t doing the bare-knuckle stuff for the punching and kicking because they needed to use their hands and they couldn’t have their– They couldn’t get cuts back then, you’d die of an infection. You could die of gangrene poisoning easily. They started doing these more rough and tumble matches but back when it started, it was illegal because to wrestle on the ground itself was forbidden. That was a big taboo, that’s like men don’t do that. That’s for–Some of these poor people didn’t give a shit, they would just fight till– They were fighting them. They were wagering a week’s wages. Those early professional wrestlers were the ones who were good enough that they made a living on bets. They were like we see professional poker players today. They quit their job and they just were alive betting on wrestling that. Well, what ended up happening is the publicans, the people that ran the pubs back then noticed everybody was gathering around watching these fights and they just were like, “Well shit, let’s start to host them over the beer to sell them some beer and I can make some money.” Those ended up being kind of the first promoters. What ends up happening is there’s a dynamic change. The catch wrestling in the early days was a binary contract. That was between the two wrestlers or the two camps and their backers. Well, when the promoter came in, that was a third party and that changed the dynamics because then the promoter started paying. It’s ‘who pays the Piper calls the tune’ and so, there was a lot of pressure then, whereas it used to be for bets and honour and this kind of thing where they wouldn’t throw a fight. Sometimes the publican would be like, “Hey, let’s stretch this shit out a while, make it three or four fights.” You just can’t win. You got to go back and forth. Do you know what I mean?
Sonny: Yes, makes sense.
Jake: Just like any fighting sport, corruption starts to creep in when there’s not proper oversight and those kind of that backstage or off-the-mat kind of dealings happening. It really changed when promoters and the money started getting really big. You look at the kind of what I call the ‘Golden Age of Catch’, 1910-ish, right around the turn of the century from the 19th into the 20th century. It was the biggest sport in the United States. It was bigger than baseball was, boxing was. It was huge. I think what ends up happening and it’s funny because Ronda Rousey just did a tweet about Pro Wrestling and something about having all these big tough Pro Wrestlers egos deflated because they couldn’t actually fight, and she just was being on a shoot about it. She’s like, “Well, man.” She followed it up with some very sound reasoning, which is what I’ve heard repeated from all kinds of different angles. That is what you also alluded to that, these guys are fighting everyone. You can’t as an MMA athlete realistically fight and make a living. You have to start figuring out how to work matches because the money’s there, people are going to pay, they want to see it. We’ve proven that they don’t give a shit if it’s real or not. They just want to see two people fight and enabled to do that where you’re doing it every single week and you’re not completely destroyed. You got to start working the matches. Boxing has had its works, but I will say this while 90% of the people went where the money is, which is human nature, there’s always been a strong hardcore group that have maintained the integrity of catch-as-catch-can as it, and so that’s why you can even today while our numbers are minuscule compared to something like BJJ. I’d say for every competent BJJ guy blue belt or above, for one catch wrestler, there’s probably 10,000 blue belts or above for BJJ. We don’t have those numbers and it is what it is. Despite that, there is a very small, almost like an oral tradition handed down, like aborigine to aborigine without writing it down or these techniques in this canon of strategy. I was lucky to get it from Billy, same guy that Sakuraba got it from, Billy got it from some guys up in Wigan. It is a truly interesting story, because you really have to go deeply into this subject because there is a lot of weird shit. There’s a lot of stuff you’re just like, “Oh my god, and then that leads you down this whole other avenue of study. It’s fascinating. It’s kept me busy.
Sonny: That’s exactly what I’m finding, so many little rabbit holes that you just keep going down that just-
Jake: This is the history, wait till you get to technique. I would guess off the top of my head probably seven or eight different variations of a double wrestler that I’ve heard from Tech’s wrestlers and that’s not even the double wrestlers from Jiu-Jitsu and stuff. It is deep man. It’s like martial arts. The cool thing is the catch happened at a time when there was a lot of photography and a lot of book publishing. You can at least find a lot of these.
Sonny: That’s one of the things that turned me on to is, when you see these old photos of like, “Oh, I know this move, I know this move.”
Jake: There’s nothing new ever.
Sonny: Exactly. It’s like, “I learnt that one last week and here it is from just years ago.” [laughter]
Sonny: It’s interesting.
Jake: Or you think you invented it, that’s the worst. When you’re like, “Oh, fuck, I got this,” and then you crack this book and you’re like, “Motherfucker, Goddamit! ” That’s the truth. People have been wrestling since day one, since day one, when somebody had a piece of meat or a major property or some and the other guy wanted it, you had to wrestle. That was like– You can imagine them, millions of permutations people have gone through, it’s just how many times and rediscover. That’s the thing that’s interesting to me.
Sonny: Well, that’s one thing whenever I try and mention to someone, like, “Oh, wow, catch wrestling goes back to 1900s or 1870.” Whenever it is exactly, is that the first thing someone will always respond with is, “It goes back to as old as time itself. I think it’s on hieroglyphs in the Egyptian walls. It goes back a long time, but there is something special about tracing that lineage back to this particular time in England that we have the history recorded. That every other grappling sport seems to value being able to trace it back so much and it’s like, there’s this point at time in England that we can say for sure, this is where something definitely happened.
Jake: It’s funny that you mentioned lineage. I don’t mean to step on your words, but when you mentioned lineage, it’s so funny because for me personally, I don’t put a lot of weight in lineage. I look at each individual wrestler because there’s a lot of guys that weren’t for Billy Robinson, that wanted Sakuraba. You know what I mean? That’s not to say there are a lot of amazing guys that learn from it but my point is, is that I’m fascinated by the history. In addition to, I’m even more obsessed with the actual sport, the technique and the strategy, but the history is fascinating. I do find that a lot of people get hung up, because they tend to bring Eastern or maybe even Japanese sensibility of lineage because those are very command and control. There’s rank, there’s belts. It’s kind of militaristic, you’ll lose to your sensei. Wrestling is kind of like, “I don’t give a fuck about this unless it’s a goal. If it’s a goal, know that I’m good. Again, it’s like going back to the money and it’s like, I don’t even care about winning if you pay me.
Sonny: I like it.
Jake: It’s just a different approach. It is a completely different approach and I do think that sometimes– I study business, I really love it but probably it’s why I’m biased looking at the business side of business well. I have to hand it to Rorion, really, because from a marketing standpoint, the tables have completely flipped. Everybody knows of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s so baffling for me. I ended up moving to San Francisco in ‘94 or ‘95 when I graduated because there was no Jiu-Jitsu. I went and trained with Karl and Gracie in San Francisco, and then a very short while after that with Ralphs gym opened and Kurt Osiander . I really never took a class with Kurt Osiander was running the classes, but you couldn’t find anything here. I had to move like five states away. I did so and I worked three minimum wage jobs in one of the most expensive cities in the world to pursue this passion for this grappling sport. To see where it’s come from, then when you just– You had to move some crazy place, I literally have in this little town, this suburb town that I live in, there are probably four different Brazilian schools with black belts. They really went to town man, I have to log them on the business side of things. I’m not going to lie, it’s a little bit of propaganda. Sometimes when I see a lot of moves renamed and histories forgotten then I know that these people know this stuff. It’s just interesting, you can’t blame these people. They’re making a lot of money and it’s become a huge growth industry. There’s another thing too that I think happens is a lot of times, you know how it is, fighters want to fight. If you are a Brazilian guy, there’s this automatic assumption that you can’t catch wrestling or if you’re a catch wrestling guy, you can’t BJJ. Honestly, both from a business perspective but also from training partners and actually getting to wrestle. Most of our guys come from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu first. The vast majority come through Jiu-Jitsu. I’m very grateful for what they were able to do and how they were able to influence the culture on such a mega way. I do obviously aspire personally to give catch some sort of recognition. When I started my business, I tried to kind of emulate the Gracie business models that have sprung up. That is having a gym and doing it like that way that everybody else was doing it. I just couldn’t get it going but it was because I was doing catch in a very hardcore way. The practices were too hard. I even joke with my friend, Roli Delgado, who’s a Brazillian Jui-Jitsu black belt in Arkansas. He had Billy when Billy Robinson was like, he’s living Arkansas for seven years or whatever. He would go down to this gym and help coach. Roli called me up one time. He’s like, “Man, can I just talk to you.” I’m like, “Yes, what’s up man?” He’s like, “I think I got a fire Billy.” I’m like, “What? What happened?” I thought something crazy happened. He’s like, “He’s just too hardcore. He scares everybody off, nobody wants to work that hard.” Not that they don’t want to work that hard but they don’t want to do that grind, nasty, college wrestling level practice of just insanity. That’s true, nobody wants to fucking do that shit dude. You’re going to have a hard time if your way of making money is open gyms and you got to get members to do that. I always struggled. I could never get people. I could see why something like Pancrases, where they end up getting these stud athletes and create a stable and then they have those guys all fight.
Jake: It’s much difficult. You got to treat it like a college wrestling room, which is just one of the hardest being like conditioning for wrestling.
Sonny: Oh, yes. Well, that’s what’s my interest lately has been in obviously this and folkstyle wrestling. I’m very lucky to have a coach who’s moved out to Australia from New Jersey. Gary Jones with the Wrestling Foundation. He’s recently put in like a system of levels just to give people that idea of progress to let them work through something. [crosstalk]
Jake: You have to do that. The martial arts business model is a very good business model. In terms of retention. The other thing that wrestling has problems with is retention, and that’s because it is that nasty attitude like, “I only care about gold.” Well, guess what, the other hundred guys in the competition, not- only a few people are winning something. The rest of the guys get nothing ever? Even if they’ve been in for 25 years. It’s interesting, but folkstyle– it’s interesting you mentioned folkstyle, I would argue to say that folk style is probably one of the purest expression of catch-as-catch-can minus the submit. Catch is kind of the fountainhead and there’s all these offshoots that come from catch-as-catch-can, pro wrestling, grappling, all those. Pro wrestling is interesting because it just became theater, but the hardest expression of the sport ended up going through obviously freestyle and folk style. Now, freestyle became a– anybody who follows wrestling knows these basics that freestyles is like the international expression of catch-as-catch-can. Folkstyle is the American version of that evolution French wrestling. It’s very interesting man. You go back and you look at the books and you can look at the amateur, the folk style America, the folk style amateur catch-as-catch-can rule books from the early books by the AAU, the Amateur Athletic Union here in the United States. They have jujitsu people called Kamuras. They have double wrist locks, they have submissions. Basically, but you can’t tap. They’re using these submissions to make the guy go over to his back. All it is, is you’re tapping, but it’s rolling over into a pin as your tap.
Sonny: That’s definitely one thing I’ve noticed from doing folk-style wrestling now and especially with my coaches. That, while you can’t tap and there’s no submissions, there will be some moves or just wrestling rides that, one cause you a lot of pain and the way out of that pain is rolling to your back. Essentially sometimes the pin can sometimes be a submission. Because you’re just like, “Man, I want to get out of this. He’s given me a way out, go to my back. I’m going to take it. Although, of course, you should never do that. You should go to the end, but that’s where it does feel like that’s a possibility.
Jake: 100%. It got to the point where I had to because, again you have to remember I was swimming against the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stream. Forever, people are like, “Well, what’s the relevance of pinning?” “No pinning, don’t matter.” Well, a guy by the name of Eddie Bravo came around with a catch wrestling pin and built an entire platform around it. Pinning is very important. That got me thinking, “Well, that is only one of many kinds of pins that I know people tap to.” This twister or what’s known prior it was the wrestlers guillotine. There’s all kinds of really awful pins like that. Because of that and because of the history of catch, when it was very popular and being practiced widely. There were statistics and you could see that most matches were one of the pin. There were more people that would win because the other guy would give up and say uncle and all that stuff. By in large, the majority were through pins. That really got me thinking, because a lot– I was trying to make catch relevant and I had so many people in my ear like, “Take pins out, just leave the grappling and have jiu-jitsu style strategy when you’re underneath but catch wrestling on top.” There’s plenty of people doing that. I just didn’t want to do that. I kept pondering the importance of this pin. It is why without submissions, folkstyle wrestling is the greatest bass for MMA, statistically speaking. By a margin that’s so wide you can’t really argue. You really don’t have much of an argument against it. The pin gives you in military parlance, the strategic high grip. This is why it matters in a fight. I can shoot a gun downhill better than up. There’s basic fundamental fact about fighting on a planet with gravity. You don’t want to be on it, you want to have the high ground. Anyway, I never really give up on it and kept pushing this idea of pinishers. I’ve been very, very lucky to work with arguably the greatest wrestler to live that we have recorded and that’s Wade Schalles. Guinness Book of World Records for the most wins, the most pins, the most wins over international champions, the most wins over national champions. He’s a five time all-American, which is very difficult to do in one sport, to become an all-American. That’s a very high level and he’s a five-time all of them in combat sports. Freestyle, folk style. Greco, Judo and Sambo. The guy is truly a savant. Truly a genius and I’ve been very fortunate that way to have one coach that’s at that level. I’m referring to Billy Robinson. I wouldn’t really consider Wade a coach because I was too old when I really started learning from him but he’s definitely a mentor. Definitely changed my way of coaching and the way I think about wrestling in a very profound way. Nobody knows who the hell he is, that’s the irony. So few people know and he’s truly the greatest. You look at him, and he looks like some cross between Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. He doesn’t look like Karellen.
Sonny: The fascinating thing too, when talking about the usefulness of pins. Is when I’ve been looking into how, recently, pins could be utilized in MMA. We’ve got the, for the striking game, of course, people are now trying to get back up to their feet as quick as possible. They don’t want to be pinned down. That’s one thing I’ve been using for training my MMA guys. It’s like three seconds on your back that’s a pin. Let’s start again, you got to be scrambling to get back to your feet as soon as possible. Then I was [crosstalk]
Jake: If you’re on your back it’s going to be hard to get points even if you’re punching. The guy on top is definitely got an advantage in terms of racking up the score sheet on the punches. There is so many advantages to that top game and the easiest way to practice that is with a pin. You don’t have to get a concussion. You don’t have to worry about cutting somebody open or breaking a bone in your hand. You can just drill really hard with pins. Again, I think that’s why freestyle, folkstyle is translated so well over to Mixed Martial Arts.
Sonny: The fascinating thing is with the interplay of the pin in MMA is, obviously, the Gracies made their name by becoming so good off their backs. Spending so much time there that they were able to use it as an offensive position. That really built a foundational element of their style. Then now they’ve started looking at Kazushi Sakuraba. Whenever he got taken down onto his back, he didn’t let himself get pinned. He was always just constantly turning to his belly, rolling to his knees.
Jake: Right, and how mind-blowing is that especially in 2000, he was giving people his back. That was the craziest shit to see these guys get his back. It was so exciting given the context of that time because everybody thought Sakuraba was toasted a second, but every time he just did risk control and shocked him somehow off his back and next thing, the fights back where they started.
Sonny: I think the fact that he had been training that so much and had been neglected, that he was able to capitalize on people’s in familiarity with someone actually doing that and able to turn that into an advantage of his own. When I’ve been looking back into their history, I find out the Wigan Snakepit, it actually got the name Snakepit because it was said that if you throw a wrestler, he turned to his belly and bite you. I’m like, “Man, that’s exactly what happened with Sakuraba.”
Jake: That’s interesting. Yes, Sakuraba was was pivotal, man, because truly, I was already down– I probably would have stayed in more of the performance side of pro-wrestling if it wasn’t for Sakuraba, man. I was only really doing that for about three or four years, I actually did fairly well, relatively speaking, there’s very few spaces at the top and I had tryouts with WWE, I was able to tour the United States and actually get paid and 50 different city tour, that kind of stuff. I had some success in it, but, man, when Sakuraba came, I was done. I was like, “This is what I must– It was just such an epiphany. Sakuraba to me, he’s almost like a mythical character. I almost don’t want to ever meet him and I run in so small circles with him. I want to meet him in a way just because he’s just such an epic figure in my life because when he started doing that, it was such a revelation to me given that like, “Yes, it’s like you’re a flat Earther if you don’t tow the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu line,” because they were killing everybody. Then I was like, “I got to figure this out.” Sakuraba had probably two of the best coaches in terms of complementarity. Complimentary– How would you say that? They complement each other. That’s obviously Billy Robinson, but Mitsuo Tsukahara, who is an Olympic medalist for Japan, I think in the late 70s. He was Sakuraba’s coach through what was either high school or college, whatever the equivalent is there in Japan. You could just see it. He is such a natural at all these moves and has drilled them so many times. Yes, Sakuraba was truly somebody special in the history of– not only MMA. Can you imagine he’s in the UFC Hall of Fame and only fought one fight, and now is he defeated the first Brazilian who was in that UFC.
Sonny: Yes, first-
Jake: Conan Silveira
Sonny: -person to tap out a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blackbelt.
Jake: Yes, Conan. He outweighed him. Conan was huge compared to Sakuraba.
Sonny: Yes. Well, that’s also another interesting thing with Sakuraba is that he did fight so many bigger opponents. One of the common criticisms I’ve heard when people mentioned catch wrestling is that it’s only big man moves or only works for bigger or only works in white class. How would you respond to those?
Jake: Combination of two things. One, a lot of catch wrestlers were, in particular, somebody like Karl Gotch, massive men, like six-foot-four, six-foot-five, and truly strong, like Carl could squat something like five kilos under the world record. He was just massively strong. He was also nimble. He could do like rings gymnastics as a heavyweight. He’s just incredibly strong. Of course, people are going to sometimes think of characters like that, they are just these big strong guys and, “They’re just going to the muscle.” I do think that’s a disservice because most catch wrestlers historically have looked a lot more like Royce Gracie than they do Ken Shamrock, historically. [unintelligible 00:35:50] was a long lanky guy. Farmer Burns was lanky, most of those guys, that was actually the typical build. I understand why people think that and also because I think a lot of times some of the advertising copy of some of the people out there selling catch wrestlers or merchandise, they just go that route, just that like 250-pound guy who just abuses you in the gym, like in their marketing. Do you know what I mean?
Jake: I could see why the misconceptions are there but it’s in fact, the most dangerous catch wrestlers were always lanky and the like of Royce.
Sonny: Yes. Karl Gotch, he’s a pivotal figure, I believe in Sakuraba’s development as well because he now– You know this better than I obviously. You’ve met Karl Gotch and worked with him yourself, I believe and he left America for Japan at some point and started teaching over there. Is that correct?
Jake: It’s interesting. You were mentioning this earlier. The first record that I ever have seen, and this is what I was told by a number of people and then I actually saw the article, was a press junket was Karl, in a press junket called it a Snakepit, and the name stuck. That was Riley’s gym and now it’s become more of a brand thing where I think Miotto in Japan was probably the first guy to use it. Then the guys over in Wigan restarted up and then and Joel Payne here in the United States uses the name. It’s a very symbolic and powerful kind of brand within this small little subculture. Karl, he was an interesting guy. I got to be close to him in the last about four years of his life. We would have weekly phone calls. Now they call that shit like remote coaching or some shit. I don’t really consider him a life coach, but he was very much a mentor. When I was first running my first catch-as-a-can club, it was at the Santa Monica High School. The first one that was formal, I had some that were just like, we do it out on lawns and shit, but it was the very beginning. We moved into the Santa Monica High School actually, a friend of mine, a great guy, amazing athlete, Mark Schultz, a gold medalist in wrestling. He hooked me up with that gym. Anyway, so I will was just starting out. I didn’t know what I was doing. I had Karl on the phone and so he figured out how to run practices, how to talk to the guys, the things that are important to be looking for from a coaching perspective that were not technique based. I couldn’t really learn technique because he was in Florida and I was in California, especially back then it was like there was no video phones or anything like that. I got to be very close, and for anybody who’s interested, Karl, let me record a number of the conversation. Some of them are just boring me and emotion, but mostly me bugging him about stuff kept wrestling related. I have all those recordings up. It’s got to be 20 hours at least of video record over at scientificwrestling.com. It’s just called Grotch chats or something when you get to the scientificwrestling.com. Karl was an interesting man. He was a tough dude and he was 12 years older than Billy. You have to understand, he’s in a whole other generation. If you think somebody 12 years older than you wrestling you. It’s a whole different kind of generation. Now, Karl came up, he always described himself as a poor boy that grew up on the waterfront and he took to wrestling, his mother– He got in a fight or something and his mother put him in it if I remember correctly, his dad didn’t get along very well, but he did really well. He ended up becoming something like– I can’t remember off the top my head, I keep so many of these different scores in my head or these different records. I think he was seven-time Belgium champ for Greco and freestyle, I want to say that. Anyway, he found him a spot at the Olympics in 48, which was again back in London. While he was there, I think he placed like seventh or something in the world, so its nothing to sneeze at. I think he was there for Greco, I could be wrong about that. It was one of the two obviously, but I think it was Greco. Anyway, he placed like seventh or somewhere between 7th to 10th, something like that. It was the Olympics. Anyway, while he was there, Billy Robinson’s uncle, the guy by the name of Alf Robinson, there’s a picture he was a famous boxer. He fought like Max Baer and guys like that and he was also a pro wrestler. That’s how it kind of Billy got into pro wrestling was through his uncle Alf. While Alf was at those Olympics and was kind of like a road agent for Wigan, and because they were up in Manchester, which is very close, and he was champion, a wrestler boxer. He saw Karl at those ’48 Olympics and invited him to come out to Wigan. In Wigan, they ended up calling him Chesty, because he was always– Some people call him arrogant, but he was just very confident and didn’t like bullshitting and wasn’t very patient. He goes to Wigan and even the little middleweights were beating his ass, and he just kind of had this epiphany like, “This is my life’s mission. He stayed there for approximately a decade, give or take a couple of years and came to America. Karl had a hard time getting over in America. There’s always this rivalry that historians bring up of that era between Karl Gotch and Lou Thesz, the two notorious shooters from pro wrestling in that era. They were both the same age, both had Hungarian backgrounds, but Lou made a killing, became super-wealthy . One of the wealthiest people ever work in pro wrestling, whereas Karl never did, but who had more influence on wrestling? I would argue Karl did because he was probably single-handedly responsible for MMA as we know it today. The number two largest pro-wrestling organization, new Japan pro wrestling was one that he had a hand in. The guy was massively influential. Anyway, Karl, when he came to the United States just got a reputation for being difficult to work with because he didn’t like losing because he was actually a real wrestler, found himself in this phoney pro-wrestling shit. Just was getting frustrated because he wasn’t charismatic or didn’t have some stupid gimmick. He’s like, “Why am I having to lose all the time?” Anyway buddy Rogers, the very first guy to call himself the nature boy was one of the biggest stars ever. In the locker rooms, Karl and him got into a fight and basically Karl beat the fucking shit out of him. The guy ended up calling the police and Karl had, I think he almost got deported or something. Anyway, Karl was very poor at one point. He ended working as a garbage man, I think in Hawaii for a little bit. Long story short, one of his buddies big Bill Miller was already working in Japan and said, “Hey man, come on out here.” Then the rest is, as they say, history. His attitude, his combat, his fighting spirit was like, he became the what is known as the ‘God of wrestling’ in Japan. Because Japan being a very combat sport-oriented culture, karate to judo, the little kids are all fighting anyway. Karl goes to Japan becomes massively influential because he’s going to the Kodokan and beaten up the Judocas there and just getting mad, respect over. Inoki, ironically half Brazilian, half Japanese, Inoki ends up becoming the star and he and Karl get aligned and they just rode the wave man. You ended up having the Ali fight, which Gene LeBell was the ref f or. You ended up having new Japan starting, which is the strong style, which is more of a combat style pro wrestling. You have the UWF, which has all Karl Gotch’s students and then the UWF splits off and splinters, which eventually becomes like Pancrase and then Pride. Anyway, that takes you to the modern time. Karl was involved in the mix of all of that in some crucial way, but he never had anything to do with Sakuraba directly. It was Billy. That was Billy.
Sonny: Not directly, but from my understanding he was the factor that led to this creation of this strong style or shoot style wrestling, is that-?
Jake: A strong style. Then strong style, which is again, the second biggest pro-wrestling company in the world after WWE is new Japan Pro Wrestling and new Japan Pro Wrestling is strong style. It’s a really tough way to wrestle. Most guys who do pro wrestling in the United States would really not last long in that system. It’s very tough. It’s a lot like MMA. It’s tough on the body. You have to be particularly durable. It’s a rough way to go about things. Anyway, beyond new Japan, there was things that began to splinter off and you end up with these organs, what I call proto-MMA organizations like the UWF rings, UWFi, Pro Wrestling Fujiwara, Gumi, Shooto. There’s all of these like, but they all come from Karl. Most of them, the majority of them, they can trace their way back to Karl. Karl was massively influential in terms of continuing catch wrestling through the late 20th century into the beginning of the 21st.
Sonny: Well, the Shooto on the UWFi, I’m fascinated at the moment researching about Sakuraba. One thing I’ve read is that he was inspired to take up wrestling at a young age from the comic book or the Japanese manga of Tiger Mask. The manga told a story about a professional wrestler who also fought crime, something like that. That inspired Sakuraba to take up wrestling and eventually leads him into professional wrestling, which at the time was the UWF and I don’t know, was tiger mask involved in that? Because his name, it was Satoru Sayama.
Jake: Sayama was probably one of Karl Gotch’s most famous students, but he wasn’t in the UWFi. He was in the UWF, but there’s matches– He would fought everywhere. He was like Sakuraba in a way. If you watch those pro wrestling matches with him, the guy was out of this world. The way he could move was so insane. Ahead of anybody else was doing. Today a lot of the guys how like break dancing in the ’80s was mind-blowing , nobody could do it. Now everybody can do these things. A lot of the pro wrestlers can do it, but it was so innovative the way a Tiger Mask wrestled. In that way it’s interesting cause he had Karla as an inspiration then Billy as a coach.
Sonny: It’s fascinating, There are these little rabbit holes that go down with this story and it all seems link up. Sakuraba was in this UWFi that then has Billy Robinson coaching these professional wrestlers to wrestle in a style that is, let’s catch wrestling obviously, but to wrestle put on performances in a style to entertain, but at the basis of it, they’re doing real catch wrestling. Is that roughly what’s going on in the UWFi?
Jake: The UWFi outcomes were preordained. They knew that say Takada who was very popular. He was the Hulk Hogan of that promotion that Takada was going to win. They knew that because they were doing that in the writing or in what’s known in the wrestling world as booking. What they would do a lot of times, and they did have some shoots. I know for example– his name is just slipping my mind right now. Billy Scott, he’s a great guy who fought for the UWFi. He also had to fight like a pro boxer, I can’t remember who it was, but it was somebody who was a real boxer, like a pro fighter. That was a Shoot. They would mix in a couple shoots where they really felt confident that they would win, but it was mostly works. What you do in pro wrestling that you want to keep it real or exciting is, so you could do this. This is actually a great thing for BJJ and MMA guys as a practice method. This has been something that catch wrestlers that work in pro wrestling for a long time. That is you wrestle from hold to hold. Let’s say you and I square off. You’re a lot younger than me and I’m out of the game. Let’s just, we’re hypothetical staring at each other. We get seated and we get drawn to where we have to wrestle a match. I’m looking at you, you’re looking at me whistle blows and we go. In worked match, if we want to make it go on, you and I are going to wrestle and say, you have a wicked single leg or something. You get the single leg, you put me into a Achilles right off that or a heel hook or something. You and I both know that you got that heel hook because I could tap it. You just don’t crank it. You hold it. You just work the hole. We wrestle for real but then you worked that hold and I work to get out of it. Just like you would do in a drill in your gym, and I get out of it and you try something out. Basically, what you’re doing is you’re wrestling but you’re just not taking home any of the moves. Do you understand? As soon as you can beat a guy, he’s up off the gas a bit, let him encounter or escape and then you start up again.
Sonny: That’s what I’ve been noticing when I’m watching Sakuraba’s pro wrestling matches, is that, I’m starting to think in a way it was like sparring that he was doing in the ring in his pro wrestling.
Jake: Everybody on Instagram, what do they call it, ‘flow rolling’ now or some shit. I’m like, “We’ve been doing chain wrestling, and fucking pro wrestling and amateur wrestling for hundreds of years, chain wrestling.
Sonny: I think a common misconception with pro wrestling is that with the predetermined outcomes that they’ve worked out every single move in a match. I don’t know if that is the case for some matches, but it seems to me that watching the UWFi matches that they’re really just going from instincts and just going with the moves and just coming up just flowing with it basic- you know, floor rolling with it exactly, [laughs] with the moves. Just like working from instincts as if they’re sparring. Is that how those pro wrestling matches or all pro wrestling matches work?
Jake: What you’ll do, this is the great thing and what I teach because I’ve been teaching at a pro wrestling school of all things recently. I’ve taught everywhere from BJJ schools to high school wrestling gyms. Now I’m at this pro wrestling school and what I have been doing is learning how to wrestle. Because what, typically, you want to do is, you want to be able to have a guy who actually can wrestle, because then you just go in and do that. You do your foam roll and you wrestle, or what I call wrestle from hold to hold. You actually are scrambling. You’re actually trying to win, and when you get it, you just don’t take it home and let the guy get out, so you can keep going and earn a check. People don’t want to see a two-minute match, they want it to go on for a half hour, whatever. Anyway, that doesn’t have to be scripted, you don’t have to call it in the ring, which is another way of pro wrestling works. You don’t have to do any of that shit. You can just wrestle, but that takes two people who actually can decently wrestle, because, as you know, trying to wrestle a white belt or something, they’re fucking dangerous. You get ass-kicked. You don’t want to work with that guy, you’re going to go in and kill him. Anyway, what they do a lot of days now, or in some of these more Shooto oriented is, they’ll wrestle from hold to hold, but then beforehand they’ll say, “Okay, listen, I want to get off my– I don’t know, “some finishing move or some big spot.” You want to get yours off, so they figure out at some point how to cue, that the other guy has to fake being exhausted, so the other guy can climb up to the top rope or whatever. Or they will call it during a match sometimes too, if they could feel the energy in the crowd, like a jazz musician, and they can riff. They can start saying, “Hey, I’ll toss you off the ropes, sunset flip, and yada, yada.” They just call it that way too. There’s a bunch of different ways you can do it and keep it a little more spontaneous feeling and authentic. It’s weird to me that, for example, in the United States, you can have somebody like Ronda Rousey or Randy Couture or somebody like that go through MMA, do all this stuff, be great, and then go into– What was that movie? The Invisibles? What’s the one?
Jake: Expendables, yes. Nobody is like, “You know that’s fake, right? You know that The Expendables isn’t real.” It’s like, “Well, what’s the difference between him doing that and Ronda Rousey going into WWE? No shit, it’s not real.” John Wick is not real, but it’s fucking cool shit to watch that shit, to see somebody really doing these crazy moves and giving you ideas and inspiring you. There’s different ways to do pro wrestling, the problem is that WWE has been so successful, and that’s great for them. I’m happy for them. Well, now after this economy tanking, now I think it’s valued at $3 billion or something, but just the idea that there’s a group of men in their underpants pretending to fight and it’s worth $3 billion, is amazing to me. I think that WWE is such a strong brand and it’s so powerful in commanding of media that people don’t understand that there is– Like pro wrestling has got all kinds of facets to it. It’s not just one side, there’s all kinds of different styles of pro wrestling, and personally, I include MMA in pro wrestling. I consider it to be a style of pro wrestling. It’s just a no pin, shoot cage match.
Sonny: Yes. Well, that said, the interesting crossover with tracing that history. As you mentioned before, professional wrestling starting where the promoters got involved, and the idea came to make up more for money. There’s promotional side of the UFC that we can see drifting more and more to using things from the pro wrestling playbook with trash talk and with their promotional tactics, where it fought so hard to be accepted as a real sport early on, and has got that acceptance, but not really. It’s in this grey area that keeps shifting from one side to the other, it seems. Definitely recently, it’s seems to start slowly shifting back, and just some elements creeping in from that pro wrestling playbook.
Jake: Look at Colby, that Colby Covington, or you look at Conor McGregor, or you look at Chael Sonnen. Muhammad Ali took from the pro wrestling playbook in cutting promos and hyping up matches. You got to do that if you’re going to make money. You’ve got to have drama. You’ve got to have people care. One of the things HBO did to revitalize boxing were those documentaries that that they would film building up to the matches and stuff. That is as big a part of this sport as anything, and so I do think people get obsessed with this mentality of trying to figure out who’s truly the best. It’s just, man any day, somebody’s got your number. You know what I mean?
Sonny: Yes, that’s true. That’s the truth.
Jake: It’s better to think in terms of making money, not trying to figure out who’s the best. Because figuring out who’s the best, that might be interesting but that will change in five minutes, whereas building a business is sustainable. You could keep running these contests indefinitely. Maybe you’ve got to figure out some– Maybe not, maybe they are shady, maybe you’re lying to people and saying it’s a straight contest when it’s not, but you’ve got to keep the business alive somehow. It’s an interesting thing to watch, and it’s also interesting to see the mafia involvement with professional sports, in particular, in Japan. That’s really what killed Pride, which is the ultimate, in my mind, the pro wrestling version of MMA, was the Yakuza. It’s just shady dealings, man. What can you do? That happens in governments, it happens everywhere. It’s a difficult thing.
Sonny: Yes. That’s the funny thing I find about this is, it seems to be this small microcosm of everything that happens in life and the world government, whatever, but it’s all laid out. Like we know there’s no theater anymore. We know it’s there, but it’s just all these little things start to interact and influence each other. Even with the theater and using that for a promotional element, it’s funny– A conversation I’ve had before is, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I don’t know if you’ve seen. Like on Instagram, a lot of people will put out Instagram moves. The idea is you want it just to look as cool as possible. You don’t want a nice slow choke, crushing pressure from side control, no one’s going to watch that four-minute long video. It has to be a minute of something exciting. I don’t know what it is, and sometimes people put out stuff that you’re like, “That move, it’s a bit dicey. I don’t know if that will ever work,” but that’s what- [crosstalk]
Jake: They are all doing the same thing. They’re all hustling man. They’re all trained to get there and it could be total bullshit, but they’re hustling. That’s a total truth. It’s very funny to watch all these people doing these floor moves and stuff, and it’s so funny because you find back in the early days of MMA people making fun of traditional martial arts. I look at all these intricate things that are people doing, it’s grappling Kata. It’s like, “Okay, that’s cool, but try to pull that off.”
Sonny: Yes. Well, that’s fascinating too, because we talked about Eddie Bravo bringing the wrestling pin into jiu-jitsu with the twister, wrestler’s guillotine, turning into a whole system. I don’t know if you’re aware that he’s put out now a whole system of 10th Planet warm-ups, which he has a system. All these schools around the world every week, do the same set of warm-ups, which is Brazilian jiu-jitsu Kata. It’s set a moves that they work through, just flowing from one to another, and it worked great on Instagram as well for promo. They put those out and they look excellent. His inspiration for that was also Kata as well. He wanted guys to be able to work something just off the bat, so that links up back into that as well. Which it’s just all things to keep being interconnected.
Jake: Well, the good thing about that thing is that, this is one thing that was missing in the jiu-jitsu when I started, is there was no drilling. There was no drilling. The Brazilian guy would come in with his Portuguese accent, show you how to do a paintbrush version of a top press lock, and then everybody would wrestle for an hour. You go to a wrestling room, you look at somebody who’s just a genius on the mat, like Cary Kolat, and he’s like, “Dude, I’m 90% drilling.” It’s a whole different way of looking at things, and that is what it sounds like Bravo is doing with these warm ups. It almost sounds like drilling moves, which is a very important part that the modern grappling scene could really learn a lot from folks about wrestling, and that is just that drilling ethic. You always have to wrestle and you have to spar, drilling, it’s boring as shit, but that’s how you get the muscle memory in, so you don’t have to think about it, just automatically happens.
Sonny: Yes. Other conversations I’ve had recently is, how we can make those drilling sessions more enjoyable and turning it into games and things like that.
Jake: You have to when it’s run as a school, where you have students paying- to be entertained. That’s a form of fitness and entertainment for them. Whereas if you have like a bunch of guys you hired to put on a TV show, and they are getting a paycheck, and they don’t drill, they get fired. It’s different. The pro wrestler is different than the part-time grappling enthusiast as well. It changes everything. I’ve given up on the idea of trying to get a school going, I’m just teaching coaches now but my real vision is to actually get a promotion going so I can coach a few all-American level athletes with this and use that as a showcase. It is amazing to see somebody Sakuraba or Tamura, and they tangle and it’s like, “Holy shit, this scramble is just like amazing to watch because it’s counter, re-counter.”
Sonny: That Sakuraba vs Tamura match, if anyone wants to go watch that. That is a great one to view for that shoot-style wrestling look. I’ve watched that a couple of times over the last week and that’s given me a lot of these thoughts that I’ve had recently. Even the thought I’m having now it’s like, “Yes, so what is a good way to make that drilling fun and entertaining?” Well, hang on. That’s what you were saying with would you call the hold to hold? I’m like, “Oh, hang on,” then we’re going back into that shoot stuff.
Jake: That was what it is. You could think about it this way because and I don’t know the laws, where you’re at. They’re completely different than you’re like–
Jake: For example, in United States, you don’t have to get the State Athletic Commission involved, unless there’s punching or kicking. You can hold a grappling tournament and you could just do it as long as you have insurance. You don’t need the state involved.
Sonny: Yes, insurance is a big thing here. I’m sure of it.
Jake: That’s also what they get away with pro-wrestling here too. Pro wrestling doesn’t have to have– It’s just, so you could conceivably do something with your school because this is actually how pro wrestling schools operate. They charge their students and then the students are really paid to play performers. They pay to enter the school and then the school has a promotion attached to it that they’ll put on a show every month and put the students in the show. You could run a pro wrestling show, but have it shoot-style and every month just your local guys, your school, you just state, you have them bring family and friends and it’s not a big deal, it’s not some serious thing like a tournament. It’s just your own promotion, your little school, you act like a small girl. There are ways you could maybe motivate people that are more aligned with the catch wrestling attitude, but the end in training for a pro wrestler is that performance, is that competition that time when it’s, do I win or do I lose and it’s all on me kind of thing. It’s not at all. I think nerves and public performance are a big part of it too.
Sonny: Yes, I actually think that’s a great idea to get. You could say how you guys go work out something, make sure you’re entertainers and go put something together because, and yet make a note of it even my Brazilian jiu-jitsu school with my coach Anthony Lang, a couple of years ago, we decided he wanted to change up the gradings a little bit which were a demonstration of moves, and now, the brown belts, have to put on exactly that. The brown belt is going to pick someone, you guys come up with something and put it on because the grading everyone’s there, everyone’s watching.
Jake: Yes, imagine you do that and then you let people wear like glittery underpants and masks and paints, and then come out to rock roll music and they have fireworks. That’s the greatest thing you could ever do.
Sonny: I kid you not. My coach’s wife, Nikki Lang, when she did one for her black belt, that’s what she did. She had a smoke machine.
Sonny: I played the music–
Jake: Nice. She had an ancient scene and everything.
Sonny: She had ancients and then she came in and did the performance. She worked with NAS, one of the brown belts and they did it all together. It was great. They’d been working on it– [crosstalk]
Jake: See, that’s pro wrestling. You didn’t need to be there every time.
Sonny: They had been working on for weeks.
Jake: That’s pro wrestling right there.
Sonny: That’s fascinating man. It all comes full circle.
Sonny: I love it. That’s so good.
Jake: It’s interesting because it is important, sometimes the mentality and the reasons why people do things. Pro wrestling is different, a lot of jujitsu people come up because they want self-defense or the, most people are in pro wrestling is because they love pro wrestling. They love all of it. They love the craziness, the violence, the beauty of it, the ridiculousness of it, they love all of it. It is just sometimes a little bit of a different sensibility.
Sonny: Well, that’s where it came from and it’s like for Anthony to do what I think is like, “Hey guys, you guys know at this stage he knows everyone that’s been doing it long enough. He knows what they’re doing, he is like, “Hey, let’s have some fun. Let’s make this enjoyable for everyone sitting around. I know what you guys are at, but let’s change it from just a rote memorization of techniques or display to let’s have some fun and make this more enjoyable, let’s make this entertaining again,” which is.
Jake: Well, think about the amount of time somebody will drill or rehearse, or go through the same move when they know they’ve got to perform in front of all their friends. They don’t have to worry about the embarrassment to get their ass kicked, but they’re going to actually have to perform the move the right way. You don’t get better drilling than that.
Sonny: Well, there’s a lot of sports science I think about the pressure of performance being critical to actually get good training results is bringing all those elements in of a timer and trying to make things as much like game day as possible, or match day will actually improve the quality of your training. Just having that audience there watching your performance I assume would be another way to get a bit of that effect, crossing over as well.
Jake: When you’re in front of a big crowd, you’ll learn to block them out. It’s like anything, it takes repetition. If you’re going your first day and it’s a huge crowd, that can be a whole factor that you hadn’t really anticipated.
Sonny: Yes, and the changes it definitely that’s when we’ve had like little just amateur MMA shows, is it first thing everyone just in the gym, little gym battles. The first thing everyone comes out when they say it’s like, “Oh,” it’s a lot different when everyone’s standing around looking at you dead silent. It just changes the dynamics so much.
Jake: That transition between when I was coaching catch on like the beach when I lived on Venice Beach in LA to the time I was at the Santa Monica High School, there was a six-month period where I went to Gene Lebell School. It was actually Gokor. For about six months I got to roll with guys like Manny Gamburyan. . Karo wasn’t there, but I got to roll with Gokor who just kicked my ass. The guy was just so amazing. His footswitch were like some I never have seen before. One of the things that they did at that school, and again, and probably a lot of it had to do with Gene Lebell’s influence too, was that at the end every month they’d have an intra-school tournament. Only that school. Nobody else is invited just that school, you have a little club tournament in house every month. I think it’s important for developing that kind of inoculation to being in front of a crowd and have people watching grapple or wrestle. It’s important.
Sonny: Yes. It’s so funny that it seems like looking at the two people competing in the combat sports or wrestling no matter what it is, you’ve got the two competitors and then above them, there seems to be the promoter or the money that can influence the wrestling performance in so many different ways, and then on the bottom side you’ve got the audience, which can also influence. There’s like this interaction between all those things that will just change the end product or the end results so much. At the end of the day, it’s all that human instinct to wrestle that well for combat sports. With that in mind, what would you think then Brazilian Jiu jitsu could some other things that they could possibly learn from catch wrestling, or maybe not even necessarily techniques. I’m sure there’s heaps of those, but what are some takeaways that you think could be a bit more integrative?
Jake: I’ve really gone all-in on this catch wrestling thing. I’ve really taken this on as a bit of an experiment starting back in 2003, and so not only trying to learn the history, promote the history, learn the techniques, promote the techniques, but also to create the sport. I’ll tell you this, I’ve loved grappling for a very long, long time. My friends that don’t like grappling, but believe it or not I do have some friends that don’t like grappling. They can’t fucking watch it. They can’t fucking watch it because it’s so boring. To us players, it’s not boring because we know what’s going on, but it’s not like football or baseball or soccer or whatever, where you could sit down and figure it out in one game what’s going on, and then become a fan, become a spectator. You just don’t see it. Even guys like Gary Tonon and Gordon Ryan and all that, they’re making some good money, but it’s still not like huge numbers. It’s not like boxing numbers, it’s not like MMA numbers, because it’s a more complicated thing. Now, here’s the one thing that I think that grappling, in general, could learn from catch wrestling and by the way, I’ve said this elsewhere, but I think it bears repeating. I look at these top guys and grappling now from Nikki Rods to Gordon Ryan, and they’re all fricking jacked and NoGi. It looks like the Lion’s Den from the early 90s.
Sonny: It does. There’s no longer the little man going around.
Jake: It’s all like the truth is that I think that have run through, you know, because catch wrestling has been around for so long. It’s experimented with a lot of different things and like any system finds what works and disregards what doesn’t. It’s been around for a long, long time. One of the things that its found is that adding the pin makes grappling submission grappling, adding the pin to submission grappling makes it viable as a spectator sport. The pin pushes the action and when the guy’s putting a shoulder up to try to get his shoulders off the man, he opens himself up for submissions. It pushes the action. A lot of people work down on it. But listen, it’s integral to the success of actually having a professional grappling system is the pin. It’s important it pushes the action so people who don’t play the sport will actually spend money to watch it. I truly believe that and I can make an analogy. Look at MMA. If I were to simply replace striking with pinning, MMA and catch wrestling are the same thing. It’s a two vector game. I can win with a knockout or submission. I can win with a pin or a submission. Simple.
Sonny: Yes. That element to be able to make it exciting and make it watchable for the general public. That’s something that even watching black belt matches it, especially NoGi sometimes for jujitsu it can be hard when it’s just long portions of not much happening.
Jake: Judo, anything like it has the same problem and I honestly do believe it’s the pin.
Sonny: It’s funny that again, Eddie Bravo, he’s been one that’s been trying to mix around with the format with his EBI tournament, where his main goal was to try and get grappling on television or just try to make it exciting. He bought in just sub only, no points, only subs, you know, 10-minute matches. He bought in some overtime stuff, which people seem to really enjoy. At the beginning people were really into it because it seems like all the Danaher guys came in and really they tore up all those early tournaments just dominating. They were incredibly exciting matches when they put those on because they were just rolling around. That’s when people started to take notice. Again, it’s funny, I’ve heard Danaher’s he’s written once that he says his system shares some philosophies with catch wrestling, but he hasn’t gone into that any deeper that I’ve been able to follow.
Jake: To be honest, I’ve never seen one of his videos. I’ve seen him. Obviously, the guy’s very famous and a very successful coach, so I know who he is, but I’ve never really watched any of his systems or his videos or whatever. Man, I just can’t focus on it that long.
Sonny: It’s very difficult. He’s a dry talker.
Jake: I’m a quant. I have my Master’s Degree in Math. I could be as nerdy and wonkie as possible, but I also know how to change the inflection of my voice. Anyway, the point of it is this is the guy has obviously been very successful, but from looking at the catalog of things he offers, he’s the first guy in jujitsu that I see actually talking about pinning. Again, everybody talks about, Oh, Danaher and this leg lock stuff. I’m like, “Yes, these are things that we’ve been saying for a long fucking time guys.” I will give Danaher credit that he’s open-minded and he’s integrating it into the system. I look at all the Danaher Death Squad leg lock and flexing their muscles and all that kind of stuff. It’s just like, “Man, this is like the Lion’s Den all over again.”
Sonny: Promoting themselves on social media, those guys are the biggest. Gordon Ryan started-
Jake: Pro wrestlers, yes. [crosstalk]
Sonny: -showing up in the crown and the cap and all that tearing through with leg locks. Now everyone talks about pins in grappling. Everything is a pinning position. It would just be holding someone there, not the finish of the match.
Jake: I know that you’ve been around for a while and somebody like me, I’m an old grandpa that’s been around forever. I just could tell you just the level of bullshit sometimes is baffling to me because just like– I remember having arguments about leg locks to people, I remember having arguments about pinning to people. Now it’s like when everybody jumps on the bandwagon, it’s great because I’m like, “Yes, fuck, awesome. Let’s do this, do the leg locks. Let’s pin. Let’s try throwing in- like Nelson’s next, or actually let’s get real crazy and start using wrist locks. Not double wrist locks like actually attacking the wrist joint, or spine locks.” There’s so much. There’s so much that’s not being used.
Sonny: Yes. It’s fascinating because there was that history of leg locks in catch wrestling for a while, wasn’t there?
Jake: Oh geez. Yes. Even Sambo recognizes that. Sambo got its leg locks originally from catch wrestling. Then they went off on their own and refined it in their own way for their own sport and their own rules and did fantastic. The other thing that is really missing, I’m hoping– I am just one guy and I’m very grateful for any way that I’ve been able to contribute to this sport. I’m very grateful because I love this sport just to be a part of it it’s just something amazing. I am talking grappling as a whole. I am also realistic and I know that my influence is not very far beyond catch wrestling circles, and that’s a very small circle. I do hope guys like Danaher and Bravo continue to use these other methods to innovate the sports that they’re in. The one that I’m really hoping somebody is going to bust wide open in the start using in a methodical way against jujitsu is cradles. I’ve been on this bandwagon for probably 15 years now. Cradles are truly everywhere. They are truly everywhere. If you just got to look for them and they are such a difficult position to get out of once you’re in one. I find that jujitsu guys are always in a bad position with regards to cradles a lot. I hope somebody, maybe somebody listening to your show because you probably have more influence than I do in MMA, that they start really trying to integrate cradles as an offensive weapon or even as a passing weapon. Obviously a lot of my guys and stuff know this, they’ve been working out their own systems and doing great. But what I’m saying is some of these Danaher guys too, cradles are so amazing. They have so much application in grappling.
Sonny: That’s actually one thing I’ve been– I’m with you on that 100%. I’ve been working on cradles in trying to integrate them in my game as well. I actually did a seminar with Matthew Tesla who’s a Danaher’s Brown belt over here, and one of the things he showed was a cradle.
Jake: Oh nice. Good. Okay, good.
Sonny: You never know where that could go because yes, there’s definitely a lot of combat potential film. Just a great technique to be working into things.
Jake: Also for your wrestling, it’s the best foot for wrestling as well. When you figure out how to bring them over to the submission game, you can set up leg locks and toe holds and knee bars or there’s so many crazy things you can do from a cradle, let alone just passing the guard.
Sonny: Yes. That’s where I think there’ll be a lot of use for it like one take in the back is a huge one. Yes, leg entries, it will be a good way to explore that into the future. With the leg entries in the Danaher guys, what’s your take on the recent crossover matches that Gordon Ryan again has being having with Bone Nickel, Pat Downey and taking on these wrestling guys? I’m sure you probably feel the same way, but I’m watching these matches going, “Why don’t they add a pin to these and just make this pin or submit, and then wouldn’t that be a fair representation of the rules?” What do you think of that?
Jake: Well, I’m 100% with you on that thought. I’m very much like, “Oh, fuck guys, you’re so close, just please.”
Sonny: So close. So close, right? So close. [laughs] [crosstalk]
Jake: Just do a pin. These matches are total easy and you’d have all this historical precedent. Anyway, however, the good news, the silver lining to that is that they’re getting close. In fact, this is how most of the match just backed that they were these weird rules that were agreed upon by both sides. This is what I was talking about, the difference between having a promoter who puts out a uniform set of rules, whereas you have two fighters negotiating rules, you understand? It changes the sport a little bit. A lot of times what they would do back is they would do the best two or three but match one would be catch. Match Two would be Cornell elbow. Match Three would be Greco-Roman. Do you understand? This is the other thing, catch is not really kind of– It doesn’t lend itself to an authoritarian, top-down command structure. It’s more of a grassroots bottom-up thing. They definitely meet in the middle often, but it’s more of a grassroots thing. The importance of that is that there are variants in these rules, man. I could go back look at all the different rule sets that have been published, and there have been a million more than that are just agreed upon between betters. You can have the strangle barred. You could have the full Nelson barred. You could have toe holds barred, you could have a three-count pin. You could have a five-count pin. You could have a pin where it had to be both shoulders or a pin where it had to be both shoulders and a hit down to the count to start. These variant rules that you see in modern grappling as like these guys are trying to find a place to meet in the middle, it’s just weird to me. It almost, I’m just going be honest here, it’s like maybe smacks a little insecurity that they don’t want to go to pro wrestling. It seems so obvious like if I’m doing every other rule variant possible, but the one where the jujitsu and the wrestling guy would pin me. I don’t know. It depends on how much weed I smoke and how conspiratorial I am.
Sonny: It’s so funny because, yes, that Gordon Ryan, his last match with Pat Downey, of course you’re talking about changing the rules. They banned heel hooks. They took heel hooks out. It was the same with the match with Bo Nickal. The one with Pat Downey, the first match was submission wrestling, the second match was freestyle wrestling. It’s so close, and it has this historical precedent that you’re saying and it’s likewise.
Jake: I’m telling you that modern NoGi grappling is closer to catch wrestling than jujitsu than it is to jujitsu, in my opinion, because there are these leg locks. There’s all these things. There’s the promotional aspect, there’s betting. They’re so close, man. Then you have these different rule variants and things. They’re really so close.
Sonny: So close it seems.
Jake: Yes, it’s very interesting. You look at Craig Jones and Vinny Margulies. I kind of consider Margulies a bit of a catch guy. Margulies is a beast, right? He’s a guy who doesn’t get, in my opinion, enough press. He’s not running around with a crown or doing sexy Instagram videos or anything like that. You know what I mean? Vinny Margulies is a bad ass. One of my guys who is also a bad ass, Jesse Merez, he came up under Billy and I. He’s friends with Margulies.
Sonny: He’s hit Twisters in ADCC. He’s 10th Planet black belt as well.
Jake: Yes, he’s beast.
Sonny: Catch is so funny. It’s so right to be made fun of too because you do have all this history and stuff. Sometimes you look at those old pictures and the guys with the weird mustaches and the long pants. It is a little anachronistic. What I’m really hoping for is, I truly believe catch wrestling, as a business, is the sweet spot between UFC and WWE. I think there’s money to be made there on a big scale between those because I know that there’s a lot of crossover fans. That’s why Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey went to WWE, and CM Punk went to UFC. There’s a huge crossover appeal. I just think that, “Hey, man, we could do something.” You wouldn’t have to get state athletic commissions involved because there’s no punching and kicking. It’s a lot like UFC in terms of its rough man. These guys are really going to go at it. I think it would be really neat to see. That’s what I’ve been working on. I got just a little disillusioned of trying to do it the Brazilian jujitsu way until I realized you can’t cause it’s not Brazilian jujitsu. It’s a whole different thing. It will never go. I just hit my head against the wall trying to make a square peg fit in the round hole. What has to happen is that you need money again. I hate to sound crass. I’m really not a selfish person. If I was, I’d have more money. You do need money. You need a promotion. We need a showcase. That’s what I’ve been working on. I launched the King Catch Wrestling in 2007, which was an open tournament. Now, I’m working to get funding for an actual show. I’ve already got the name Shoot Pro Wrestling trademark. Whether we go with that or not, it’s just a working concept. That’s the vision. What I’d really like to do is actually have a show that is halfway between, truly halfway between UFC and WWE. By that I mean, we would have exhibition actions like WWE. However, just like there’s a hard core title and there’s a tag team title and there’s a cruiserweight title, all these different kinds of titles, there would be a shoot title. That shoot title is always on the level. It’s always a competitive match. Then that way you could cycle guys in and out of the shoot division and then when their body is too beat up from during those hard matches all the time, you put him back into the normal wrestling belt contention where they can chill out a little bit and not take so much abuse. Then, when they’re healed up they go back into shoot.
Sonny: Yes, well that makes sense too, because Vinny just had his leg destroyed or his ankle just ripped off yesterday.
Jake: Yes, he knee or something.
Sonny: Far out. You’re thinking like you have shoot matches at the top of the card, but then give these guys a chance to just, hey, teammates, put on some exhibitions just to keep active in the meantime, and you put on some entertainment. I think that sounds reasonable to me.
Jake: If you think of it more almost like vaudeville or like a variety show, that’s really what pro wrestling is like the WWE. It’s the longest running television show in the history of the United States. No other show has been on its long as it has without a break and without reruns. Something crazy like 30 or 40 years or something. It’s like vaudeville, one section is funny, one section is sexy, one funny and serious, one part is tragic, one is heroic. They just mix it all up. Well, I think that legit competitive wrestling can hold place at that table. The whole table doesn’t have to be competitive though. That’s where I think people are getting mixed up and not working together. You know what I mean? We’ve had fucking one of greatest wrestlers ever go in to pro wrestling, Kurt Angle. Wouldn’t it be great just to have him and have like a whole belt where people could come in and try to shoot for it. That’d be really exciting I think.
Sonny: I’m with you on that. I think it’s so just interesting just how these different worlds just keep borrowing from each other and just the fact that, yes, I think you’ve got a good idea there of another way forward to keep that progression happening. Even with grappling, the last, I don’t how long it’s been, a year or two, but Sakuraba’s quintet. That’s been one of the biggest changes in the grappling rule sets that’s been very popular with everyone. Everyone’s like, “Wow, this is an amazing new format. It’s real entertaining, exciting.” Of course it’s Sakuraba, so it’s borrowed heavily from wrestling with folkstyle wrestling team duels. He made really quick stalling calls for people to keep the action going. Band closed guard and heel hooks to keep the action going. It’s made it exciting. That team format lends itself to telling– You get these naturally arising storylines where people avenge the loses of their teammates. That’s become one of the biggest things in grappling the last the last couple years. Again, that cross over from those historical precedents. Well, you even see people now.
Jake: I almost had this shoot pro wrestling. Well, it’s going to be the King of Catch Wrestling Championships. We’re going to make it an invitational, kind of do what Eddie Bravo did and take it out of an open tournament format, making it an invitational. Well, we got all the way to the end and about a month prior, just kind of folded. We just ended up having some coordination issues that precluded us from actually putting a show on, which sucked. However, we got really, really close. One of the things I wanted to do and fortunately I see other people doing it now was tag team grappling. I’ve seen these competitions where I can’t remember the name of the promotion.
Sonny: Yes, Chael Sonnen’s, Submission Underground was put on a couple of tag team matches
Jake: Tag teams, okay, yes. I mean, it’s like amazing man. This is the kind of thinking. Why is everybody trying to reinvent the book? You can go back and look at these ideas that these other promoters have worked on in the past, and there’s money in them.
Sonny: Of course, Chael Sonnen and another person who stole or not stole, borrowed whatever from the pro wrestling playbook.
Jake: He’s really much a pro wrestler. He totally is a heel- like Jesse Ventura was.
Sonny: He’s said lines at press conferences which were taken directly word for word, I think, from old pro wrestling footage and he made a lot of money doing it. He changed the game in promotional side for the UFC, and probably was the leading for Conor, which again Conor changed the game. We’re still figuring where this is all going to run into.
Jake: Well, interesting to tie it all back, Billy Robinson and I were in the room with Chael and Neil Melanson and Randy Couture the night before Sonen, Silva won. The one where he took him all to the end and at the very end gets triangled.
Sonny: Yes, I know it well.
Jake: Billy and I were over at Couture’s gym doing a seminar for Neil Melanson, and then Randy wanted Billy to come in and give Chael some pointers right before. It’s got to be crazy.
Jake: Yes, was probably like a fly in the wall on that room.
Sonny: That’s a historic moments.
Jake: Yes, it’s cool.
Sonny: I guess, tying it all up. Now for you, obviously, we’re recording this in the middle of a global pandemic, so there’s not much happening at the moment. For you, what are your offerings now with catch? You spend a lot of time with Billy Robinson putting on seminars around the world and running training sessions with him. How was that and how did that evolve into what you’re offering now or what can people do to pursue it through you?
Jake: In about, geez, I guess it was 2004. I think it was 2004, that’s when I first started talking with Karl Gotch and he really started helping me, mentoring in my coaching. It wasn’t enough and I definitely didn’t have any of the good technical stuff the catch– truly really, really technical stuff of catch wrestling. I thought I did but I had no idea. I had zero now that I look back. I would do good. I can hold my hand. When I started learning from Billy it’s when everything changed. Karl was giving me more strategy ideas, how to run practice, how to motivate the guys, that kind of stuff. When I started working with Billy it was all hands on and it was actually pretty fucking high pressure because I brought Billy out originally in 2006, which was actually kind of a quid pro quo between me and Josh Barnett. I had hooked Josh up with Karl for a magazine shoot for one of the sport magazines out of Japan and later on he was like, “Hey, you know Billy Robinson?” “Yes, of course.” “Can you hook me up?” He’s like, “Yes no problem.” Josh is one of the greatest guys ever. Anyway I brought Billy out and we just really hit it off. I’m sure it had to do with my exposure to Karl before get my sensibility straight about things. Man, I spent seven years with Billy Robinson as his right hand man. And basically I had to do everything because he was physically broken down. People could see the videos. He was in awful shape by the end of his life, in a lot of pain. I had to do everything and man it was a quick learning curve because he is a perfectionist and not patient. He’ll hit you with the cane or call you curse words or whatever. I’m having to learn there with this guy as my headmaster and you in a room full of like alpha males wanting to learn how to kill each other. That was my school. Like how to coach and I did that for seven years. I look at it almost like one of those internships in the medieval guilds. It took seven years to become a master, whatever. I paid my dues with Billy for seven years touring around. Anyway hundreds and hundreds of hours with him on the mat learning how to coach.
Sonny: Now you run coaching clinics, coaching sessions, is that–?
Jake: Yes, I’ve been really lucky to be able to keep that going and I’ve had a lot of really great friends, guys who are 1,000 times better me. Guys like Josh Barnett and guys like Wade Charles that also go out with me in tour. You were saying like what am I doing? I’ve been doing this coaching thing for probably– Billy and I started in 2007. He died in 2014 and then I’ve kept it going. It’s been going for a minute. Like 13 years or whatever. Right before all this lockdown stuff happened, I got a call speaking to Danaher, speaking to Gordon Ryan and all those guys. I got a call or an email from a BJJ Fanatics and just out of the blue they’re like, “Hey, man you want to do an instructional?” I was like, “What? Me?” They’re like, “Yes.” I guess somehow they heard. I probably should find out why they even asked me. I flew out there and we did a two DVD set in Boston for them and flew out to their studios. Me and Sam Kressin who’s my right-hand man. He’s been with me probably the longest. He’s a really tough guy. Great catch wrestler, great coach. BJJ, black belt third degree and then Chris Heller. Cool dude but very hardcore about catch wrestling too. We flew out there and filmed these videos and then the lockdown happened. I know that they’ve been saying that my– I asked them and they sent me in quote. I’m quoting what they said that “it’s selling very well with an exclamation point!” I was happy to hear that because I feel like I’m a nobody, so to have him selling well was really exciting to me. The problem is, is the same thing that everybody else is probably experiencing that gives a shit about this sport is just utter fucking frustration. The people that own businesses that also love the sport are probably having more than frustration. They’re probably having despair, fucking anger and sadness because a business is shut and stuff. It’s been hard for me too because I rely on gyms. That’s who I sell to. They bring me out and I do seminars or I do training camps or whatever and these gyms have just been decimated by all this. On one hand, I’m really excited because my DVD came out and everybody is stuck at home and has to watch it, but on the other hand I’m like ready to go. I’m like, “Come on, man. Let’s get going.” The other thing is, is as an athlete or even as a coach you have a shelf life. There’s only a certain amount of time you got to do these things. These are my prime years for coaching. I just want to get to it.
Sonny: I hope to check out the BJJ Fanatics stuff myself. Hopefully one day when it all clears up and normality’s resumed, hopefully we can start training the gyms today and I can get out and go to one of your seminars and check out what you’re doing in person. I think that’d be great.
Jake: Man, I’d love to come out to Australia man and do that. Harry Tamura is in that too. He’s really into catch wrestling. It’s just how catch wrestling is. You end up having a small hardcore group of people, but in a place like Australia that’s going to be even smaller because you’re just- population is as big, it’s like say the United States.
Sonny: Yes, I know Harry, I’ve done some seminars with him. He’s a great guy.
Jake: I think one of the things that I’m excited for is- especially with that BJJ Fanatics deal is, I know they are– clearly it’s in their name. That’s where they came from. They’re massively successful. Their market is a thousand times bigger than my market in catch wrestling and that’s BJJ. What I’ve been loving is that I am not built like Ken Shamrock. I’m like the opposite. I’m like a beanpole. I’m a really tall, lanky, thinner guy. What I’m excited to see is– and some of the feedback I’ve been getting on the BJJ Fanatics site for the sales page, is that people’s mind are blown how technical and non-brute force oriented catch-as-catch-can really can be. Then it’s very much. It’s mean and nasty as hell. There’s no getting over that but you don’t need a lot of muscle or anything. It’s all truly scientific. It’s leverage, it’s torque, it’s angles, it’s timing. It’s very technical sport. That’s one of the things that I’ve been really excited to see is that stereotype that you were talking about earlier. Hopefully, I’m doing that a little bit and having people see it in a slightly different way.
Sonny: Man, that’ll be awesome to see that happen. I think it’s certainly possible and I like your ideas with the shoot pro wrestling. That’s got some great– I think the concept’s great and then using that as a training system–
Jake: Now that I know that you guys have the smoke machine and a DJ. You guys get to come in like every month dude.
Sonny: [laughs] I know. Probably the first person I’ll call will be Nikki and I’ll be like, “Nikki, you want to lose,” what I just realized. You started something. [chuckles] She wanted it to be the biggest. At the time I was like, “Really, a smoke machine?” Now–
Jake: It’s awesome. That’s how you do it.
Sonny: I came home, it was great. It was like, “Yes.” It was actually pretty cool.
Jake: Yes, and here we are talking about like months or years later or whatever. It’s truly epic. [crosstalk]
Sonny: Now that you mentioned it.
Jake: You get your guys involved
Sonny: It was great. I also hope that the negotiations in the future between Gordon Ryan, whichever wrestler he takes on next, I’m sure there’ll be someone. We got to get in the ears of the wrestler and say, “Hey, ask for a pin.”
Jake: Yes. I’d love to see a funk style wrestler like an Askren in his prime. That would be a really fun exciting match to watch. It’s harder to pin somebody and you think. It’s funny because the other thing is that a lot of times back in the day any way you heard the story of how Rickson Gracie beat Mark Charles, who’s a friend of mine. I’ve heard him tell the tale and it’s not told in the same way when you hear from Mark’s perspective. Mark was scared to death because they said anything goes. He was scared, he thought this guy was going to bite him and kill him or rip his throat out. Mark was freaked out he goes in there and he ends up getting Hickson and guess what? A cradle, and holds Hickson for a half-hour. I know everybody talks like, “Oh, yes, wrestling is not good for street defense or anything.” I mean, he held Hickson Gracie in one position that he couldn’t mount an offence from for a half-hour. Hickson won because Mark’s group gave after holding a cradle for a half hour and then Hickson crawled around and he got to choke. That’s a guy who doesn’t know any submission whatsoever really. We were talking about how difficult wrestling can be and sometimes people will tap. Normal, like your average Jiu-Jitsu, maybe blue belt would tap to something that is just a pin for a normal collegiate wrestler or whatever just because it’s really uncomfortable and painful. Mark Schultz and Dave Schultz both excellent gold medalist, World Champion wrestlers, they–
Sonny: Mark Schultz breaking the arm of someone with a double wrist lock would be [crosstalk]
Jake: Yes, in the finals, but they Dave and Mark, both worked their way all the way up using the Schultz headlock, which was really choking everybody out and the rest didn’t know. That’s something you always have to remember too that there’s a lot of stuff going on in wrestling and the refs don’t even know. You know what I mean? That there are submissions or nasty moves happening, and it’s just the ref doesn’t even have a clue about what’s going on. The Schultz headlock is a perfect example of a submission that comes to folkstyle wrestling, and it’s 100% of submission. It’ll knock you out as much as any blood choke.
Sonny: It seems like the wrestling, catch wrestling, the Jiu-Jitsu grappling, the promotion side and making money, and the training side, it’s interlinked. There’s no way around it. It’ll be comfortably going.
Jake: It truly is the best business. It’s the greatest business in the world if you’re a bit of a dude with a little bit of testosterone. You get awesome friends, then you could start making money and then all you do is bullshit about it. It’s like the great– If you could figure out how to make a living in this business, it’s one of the best businesses to be in. It’s hard, yes, but it’s great if you’re into it.
Sonny: No doubt. Jake, it’s been an awesome conversation. I’ve liked every moment of it going through all those historical tidbits. If people want to get in touch with you, if people want to follow you, how do they go about doing that?
Jake: Well, the main hub of everything I do, I try to put it on www.scientificwrestling.com. I’ve filmed a bunch of stuff, recorded a bunch of stuff, whether it’s historical or instructional, and written a bunch of stuff, and a lot of it is available there. That’s probably the easiest way. In terms of social media, I’m just going to be honest, I’m just not one of these guys that wants to do something six times. I just focus on one instead of trying to do some on YouTube and some on Facebook. I’m just an Instagram guy. I’ve just kind of settled there. I found a medium that fits my style. Instagram is probably the thing I update the most and there’s just a shit, ton of stuff I post on Instagram from obviously, stupid jokes and memes and stuff like that. Technique clips, or historical, all these old historical photos of these holds that had been going by a couple hundred years at least that we had photos of. Instagram, and I think that’s just Scientific Wrestling. Just @ScientificWrestling on Instagram.
Sonny: Awesome. Scientific Wrestling on Instagram and check out the instructionals up at BJJ Fanatics.
Jake: Yes, and if you go to the Instagram, I have it in the LinkedIn bio or whatever, the BJJ thing. If you just want to go straight to that, just go to the Instagram. It’s easier.
Sonny: Awesome. Jake, thanks very much for coming on the show. Wonderful conversation and hopefully we can we can do it sometime.
Jake: Yes, Sonny. Man, you’re the man. I really appreciate everything you’re doing. I love watching your YouTube channel in particular, but just keep it up, man.
Sonny: Thank you.
Jake: Catch wrestling is really interesting. Once you get bit by the bug, man, it’s like, “Ooof.” It’s worse than COVID-19.
Sonny: [laughs] Yes, I just see all those little rabbit holes, they just keep going down. It’s fascinating stuff. Thank you. I appreciate it a lot and thanks so much.