We recently had the opportunity to speak with the Main Organizer of the Catch Wrestling Alliance, Raul Ramirez, about where the sport currently is and where it is going in the future. Here is what he had to say.
The American Hook Style (Billy Wicks) and the Snake Pit Wigan combined into one large organization a couple of years ago in order to better spread what they consider to be be “pure” Catch Wrestling. “A lot of people don’t realize that there are actual lineages in Catch Wrestling,” Ramirez told us. He went on to explain that even many of the big names we associate with Catch Wrestling are not necessarily from what would be considered a “pure” lineage based on how their techniques were taught and what techniques were seen as important.
“[In Catch Wresting competitions] all submissions are legal except for strangles,” Ramirez stated. “You’re not really going to see people going onto their back and fighting from there either… it’s going to look kind of like a collegiate wrestling, and some submissions from like Jiu-Jitsu… but you’re going to see guys who’ve been doing to Catch for a while going for things like hammer locks and cross-faces.” The nature of the submissions can at times be more along of the lines of pain compliance submissions. This doesn’t mean no chokes are taught, however, they often aren’t used in a competition setting.
In Jiu-Jitsu, pain complaince techniques, though not illegal, are often seen as being “off-limits”. For Jiu-Jitsu practitioners considering making the switch, this is a very important thing to note before beginning training. If one uses a pain compliance technique in Jiu-Jitsu practice, it’s likely to make some training partners angry. However, in Catch Wrestling, it’s just another part of the grapple.
With the upcoming Frank Gotch World Championship this summer, there are some other rules to know. “You have to beat your guy,” says Ramirez. “There are no points. You win with a pin or a submission. We have a 20 minute time-limit at this one, but if it by chance goes to a draw, the referee will decide based on who has maintained dominance for most of the match.” Other things to know would be that there are also no skill divisions this year, only weight divisions. However, Ramirez states that as the sport grows they hope to be able to create divisions based on skill as well.
Catch Wrestling has seen some fantastic growth across the globe recently. In fact, there is set to be a major event in Singapore this March (hosted by Modern Street Combatives). However, the growth has really only taken hold in pockets so far. When we asked about how people who don’t live near a Catch Wrestling school can go train, Ramirez told us about the Billy Wicks Foundation. It’s an online course, similar to the Gracie Academy. Individuals can watch videos and even be critiqued via video. However, the main difference between the Billy Wicks Foundation and the Gracie Academy is that the Catch Wrestlers want people getting involved to actually show up and grapple at the actual academy.
To wrap things up, Ramirez told individuals wanting to try out Catch Wrestling something that is also heavily stressed in Jiu-Jitsu: “Leave your ego at the door.” He then went on to say, “You’ve got to come in and recognize that there are places that you are essentially going to have to relearn things. You’ve got to get rid of the mindset of points.” As most of us reading this have some sort of grappling experience, this is extremely important to keep in mind.
The mentality that Jiu-Jitsu is the do-all end-all has stubbornly stuck around; ever since Royce Gracie won the inaugural UFC tournament, many practitioners have had the mindset that this event is all that is needed. We’ve (occasionally) forgotten that skills and sports evolve and things change. Be humble if you begin a journey into Catch Wrestling. There are things you don’t know about grappling that other sports can teach us. Let’s be humble and learn from wherever we can.