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The benefits of catch wrestling for the Jiu Jitsu Practitioner
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The benefits of catch wrestling for the Jiu Jitsu Practitioner

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“That’s not jiu-jitsu…”  I’ll never forget when I returned to the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu after a long hiatus and tried to apply “old school” techniques that I had learned in the late 90s and early 2000s.  Techniques that my father applied when I used to train with him, his background coming from training with Judokas and catch wrestlers in college in the ex-Soviet Union during the 1960s.  The derision and disgust at my “rude” techniques quickly stifled what I knew would be effective…  But there are many benefits of catch wrestling for the Jiu Jitsu practitioner.

Catch wrestling is the antithesis of jiu-jitsu

Catch is not about yielding to an opponent’s movement, flowing, and finding a path of least resistance, but rather it is about using force, pressure and pain to ply an opponent to one’s will.  Catch as Catch Can is, was and always will be a sort of anti-jiu jitsu.  But is it really?

Jiu Jitsu is supposedly about finding the most efficient path to control and domination.  What if pain used efficiently IS the most efficient path?  What if there are situations in which Catch Wrestling is more efficient than jiu-jitsu?  It may be easier to cause an opponent to bend to your will by hurting them than by hoping they do what you expect them to do.  Catch wrestling is far more proactive than it is reactive, whereas jiu jitsu is far more reactive.

Jiu jitsu practitioners ignore techniques and tactics that are utilized in catch wrestling

The techniques of catch wrestling are often considered rude.  Many jiu jitsu practitioners consider pain compliance to be dirty and unusable.  They believe that pain is a sign of poor technique and that a good technique should not hurt because it should be so smooth and surgical.

Here's a rundown of the key differences between BJJ and Catch Wrestling

Grapplers so often associate brutality with brutishness, they don’t realize that pain is a great way to change the flow of an interaction.  Pain causes people to act more predictably, because there’s a good chance they will act to relieve that pain, which often translates to providing openings.  Therefore, if someone is efficient at causing pain the most efficient way for them to grapple is to cause pain, and pain generation becomes a purer more effective version of what we do…

Many jiu jitsu practitioners reject the kind of pain generation taught in catch wrestling because it goes against the ideal of gentleness that jiu jitsu tries to espouse.  Many jiu jitsu practitioners rely entirely upon “flow” rather than learning how to drop pressure and how to cause pain.  This results in jiu jitsu being almost TOO gentle…

Catch wrestling focuses on using sharp pressure to evoke reactions that then translate to submissions.  When paired with the smoothness of jiu jitsu, these techniques become extremely potent because most jiu jitsu practitioners don’t spend much time building up a tolerance to the kind of pain that Catch teaches people to harness.

Catch wrestling addresses leg locks in a way that jiu jitsu simply refuses to.  

Catch wrestling is known for its effective use of various leg locks applied often more effectively than in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  As much as there is a stigma in BJJ on the use of lower body submissions, they have come into favor over the past few years because of the rise of no gi submission only events that encourage these sorts of techniques.

Even if you don’t intend on using techniques taught in Catch Wrestling, it makes sense to practice these techniques and expose yourself to them.  The more you experience the specific stresses and discomfort that Catch Wrestling causes, the better you’ll be able to deal with those stresses in competition or in a real life situation. 

If you train jiu jitsu but do not devote time to Catch Wrestling tactics and techniques, you are putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage.  

There are many techniques that Catch Wrestling espouses but BJJ rejects or neglects.  Learning to apply these techniques will put you at a competitive advantage. 

On the other side of things when a catch wrestler attacks a jiujiteiro in a match using catch techniques, suddenly reality sets in.  These techniques that you’ve pretended don’t work because they are rude or rough actually work really well, and you have no way to deal with them intelligently.  If on the other hand your gym culture allows and encourages these types of techniques, you will be able to hybridize them with jiu jitsu to make yourself far more formidable. 

Catch Wrestling is a far more uncomfortable sport than BJJ and has less short term gratification because it lacks a belt system.  People who train catch do so because they love grappling, not because of the desire for advancement.  They train for the sake of training and for the intrinsic joy of improving upon their grappling skill sets.  The reward for taking time to develop a catch wrestling repertoire.

There are many catch wrestling experts in the grappling and many instructional videos and series.  Catch wrestling is difficult to effectively teach concisely through video, as there are a lot of feel-based techniques, but one of the very best instructors in the game right now is Neil Melanson.  Neil is able to effectively meld techniques associated with Catch Wrestling and those traditionally used in jiu jitsu.

Melanson’s pedigree and understanding of these techniques have allowed him to put together some of the top instructional material available right now in the grappling world. Here’s an example of Neil’s brilliant use of the closed guard combined with Catch Wrestling methodology:

If you are interested in exploring Melanson’s amazing techniques, he recently put out one of the best DVD’s out today covering his grappling concepts that combine the disciplines of Catch Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo.  In this set you can find Melanson’s creative take on the various techniques and concepts that these arts share, and ways that he uses their strongest points to be one of the foremost grappling experts. 

You can pick Melanson’s DVD set up here

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