Catch wrestling is a brutal combat style of grappling developed in England during the 1870’s. It was used by laborers and dock workers to pass the time at work, and picked up by sailors who traveled the world, collecting techniques which helped to grow the style. It has roots in various wrestling styles including Irish Collar and Elbow wrestling, and is also known as “Catch-as-Catch-Can”. Catch-as-Catch-Can refers to the way that catch wrestlers will attempt to grab any submission available. This approach to submission hunting differs from the typical jiu jitsu approach, in that a jiu jitsu practitioner typically aims to establish control prior to hunting for submissions, while a catch wrestler’s approach is to explosively grab for submissions from any position. This approach can take other wrestling styles off guard, and open up opportunities for other submission attempts based off the reaction of their opponent in these attempts.
Catch wrestling found it’s way to America where it was used in carnivals as a type of entertainment combat sport, and today professional wrestling tips it hat to catch wrestling. In Brazil during the heyday of Vale Tudo Catch Wrestling was used effectively by Luta Livre fighters against jiu jitsu fighters. Catch wrestling emphasizes inflicting pain and pressure on a fighter’s opponent to cause them to move in a way that the catch wrestler can take advantage of. Kazushi Sakuraba famously used his catch style to defeat Royce, Royler and Renzo Gracie.
Neil Melanson is a huge proponent of Catch wrestling, and I’ve written about his instructional material here before. His approach to grappling is novel if you come from a pure jiu jitsu background, and well worth checking out.
Today one of my team mates sent me the video below from the Snake Pit. Here we see how to counter the De La Riva with leg locks. There is a nice heel hook and toe hold available when you’re stuck in a De La Riva guard. After seeing the techniques in this video I was struck by the simplicity of the submissions, and was surprised at how obvious they were as options, and also how I had failed to see them in spite of the many times I’ve been caught in De La Riva.
Check out the video below to learn more: