Sin­ga­pore, Part 2: Caught Up in Catch Wrestling

In ad­di­tion to ka­pap, the Mod­ern Street Com­bat­ives academy in Sin­ga­pore teaches two ver­sions of catch wrestling: One is for sport, and one is for self­de­fense. For those who are un­fa­mil­iar with catch wrestling, here’s a brief his­tory.



The grap­pling art was born in Eng­land in the lat­ter half of the 19th cen­tury. It’s a com­pos­ite of styles, in­clud­ing Cum­ber­land and West­mor­land wrestling, Corn­wall wrestling, Devon wrestling, Ir­ish col­larand-el­bow wrestling, Greco-Ro­man wrestling and Lan­cashire wrestling. Be­cause of the shared em­pha­sis on sub­mis­sions, Lan­cashire wrestling is of­ten used as an al­ter­nate name for catch wrestling. It is, how­ever, a slight mis­nomer be­cause catch con­tains el­e­ments of all those other styles.

Sur­pris­ingly, Greco-Ro­man wrestling pre­dates catch wrestling by only 20 years. Like Lan­cashire, Greco-Ro­man ex­erted a lot of in�lu­ence on catch — for in­stance, bear hug­ging, up­per-body con­trol, throw­ing and ways to win by pin. Ir­ish col­lar-and-el­bow wrestling also made its mark on catch; it’s the source of the com­mon tie-up in which each per­son places one hand on the back of the op­po­nent’s neck and the other on an el­bow.

Greco-Ro­man and catch mi­grated to Amer­ica af­ter the Civil War. The pub­lic quickly deemed catch wrestling more ex­cit­ing to watch, and it sur­passed Greco-Ro­man as a money sport.

Although it’s less prom­i­nent to­day, catch is the most im­por­tant wrestling style of the mod­ern era. It was fea­tured in three of the early mod­ern Olympics, but then the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee judged it too bru­tal for the Games. They re­moved the sub­mis­sions but kept the free­dom of move­ment and tech­niques — and cre­ated the art of freestyle wrestling. Freestyle and Greco-Ro­man have been in the Olympics ever since.

Catch be­came the style of choice for pro­fes­sional wrestlers in the WWE and other or­ga­ni­za­tions. With the ad­vent of MMA, the world saw a resur­gence of in­ter­est in catch wrestling, in part be­cause of ath­letes like Josh Bar­nett, Kazushi Sakuraba, and Ken and Frank Sham­rock. IN CATCH WRESTLING, wins come from sub­mis­sions or pins. This is one of the big­gest dif­fer­ences be­tween catch and jiu-jitsu. A catch wrestler would never pull guard be­cause it would put him in dan­ger of be­ing pinned. Catch

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