Catch Wrestling Expert Jake Shannon Weighs In on the Sport’s Crossover into MMA

December 4, 2014

Suffice it to say that without catch wrestling there would be no mixed martial arts. Catch wrestling’s influence in the American amateur circuit and its profound effect on the Japanese pro wrestling scene have helped shape the development of MMA into what it is today.

And while catch wrestling may have become something of a niche style today, it’s still going strong thanks to the likes of Scientific Wrestling’s Jake Shannon, and in 2014 has had one of its more noteworthy years of late.

In a conversation with, Shannon discussed the influence he sees catch wrestling having in MMA, the year the sport has had and the future of the Scientific Wrestling community. Firstly Jake, can you tell us about catch wrestling and its connection to MMA.

Jake Shannon: Catch wrestling is also a fascinating subject for people who are fascinated by MMA. Catch wrestling was a very popular form of combat sport here in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century, kind of between the Civil War and World War I. The rules were very similar in a lot of ways to what we see in MMA in regards to submissions, but the difference was in catch wrestling, rather than allowing punches and kicks for a knockout win, they allowed the pin.

You have to understand that I’m something of a catch wrestling nerd, so I might see catch wrestling where others don’t. You’re going to find what you look for in anything in life, really, and I look for it everywhere, so I do see it in a lot of places.

You don’t see it as much here in the U.S., but clearly the influence in catch wrestling in Japan is quite big due in large efforts to a couple of friends of mine who passed away in recent years, Karl Gotch and Billy Robinson. They spread the influence there of the catch-as-catch-can style of wrestling.

You can look at it another angle, by seeing American folk style wrestling, freestyle wrestling, amateur wrestling, as derivatives of catch wrestling, then the impact they have had in MMA, you can see catch wrestling everywhere. If you look at the history of MMA, it’s been wrestlers who have dominated the sport. It kind of depends on the personal lens you use or the perspective you take. One of the most noteworthy things to happen involving catch wrestling was Josh Barnett’s submission win over Dean Lister at Metamoris 4 this past August. Can you tell us your thoughts on that?

Jake Shannon: Josh has really been crucial in getting respect for catch wrestling. We’re kind of the underdogs. We simply don’t have the numbers. So Josh has been seminal…