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Say Uncle!: Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling and the Roots of Ultimate Fighting, Pro Wrestling & Modern Grappling Paperback

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Say Uncle!: Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling and the Roots of Ultimate Fighting, Pro Wrestling & Modern Grappling + Shooters: The Toughest Men in Professional Wrestling + Physical Chess: My Life in Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: ECW Press (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550229613
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550229615
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jake Shannon is the founder of and the inventor of the Macebell. He is the author of "The Authoritative Encyclopedia of Scientific Wrestling";" The Classical Pugilism & Bare-Knuckle Boxing Companion, Volume 1";""and "The Sport of Catch Wrestling." He lives in Salt Lake City.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

In many ways, catch wrestling embodies the cultural values prevalent at the turn of the 20th century, which may explain why its popularity peaked at that time. The sport expressed the values of independence, reason, hard work, and competitiveness in various ways.

INDEPENDENCE Catch wrestling is not a team sport. One man stands alone atop the mountain of beaten and broken competitors to be crowned champion. The catch wrestler understands that he alone is responsible for his successes and his failures.

REASON Catch wrestling is a dangerous game of physical chess. The terms “science” and “scientific” are frequently used in the context of catch wrestling. It’s the smart player who’s rewarded, not necessarily the strongest.

HARD WORK Catch wrestlers didn’t have cushy mats. During the American Civil War they competed on grassy fields. After the war they’d compete on gravel–covered clearings following a full day in coal mines or steel mills. During the height of its popularity, with the likes of Tom Jenkins, George Hackenschmidt, and Frank Gotch, catch wrestlers competed on hard floors covered only in canvas. Wrestling is hard. It takes a special person to show up at the gym, day after day, year after year, and push beyond his physical and mental limits.

COMPETITIVENESS These men were filled with pride and were motivated to prove their skills. They would bring an equal purse to each match and the winner would take all—meaning they literally put their money where their mouths were, and were always game.

The aim of this book is to share the history and strategies of old–time catch wrestlers with today’s grapplers and encourage the evolution and development of the modern sport of catch wrestling. I also hope to awaken fans of fighting sports to the fact that catch–as–catch–can is, arguably, the direct ancestor of today’s mixed martial arts, pro wrestling, and Olympic freestyle wrestling. In fact, the term “no–holds–barred” was coined to promote early 20th century American catch–as–catch–can wrestling matches. If you enjoy the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the WWE, Olympic or collegiate freestyle wrestling, or high school folkstyle wrestling, you owe an enormous debt of gratitude to catch wrestling.

More About the Author

"The man to see when you're ready to be free."

Polymathic author and acclaimed hypnotist Jake Shannon is available for consulting and public speaking engagements. For three years, he hosted The Jake Shannon Radio Show on Utah's AM630 K-Talk before walking away to pursue other creative endeavors. He is also the founder of In the past Jake has served as the Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Utah, co-founded the reverse mortgage industry's leading analytic consultancy 'Reverse Market Insight', and created and supported mathematical models in mortgage and investment banking.

He earned his Master of Science in Financial Engineering in 2002 from Golden Gate University, San Francisco and his B.A. in English from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1995. At the University of Colorado he was a President's Leadership Class scholar and co-founded the CU Zen Society. Additionally, Mr. Shannon is a respected catch-as-catch-can wrestling historian and coach traveling internationally to present seminars and training camps. Jake currently lives in Salt Lake City with his wife and three children.

Jake is a veteran entrepreneur with experience in start-up and early stage venture formation. He has founded a number of businesses in domains including web publishing, media production and rights management ventures, coaching, and training. He is also a successful author having published books on epistemology, the 21st century Tea Party movement, hypnotism, and the history of catch-as-catch-can wrestling. In 2010, he ran for U.S. House of Representative in the Utah's third congressional district.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 18 customer reviews
Really good interviews.
The author, Jake Shannon, gives a general primer on catch wrestling's history as well as its impact on modern submission grappling, mma, and pro wrestling.
It is a very good book at the insight gleaned from some of the best fighters in the world is worth a read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By matmanhatton on June 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is hard to comprehend in today's BJJ-dominated climate, but there was a time, believe it or not, when catch-as-catch-can wrestling was the dominant submission grappling style in North America. Catch wrestlers could be found in basically every large city in the USA and Canada (and many smaller ones as well). There were regular contests, both public and private, where wrestlers competed for side bets on a winner-take-all basis. The public got involved, too, and there was a lot of money to be made, or lost, in laying cash down on these bouts. Years ago, I spoke to a man whose father (a talented catch wrestler) once participated in a match which allowed one of his financial backers to open a restaurant from the earnings. The son became a good college wrestler in the 1970s, but he noted that much of his father's technical repertoire wasn't useful to him because of the heavy emphasis on submission holds!

In nearly every city you travel to, you can find similar, fading stories of a bygone era in our sporting history. As the twentieth century progressed, American catch-as-catch-can went into decline as professional wrestling, always a dubiously honest enterprise, began to adopt flashy theatrics in place of technical mat wrestling. Crowds responded well to the dramatics, and the necessity for actual wrestling skill became less important. By the late 1920s and early 1930s, "rasslin" had become the 'new normal,' and an aging cohort of real submission wrestlers found it increasingly difficult to ply their trade. Fortunately, some of them continued to pass their skills on to the next generation, many of whom are today in their 70s and 80s. Additionally, some of them ventured to Japan, where their skills were still held in high regard.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Big R on March 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book gives a unique perspective into wrestling, Pro-Wrestling and the history of grappling. As a guy who wrestled as a youth and a judoka and jiu-jitsu player, I never accepted the history that is taught in jiu-jitsu. Basically they start the history of submissions at the point where kano created the Kodokan style of ju-jutsu. The reality is submissions have been around since recorded history started. The truth is that jiu-jitsu can trace its roots back to Catch wrestling. A fact that jj guys don't easily accept because they are force fed this lie that jiu-jitsu is superior to wrestling. The fact of the matter is that Catch has been around forever and the main philosophy is "use what works". That means that any technique that is effective should be utilized. A philosophy that the legendary Bruce Lee espoused. Unfortunately there are few Catch wrestlers from the old guard and it is hard to find a wrestling club to train with. The book won't teach you the techniques but will give you an interesting perspective into the sport. I would recommend it to any grappler who wants to expand their game outside the limitations of individual martial arts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ryan on March 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
I won this book in a Facebook contest and I was eager to read it from the moment it arrived in my mailbox. Say Uncle! details the history of Catch Wrestling and shows how it would go on to help spur the success of professional wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts. The interviews that author Jake Shannon conducted with some of CACC's most well known personalities were fantastic with my personal favorite being his interview with "Judo" Gene LeBell. If you are a fan of professional wrestling or MMA, please give this book a shot. I promise you that you'll enjoy it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By fred vallongo on August 8, 2011
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Jake Shannon has written a book that will appeal to both MMA and Pro Wrestling fans alike, as well as an important tool for serious grapplers. The opening section provides an overview of catch wrestling that will fill in the "back story" for casual fans of the various forms of modern mat sports. From the roots in England through the golden age of Farmer Burns, Frank Gotch, and their peers through the era of the carny at shows, and worked pro wrestling.

Shannon does this with respect for all. He recognizes the high level of skill that even pro wrestling requires, and the skills professionals like Lou Thesz, and Karl Gotch had in their arsenals.

The second section of the book consists of interviews with Gotch (known as "the god of wrestling," in Japan), and AT show great Dick Cardinal, Gene LeBell, a true legend, as well as still one of the toughest men alive, at over 70 years old!

He refereed the Ali-Inoki bout, and when he says he could have "whipped both their asses," I believe him. The stories in this section feature the bawdy, and sometimes brutal sense of humor of these gentlemen. The stories, as well as the insights into their training methods, including Karl Gotch's famous "deck of cards" workout, are a treasure all by themselves!

The final section on "techniques," will be an invaluable guide for competitors in all of the mat sports world--from folk style through pro wrestling, and MMA. How do you reach your potential as a grappler? The same way a musician gets to Carnegie Hall--practice.

The author, and all of the greats he interviews, stress the importance of practice, and drills, run over and over. Repetion builds muscle memory. A lesson to be applied to any art. In a recent interview, the great French Chef, Jacques Pepin, stressed this very point, "cooking is about mastering technique, repeating them until they are second nature!"

Shannon's book leaves the reader with the same lesson for mastery.
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