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Say Uncle!: Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling and the Roots of Ultimate Fighting, Pro Wrestling & Modern Grappling Paperback – June 1, 2011
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About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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.
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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.