Catch Wrestling: Is it an art or sport?

By Jon Strickland of the Billy Wicks Foundation

During the comeback of Catch as Catch Can wrestling, I have seen the debates on this very topic. Some comparison or analogies used are very misleading and so meant to be, I suspect. Lets start with, “it’s a sport” and go from there. There certainly have been wrestling matches since and before the three major Abrahamic religions were created. We see evidence from the days of ancient Egypt and even earlier than that civilization. First thing, we should cover the origin of the word itself. The term, Catch as Catch Can is English. Now did submission wrestling exist before this? Sure it did, and in fact, probably did in many different parts of the world. However, the term is a specific term and not a generic one. Thus, because it is a specific term then there was specific sport or art that was the actual definition of the term.

The argument for sport is competition, and there was plenty of competition within wrestling. Many upon many different styles of wrestlers would compete under the sport of CACC throughout history. Judo, Jiu Jitus, Sambo, Greco Roman are also sports, as they too have rules that go with them. I have a friend who won a title in Sambo without one day’s training in Sambo. Does that make him a Sambo player? Is Sambo a specific style or not? Comparing Catch wrestling to team sports such as, football, baseball, or basketball is a bit of a smoke screen. Wrestling is much more complex than those sports, which I lettered in two. No, not basketball, have you seen me dribble? If it’s merely a rules set then there is no need for ranking in any martial style or even true qualifications. That means I am a Ninja. So if a JJ guy wins a CACC match does that make him a Catch wrestler? No, it means he won a Catch wrestling event. This exact thing happened with Ad Santell win he won in Judo. Does one have the right to declare they know Catch? Sure, but right and being right are different subjects. 
Someone can be a knowledgeable grappler and even claim CACC but that doesn’t necessarily make it so. See here’s the problem with that. Again, it’s a specific style that was started in England. No, it doesn’t mean submissions or wrestling were invented in England, but the name CACC most certainly was and the style it defined. You could wrestle with pins and submissions, but that does not mean it’s CACC, as once again, it was a specific brand. My Lee bluejeans cannot become Levis no matter how much I wish them to. That doesn’t mean my Lee Jeans are not as good or even better, it just means the name applies to the product. My students compete at NAGA and other shows, but that does not mean they are JJ guys. Just means they competed in their competitions. 
So is lineage important? Absolutely it is, and it’s only not to those who can’t connect the dots. It does not make one unbeatable or even good. That comes within the individual. It is like a college degree. In theory the person should know what they are doing. Again, there are the exceptions from time to time. Almost every old timer left in America today probably would lose to an average untrained 20 year old. Why? Ummm, old age and the lack of being able to move anymore, for starters. Does that mean the 20 year old is better in CACC? No, it means he’s able to win against someone who can no longer pull the trigger. If we are going to compare, lets compare apples to apples in fairness to the old timers. I use to watch many JJ players have a look of unexplained horror and shock on their faces when one of my guys or myself would beat them. Those days most people had no clue about CACC. Today things are different. So CACC is not a generic term, submission wrestling is though. Just like grappling is a generic term. Therefore, Catch wrestling is indeed an art and there is also the competition side of that art. Dick Cardinal wouldn’t (I don’t think but never count him out) win a Catch show today but I bet my life he knows more about his style than you do. 
So let’s not get the horse ahead of the cart here. Not sure when, but the new smart is ignorance very often these days. I have always respected those who are honest about their background. It seems today the water has been recently muddied and the art/sport that was taught to me, and still is taught to me, has been given a black eye. Lineage doesn’t mean you know what you are doing, but it should and normally does mean you do. Now can you even invent your own CACC? I suppose you can, but that name has been taken already, and you might need to come up with your own name. Could it be just as effective than what the old timers teach? Maybe, nobody knows that until you step on the mat. I don’t think CACC has enough young guys today with experience to just dominate it’s own shows and matches. That in itself can hurt or will hurt the style faster than anything else. We go out and lose at our own game, then why would anyone think we had something of quality to offer? I like seeing wrestling matches. I also like seeing mixed matches (meaning styles….not the other lol) but I prefer first CACC. Hope this makes sense and if it causes butt hurt then see a doctor. Or wait, maybe everyone is a doctor now? smile emoticon

Published by Raul Ramirez, L.Ac., Ph.D.

Physician, Catch Wrestler, Kickboxer, Vegan, Progressive

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