'Meeting Mr. Robinson'

Jake Shannon
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Gong Magazine recently asked me to write an article for the Japanese MMA scene about the recent Scientific Wrestling clinic featuring UWF coach Mr. Billy Robinson. As readers of this blog will recognize, I merely elaborated upon the blog entry made here earlier.

Anyway, I thought I'd put it up for English readers here. Enjoy!

Meeting Mr. Robinson By Jake Shannon Executive Director ScientificWrestling.com

In my role as the "Johnny Appleseed" of Catch Wrestling here in the United States, I have had the great fortune of being able to directly pick the brains of Karl Gotch, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Dick Cardinal, Billy Wicks, Frank Cain, Josh Barnett, and scores of others. The morning of March 28, 2007 I went to LAX and picked up one of the greatest Catch Wrestling masters in modern times, Billy Robinson! Like Karl Gotch, Robinson learned at the Wigan Snake Pit in England and has a reputation as one of the world's most renowned masters of Catch As Catch Can wrestling. Bill is 12 years younger than Karl and despite having bad knees, he is still eager to teach. Most recently has been teaching the craft at Mr. Miyato's UWF-Snakepit in Japan. Before that Bill was the grappling trainer for the UWFi, where he coached perhaps his most successful pupil, Kazushi Sakuraba.

'Meeting Mr. Robinson'

My first day with Mr. Robinson was really a ton of fun. After spending the day with Bill talking about wrestling, history, etc. we got to the wrestling room and put on our wrestling shoes around 6:30 pm. We had about 10 people present and Billy ran us through conditioning drills like hindu squats, bar muscle-ups, pulling (aka pummelling), and more. This was an extra special clinic since in attendance were MMA stand-out Josh Barnett and his trainer (and once Shooto light heavyweight champion), CSW's Erik Paulson.

We then began working on a variety of takedowns I had never seen anywhere before. These takedowns were very efficient, and most of them very painful.

Bill then had us circle around and shared history and philosophy of Catch-As-Catch-Can. Again more stuff I'd never seen anywhere before. Mr Robinson has a very interesting perspective on the evolution of mixed martial arts that is rarely heard in the United States. He spoke about his time as a youth wrestling at the Wigan Snake Pit, about his Bare-Knuckle Boxing Champion grandfather, about the history of Catch Wrestling, the true Lancashire meaning of the term "Catch-As-Catch-Can", and even the wrestling exploits of King Henry the VIII of England (those of you who are fans of the Showtime series The Tudors can especially appreciate this).

Then we worked on a variety of submissions (hammerlocks, double wrist lock entries, etc.). The clinic was only scheduled until 10pm but we went until nearly 11 with Billy sharing with us. Then we went to the pub for beers (until about 1am).

During the second evening of Mr. Robinson's visit we had several Japanese participants including excellent competitors Megumi Fujii and Hiroyuki Abe. Billy covered more maneuvers that have very seldom been seen. There was a novel counter to the double-wrist lock that I imagine both Renzo and Royler Gracie wished they would have known before they faced Kazushi Sakuraba.

After the evening of wrestling lessons, we all headed over to Jerry's Famous Deli in Marina Del Ray for some great food, drink, and conversation. Josh Barnett spoke a little bit about his views about the current business of Mixed Martial Arts given the purchase of Pride FC by the Fertitta brothers and about his invitation to a party at the Playboy mansion. It was another great day.

Saturday morning everyone showed up for a full day of instruction, starting at 9am. Billy ran us through some light conditioning drills and started off on the wrestling concept of "rides". He really felt that most of the modern grapplers didn't understand the appropriate "pro" way of riding during a grappling match. Billy ran us through the rear ride, the side ride, the ankle ride, and more! He showed how proper riding can allow you to maneuver and maintain control no matter what your opponent tries to do.

Afterwards, he showed counters to the front headlock and more takedowns and submissions. He also showed a great technique to break an opponent's grip. Honestly, there was so much information that we filmed over 7 hours on our video camera. If, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, then this clinic footage must be worth billions!!

I really implore you to check out the matches (especially those of Tamura and Sakuraba are my favorites!)!