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Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

No Holds Barred: Antonio Graceffo on Wrestling in China 



On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with the writer, web show host, MMA fighter, and wrestler, Antonio Graceffo.

Born in Brooklyn, known as the "Brooklyn Monk", and raised in Tennessee, he has been living, training, and competing in several different countries in Asia for many years. Now 46 years old, he has gone back to school, this time in Shanghai, China, to complete his Ph.D. We spoke with him Thursday at Foley's Bar and Restaurant in New York, while he was in town visiting with family members for the holidays.

"I started doing a Ph.D. at Shanghai University of Sport, and I'm on the traditional wrestling team there," he said, referring to competing in the Chinese traditional style of wrestling known as Shuai Jiao, where the wrestlers wear jackets. "And I decided that I was going to take one year away from MMA fighting, just concentrate on improving my wrestling skills."

Discussing his studies, he said, "For my Ph.D., I'm writing a dissertation on comparative forms of wrestling. So within China, there's a number of traditional and ethnic forms of wrestling, and I'm also along the way writing scholarly articles for comparing wrestling with other sports, including MMA, sambo, judo, and so forth."

While sports, including combat sports, have been booming in recent years in China, wrestlers from that country still often do not achieve much success on the international level. In addition, there are relatively few people in China training and competing in wrestling.

"I think the key for China to improve in wrestling would be if they would promote the traditional wrestling more within China," he advised. Right now wrestling is mainly done in clubs, often involving people who work or go to school full-time.

"Culturally, they could promote traditional wrestling to the Chinese people as a Chinese sport. From that pool of traditional wrestlers, they could probably begin to draw people and then train them in freestyle and Greco-Roman."

He continued, "The strength and the weakness of Chinese sports in general is the system of sports schools, that they only have people at sports schools playing sports, and that kids in regular schools don't play sports."

We also discussed his training and experiences at the Shaolin Temple, how prevailing attitudes have changed over the years in China to martial arts and combat sports, how the standup fighting style of Sanda is still very influential in China, the prospects for Wushu as a sport, why the issues of concussions and brain injuries in combat sports have not become major areas of controversy in China, learning the Chinese language, what is called Chinese food in America, and much, much more.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link doesn't work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is also available on mobile phones and iPads through Stitcher.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is free to listen to and is sponsored by:

LenneHardt.com, the web site of the world's greatest ring announcer, Lenne Hardt. Need a unique and cool combat sports-related gift? At LenneHardt.com, you can order personalized messages, wedding calls, ringtones, phone answering messages, and more, all recorded by Lenne herself, in the style of your choice. For more information, go to LenneHardt.com.

ONE Fighting Championship. ONE FC is Asia's largest and most prestigious mixed martial arts event. ONE FC features the best Asian fighters and has initiated the ONE Asia Partnership Network, which includes most of the major MMA promotions and MMA gyms in Asia. For more information, go to their web site, at ONEFC.com.

GrappleGnostic, sponsored by Defense Soap. Where the will to win meets the power of knowledge. Features, interviews, analysis, health tips, and information on wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, and all the grappling arts, written by some of the best writers and experts in the world. Check out their web site, a http://defensesoap.com/grapplegnostic.

Defense Soap, an effective, deep penetrating body soap with natural antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial soap ingredients. Defense Soap is the best cleansing body soap for men and women athletes who are involved in contact sports such as MMA, wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, and judo, to help their antifungal, anti-ringworm, anti-jock itch strategy. Check out their web site, at http://defensesoap.com.

American Top Team. Whether you're a beginner or a champion, train with the champions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, wrestling, grappling, and mixed martial arts at American Top Team. Check out their web site at http://americantopteam.com/.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

No Holds Barred: Jessica Aguilar on Her WSOF 8 Title Fight 



On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with the world's top-ranked MMA fighter in the women's 115-pound division, American Top Team fighter Jessica Aguilar.

She has recently signed with the World Series of Fighting, and will make her debut in that promotion at WSOF 8 on Saturday, January 18, 2014, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

Her opponent will be Alida Gray, 4-0 in MMA, in a bout for World Series of Fighting's inaugural women's strawweight title.

WSOF 8 will be telecast live in the U.S. on NBC Sports Network.

We spoke with Jessica Aguilar by phone Sunday night.

Having watched some video of Alida Gray, she is confident that she will win this fight and retain her number one ranking.

"I'm going to be ready," she said, "and that belt's going to be mine."

We also discussed her previous fight, a rematch with grappling legend and MMA pioneer Megumi Fujii, which took place October 5, 2013, on the Vale Tudo Japan 3rd event card in Ota, Tokyo, Japan. Jessica Aguilar won that fight, albeit with some controversy, and she explained what happened.

In addition, we also discussed the treatment of LGBT fighters in MMA and her own experiences. Speaking for herself, she said that there was "nothing bad to say from my experience."

Besides reiterating her love of Japan and their culture and fans, we discussed her future plans, how her mother has come to accept that she is a fighter, her training at American Top Team, and the humorous story of how she first became a professional MMA fighter. And towards the end of our discussion, she treated us to a brief rendition of an old Garth Brooks song.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link doesn't work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is also available on mobile phones and iPads through Stitcher.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is free to listen to and is sponsored by:

LenneHardt.com, the web site of the world's greatest ring announcer, Lenne Hardt. Need a unique and cool combat sports-related gift? At LenneHardt.com, you can order personalized messages, wedding calls, ringtones, phone answering messages, and more, all recorded by Lenne herself, in the style of your choice. For more information, go to LenneHardt.com.

ONE Fighting Championship. ONE FC is Asia's largest and most prestigious mixed martial arts event. ONE FC features the best Asian fighters and has initiated the ONE Asia Partnership Network, which includes most of the major MMA promotions and MMA gyms in Asia. For more information, go to their web site, at ONEFC.com.

GrappleGnostic, sponsored by Defense Soap. Where the will to win meets the power of knowledge. Features, interviews, analysis, health tips, and information on wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, and all the grappling arts, written by some of the best writers and experts in the world. Check out their web site, a http://defensesoap.com/grapplegnostic.

Defense Soap, an effective, deep penetrating body soap with natural antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial soap ingredients. Defense Soap is the best cleansing body soap for men and women athletes who are involved in contact sports such as MMA, wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, and judo, to help their antifungal, anti-ringworm, anti-jock itch strategy. Check out their web site, at http://defensesoap.com.

American Top Team. Whether you're a beginner or a champion, train with the champions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, wrestling, grappling, and mixed martial arts at American Top Team. Check out their web site at http://americantopteam.com/.

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