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Sunday, May 11, 2014

No Holds Barred: Jon Strickland on Chokes, Concussions, and Catch Wrestling 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with Jon Strickland of the Billy Wicks Foundation.

As the sport of catch wrestling is being revived, the issues of rules and organization are being discussed and debated. One of the key discussions involves whether or not to permit chokes. These holds, lumped into a general category of strangulations, were traditionally not allowed in the past in most catch wrestling matches. What to do today, with the growth of modern MMA, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and no-gi grappling, all of which allow chokes, is being debated.

We spoke with Jon Strickland by phone Saturday about this and other issues.

Saying he had "mixed thoughts on chokes in general," he noted how when the legendary Billy Wicks wrestled in "AT shows", i.e., athletic shows, which included both shoots and works, "they didn't use chokeholds." He added that while he had learned chokes in other styles such as jiu-jitsu, in his catch wrestling training, "I was never taught a chokehold."

Besides what was traditionally done in catch wrestling to keep the wrestling going, since many believe that chokes "kill wrestling," we discussed the issues of safety.

"With a choke, I think even a few seconds of having oxygen deprived of the brain could be dangerous. You just never what underlying conditions are there with somebody," he said.

"I spoke to a neurologist who I'm close with about the sport in general, and he said that he thought the chokes were very dangerous, and he had actually treated several people in his career who were horse-playing and practiced some wrestling moves, and a guy put another kid in a chokehold and the kid has a stroke, and causes the kid a seizure."

While the scientific research into chokeholds in the various styles of wrestling and grappling is just beginning, there is already a lot of evidence that concussions are a major problem in high school and college wrestling in the U.S.

A recent study by the National Academies "found that wrestling has the second highest rate of concussions per athlete exposure of the top fourteen most common men's and women's college sports." Only college football had more.

Thus, if catch wrestling wants to develop as a safer alternative to many of the existing combat sports, it must institute proper safety and health measures right from the start of its rebirth, and address the issue of the prevention and treatment of concussions.

We also discussed the need for eventually establishing a democratic, central governing body for catch wrestling to give it proper regulation as well as promotion and marketing in the crowded sports landscape. And we agreed that the sport will "never be taken seriously" without such a governing body.

As for his own wrestling career, he is still planning to return to the mat to wrestle on the card of the Catch Wrestling Alliance International Invitational: The Rebirth.

This event will take place Saturday, June 7, in Collins Court in the John Wooden Center on the campus of UCLA, at 221 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, California 90095-1612. This invitational event will be held under catch wrestling rules, where you can only win by pin or submission. His opponent will be Canadian MMA fighter and submission grappler Adam Laporte.

So while much remains to be done to revive this sport, we also discussed how interest in it is the greatest it has been in many years, how it is appealing to former college wrestlers as a vehicle in which to compete and possibly earn a living in wrestling, and much more.

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

MMA World Expo. The mixed martial arts community comes to New York City July 26 and 27, 2014, for the fifth annual MMA World Expo, featuring the Fighters Source U.S. Nationals amateur MMA tournament, two days of ADCC no-gi and gi grappling tournaments, MMA fighters, seminars with world-class trainers, vendors, panel discussions, catch wrestling competition, and much more. The MMA World Expo takes place Saturday, July 26, and Sunday, July 27, 2014, at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

Catch Wrestling Alliance International Invitational: The Rebirth. This invitational event will be held under catch wrestling rules, where you can only win by pin or submission. It will take place Saturday, June 7, in Collins Court in the John Wooden Center on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles, California. For more information, go to catchwrestlingalliance.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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