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Sunday, July 13, 2014

No Holds Barred: Sambo Steve Koepfer and Antonio Graceffo on Catch Wrestling 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Steve Koepfer, the owner and head coach of New York Combat Sambo, and the "Brooklyn Monk", Antonio Graceffo.

Right after we recorded an interview on Thursday with Antonio Graceffo for our previous show, we headed over to New York Combat Sambo, where Antonio proceeded to join a class in catch wrestling, headed by Steve Koepfer. Although Steve Koepfer is best known for his work in sambo, New York Combat Sambo also offers regular training in catch wrestling, as well as other styles. Several of his students are expected to be competing at upcoming events, including the 2014 Catch Wrestling World Championship presented by the Snake Pit U.S.A., on Sunday, July 27, at the MMA World Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, and at the Liberty Bell Classic / East Coast King of Catch Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, August 30, at Primal Gym in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, presented by the North American Catch Wrestling Association.

We spoke with both Steve Koepfer and Antonio Graceffo at New York Combat Sambo right after this catch wrestling class.

About four years ago, Steve Koepfer said that he did a joint seminar in Montreal with Kris Iatskevich, head coach at the ISWA (International Submission Wrestling Alliance). Steve was teaching sambo, and Kris catch wrestling.

"We realized that a lot of what he was teaching and a lot of what I was teaching was similar, and that a lot of the principles between sambo and catch were very similar regarding pins and submissions and takedowns. Obviously in sambo we wear the jacket and in catch there is no jacket. But we found there were more similarities than differences. And then we started training here at the gym with catch rules, which we found much more acceptable for all the techniques that we like to do that are not typically allowed in jiu-jitsu tournaments, for example."

That led them to organizing several joint sambo and catch wrestling tournaments together, with some of them having "upwards of 70 or 80 competitors, especially the ones down in Texas."

For Antonio, this was his first catch wrestling class, and also the first time he has done any wrestling in the United States. He is in the process of completing his Ph.D. at Shanghai University of Sport in Shanghai, China, comparing Chinese traditional wrestling with Western wrestling, and is also a member of the Shuai Jiao traditional wrestling team there. He also trained earlier in the week with a judo class in Long Island, New York, and commented, "In terms of the level, I saw that the level of the catch wrestler was a lot higher than the level of the sport judo guys I trained with this week."

We discussed with both Steve Koepfer and Antonio Graceffo their training together, the future of catch wrestling, what lessons can be learned for catch wrestling from the political battles in other sports like sambo, the various upcoming tournaments in catch wrestling, and much more.

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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.

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/.

The 2014 Catch Wrestling World Championship, presented by the Snake Pit U.S.A., taking place Sunday, July 27, at the MMA World Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. You can only win by pin or submission. Best two out of three falls. All styles welcome. For more information or to register, go to snakepitusa.com.

The Catch Wrestling Alliance, a catch wrestling promotion that works with the highest level catch wrestlers from around the world with the goal of reviving the great sport of catch-as-catch-can wrestling. The Catch Wrestling Alliance organizes catch wrestling sporting events, and its primary organizer is Dr. Raul Ramirez. For more information, go to catchwrestlingalliance.com.

Takedown Wrestling Media, America's wrestling TV and radio shows, which are hosted by founder Scott Casber, and have been airing on radio and Internet for over 17 years. Takedown Media produces a weekly TV program seen in 54 million homes in the U.S. on DirecTV, Dish Network, and cable affiliates around the country, called Takedown TV. Takedown Media also produces the weekly USA Wrestling TV show for the governing body of the sport, USA Wrestling. For more information, go to http://takedownradio.com.

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