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, November 07, 2014

No Holds Barred: Ulf Elm and Steve Koepfer on Grappling, Sambo, and Catch Wrestling 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Ulf Elm of the Växjö Titans gym in Sweden, and Steve Koepfer of New York Combat Sambo.

We spoke with them Monday while Ulf Elm was visiting New York and conducting grappling seminars at New York Combat Sambo.

With a background in multiple disciplines in the martial arts and combat sports, Ulf Elm has been spending much of his time instructing people in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and grappling in Sweden. There he has seen the growth and development of both BJJ and grappling organizationally.

"I would say it's getting more and more formalized," he said. While in the U.S. there are many disparate jiu-jitsu and grappling competitions and organizations, "In Sweden, it's more formalized. Jiu-jitsu competitions with IBJJF rules -- it's really big. It's huge."

As for no-gi grappling, the main organization is ADCC.

"The Swedish Submission Wrestling Federation, now they are starting again with ADCC rules," he said. "They tried to go with FILA, the FILA grappling rules for a couple of years, but that basically broke down. FILA dropped grappling, and no one picked it up. So now they are back to ADCC rules and sending the national team to the ADCC European Trials."

We also discussed the controversy involving Swedish Greco-Roman wrestler Ara Abrahamian, who handed back his bronze medal after losing a highly controversial semifinal match in the 2008 Olympics, in which almost all observers felt that he had been robbed. The Court of Arbitration for Sport later sided with Abrahamian in his appeal of a ban from wrestling, but the damage from this scandal once again disgraced the international wrestling authorities. Thus, we discussed how since this mess, which received wide attention in the Swedish media, wrestling has declined in Sweden.

In addition, we discussed with both Ulf Elm and Steve Koepfer the state of sambo and catch wrestling in Sweden and Scandinavia, what they need to do to expand there and around the world, and much, much more.

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