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Saturday, July 25, 2015

No Holds Barred: Antonio Graceffo on Grappling, BJJ, Catch Wrestling, and MMA in Asia 

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.

Now in the final year of his studies at the Shanghai University of Sport in Shanghai, China, where he will complete his Ph.D. next year, he also is a teacher and a member of the traditional wrestling (Shuai Jiao) team there.

Born in Brooklyn, known as the "Brooklyn Monk", and raised in Tennessee, we spoke with him Friday in New York while he was in town.

Among the many things on this trip he has done are training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Matt Serra's gym in Long Island, training in judo in Long Island, and training in submission wrestling with Sambo Steve Koepfer at New York Combat Sambo. He commented that, based on what he has seen, both in the U.S. and in Asia, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters are much better at newaza or ground fighting than judo athletes.

In Asia, he said, most traditional forms of wrestling emphasize throws from the standing position and have little or no ground fighting.

"All these wrestling forms are dying," he said.

However, "There's been a resurgence in interest even in the traditional forms because of MMA." With more athletes in the lighter weight classes than in the West, many of them have been training in local wrestling clubs to improve their ground skills so they could achieve success in MMA.

We also discussed how most of the grappling tournaments in Asia are dominated by people from BJJ, how catch wrestling is not well developed there, how there are some tournaments which are called catch wrestling but do not have pins, his plans to continue teaching and of course training after he gets his Ph.D., the catch wrestling and self-defense training he saw in Singapore at the Kapap Academy, and much more.

Also, as a follow-up to our previous show, we received the following addition to the comments made in our interview with Larry Hazzard, Sr., the commissioner of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board:

"For clarification, I am completely in favor of the Muhammad Ali Act, but I do not believe that Al Haymon has violated the act. I also respect other promoters' rights to pursue their redress, but I believe that the boxers are benefitting from the PBC and I think that Al Haymon took a very smart approach to reviving the sport. Also, the ABC leadership never discussed this issue with its commission membership before issuing the letter to the U.S. Attorney General."

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