By Zach Arnold | September 6, 2011
During the Summer, I received a few different MMA books to check out and one of them is Jake Shannon’s new book, Say Uncle! It’s as great as you would imagine it to be. Big text, clean layout, good interview snippets & profiles of characters such as Karl Gotch & Billy Robinson… it’s a breeze to read and appeals to a wide swath of fight fans. I cannot say enough good things about Jake’s book and I would strongly encourage you to check it out.
I was reminded of Jake’s book while listening to an interview Josh Barnett did with Mauro Ranallo last Thursday for Mauro’s distinguished & popular MMA radio show.
There was the usual promo cutting for Josh’s upcoming fight against Sergei Kharitonov:
“I know you just jumped out of this plane, Sergei, you’re floating your way down to what you think is going to be the epitome of an MMA career, sitting on the top with a crown of head. As you float through that sky and you look at all these wonderful things and you see all the stuff that you’re going to conquer, I’m going to come over right alongside you & cut all the strings on your parachute and watch you plummet to the ground. Just wait. There’s no room for two at the top.”
However, the most interesting part of the interview had to do with how Josh got into catch wrestling and why he chose it over other fighting disciplines/backgrounds.
JOSH BARNETT: “Well, when I first started in learning about Mixed Martial Arts and getting involved, you know, at first I thought Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was judo, basically. I didn’t really know the difference and I had a little bit of judo experience but not a lot. But at my roots I’m a wrestler and so finding something that really worked with that and I never felt that wrestling should be discarded at all. I always felt it was necessary to be capable from all angles but not to ever discard my wrestling. That was one of the strongest things that you can have in the ring and watching professional wrestling and being a huge fan of American & Canadian & Japanese professional wrestling for so long and seeing the techniques out there and knowing the lineage about it. Catch wrestling has a very deep lineage and the gym that I started working with came from people that had wrestling & catch wrestling backgrounds so it just made sense and it was so much more aggressive & violent than jiu-jitsu and I’ll be honest — at the time jiu-jitsu was very arrogant especially towards anyone that did not have a jiu-jitsu background or to an extent at the time just because you were not Brazilian. Times have changed a lot with a large influx of jiu-jitsu instructors and whatnot coming from Brazil or just being homegrown here in the United States, but back in 1995… 1994, you know, you tell somebody, ‘well, I wrestle, I do submissions’ or whatever.
‘What’s your belt? Who’s your sensei?”
And I’m like, uh… you know, so-and-so. “Well, I don’t have a belt.”
“Well, whatever,” like they discard you, like whatever you’re doing is all wrong.”
MAURO RANALLO: “Is there similarities then to Luta Livre & catch wrestling in many ways? Luta Livre is submission without the gi and what are the differences between the two?”
JOSH BARNETT: “Yes. Well, you know, the thing is Luta Livre was more inspired by catch wrestling and professional wrestling… whereas Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is actually more so inspired by the judokas that transplanted there, one of them being Mitsuyo Maeda who himself did catch wrestling and was a professional wrestler. So, in either way, professional wrestling is the reason for the fight industry within Brazil. These guys would do their tours of the world, going out there and making it happen and from that… they developed into full-fledged fighting systems.”
As for Josh’s goals of wrestling & fighting again in Japan, he said that his avenue with Mr. Inoki is largely finished as long as he’s under contract to Zuffa/Forza. He didn’t exactly label Strikeforce as a dying cancer patient, however. Perhaps he will see a booking in his near future in February for UFC’s Japanese show.