Combat Sports Project Est.2012
Combat Sports Project Est.2012

Kris Iatskevich talks about Catch Wrestling

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Hello, my name is Kris Iatskevich.

I have a 30+ years experience in Grappling and combat sports, with freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, as well as Catch Wrestling and Sambo. My other experience includes Judo and to a lesser extent Boxing and Muay Thai . I am a certified coach with Wrestling Canada for freestyle and Greco, and on the American Sambo Association Board of Directors, as well as the Canadian Rep for the Combat Wrestling International Federation. I run a High School Wrestling program in drummondville Qc as well as train fighters in Submission Wrestling, MMA and Sambo.
I was introduced to Catch by Edouard Carpentier. Eddy trained at the gym where I was holding grappling classes. One day he approached me and commented on what we were doing, and offered to show us how they use to train back in his day. Edouard was a great man, an incredible athlete and a great coach. He totally changed my way I thought of wrestling, forced me to think outside the box. Later on I was fortunate to meet other coaches who did the same and I am very fortunate to have had the chance to train with them, even if only briefly in some cases.
Before Meeting Edouard when went by the name Montreal Submission Wrestling. Then around 2003 – 2004 I founded Catch Wrestling Canada along with long time student , training partner and friend Carl Abdallah. The International Submission Wrestling Alliance ( ISWA ) was created in 2010 by Carl , myself and Boyd Ritchie, we all believed Catch Wrestling should be taught as a rule set and be more prominent on the tournament scene.

I am proud to say that we have many affiliated schools worldwide, and I am very fortunate to be surrounded by quality people. Our group is very apolitical. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, but we are all interested in seeing Catch become prominent as a competitive sport worldwide. In that sense, I am proud of what we have achieved so far. By holding tournaments on a regular basis for a number of years, we have been able to introduce Catch Wrestling to many fighters and have been blessed in having them join our ranks after having tried their hands at it. Through tournaments, training camps, seminars and coaching clinics, the ISWA is committed to being a leader in the technical developments and growth of Submission Wrestling. Our tournaments are growing both in numbers and quality. We usually average about 4-5 tournaments each year. In 2015, we already have 8 planned out in Canada and the US, and are looking into holding some in the UK and Europe. We have been holding many joint events of Catch Wrestling and Sambo with the American Sambo Association. I am really excited about our first ever ISWA Freestyle, Greco Roman and Catch Wrestling tournament scheduled for this year. This weekend long wrestling festival will hopefully be the first of many. I am Looking in doing the same in 2016 with the format Freestyle – Greco and Combat Wrestling.
Above all, we make it a point to have qualified coaches on board the ISWA. In Canada, for example, we encourage our coaches to take up the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) through Wrestling Canada, the governing body for Canadian amateur wrestling under FILA. That way, we know all of our coaches are competent, certified with an official federation and know how to transmit quality instruction. We also offer an ISWA Coaching Clinic based on the NCCP program to help aspiring ISWA coaches learn how to teach our basic curriculum.
What are the most notable specifics about catch wrestling, as opposed to other grappling styles
Catch Wrestling is a grappling style that was developed in Britain, most notably in the Lancashire region. The style was later popularized in the US by the wrestlers of traveling carnivals, who developed their own submission holds or ‘hooks’, into their wrestling to increase their effectiveness against their opponents. It is easy to say that Catch Wrestling was influenced by many different wrestling styles practiced at the time, and that borrowing of ideas and techniques helped form the system. The training of some modern submission wrestlers,
professional wrestlers and mixed martial arts fighters is founded in Catch Wrestling. The British term ‘catch-as- catch-can’ is generally understood to mean, ‘catch (a hold) anywhere you can.’ The rules of catch wrestling were more permissive than the earlier folk styles it was based on. Catch wrestlers can win a match by either submission or pin, and most matches are contested as the best two-of-three falls. The rules of Catch Wrestling would change from venue to venue, and were often decided prior to the fight by both parties involved.
At the ISWA, we teach Catch Wrestling as a rule set. Wrestling is wrestling; rules define the rest. What type of technique you will prioritize and how you apply them depends largely on the ruleset. We feel that by teaching it in that manner, our fighters keep an open mind and have a broader appreciation of what they are doing. One weekend they might be wrestling under Freestyle rules or Greco Roman, the next may be more Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu oriented… and then put on a jacket and wrestle under Sambo rules. I feel that approach is closer to the original mindset of the wrestlers of old. For example take turn of the 20th Century wrestler Ad Santel He had no qualms about fighting Japanese judokas under very modified rule sets, or even donning a jacket to beat them at their own game. Many of the wrestlers from that era would grapple under any rule set thrown at them. Some matches would have a best 2-of-3 contest disputed under varied rule sets. Round 1 would be Cumberland wrestling, round 2 would be under Greco roman rules and round 3 under catch-as-catch- can rules. That warrior spirit is what appeals to me and my team.
By going out there and wrestling under different rule sets, our guys get a better understanding of not only what they are doing but WHY they are doing it. They understand the difference between a Kimura and the way we perform a shoulder lock; most importantly, they understand why it is different based on first-hand competitive experience. From what I know of the history of the sport, wrestlers back then, being very result-oriented, kept an open mind about techniques and training. These men had to be ready to adapt to any situation. That’s why I tend to stay away from people who try to put catch wrestling in a neat little package and try to confine it to a rigid mold. Wrestling is not—nor should it ever be—dogmatic. When you have been around this circle for a while and have any coaching and/or fighting experience, you soon realize that there is no ”one way” of doing things. For example, I have trained with three prominent coaches who all trained at the same school under the same coach, and yet all three of them thought things differently from one another. Not only were the techniques different, but the approach was altogether different. The lesson I took away from that experience was, that in the end, every individual will take something different from his training based on his level of understanding, prior fight knowledge and physical makeup; so who’s to say who’s right or wrong? I believe that, as long as you respect the essence of the sport and apply its basic principles, the rest is all up to personal interpretations. The only valid techniques are the ones that work for you. As a fighter and as a coach, it is my job to stay on top of things and keep an eye out for what is going on in the grappling world. Wrestling is ever-evolving. If you stay confined to a static mold, you and your fighters will be left behind. These changes, good or bad, are based on rules. As the rules change, so does the sport. If we want to see Catch Wrestling evolve with its time, we need to be more flexible in our approach. For the record and in my very humble opinion, any move done within the context of the catch Wrestling rule set is a Catch Wrestling move.
Wrestling is a really tough sport. As such, it forces its athletes to dig a bit deeper, push a bit harder and in the process, they learn things about themselves they never knew and accomplish things they thought they never could. This is very profound and as a lasting effect on its participants. They will also learn early on that losing is very real and that winning takes a lot of work, courage, self-discipline and commitment. They also learn to set goals. These lessons will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

Find a school! Online training cannot compensate for the real thing. Wrestling isn’t a collection of tricks and only a competent coach can guide you through the intricacies of wrestling principles.
There are many great resources and schools out there offering Catch Wrestling programs. The ISWA has affiliate schools worldwide and you can find all the info at You could also take a look at: Jake Shannon at Roy Wood at Tommy Heyes at the Bolton Olympic Wrestling club in Bolton, England. Michael Rosales and the Texas Catch Wrestling Club in Corpus Christi, Texas John Potenza at Snake Pit USA www, The philosophy and goals may vary from school to school or organization, but they are all worth checking out

Catch Wrestling probably never will be as well established as other more mainstream fight sports; but we could do something good for the sport by putting philosophical differences aside and moving forward together. I feel that we all need to sit down and decide where we are taking this. Everyone will profit from pulling together. Look at amateur wrestling and Judo. They have their problems, but they understand the importance of pulling together towards a common goal. People do this for different reasons and, in their own way, they are all good; but personally, I am wary of becoming too much of a fan instead of a competitor, which is the tendency I’m seeing right now. Purists tend to worry me, they would benefit from taking their noses out of the history books and spending more time on the mat. I don’t know what the future holds for Catch Wrestling, but hopefully we will see it back on top of the grappling food chain. Hoping to see you all on the mat soon!

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