20 years ago whisperings in the grappling universe called to Jake Shannon from beyond the grave. 100 years of glory had been forgotten by rule changes, money grabbing and gimmicky promotions which bastardized and eventually extinguished the fire of Catch-As-Catch-Can that once swept the land.
A sport that was appreciated by the hard-nosed working class, Catch Wrestling attracted thousands at live events and created myths and legends of the famous champions of yesteryear. Gotch, Nelson, Burns, Lewis, Robinson, Cardinal, Gama. These names were all but forgotten. Golden champions of their age. Stranglers, Hookers, Pinners and warriors whose deeds were immortalized in the minds of their rabid fans. Yet those days of blood, guts and glory were left in the past covered in the dust. The days and memories of raw primal power rarely seen in the ring had been buried and lost.
That whisper from the Universe spoke to Shannon, “Remember us” it beckoned. “Remember who we were and what we did. Resurrect us and breathe new life into us. Restore us to our former glory and place in the grappling cosmos.”
Whatever the actual events that lead Shannon to dive head first into the wild and sometimes whacky world of Catch Wrestling may ultimately be only known to him and the whispering spirits of wrestlers past.
Sometime in the early 2000’s I stumbled across the www.ScientificWrestling.com website. It told the stories of many of the great Catch wrestlers of the late 19th and early 20th century. As an aspiring Olympic wrestler these were names I had never heard of. Champions of a sport that had somehow died out decades before I ever even knew what US folkstyle wrestling was. Without Jake’s efforts to revive the lost legends of CACC I for one would have never known that they or the sport of Catch Wrestling even existed. The website eventually went from text to videos to live seminars with former champions, namely Billy Robinson, who became the point of the spear for Shannon’s revival efforts.
Slowly but surely champions trained personally by Billy Robinson in Japan became big stars on the stage of MMA in Pancrase, Pride and UFC. Kazushi Sakuraba, “The Gracie Hunter”, defeated Renzo, Royler and Ryan Gracie and multiple BJJ opponents in the ring and cage.
Josh Barnett, “The Warmaster”, won the UFC as one of the youngest ever champions as well as won the IBJJF No Gi worlds.
Erik Paulson, Neil Melanson, Randy Couture, all high profile examples showcasing the value of CACC in the ring and cage who catapulted CACC into the consciousness of anyone serious about grappling or MMA.
While Shannon’s efforts have by no means been so all influencing to have caused all this they have been the spark that has helped bring notice to the general public. When the CACC athletes won events Scientific Wrestling gave you information on the how’s and why’s, the back stories and the origins of the techniques and tactics being used.
Soon more people learned about CACC and Jake’s influence through Scientific Wrestling grew. More seminars with more participants wanting to learn CACC and how they could get an edge over their competition. More videos and more content than ever before became available.
Reporters rarely if ever get credit for the events they cover. But without them much of the world’s events go on unknown and unsung to the rest of the world. Pioneers are often overlooked and taken for granted. The mountains they had to climb for life and death eventually becoming ‘recreation’ for their modern-day counterparts.
Jake Shannon is both reporter and pioneer. Without Jake Shannon many, and I would dare say almost all, of us would have never heard of Billy Robinson or Catch-As-Catch-Can. We wouldn’t have seen the recent CACC tournaments abounding. Jake’s “King of CACC” series of tournament sparked others to follow. We would not have seen the rise of the Snake Pit or the 2018 World CACC Championships.
Again while no man is an island or can truly do any great work alone he can create a spark which eventually builds to a roaring fire.
We are witnessing firsthand how the influence of one man’s vision leads to the influence of another, then another and on and on until that vision is fulfilled. The revival of Catch Wrestling is like a mighty eagle just hatched from its shell as it stretches its wings to take new flight into the heavens.
So many of us hope that Catch Wrestling will soar to new heights as it continues to grow and restore its once glorious form.
Thank you Jake Shannon for all of your efforts for not only the sport of Catch Wrestling but for your tireless contributions to all of the grappling arts.
To hear more of Jake’s story you can take a listen here:
Grapping Central Podcast – Jake Shannon Interview
Episode 295: Jake Shannon