Josh Barnett did an interview last Thursday on Mauro Ranallo's MMA radio show, and detailed his thoughts on the historical role of Pro Wrestling in the development of MMA in Brazil.
“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. (and they would ask) ‘What’s your belt? Who’s your sensei?”
"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.”
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