Barnett: MMA in Brazil came from pro wrestling

by Zach Arnold | source:

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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Recent Comments »

yusul site profile image  

9/10/11 7:28 PM by yusul

barnett is not a religion either. he is incorrect. KANO was the one who sent Maeda internationally to compete. stating koma wouldn't have ended in brasil without doing pro wrestling comps IS SPECULATION not PROOF.

e. kaye site profile image  

9/10/11 6:08 PM by e. kaye

 So let me get this straight? Josh Barnett claims to be a Catchwrestler and nothing but a Catchw but because he rolls a lot with BJJ guys, we are told over and over he is a BJJ guy.   But Maeda competes with Catchwrestlers in Catchwrestling matches exclusively for two years and does not pick up a thing?   Despite being one of the best of the best of the Kodokan. Hmmmm,  makes sense to me.   NOT!!!

Kevin bacon site profile image  

9/10/11 5:51 PM by Kevin bacon

GTC you have to understand that people aren't posting on this thread anymore because it just exhausting to read all of your unfounded preaching.Judo is NOT a religion and neither i CACC, it's just grappling and people have done it for thousands of years. As long as we have 2 legs and 2 arms, the techniques for breaking them will pretty much stay the same, only the strategies will change. . As far as history goes, Barnett is still right and we have proven it several times... I think you need to read what he said again. Kirik summed it up perfectly:"I thought Barnett's statement was pretty well backed up by facts. If it were not for pro wrestling, Count Koma would never have gone to Brazil, and thus, no BJJ, no Vale Tudo, and no MMA."This is a fact. Try to understand it for what it is. You don't have to shit your pants over it. Don't be a zealot.And BTW: As far as I know, most of the people here that you're calling catch wrestlers are seasoned BJJ'ers. Me included.

GCT site profile image  

9/10/11 2:02 PM by GCT

O.K. , thanks for being a little straightforward - you're saying that he deliberately and consciously blended catch techniques into his Judo . Strange though , because , he never makes mention of this in references to his interaction with the Gracies. I think that Maeda was courteous to the point where he would have acknowledged that some of the stuff he was teaching to the Brazillians was adopted from catch wrestlers. But god , what an asshole , you catch wrestlers must be really pissed. Or are you saying that , after wrestling with catch wrestlers for a while , that he was eventually unable to distinguish it between his Judo and that he incorporated catch wrestling techniques into his Judo without awareness of it , in essence , are you saying that he was eventually unable keep catch techniques distinct from his Judo and adopted them unconsciously and without regard for whom he was taking them from? But did you consider the possibility that he didn't do those things? Afterall , he makes no mention of teaching the Brazilians catch wrestling . Maybe Maeda wasn't a rude savant idiot who was incapable of even being realizing that he had blended catch wrestling into his repetoir , maybe he wasn't the asswipe that you say that he is since , according to you , he so rudely distributed catch wrestling techniques as his own? I would imagine that catch wrestlers are really angry at Maeda right now. God , what an asswipe that Maeda was. I believe the following is what happened. Maybe he gave catch wrestling its dues and was able to keep them as distinct techniques in his head , and subsequently and conscientiously believed it was necessary to teach only his Judo principles and techniques to the Brazilians. This is a possibility isn't it? Afterall , Maeda makes no mention of catch wrestling in his interactions with the Gracies. MAYBE all Maeda wanted for the Brazillians to inherit were his - and soley his - Judo techniques , perhaps for the sake of honoring his ancestors in Japan.

GCT site profile image  

9/10/11 2:01 PM by GCT

duplicate post

Victor Parlati site profile image  

9/10/11 12:23 PM by Victor Parlati

I'm saying none of these words you're trying to put in my mouth. You're the one trying to make Maeda into an idiot by suggesting that he went into a pro wrestling match without knowing that he could lose by shoulder pin if he pulled guard. (Something that never happened).All I'm saying is that Maeda took some catch moves and blended them into his game before he went to Brazil - moves he learned from a catch wrestler in Europe after he lost to that wrestler.But most of all, what I'm saying is this: I'm on the UG about 7-8 years now - and I'm tired of responding to catch deniars who play the strawman game you do.It's a waste of my time.Later

GCT site profile image  

9/10/11 9:34 AM by GCT

Be straightforward with me and everyone else here for a sec.... answer the following questions and be straightforward. you're saying that - within the skillsets that Maeda taught to the Brazilians - that a part or all of it (in some deformed Judo/catch hybrid way) was catch wrestling right? There are a couple of inherent assumptions from this - are you saying that Maeda probably wasn't able to distinguish between catch and Judo after his matches with the catch wrestlers and as a result catch wrestling techniques somehow became mongrelized into in style of Judo which he so fervently spread across the world. Thus , Maeda was an idiot duped like a bumblebee to unsuspectingly spread catch wrestling around the world. - or perhaps Maeda , unlike the idiot that you insinuate him to be , was able to keep catch wrestling techniques separate from Judo and afterwards deliberately introduced them to the Brazillians as Judo. Something he was , by no means , obligated to do. In other words , he could have simply taught Judo and Judo only like he professed to do during his lifetime. There's no other way around this Victor. One way or another you're seeking to establish something that neither Maeda nor the Gracies ever even mentioned as having happened , so even if you insist that 1% of BJJ is actually catch , it isn't something that any of us are able to establish for ourselves simply because Maeda nor the Gracies never give credit to catch nor even mention it within the records of interactions that took place between them. You're seeking to establish a consensus on a suggestive historical event for which we don't have any facts for. You're insinuating things , you want your version of history - again for which we have no records of happening , that is , Maeda teaching the Gracies catch wrestling - to be established INDIRECTLY. You want people to assume your version of history and your doing it in a suggestive fashion. In other words , Maeda may have learned some catch rules and techniques , but he could have been able to still keep it distinct from Judo , and in addition to this he didn't have to introduce catch wrestling techniques to the Brazillians , he wasn't obligated by any means to teach anything other then Judo to his pupils. WE HAVE NO RECORDS OF ACTUAL EVENTS THAT HAPPENED WHERE MAEDA TAUGHT CATCH WRESTLING TECHNIQUES TO THE GRACIES. You're seeking to suggest that it happened by distorting small and totally unrelated truths.

OUTCOLD site profile image  

9/9/11 10:30 PM by OUTCOLD


Train Judo site profile image  

9/9/11 9:02 PM by Train Judo

"That's right - a jiu jitsu instructor (Japanese jj). And this business about Maeda being shoulder pinned when he pulled guard is friggin' hilarious. That's not how he lost."It is 100% fact...My name on this forum for nearly a decade was Mitsuyo Maeda and though it comes off as a bit cocky, I am by far the biggest Maeda fan who ever lived...I know his history better than my own! Ive studied it and read everything that has ever had to do with him for 20 years now. Not this year..For almost 20!!Further, Maeda traveled doing challenge matches to prove the worth of the kodokan, pro wrestling matches were just a small part of that..Most were not professional wrestling..As a side note, He only had one worked fight his entire career and it's where his nickname comes from...There was a man who had billed himself as a kodokan champion..Maeda, not knowing anyone from the Kodokan was in town, but knowing the man would back out of the match if he heard Maeda's name, (along with the promoter) came up with his stage name (which basically means royal trouble)...Well the fight ended up happening and when his opponent showed up to the ring, it was his friend from the Kodokan, Ono...So they worked the match on the spot. 

Victor Parlati site profile image  

9/9/11 7:06 PM by Victor Parlati

No, it's you who's revising history. I first got my information about this years ago from the website of a jiu jitsu instructor - and then heard it backed up in numerous other places. That's right - a jiu jitsu instructor (Japanese jj). And this business about Maeda being shoulder pinned when he pulled guard is friggin' hilarious. That's not how he lost.He was wrestling PROFESSIONALLY - which means he was getting paid - which means...OF COURSE he knew the rules about shoulder pins - as they have ALWAYS been a part of professional wrestling. You must think the UG readers are a bunch of idiots (well, some are - but many aren't)'re in complete denial about the efficiency of catch as catch can.Either way - you are truly laughable.