Catch Wrestling in Wigan

Ever fancied learning the brutal style of catch wrestling in Wigan with a strong focus on the submission elements, such as heel hooks, neck cranks, nelsons, leg locks and joint locks?

Then you’ll be interested in our CSW classes which are held every Monday evening and Saturday afternoon, taught by Erik Paulson’s Level 3 CSW coach, Mel Corrigan.

The Origins of Catch Wrestling

Catch Wrestling, also known as Catch-As-Catch-Can, is an old Lancashire style of wrestling that became popular amongst miners back in the early and mid 1900’s. One of the most recognised gyms teaching catch was located here in Wigan, named Riley’s gym.

Run by coach Billy Riley, a hooker in his own right, the gym became known around the globe for producing some of the world’s finest catch wrestlers and hookers such as Billy Robinson, Billy Joyce (Bob Robinson), Jack Dempsey (Tommy Moore) and Karl Gotch. Such was the skill coming out of Riley’s club in Wigan that the gym earned the nickname, “The Snake Pit”.

Whilst the art of Catch Wrestling may have diminished in the UK over the years, the style has flourished in America and Japan where Billy Robinson and Karl Gotch both relocated and taught. Billy Robinson was known for coaching Kazushi Sakuraba, a Japanese fighter who earned the title “The Gracie Hunter” after defeating numerous members of the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu dynasty including Royce, Royler and Renzo. In the 70’s, Karl Gotch taught catch wrestling to Satoru Sayama, who was well known in the professional wrestling circuit under the ring name Tiger Mask. Having a background in Muay Thai under Toshio Fujiwara and Sambo through Victor Koga, Sayama blended the arts with Shoot wrestling, inspired by Catch Wrestling, to create his own discipline called Shooto. He subsequently went onto hold events focused on the blended system in what many say was the first modern version of mixed martial arts competition. 

A keen student of Billy Robinson, Yori Nakamura (of Karl Gotch lineage and student of Satoru Sayama), Gene LeBell and Larry Hartsell, Coach Erik Paulson has developed the catch-as-catch-can style, in particular the positions, neck cranks and hooks, by incorporating the best bits into his Combat Submission Wrestling system; a style which also takes from Greco-Roman wrestling, Shooto, Freestyle wrestling, sambo, kali and BJJ.

Where catch wrestlers will do everything they can to avoid having their shoulders pinned, due to competitors able to win a match via pin, Combat Submission Wrestling welcomes the fight from the back against the mat and uses it as an advantageous position where one may submit or control an opponent.

Having trained with and coached many catch wrestlers and MMA fighters, including ‘The Warmaster’ Josh Barnett, Erik is extremely experienced in the catch wrestling style and, by blending it with other grappling arts, has helped to keep alive the brutal, painful style of wrestling – or “Physical Chess” as Billy Robinson coined it.

Mel Corrigan, owner and head instructor at MCKG, is a level 3 qualified instructor of Combat Submission Wrestling under Erik Paulson and offers unparalleled coaching in CSW, with its blend of catch wrestling, in Wigan.

Interested in learning catch wrestling submissions and techniques? Find out more on our Combat Submission Wrestling classes.

Get A Week's Worth of Classes For Just £10!