Monday, February 22, 2010

Jake Shannon and Kris Iatskevich: Catch Wrestling's NEWEST Newest Crisis of Confidence

Several years back, Jake Shannon -- the brains behind Scientific (and self-professed "professional hypnotist," "polymath," "Human Rights investigator," "financial engineer," "physical culturist," "inventor," "author," "entrepreneur," and critic of "overhyping" one's credentials) -- wanted to teach catch wrestling. So in 2003 he attended a four-hour seminar given by Tony Cecchine in Chicago, figured he'd learned all he needed to learn, then immediately returned to the west coast, where he began charging to teach private lessons in hooking.

(Don't believe me? Just use the wayback machine and check Shannon's site from July 2003, the month after Shannon attended the Chicago seminar given by Cecchine. While you're there, note that Shannon is claiming to have 25-years experience in kickboxing, pro wrestling, catch, etc. -- all this back in 2003). [November 2010 update: I received notice that Shannon had blocked posts like this from viewing the evidence. This is typical: most recently, Shannon paid an SEO outfit $450 to bury those postings that expose his operation in search engine results -- and to attempt "black hat" SEO techniques to try to get blogs like this one removed entirely from the web. Shannon talks constantly about wanting people to "think critically"; unless it's about him and his tactics, turns out. - student x]

Cecchine didn't think Shannon's push to begin teaching a particularly good idea; after all, Shannon knew virtually nothing about hooking -- and, because Tony had already seen how Matt Furey fared trying to "teach" what he himself hadn't yet learned (Furey was a decent amateur wrestler, but he didn't know submissions well at all), he tried to dissuade Shannon from using catch as a money maker -- at least, until he'd actually learned it.

That advice didn't take. Shannon saw an opportunity and he jumped at it, seizing on the growing popularity of catch as an alternative to BJJ, Sambo, judo, etc., to begin his own business.

The only problem is, Cecchine -- by way of skill and reputation -- stood in his way.

So Shannon came up with a plan: discredit Cecchine. Question his legitimacy. Post in forum after forum after forum "questions" and "concerns" about Cecchine's past, his "lineage," his training, etc.

-- And all the while, set himself up as a principled rival to the very fraud he had invented and attributed to Cecchine.

A good plan, as it turned out. Scientific Wrestling thrives these days, while Shannon, et al., have succeeded in disseminating enough misinformation in various grappling fora to keep "questions" about Tony Cecchine alive, creating just enough uneasiness that, when someone new goes looking for catch wrestling instruction, they turn to Scientific Wrestling.

The irony is, even as Shannon and Scientific Wrestling continue to keep active an article Shannon wrote questioning Cecchine's credentials (long after answers to all Shannon's loaded questions were made available to him), nobody really knows the truth about Scientific Wrestling.

-- Nobody knows, for instance, that Shannon claimed at one time to be taught by Randy Couture; or that he used to attach himself (and his business) to Cecchine; or that his connections to notable names in the grappling world are based around paid arrangements (eg., Josh Barnett, Erik Paulsen, Frankie Cain, Dick Cardinal, Mark Schultz, and Wade Schalles don't teach for Scientific Wrestling; instead, Shannon produces and markets DVD series for them, or pays them to give seminars, and takes his percentage).

Or even that Shannon has other, er...side businesses -- the kinds generally associated with late night infomercials and 900 numbers...

Similarly, very few people know that what Shannon is selling is a form of the discipline that has been adapted to the demands of pro wrestling. Karl Gotch and Billy Robinson both coached for UWFi, and so it makes perfect sense that, as former pro wrestlers being paid to teach pro wrestling to Japanese athletes, the holds they taught were working holds -- "show" holds designed to sell moves to an audience without damaging a compliant "opponent" or partner.

These moves -- which indeed can work as submission holds against those who don't know the ready counters -- eventually found their way into shoot fighting and Japanese MMA, with some making their way back to the States and into the arsenals of today's modern MMA fighter.

Hooks, on the other hand, are the most efficient, violent, and effective applications of these holds -- and it is "hooking" that Cecchine has always shown in his instructional material and at his seminars. Which is why his seminal 1999 series from World Martial Arts is called The Lost Art of Hooking and not The Lost Art of Catch Wrestling. Anyone wearing a singlet and calling himself Captain Yukon can bill himself as a catch wrester; but most catch wrestlers wouldn't know a real catch hook if it crawled inside their tights and took a nap.

So. The time has come to set the record straight.

And once that's done, it's time to put in one place the answers to the charges Shannon has made publicly against Cecchine.


Kris Iatskevich and Jake Shannon: Scientific Wrestling's Crisis of Confidence

Quick note before I begin: though the title of the post suggests that I'm concerned about the integrity of Scientific Wrestling alone, I'm not. What I want to discuss / reveal here redounds to the Sambo and judo communities as well as to the catch wrestling community.

Now, then. Onward:

The erstwhile FIAS Sambo representative for Canada, Kris Iatskevich, has recently admitted that he is NOT the son of former junior champ Alexander Iatskevich, as he had been claiming for the last ten or so years.*

Because of that, no one, so far as I can tell, can say where he trained Sambo or judo. I can find no record of his being awarded a black belt from the judo sanctioning body in Canada under either Iatskevich (or his former name, Christian Grenier); his bio has long suggested his "father," Alexander Iatskevich, was responsible for whatever training he had in these two arts. Now that we know this can't be the case, we have to begin at square one trying to piece together this gentleman's actual martial arts history.

First, for a self-professed judo blackbelt (his marketing material lists him as a 3rd Dan or, alternately, 3rd degree blackbelt) he doesn't have much of a history in the sport that I can find, save that in 1999, he was a green belt in Montreal, studying under Nakamura at the Shidokan.

And for a guy representing an entire country in Sambo, he doesn't have much of a demonstrable history studying in that discipline, either.

Iatskevich, so far as I can tell, has one accreditation -- in S.A.W. -- which he received through Mike Martelle. Martelle, it happens, is a student in Tony Cecchine's instructor program, and has trained with Cecchine. Meaning that the Lead Instructor for Certification for Scientific Wrestling trained under a student of Tony Cecchine's. (As an aside, I contacted Scientific Wrestling in 2008 to learn more about their accreditation program. I was told that, should I pay my money and pass an open-book, online "catch wrestling history exam" -- presumably, with Shannon's "books" as the source texts -- I would receive a level 1 accreditation. Voila! Instant catch wrestler! Alternately, Cecchine has accredited only a handful of his best students -- all who trained with him for several years at minimum. To date, he has not accredited Mike Martelle.)

My interest in bringing this to light here is that several grappling forums -- Lockflow (which buried the thread in its "Wasteland" section, off the front page) and WWGF (in which Steve Koepfer, a major player in combat sambo, is active as moderator) -- have been at pains to sequester this info. The former employs Iatskevich as one of its site experts (in catch); the latter features Koepfer, who has put on seminars with Iatskevich. Both sites seem to have a vested interest in keeping the truth about Iatskevich hidden, or at the very least minimizing its importance. Whether they are doing this to protect one of their "experts" or one of their business associates I can't say for sure.* [Koepfer, I should note here, has a DVD coming out with Iatskevich, the sales of which may or may not be affected by these revelations]

Similarly, Bullshido -- which bills itself as a site dedicated to exposing fraud in the martial arts (though they seem remarkably less interested in exposing fraud should one of their buddies be implicated) -- was also eager to minimize the importance of Iatskevich's admission and punish those who raised questions. Which makes me wonder just how incestuous is the relationship between all these grappling forums -- and whether buying advertising on said forums buys you easy forgiveness, as well. Bullshido, let me note here, never answered my requests for a list of their paid advertisers.

But here's the uncomfortable truth: this revelation by Iatskevich -- whether the grappling forums he's associated with are interested in pursuing questions about his longstanding claims or not -- without doubt calls into question the entirety of his training. He now bills himself as a catch wrestler and is in fact the Lead Instructor for Certification at Scientific Wrestling, one of only 3 people permitted to hand out certifications in catch from that organization (Billy Robinson and Jake Shannon being the other two). But to hear Shannon and Iatskevich tell it, Kris began his catch training in 1996, at a time when he was already teaching some form of submission grappling (he claims) and competing in tournaments.

The question then is this: what exactly was he teaching in 1996? If it was Sambo, who did he learn it from? It couldn't be judo, we now know -- he was a green belt 3 years later; it couldn't be BJJ, either -- he now claims he has never even received a blue belt (and in fact, in 2008 was defeated by a BJJ blue belt in a Canadian tournament). And the other major Sambo organization in Canada didn't teach him Sambo -- at least not under the name "Kris Iatskevich" -- because it was they who questioned where he got his training to begin with. So what was it he was teaching, and where did he learn it?

And because I can find no answers, I feel I have the responsibility to question his catch training, as well. After all, why is he taking low level judo and BJJ in 1999 if he is already a tournament-ready submission grappler and teacher who has been studying catch under Ed Carpentier since 1996 -- especially when he lauds what Carpentier taught him as superior to other disciplines?

As a catch wrestler myself, I don't wish to see my discipline associated with a guy who has faked his resume, even if he's done so in areas other than catch. And because Scientific Wrestling's head, Jake Shannon, has in the past been quick to call into question the credentials and lineages of his organization's competitors, one is free to wonder why, instead of making a statement about Iatskevich's admission of a ten-year fraud that has been carried forth in all the Scientific Wrestling marketing material, Shannon instead went to work scrubbing the SW site of the incriminating evidence. (Thankfully, I saved screen shots).

Further, if someone that Scientific Wrestling's marketing material was claiming was the FIAS representative for Sambo in Canada has no formal Sambo training, what does that say about Sambo? If a guy who has done seminars incorporating judo has no judo training, what does that say about judo?**

So you see, it isn't just we catch guys who should be concerned about all this. Anyone who cares about the integrity of his or her discipline should care that this rather startling admission -- and the subsequent moves that have been made by various websites to paper over it -- isn't being more closely examined.

I'm in the process of gathering up more details and will try to post them as I can verify the info.

Bottom line? Scientific Wrestling, for whom Iatskevich is Lead Instructor for Certification, has a demonstrable history of claiming that lineage matters in establishing credibility; that questions concerning training are not only valid, but are essential to maintaining the integrity of the art; and that any perceived problems in establishing that lineage beyond a shadow of a doubt supersedes whatever talents the grappler under scrutiny possesses.

And so my questions are not only fair, but in fact are -- under standards created and exercised by the very organization for whom Mr Iatskevitch works -- required.

FIAS and Scientific Wrestling should be asked to comment on Iatskevich's admission. And because Iatskevich is responsible for credentialing catch wrestlers for Scientific Wrestling (people who likely paid a tidy sum for the privilege), those people who were credentialed should be made aware that they were perhaps the victim of a fraud, whether the organization knew about any of this beforehand or not.

From there, they can decide how best to handle their grievances, if indeed they have any.

They do, however, have the right to know all this -- and websites that are hoping to hide this information to save face or protect their expert and/or friend and/or business partner should be ashamed of themselves for selling their souls in such a way.


Answering the Charges: Matt Furey, Tony Cecchine, and the Manufactured "Crisis of Confidence" in Catch Wrestling

Let's take Shannon's now infamous and widely disseminated article, "Matt Furey & Tony Cecchine: Catch Wrestling's Newest Crisis of Confidence," and break it down in an effort to answer the charges made therein. Shannon's text will appear in italics; my responses will follow.

"One of the most common questions I receive is "What is your opinion of so-and-so (insert name of self-proclaimed Catch Wrestling guru here)" so I thought this topic might make for some good blog fodder (also I can point people to this blog instead of repeating myself again)."

First, one must begin by asking, why in the world would anyone ask Shannon's opinion to begin with? What are Shannon's credentials? In 2003, he appears in video footage of Cecchine's seminar, and it is clear he is there as a student, not an expert. Yet suddenly he is an "expert" on who is or who isn't legitimate? Suddenly he is skilled enough to hand out accreditations? How, exactly? By what authority?

Shannon himself must have realized this, which is why he began "publishing" on catch wrestling -- essentially, mimeographing old out-of-print or public use (mostly pro) wrestling texts, rebinding them, and self-publishing them as part of his "authoratative encyclopedia of catch wrestling" series, thereby creating from thin air (and some toner) his own supposed expertise. After all, if you go to and search for books on catch wrestling, what author appears if not Jake Shannon!

Plus, now -- for a limited time only! -- you TOO can have on-line, fully digital access to Jake Shannon's elite and super secret "fight library," filled with The Lost Wisdom of the Ages and other esoterica, fully guaranteed for only $49.99...! (Some restrictions may apply; void where prohibited).

In short, Shannon has invented himself as a catch expert, and as proof of his expertise, he can refer you back to the expertise he himself invented, made manifest in the books he "wrote" on the subject.

And -- perhaps most egregiously -- Shannon and his Scientific Wrestling followers have begun shaping history itself to sell their products. To wit: the Wikipedia entry for "catch wrestling" they police focuses almost entirely on the Japanese and Wigan influence on MMA; Cecchine -- who essentially re-introduced catch wrestling to competitive fighting in this country, and who then popularized it through his Lost Art of Hooking series -- is routinely "edited out" of the entry, along with Lou Thesz, who actual historians will tell you was not only a "hooker," but one of the greatest catch wrestlers who ever lived.

By removing Cecchine and Thesz, Shannon and Scientific Wrestling are able to establish Karl Gotch and Billy Robinson as the only "legitimate" lineage to hooking -- this, despite Thesz's own connection to the Japanese pro game. And by doing that -- by essentially writing history to suit their own agenda -- they are able to install as the only legitimate heirs to the hooking tradition those whose trained in the Snake Pit or in Japan.

And so we're left with the surreal spectacle of having long-time Cecchine boosters Erik Paulsen and Josh Barnett listed as famous practitioners of catch wrestling, while the man responsible for putting out the material they have long recommended is written entirely out of the history of catch wrestling.

In fact, the entirety of the American strain of catch is being written out of online history: by marginalizing Thesz and regularly removing any mentions of Cecchine from the Wikipedia entry, those whose agenda it's been to control the narrative of catch wrestling are able to marginalize the one strand of catch wrestling they don't control, namely, the American hook wrestling tradition.

And in so doing, they have effectively rendered "catch wrestling" synonymous with Japanese pro wrestling -- introduced to Japan by Karl Gotch, who himself spent the majority of his professional life as an American pro wrestler, surrounded by the remaining few hookers his followers now seek to erase from the historical record.

It's a perfect -- and perfectly invidious -- cycle of contrivance, but it's been enough to fool any number of people who now treat "Coach" Shannon (as he is referred to these days) as an "expert" in something that he's barely trained in -- with that expertise supposedly proven by his having written himself into the history of catch wrestling using Lulu or some other self-publishing outfit, and then "editing" Wikipedia's to create the perfect historical record for selling his own products and "proteges."

That's not history, folks. It's propaganda.

Shannon continues:

"Well there are two names that have done much to publicize Catch Wrestling in the last decade, for better and for worse: Matt Furey and Tony Cecchine. From my research, it is my opinion (and the opinion of a substantial number of other qualified individuals) that both Furey and Cecchine have inflated or been fairly dishonest about their Catch-As-Catch-Can credentials. "

The trick Shannon pulls here is to conjoin two men whose connection is based on series of seminars they did together in the late '90s. It's true that early on, Cecchine -- and Lou Thesz -- did seminars with Furey (which Furey organized and marketed, with Cecchine and Thesz as kind of "guest experts"). But what Shannon doesn't tell you -- evidently, his "research" wasn't quite as rigorous as he lets on -- is that Cecchine broke from Furey, not the least because it was clear Furey insisted on being able to teach hooking when he himself didn't know anything about it. Furey was competent on his feet; but he wasn't a submission grappler. And Tony wanted nothing to do with a guy who was simply out to bilk the public.

Furey was eventually exposed as a catch wrestling fraud. Cecchine, however, went on to put out The Lost Art of Hooking with World Martial Arts in 1999, and no one who's seen that series, which to this day remains one of the most influential series in the world of submission grappling, would ever claim Tony is unskilled on the ground.

As to Cecchine's purported "inflated" claims, well, let's look more closely at that charge -- because with Shannon, the charge is in itself the indictment:

"While I respect that Furey is a verifiable division II NCAA collegiate-style wrestling champion and a world's champion in Shuai Jiao, his level of understanding of CACC is not very deep in the opinion of many catch wrestling experts, most notably Karl Gotch (please see the scans of the actual letter Karl asked me to post at the bottom of this page). Since Furey used Gotch in his ad copy, plus the fact that Furey has not competed in submission grappling or catch wrestling rules competition, it makes Gotch's dismissal all the more compelling."

"I remember seeing a Matt Furey advertisement in a martial arts magazine promoting Karl Gotch's conditioning methods in 2000 or 2001. I had long had an interest in Catch-As-Catch-Can so I looked into it. It was good stuff, Karl was legendary so I was happy to see CACC getting the attention it so deeply deserved.

"Soon thereafter Furey began promoting a $600 or $700 (!) videotape set where he promised to teach the secrets of the nearly forgotten art of Catch Wrestling. Keep in mind, at this time Furey had not yet earned his reputation across mixed martial art internet forums as "The King of Over-Promise and Under-Deliver" but still, it was simply way too much money. I figured I'd wait until someone sold their copy on Ebay.

"When I finally got a hold of his material, it was a very mixed bag. I think that the Neck Crank video he put out is really good. The Farmer Burn's material, however is horribly over priced with little usable material, and a lot of filler of Matt "proving" his skills on what appears to be newcomers to grappling. There is some good material on there but I personally wouldn't spend $597 on the material when there is better, less expensive material by proven submission grapplers out there.

"Turned-off by Furey's over-the-top "pie-in-the-sky" ad copy and outrageous prices, I began to look elsewhere. A cursory internet search turned up Tony Cecchine's name. He somehow had an endorsement from Lou Thesz so I bought his DVD course from Paul Viele and paid ~$250 for a lifetime membership to Chicago-based Cecchine's ICWA.

"I personally knew Cecchine for the better part of a year and even was personally chosen by him to run the West Coast chapter of his ICWA. When I began the in-depth research for my first volume of the Authoritative Encyclopedia of Scientific Wrestling I naturally began to ask questions about Cecchine's claimed background and accomplishments.

Again, note how Shannon uses an indictment against Furey to taint Cecchine by association. Cecchine, recall, had already distanced himself from Furey because he knew what Shannon was just then learning: that Furey was a stand up wrestler, not a submission wrestler. And so by selling instructionals on submission wrestling, Furey was engaging in a kind of fraud that Tony wanted nothing to do with.

-- Not unlike what Shannon tried upon his return from Cecchine's 2003 seminar, when he began offering private lessons in a discipline he barely knew and that, to this day, he still doesn't seem to understand.

As for "knowing" Cecchine for the better part of a year, Shannon "knew" Tony through an online forum. The two met exactly ONE time in person -- for the 2003 seminar, where Shannon was just one of about 15 participants -- and Shannon was never close to Cecchine in the way he suggests here. He wasn't even a student of Tony's. He is just some guy who showed interest in catch, claimed he wanted to spread it, attended a seminar, got involved in an organization whose goal it was to popularize catch, and then worked to take it over by discrediting Cecchine so he himself could cash in.

In short, he's an enthusiast, albeit one with an agenda. And that's all he is.

That he's been able to do so much with little training and a bunch of self-published books -- largely merely collections of material cobbled together from other books written by other people -- is a sad testament to the power of marketing over substance.

Writes Shannon:

"These were the questions I raised years ago (and while I still have not received satisfactory answers, I have received threats and smears). I merely asked for evidence:

1) Of Cecchine's claim to be a Golden Gloves boxing champ (Made on a videotape by Furey while introducing Cecchine at a clinic. Shane Tucker has publically confirmed that Tony made this claim to him as well.)

2) That Cecchine actually trained with Stanley Radwan

3) That Radwan actually knew CACC hook

4) Can anyone explain the apparent change in Cecchine's knowledge from the infamous "Gotch tape" to LAOH?

Shannon has received answers to all of these questions, yet he keeps the article up on his website, unchanged, and has for years. And he does so precisely because he knows that these accusations -- presented as open-ended, unaddressed questions -- can appear quite damning. Similarly, he's positioned the article to feature prominently in any Google search of Cecchine's name, essentially poisoning Tony's reputation among those who may not know of Shannon's rather transparent motives. This despite admitting that he knows Tony to be both highly skilled as a fighter and a good teacher.

So let's answer his "questions" here.

1) If Furey made this claim, that's on Furey. Furey also claims he can cure carpal tunnel, and that -- like Shannon -- he can reshape your very consciousness and turn you into an overnight success!

The thing is, I've known Tony for years, and he's never made this claim to me. I do know that Tony boxes and has for many years, and that he's sparred with pro boxers who have publicly attested to his skills. Assign to that any weight you so choose. In the recent Paladin Press release, the 12-DVD set Snap, No Tap! (a kind of unofficial sequel to The Lost Art of Hooking), Cecchine incorporates a modified style of Western boxing into his stand-up game, which includes wrestling, ripping, kicks, and elbows. Those who question Cecchine's boxing would do well to view the series.

2-3) Tony trained with Radwan from 1977-1982. In a 1996 amateur strong man exhibition, Tony dedicated his performance to "my coach, Stanley Radwan." This was a year before he began doing catch wrestling seminars, a year + before he met Lou Thesz, and several years before he put out The Lost Art of Hooking.

Why, you might ask, would Cecchine dedicate a performance put on for a local martial arts school in Chicago to a man who Shannon and co. originally claimed didn't even exist (self-professed "wrestling historian" Mark Jones, who often goes by "Scuffler" on grappling forums, once concluded after what he suggested was exhaustive research that he could find no record of a Stanley Radwan; unfortunately, Jones' scholarly efforts didn't extend to checking obscure publications like, say, Life Magazine)?

Which brings us to the genesis of this question of lineage. At first, Shannon and others claimed that Stanley Radwan was invented by Cecchine. Later, they were forced to walk that claim back when people began posting that they'd either known of Radwan or seen him perform in strong man shows (in fact, I was able to track down the ship's manifest for his arrival in the US). So the next line of attack was to claim that, while Radwan existed, he was simply a strong man -- that he'd never wrestled.

Unfortunately for Shannon, several people found mentions of Radwan's wrestling, including a notice read into the Congressional Record by Denis Kucinich upon Radwan's death that marked him not only as a great strong man (and a survivor of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, from which he'd briefly escaped by knocking down a wall), but as an undefeated wrestler, as well. Additionally, Radwan was used as a body guard and was part of a local attache to the Secret Service, providing protection for JFK and others when they traveled to Ohio.

Radwan fought out of Cleveland, and was trained by Henry Gehring, a former champion and later a promoter for the Cleveland circuit. Gehring is mentioned in nearly every history of catch wrestling as an early great and a legit hooker.

-- All of which, when it came to light, left Shannon scrambling. Okay, he said. But how can Tony prove he ever trained with Radwan?

Well, the answer is, Tony shows things that others weren't showing, and he had to learn it from someone.

I tracked down the priest at the church in Cleveland that both Radwan and Cecchine attended. He told me that he remembered them both (Radwan was a local legend, and Cecchine was an altar boy at the church for many years), and he confirmed that both attended the church, and that they both attended the church at the same time.

Which gets as close as history allows to proving that that Cecchine -- who when he first cites Radwan on a videotape is not selling anything -- learned what he learned where he claims to have learned it.

Remember: Radwan -- in addition to being a strong man and pro wrestler -- was a bodyguard and a trainer of law enforcement. So when he trained Tony, he trained Tony for self defense -- NOT as a pro wrestler. He showed him the hooks -- moves used to defend your life, to cripple, break, and maim -- not the working holds used in a pro wrestling context. And he would often times show Tony the difference between the hold as it is applied loosely (the common application used by pros in working matches) and the hold when applied as a hook.

-- And that's why what Tony has always shown on film -- dating back to 1997 or thereabouts -- is different from anything else being shown as catch, even to this day.

-- None of which, I don't think, is nearly as important as the demonstrable fact that he does, indeed, know hooking.

But then, it was never Tony Cecchine who appealed to "lineages" to justify his skills in the first place. Instead, it was Jake Shannon and his cohort who, in looking for a way to discredit Cecchine, invented these "concerns" about Tony's background; that is to say, confronted by the fact that Cecchine clearly knew what he was doing on the mat, Shannon needed a way to take the attention away from Tony's skills and refocus that attention on his supposed "legitimacy," which Shannon himself was able to define by insisting that catch wrestlers need some sort of traceable pedigree beyond their own provable skills -- the upshot being that he's turned catch wrestling into some sort of ridiculous aristocracy, where lineage is asserted as a kind of claim to the throne.

How ironic, then, that Kris Iatskevich, his own Lead Instructor for Certification and head of Scientific Wrestling Canada, felt compelled to fake his own lineage, lying for years about who his father was in order to lay claim to an expertise in judo and Sambo he never legitimately attained.

As for his "catch wrestling" lineage? Iatskevich claims he was trained by Ed Carpentier, a former pro wrestler who for some years worked for Vince McMahon in Canada and ran a pro wrestling school in Montreal. Carpentier was a world class Olympic gymnast for France; but no one has ever mistaken Carpentier for a hooker, and -- though Iatskevich claims otherwise (he now argues that Carpentier was an Olympic alternate in wrestling) -- there is no record that I have found that Carpentier was ever even trained in amateur wrestling, much less was an Olympic caliber grappler. At the time of this writing, every effort is being made to contact Carpentier and have him clear up the record.

4) What Shannon refers to as the "infamous Gotch tape" is a tape Cecchine made chaining moves on two ukes, a JKD guy and a TKD guy, to give a kind of overview of the kind of stuff he wanted to show. He sent that tape to Karl Gotch.

I have offered to post that footage on Cecchine's Youtube channel so that everyone can take a look at in in context, but Shannon -- who has the tape -- won't post it, nor will he send me copy.

Again, he prefers the power of the innuendo alone; and that's because the "infamous" tape was made "infamous" by Shannon himself.

So let me re-extend the offer: send a copy of the footage, and we'll be happy to post it. That way, people can make their own determinations.

[update: rather than release the tape in its entirely, Shannon's site surreptitiously links to a version cut and released quietly on YouTube. I'm embedding it here:

[Note that in the clip, Tony shows the figure 4 front choke -- just as he did later in The Lost Art of Hooking, several years later:

[ Also, he's showing some non-Sambo leg locks -- including head scissor controls and chokes -- which are peculiar to catch wrestling. The person who posted the video tries to frame it in such a way that it "provides clear evidence" that Cecchine doesn't know catch wrestling in 1996. But what it shows is in fact the exact opposite: Cecchine was demonstrating things that others simply weren't showing -- even before he starting doing seminars. This reinforces what Bruce H. Lee long ago noted on any number of forums, namely that he "met [Tony] in 1996 when I first moved to Chicago and everything he showed me on day one was/is what he showed to everyone else in person and on tape."

Continues Shannon:

"When I very politely and cordially asked for actual evidence of his claims (because I was writing my books for posterity and didn't want to "re-write" history in any way) I was booted from his online forum without warning. Members of Cecchine's inner circle then began a campaign of ad hominem and ad baculum attacks.

"When this happened it only piqued my curiosity further and I became more and more determined to get to the bottom of things. Later, I was shown a tape that Cecchine had sent to Karl Gotch that proved without a doubt that as recently as the early to mid-nineties he had not trained in CACC. I did feel like a fool for having not only believing Cecchine's claims without asking for proof, but even worse, for endorsing him."

Again, this is the "infamous tape" that supposedly proves Cecchine hadn't studied catch "as recently as the early to mid-nineties." Only problem is, the tape shows no such thing. Which is why Shannon would rather talk about it than allow it to be shown.

Oh. And there are other problems with this bit of revisionist history as well -- all of which seems to have escaped Shannon's determined efforts to uncover the "truth": Cecchine was literally paralyzed after suffering an aneurysm, and had to relearn how to walk.

I've seen pictures of him from 1994 with his crutches. He weighed in at maybe 165 lbs at the time. Which means, if we are to believe Shannon, Cecchine somehow relearned how to walk -- and then learned hooking (which wasn't being shown ANYWHERE) so well that he was able to fool someone like Lou Thesz -- all in the course of 2+ years, presumably much of it while undergoing physical therapy.

Shannon again:

"The strange thing was, when I started to ask questions and piece together his scam, I found many, many others that had had similar problems and noticed strange things about his claims. Many of these people were once close to him and distanced themselves far from Cecchine once they began figuring things out.

"Glenn Ortiz is one person that has made public his problems with Cecchine so I can mention him by name. He is a MMA fighter and was one-time Grappler's Quest Champion. He had many many problems with the ethics of Cecchine and publically said so.

Ultimate Fighting Championship commentator Joe Rogan and 2003 ADCC champion Eddie Bravo also publically chastised Cecchine on a legendary MMA.TV thread for perpetuating a scam, never providing any solid evidence of his gradiose claims, and never competing anywhere."

If you've never heard of Glenn Ortiz, there's a reason. He's a nobody. Well, except that he and Shannon began the rumor -- later shown to be unfounded when the actual culprit stepped forward -- that Cecchine was posting on the Underground forum under a fake name and making homophobic statements about Eddie Bravo and Joe Rogan. Ortiz had a falling out with Tony over, of all things, a rosary he'd given Cecchine when Tony was hospitalized (and near death) in 2002.

In fact, it was Ortiz who tipped Rogan off about the "Cecchine" posts, with Shannon immediately acting as his second -- essentially snookering Rogan into attacking Cecchine.

The truth is, there are plenty of people who've been on the mat with Tony and have testified to just how skilled he is. At those early Furey seminars, Cecchine would wrestle live with anyone interested -- and this was all filmed. In fact, Furey used to sell the footage on DVD, but he pulled the material after he and Tony had their split.

I've seen the tapes. Tony would begin on his back, between the guard, etc., and essentially "call" the submission he was going to land. Matches rarely lasted more than 15-30 seconds. But don't believe me: if you want to see the footage, petition Furey to release it. He owns the rights.

Alternately, you can dig back on the web and find testimony from those who attended those seminars. Because ten years back, no one was claiming Cecchine wouldn't get on the mat.

Of course, Shannon knows all this. But he relies on your laziness -- and the fiction he's created -- to stand in as the truth.

Or maybe he's just got you all hypnotized, and he's controlling you with power of his third eye or some such, who knows.

Fortunately, these days, one can go to Youtube and look at clips of what Cecchine teaches and what Shannon's organization teaches. From there, you can draw your own comparisons:

If you are interested in learning the lost art of hooking, my advice is that you'd do best to learn it from the guy who actually, you know, shows it. Else you'll be getting your accreditation from Jake "the Ripper."

... Or is it Jake the professional hypnotist? Or Jake the acclaimed physical culturist? Or Jake the world renowned polymath? Or Jake the Human Rights Investigator (whatever the hell that is)? Or Jake the acclaimed author and inventor? Or Jake the Financial Engineer?

Take your pick. Evidently, Shannon is an "expert" in dozens and dozens of fields. Much like Matt Furey, ironically, with whom I dare say Shannon has much more in common than he likes to let on.

How either of these guys have time to devote to perfecting catch wrestling is beyond me. Some guys are just extra motivated I guess.

Still, don't sell Shannon short. By working partnership deals with companies that sell amateur wrestling instructionals / conditioning equipment / seminar bookings, etc., Scientific Wrestling looks, on the surface, quite legit. After all, why would people like Mark Schultz or Wade Schalles, to name two prominent examples, offer instructional DVDs through Shannon's site?

The answer is, for the same reason that Fujiwara once did a seminar for Shannon, or that today, Billy Robinson does the seminar circuit, wearing so many advertisements on his t-shirt that he looks like some sort of strange NASCAR vehicle come to life: they have a business arrangement.

How long that arrangement lasts once legit wrestlers like Schalles, et al., find out that one of SW's Lead Instructors for Certification is an imposter, well, who can say...?

But make no mistake: these folks are part of Scientific Wrestling only insomuch as they allow their names to be used and their products to be sold.


* I contacted David Rudman at FIAS. Seems that Iatskevich quietly removed himself as FIAS rep for Canada. In fact, it may be he never held the position to begin with -- though his advertising copy said he did. Good thing, too, given that he had no formal Sambo training, and had spent years pretending he was the son of former Junior World Champion Alexander Iatskevich.

**since I first started posting on these issues, Iatskevich and Scientific Wrestling have walked back several claims (though none of them publicly and with full disclosure; instead, they have simply scrubbed all references from their respective websites, as if doing so makes the problem go away): 1) Iatskevich no longer claims any Judo belt 2) He no longer claims any formal training in Sambo. His training, he now says, comes from picking things up "along the way." 3) The marketing material for Iatskevich's Scientific Wrestling Instructional DVDs have been removed from his site. However, the products are still available through Scientific Wrestling's site. Also, Iatskevich is claiming no belt in BJJ.

***It appears that Kris Iatskevich once went by another name, Christian Grenier, and that it was under this name the may have studied Sambo for a few months with a (now) rival organization in Canada.

****over the years, many an anonymous forum poster has repeated the canard that no one Cecchine ever trained has competed. This is demonstrably untrue. Shonie Carter appears in the 2003 Seminar video (and talks about Cecchine here).

Jason Godsey, who Tony trained for Pancrase, is seen here. Then there's Ryan Stout; he trained with Tony for his IFC fight in 2001. And so on.

In fact, Tony has trained fighters who have won in the UFC, IFC, NAGA, Pancrase, the Arnold Classic, and who knows how many local and regional tournaments.

For those who like to criticize Cecchine for never having competed, there are plenty of posts available online from people -- BJJ black belts, judo guys, wrestlers, and so on -- who have been on the mat with Tony and will attest to his skill level. Bruce H. Lee (who Cecchine partners with in The Lost Art of Hooking) wrestled Div. II and later coached college wrestling; he has long attested to Tony's prowess.

But the fact of the matter is, Tony's aneurysm and subsequent paralysis in 1993 prevented him from ever being cleared to fight in any professional event. Another illness in 2002 -- one which nearly killed him -- put an exclamation point on his intermittent health problems.

None of which has kept him off the mat; but let's face it, no organization is going to insure a guy with Tony's history of medical concerns.

*****Another of Cecchine's vocal critics has been Billy Wicks, a former (regional) pro wrestler who now teaches his own brand of "catch" out of North Carolina. Several years back, Wicks and Cecchine had a falling out over matters that had nothing to do with catch wrestling; if Wicks now claims Cecchine is unskilled, he'll have to answer for all the glowing reports of Cecchine's mat prowess he gave before their split. He'll also have to explain why he used Tony to get one of his students, Johnny Huskey, a match in Japan (Huskey was tapped at 1:40 into the fight by a top wrist lock / "key lock" -- a move Jake Shannon says "only works on a complete novice," and a move Billy Wicks says he's "not a fan of."); or why Huskey at one point tried to convince Cecchine and one of his students to move to the Carolinas to train him.

It would be interesting to see just what it is that Billy Wicks teaches. But to date, neither Wicks nor Johnny Huskey has put any instructional material on video available to the public.

[update: since first writing this, someone has posted a clip from a 2000 seminar Cecchine gave in which Wicks shows a ball and chain ride. The poster tries to suggest that the clips shows that Cecchine doesn't know "basic catch wrestling," which is of course nonsense: the people at the seminar were there to see Tony, and this is AFTER the Lost Art of Hooking appeared -- and AFTER he'd done seminars with Lou Thesz, who always attested to Tony's skill level.

[Instead, what the clip DOES show is Tony allowing Billy Wicks to demonstrate a type of ride that Tony didn't ordinarily use -- presumably, one that Wicks "mastered" in his long career as a fake wrestler.

[How Tony allowing an old retired pro to show a move is damning to Tony is left unexplained. But soon we'll release additional footage from that seminar to stave off these latest attempts to finesse a certain dishonest narrative about what Tony's skills were.

[Here's the clip]:

Important to keep in mind is the following: the attacks on Tony Cecchine from with the so-called "catch wrestling community" didn't begin until after the deaths of both Radwan and Lou Thesz. And that's because, in the US at least, Cecchine WAS the catch wrestling community. Until Shannon launched his coup.

What Shannon has been able to do is to conflate catch wrestling -- and anyone who uses wrestling and agrees to catch any hold can be labeled a catch wrestler -- with catch wrestling "hooks," in order to hide that very important distinction.

Hooks were known by relatively few wrestlers; whereas these days, anyone who ever put on a pair of tights and fought some "wild Samoan" or some such is being passed off as a "catch wrestler."

What these people are are retired pro wrestlers. Do any of them know hooks? I can't say for certain. All I CAN say is that, if they know them, they aren't showing them on video. Only Tony Cecchine has done that.

And when people like Jake Shannon and Billy Wicks pretend to question Tony Cecchine's abilities, they are spitting directly into the faces of not only Cecchine and those who have trained with him, but Stanley Radwan and Lou Thesz to boot, neither of whom (conveniently) is around any more to defend either himself or Tony.

******Tony recently posted to the Judoforum, his first posting on a public internet forum in nearly a decade. In the post, he clears up much of the misinformation that's been spread about him in the intervening years.

For more information on American catch wrestling, visit Tony Cecchine's main site.