Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lou Thesz, the UWFi, Hooking, and contemporary catch wrestling

Thesz and the UWFi. Here's Lou's Thesz's take on shootfighting and the use of hooking in the emerging "legit" sub grappling world, as he notes on the Wrestling Classics site in 2000:

"First, I do not keep up with the shoot fighting. I found it to be void of wrestling and skill and more brute strength with very little if any "sport" about it.

"UWFI started with a great ides and good talent, but eventually gave in to the stupidity of performance (which incidentally was their undoing). I have no idea as to the ratio of performance and cometition in the matches. I did lots of coaching and was a spokesperson for hte new sport as well as lending the old championship belt to the equation. When the side show started, I dropped out with the belt. AS nice a guy as Vader is, I just couldn't tolerate him in the belt."


"By the time I had the time to coach someone, the need for such knowledge [of hooking] no longer existed in professional wrestling. I am doing some seminars now when I can, but I never gave anyone the attention George Tragos gave me. However, noone ever wanted the knowledge enough to work for it. A wrestler must be pretty profecient to even begin training and learning the hooks. Writin gHooker made me realize how wonderful a gift I was given - or at least allowed to work for.

"Happy you are enjoying the book. I had a great time doing it. It is the closest I can get to doing it all again."


Again: Thesz was a hooker. He's called Billy Robinson and Karl Gotch hookers -- as well as Cecchine.

But by Lou's own admission, there was no reason whatever to teach the Japanese fellows in the UWFi hooking -- because that's not what they were getting paid to learn, and the shows they put on were in fact NECESSARILY DEVOID of hooking, especially insofar as they were works. That is to say, they were cooperative matches -- and those kinds of matches rely on moves that are reversible / escapable that won't injure the participants (while looking real to the spectator). These holds, moved to a new context, would work, but they weren't the most application of the hold. That honor goes to the hook -- and as Lou makes clear here, the Japanese guys weren't being taught hooks.

So. It follows that if you are seeing in competition those moves from the UWFi, you are seeing pro wrestling working holds -- essentially show holds -- removed to a new context.

That someone like Kris Iatskevich -- who was taught by a pro wrestler and gymnast -- is showing the same type moves as Billy Robinson should make it clear that Robinson, while he may know hooks, is nevertheless demonstrating working holds -- which come complete with easy counters: