SW: How did you meet Billy Robinson?
JB: I met Billy through the UWF-Snakepit. I was told about the Gym through some friends (Gryphon I think) and really wanted to check it out. At the time only Oe-san and Miyato-san where the only ones
there but Miyato-san told me all about Billy and that I should be sure to come when Billy is in. While I lived in Japan, every time I was in Tokyo I would go to the UWF- Snakepit to train and Billy worked
with me a lot. I trained there for many of my fights with Oe-san training my striking and Billy with Miyato-san improving my wrestling skills.
SW: What was the first meeting like? What did you do and talk about?
JB: I didn’t what to expect but he had a very high reputation from many people so I felt very strongly about wanting to learn from him. First thing was first and beside an introduction I got to know Billy by
getting on the mat and wrestling! He taught many finer points to the double and top wrist lock that night, showed me what I call “the Billy Neck Crank” and coached me and Miyato-san as we wrestled.
SW: Please explain your passion for Catch Wrestling
JB: It’s a root on the tree of MMA. Catch went to Brazil with Mitsuo Maeda, formed the basis of New Japan Pro Wrestling and later Japanese shooting through Gotch and Billy, and was an art based on
battle testing. It’s aggressive and explosive and has a deep history in throughout the world and was my first major exposure to submission.
One of the reasons I got into MMA was because of Pro Wrestling. I always knew that pro wrestling was a sport of real tough men and that most people only knew the surface of pro wrestling. I get upset to
see that something like catch, that used to be known and popular all throughout the world, is being ignored. Catch was here before BJJ and BJJ is not the end all, be all of submissions.
I will bring catch wrestling back to the forefront and in the limelight again and I’ll do it by beating my opponents.
SW: Who are your top 3 favorite catch as catch can wrestlers of all time?
JB: Billy Robinson and Karl Gotch for bringing catch to Japan and creating the people that would revolutionize pro wrestling/MMA. Ad Santel for declaring war against the best Judokas and showing catch
wrestlers were of the strongest wrestlers in the world.
SW: What do you think of the current state of catch and what can be done to improve it?
JB: Some people say catch is a dying or esoteric art, while I don’t think it’s coming to the forefront it is on making its presence again. They are some folks like myself and Megumi Fujii to name a few that are
actively competing but unfortunately there are not enough of us out there. Competition is the only way to truly promote the art and increase its awareness.
I think catch would be much better suited to bringing amateur wrestlers to MMA as well. I see many top amateur wrestlers go to BJJ gyms because that’s what they think you have to train to learn submission.
Most of the time though, those BJJ trainers train the wrestlers in ways that are counter productive to a wrestlers skills and strengths. Everyone needs a game off their back but not everyone has to use a guard
game like a BJJ player.
With active competitors out there in MMA and submission wrestling representing catch is the only way we can spread the art. Seeing winners out there using catch will make that person who might not have
known about catch make the decision to go to a gym and learn to wrestle and not sit on their butts.
SW: How did you hook up with Erik Paulson as your trainer?
JB: I met Erik many years ago at one of his seminars in Seattle. From then on I always had a great respect for his training knowledge and techniques. I used to watch his instructional videos and wanted to learn
more of his techniques. In 2004 I was in https://hoki138pro.com/ Seattle but I was not able to get the training I felt I needed to be at the top so I decided to train with him in LA. When it came time again to get ready for the GP, I
knew that Erik and LA was what I needed to win.
Erik is an incredible trainer and a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. He has been a huge inspiration and help to my career. Plus he is one of the funniest people I have ever known!
SW: What is your opinion of the recent acquisition of Pride by the Fertittas?
JB: It is really too soon to tell but the loss of PRIDE’s rules, judging and our ability to wear shoes or dogis is a tragic loss to MMA. I am very upset about this and wish people did not try to marginalize our
ability to fight and perform in the ring/cage. It is really disturbing that 90% of the time these rules and regulations come from people who never fought.