World Class Fighting


Tony Cecchine's American Catch Wrestling


tigermanYou may be here because you've heard first-hand stories of the efficiency and ruthlessness of Catch Wrestling. You may have seen my multi-page feature in Black Belt Magazine, or read that Black Belt Magazine honored me as one of the world's top-20 street fighters. You may have seen my state-of-the-art strength and conditioning ideas written about in American Health and Fitness Magazine. You may have read a review of my seminal submission grappling series, The Lost Art of Hooking, or the groundbreaking Snap, No Tap, or you may be one of the countless fighters and grapplers who has turned to me to learn a complete and fully integrated fighting system — one that, when properly mastered, will not only turn you into a dominant all-around fighter, but will in fact transform you into the kind of person who feels confident and at ease in just about any surroundings.

Regardless of your reason for visiting, you've come to the right place. And here's why: Tony Cecchine's American Catch Wrestling — while adaptable to sport competition — is first and foremost reality based. True, I've trained men and women who have fought and won in such events as UFC, Pancrase, NAGA, IFC, and the like. But more importantly, my teachings have helped change (and in some cases even save) lives. Because in the world outside the ring or cage, there is no tapping out — and people who train with the availability of a ready concession in mind will be unprepared for the potentially more brutal reality of the streets.

Learn about my American Catch Wrestling system in its entirety — from its emphasis on controlling when, where, and how a confrontation takes place to its seamless integration of striking, wrestling, ripping, and submission grappling – and I’m sure you’ll agree that my complete approach to fighting offers an advantage over the rather segmented and artificial way many other “fight systems” piece together various disciplines in the attempt to approximate what in American Catch Wrestling is an organic whole.

saynotoprosmallThere is a HUGE difference between TRUE old style wrestling, and the pro wrestling that tried to mimic it for entertainment purposes. Much like a martial arts movie isn't real, neither are the moves and applications that some of the phony wrestlers tried to dupe the masses with. Oh, they make look similar to the untrained observer. They may also "work" on people who are at a lower skill level. But NEVER mistake what they do as being the true, high level techniques that you'll learn from me. I'm here to bring honor back to legitimate submission oriented wrestling and the fighting arts, and undo the damage the fakes have wreaked.

American Catch Wrestling. It's a beautiful thing!

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Because of demand from people who live out of the Chicagoland area, I have developed these 3 programs geared towards getting you on solid footing, by building the fundamental foundation you'll need to succeed. Each program is specific to your desire and they are 100% interactive. No cookie-cutter stuff here. These courses are tailored made specifically for you.

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28 November 2015 By Tony in BLOG

Choose How You Dress Wisely

27 November 2015 By Tony in BLOG

A Not So Happy Thanksgiving

26 November 2015 By Tony in BLOG

Happy Thanksgiving

In 2006, Tony Cecchine was recognized by Black Belt Magazine as one of the 20 Greatest Street Fighters in the World.


Tony Cecchine has been involved with American Catch As Catch Can Wrestling (Catch Wrestling) since 1977.  The late, great Lou Thesz, considered by many as the greatest Catch Wrestler of all-time, dubbed Tony Cecchine a “hooker,” recognizing Tony’s submission and wrestling skills as the highest a Catch Wrestler could achieve. Tony has received praise from other luminaries such as Doug Blubaugh, Mark Schultz, and “Judo” Gene LeBell, to name a few — and Tony Cecchine

Tony began studying Catch Wrestling in his hometown of Cleveland when he was only 13 years old. Old-time strongman and wrestler Stanley Radwan spent five years teaching Tony the secrets of Catch Wrestling. Tony quickly learned the importance of conditioning and mastering the fundamentals of wrestling, body movement, leverage, and conditioning. In the years that followed, Tony learned the whole of Catch Wrestling’s brutally efficient arsenal: arm locks, chokes, neck cranks, leg locks, spine, hip, and muscle attacks, strikes, gouging, rips, and more. He didn’t learn from books or tapes; rather, he learned from a master and then was forced to put his training to the test on the streets of Cleveland and, later, Chicago.

For the nearly two decades that followed, Tony continued practicing his skills in real life situations, while teaching myriad stylists of different arts. He has had the opportunity to use his techniques while acting as bodyguard, bouncer,  and escort. No other self-proclaimed Catch Wrestler approaches Tony in either real world experience or in understanding of both the intricacies of hooking and its place in an overall integrated fighting system built on wrestling and boxing fundamentals.

His knowledge of street fighting, tactical skills, and combatives has led to significant praise from martial arts circles. More, he has continued his study of Catch Wrestling over the intervening decades, developing new and unique approaches to addressing modern day threats and scenarios. Tony has successfully used and taught his techniques to members of the police, armed forces, and other civil organizations. Tony has also trained countless men from styles such as BJJ, Boxing, Judo, Karate, Sambo, and amateur wrestling. He himself is  trained in amateur boxing and traditional martial arts and is an avid power lifter and coach. He is also an avid jazz musician and pool player.

Tony’s instructional DVDs have received rave reviews from some of the martial arts communities’ most well-respected members. He has trained both professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters and other professional athletes to go along with the regular Joes his training has transformed into elite fighters secure in their own abilities and thoroughly confident in their own skins. As one online reviewer said of Tony Cecchine and his art, “his philosophy is simple……submission, submission, submission.”

A Little History

In the late 19th century, traveling carnivals peppered the American countryside. These were the days before television or radio, days when the carnivals were a primary source of  entertainment, particularly in the heartland. As part of their attraction, many carnivals featured “athletic shows,” where prize fighters and wrestlers would take on all-comers for cash. Athletic shows, therefore, were not only a source of entertainment — but also a way for the locals to interact with the performers, testing their own skills against the skills of these itinerant tough men, perhaps even winning some money to go along with bragging rights.

In their earliest stages, athletic show wrestling competition rules were offshoots of traditional wrestling rules, with each person trying only to pin the other. But as time went on, locals became more ruthless, and it wasn’t uncommon to hear stories of a local trying to gouge out a wrestler’s eyes during a challenge match. In addition, disputes often arose as to whether a person was actually pinned (not surprising considering money was on the line), and whether the referees were calling the matches fairly. The traveling wrestlers developed concession holds, or “hooks,“ both to protect themselves from injury and to eliminate any doubt as to who was victor. The wrestlers would stretch and crank their opponents, making them shout a loud concession of “uncle.”

As time passed the men became even more skillful at hooking. The rules of the challenge matches were often tipped to favor the local challengers — a way of giving a handicap or odds to the amateurs. Depending on the carnival or match, the wrestler could lose a match by being hooked, pinned, or even simply thrown or taken down. Thus, in order to survive, hookers became extremely proficient at controlling and hooking their opponents and defending against all methods of attack.

Under the most narrow of rules, wrestlers would lose matches if they failed to defeat their opponents within a certain time. Consequently, not only were these men becoming masters of wrestling, control, and hooks — but they were likewise fine-tuning skills that would allow them to execute their technique quickly and with icy efficiency.

Men such as Martin “Farmer” Burns, Frank Gotch, John Pesek, Ed “Strangler” Lewis , Ray Steele, and many others made their bones as carnival wrestlers. And this is a piece of Americana that we should never forget.

But American Catch Wrestling is not, as some have suggested, a moribund art simply because of its historic pedigree. The name “catch,” in fact, is indicative of the discipline’s philosophy: catch any hold you can. As new holds develop, these holds are incorporated into the American Catch repertoire using the time tested principles of control, offensive movement, exacting technique, and keeping an opponent in an uncomfortable position.


Those who claim to be teaching catch wrestling — but who do so as if it were a tribute art or some nostalgic relic of a bygone era — are giving you museum show pieces, and are doing a disservice to the spirit of catch wrestling. American Catch Wrestling the way it SHOULD be taught is dynamic and adaptable. The principles remain the same, sure. But that is because the principles themselves are sound enough to adapt to changes in the submission grappling canon. Which means that for every innovative measure — say, for instance, the introduction of the rubber guard or x-guard — American catch develops a ready counter, using nothing more than the basic principles that have long remained at the heart of the discipline.

More, those who teach any submission grappling art or fighting system without stressing the necessity of physical conditioning — including a concentration on strength — are doing a disservice to those they train: there are no magic bullets or gimmicks in American Catch Wrestling. Practitioners are in top physical condition: they are taught to train their bodies to absorb rips; to strengthen tendons; to increase the strength of their necks and grips; and to drill the basics in ways that enable them to move quickly and fluidly on their feet and all the way through their striking, hand fighting, take downs and take down defense, transitions, and ground games. So it should be no surprise that included in the American Catch Wrestling Hooking Instructional Series are a number of increasingly advanced fitness routines designed specifically around the physical challenges catch presents.

This is the story of Catch-As-Catch-Can wrestling, or Catch Wrestling. From an offshoot of traditional wrestling burgeoned an art of well-developed submission technique, executed quickly and efficiently, against any and all challengers.


In a street fight, no-holds-barred competition, or a traditional Catch match, the basic strategy remains the same: knock out or hook (submit) your opponent as quickly as possible while absorbing the least amount of punishment. Catch Wrestling teaches you above all else to control your opponent — and in so doing, to control your situation — concentrating on balance, leverage, and time-tested technique, with the end result being control over where the fight takes place, how it unfolds, and how it finishes, be it with a strike or a hook.

To a hooker, fights should never last for 2-3 hours. That is left to the “performer” or “worker”. True shoots were generally short-lived affairs. Learning to control from the feet to the ground is the key to ending a fight quickly. If you can’t control a man, you can’t submit him. And if you are finding yourself fishing for a submission for hours or even many minutes on end, you are probably not properly controlling your opponent. Control is far more than holding a man down. Control is getting him to do what you want him to do.

Finally, hooks differ in kind from most submission holds taught in jiu-jitsu and judo, in that they are designed, literally, to break bones or tear tendons in their default application.  Thus they tend to rely on shorter, quicker, and more compact movement than concession holds, which as a matter of necessity are generally speaking applied more gradually — perfect for a sport context.

Too, catch hooks tend to be compound holds; so for instance, an American Catch Wrestling double wristlock will attack the forearm as well as the shoulder, something that differentiates it from a similar looking hold (eg., the Kimura) from other disciples. Of course, in a sporting event, catch hooks can be modified and used as submission holds — quite effectively, in fact — but what truly sets these techniques apart are the ferocity with which they attack joints, tendon, ligament, and bone.  The motto of American catch is, simply, this:   “Use your whole body as a weapon, use his whole body as a target.”   A Catch Wrestler should be close to a hook at practically all times, in any position. You can submit a person using your back, knees, head and shins.  As judo and jiu-jitsu are the gentle arts, Catch Wrestling is the antithesis:   brutal and unforgiving. It is certainly not for everyone, but there is no question that it is effective.  This is not to say one style is necessarily “better” than the next.  Rather, it is to point out that those who are shopping around for a discipline should match the philosophy of the discipline to the their own goals as fighters. Beyond that, it is best to appreciate the differences and to continually strive for improvement in whatever discipline it is you decide to adopt.

In the most simple terms, American Catch Wrestling is a top-to-bottom system that teaches you how to effectively and efficiently control and defeat your opponent.


The philosophy of American Catch’s is unlike that of any other grappling art. It is not simply meshing submissions into amateur wrestling — though it does stress the importance of wrestling basics. Still, American Catch is a self-contained system and a martial art form in and of itself:    There are no points, and the emphasis is put on control and submission at all times and from any position imaginable.  In the often frantic and scrambling chaos of a street fight, there is no assurance that you can work out of a comfortable position from which to launch submissions.   But what you CAN do is control the relative position of the encounter, deciding whether to keep the fight on the feet or take it to the ground.  And a body controlled is a body that is open for all sorts of rips, strikes, and submissions — even when conventional wisdom suggests that your opponent is in the more dominant position.

In short, position is relative, with control determining dominance. 

Some people aren’t comfortable fighting from their backs. Some people are. Everyone is different. Catch teaches you that controlling your opponent is much, much different than simply having a particular position on him. You can be submitted by a man who has a “inferior position” if you lack the proper control. The style of American Catch is geared towards aggressively seeking an end to the encounter. You will NEVER hear the words, “that’s against the rules” or “that’s dirty” coming from a Catch Wrestler. The term No-Holds-Barred was coined for Catch-As-Catch-Can matches over 100 years ago. It means literally that….no hold is barred….catch any hold you can.  American catch wrestling as a reality-based martial art maintains that mindset and trains for that contingency.

American Catch is different because it is a complete submission wrestling style that focuses equally on the stand-up and ground components of striking and wrestling. It employs fishhooks, elbowing, gouging, all manner of striking…literally anything that will facilitate the desired finish. Each move is designed to get you closer to ending the fight, not just to gaining the better position.   It is about control and domination. That is the beauty of the style. It is savage.  It is organic.   It is Catch-As-Catch-Can.

Attention All Amateur and Professional Fighters.
We have special training opportunities to help develop your striking, defense, footwork, and groundfighting skills, as well as world class conditioning.
One of the MAJOR problems facing MMA fighters is the fact of "too many cooks spoils the soup." What I mean is that there are far too many coaches, each with a differing philosophy and at times, questionable knowledge base, trying to tell you what to do. That is a recipe for disaster. When you train here with me, you'll get me as your coach alone. I have the knowledge to deal with all ranges of combat as well as your conditioning. I teach a fully integrated fighting system. There is no reason to have specialty training in other arts that will only lead to tremendous gaps in the flow of your style as well as the inevitable "clashing of egos" among the coaching staff. This is YOUR career. Don't leave it in the hands of YouTube trained coaches and internet warriors. I've seen it far too many times.
I have trained local, regional, national, international, and world champions. Be it NAGA or the UFC or anything in between, I've trained men and women for the competitive mat, ring, and cage. See why such luminaries as Eric Paulsen, Josh Barnett, Jason Godsey, Shonie Carter, and many others recommend training with me, and be assured that you will learn a complete and devastating fighting style from top to bottom, and feet to the ground.


The World's FINEST Catch Wrestling Training...Period!