Archive for July, 2014|Monthly archive page

Brooklyn Monk and Sambo Steve Koepfer on No Holds Barred

In Uncategorized on July 14, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Brooklyn Monk and Sambo Steve Koepfer on No Holds Barred, with Eddie Goldman


Talking Catch wrestling in New York City with Eddie Goldman and Sambo Steve

Podcast interview


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Steve Koepfer, the owner and head coach of New York Combat Sambo, and the “Brooklyn Monk”, Antonio Graceffo.


Right after we recorded an interview on Thursday with Antonio Graceffo for our previous show, we headed over to New York Combat Sambo, where Antonio proceeded to join a class in catch wrestling, headed by Steve Koepfer. Although Steve Koepfer is best known for his work in sambo, New York Combat Sambo also offers regular training in catch wrestling, as well as other styles. Several of his students are expected to be competing at upcoming events, including the 2014 Catch Wrestling World Championship presented by the Snake Pit U.S.A., on Sunday, July 27, at the MMA World Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, and at the Liberty Bell Classic / East Coast King of Catch Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, August 30, at Primal Gym in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, presented by the North American Catch Wrestling Association.


We spoke with both Steve Koepfer and Antonio Graceffo at New York Combat Sambo right after this catch wrestling class.


About four years ago, Steve Koepfer said that he did a joint seminar in Montreal with Kris Iatskevich, head coach at the ISWA (International Submission Wrestling Alliance). Steve was teaching sambo, and Kris catch wrestling.


“We realized that a lot of what he was teaching and a lot of what I was teaching was similar, and that a lot of the principles between sambo and catch were very similar regarding pins and submissions and takedowns. Obviously in sambo we wear the jacket and in catch there is no jacket. But we found there were more similarities than differences. And then we started training here at the gym with catch rules, which we found much more acceptable for all the techniques that we like to do that are not typically allowed in jiu-jitsu tournaments, for example.”


That led them to organizing several joint sambo and catch wrestling tournaments together, with some of them having “upwards of 70 or 80 competitors, especially the ones down in Texas.”


For Antonio, this was his first catch wrestling class, and also the first time he has done any wrestling in the United States. He is in the process of completing his Ph.D. at Shanghai University of Sport in Shanghai, China, comparing Chinese traditional wrestling with Western wrestling, and is also a member of the Shuai Jiao traditional wrestling team there. He also trained earlier in the week with a judo class in Long Island, New York, and commented, “In terms of the level, I saw that the level of the catch wrestler was a lot higher than the level of the sport judo guys I trained with this week.”


We discussed with both Steve Koepfer and Antonio Graceffo their training together, the future of catch wrestling, what lessons can be learned for catch wrestling from the political battles in other sports like sambo, the various upcoming tournaments in catch wrestling, and much more.


The No Holds Barred theme song is called “The Heist”, which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.


No Holds Barred is free to listen to and is sponsored by:


MMA World Expo. The mixed martial arts community comes to New York City July 26 and 27, 2014, for the fifth annual MMA World Expo, featuring the Fighters Source U.S. Nationals amateur MMA tournament, two days of ADCC no-gi and gi grappling tournaments, MMA fighters, seminars with world-class trainers, vendors, panel discussions, catch wrestling competition, and much more. The MMA World Expo takes place Saturday, July 26, and Sunday, July 27, 2014, at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.


American Top Team. Whether you’re a beginner or a champion, train with the champions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, wrestling, grappling, and mixed martial arts at American Top Team. Check out their web site at


The 2014 Catch Wrestling World Championship, presented by the Snake Pit U.S.A., taking place Sunday, July 27, at the MMA World Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. You can only win by pin or submission. Best two out of three falls. All styles welcome. For more information or to register, go to


The Catch Wrestling Alliance, a catch wrestling promotion that works with the highest level catch wrestlers from around the world with the goal of reviving the great sport of catch-as-catch-can wrestling. The Catch Wrestling Alliance organizes catch wrestling sporting events, and its primary organizer is Dr. Raul Ramirez. For more information, go to



Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on



Brooklyn Monk fan page

Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)


No Holds Barred: Antonio Graceffo, the Brooklyn Monk, on Wrestling and China

In Uncategorized on July 12, 2014 at 5:13 am

Radio Podcast Interview:

No Holds Barred: Antonio Graceffo, the Brooklyn Monk, on Wrestling and China


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with the writer, web show host, MMA fighter, and wrestler, Antonio Graceffo.

Born in Brooklyn, known as the “Brooklyn Monk”, and raised in Tennessee, he is in the process of completing his Ph.D. at Shanghai University of Sport in Shanghai, China, and is a member of the traditional wrestling (Shuai Jiao) team there.

We spoke with him Thursday in New York while he was in town.

“My Ph.D. thesis topic is comparing Chinese traditional wrestling with Western wrestling,” he said. “My professors want me to write about history, culture, rules, competition, techniques, training, all different aspects. And they sort of expanded that and they wanted me to write a lot about Greece and Rome for some reason, but that led me to writing now about Pankration: ancient Greek wrestling, and then Pankration, and then Pankration into the Roman era, which becomes like the gladiators. So actually it becomes very interesting, a lot of fun for me to write it.”

He continued, “But then it also means it’s expanded, the types of things that I need to go do in addition to my reading, that I need to go experience, catch wrestling for example. And they also want me to write about pro wrestling. And of course as soon as you include pro wrestling as sort of a modern evolution of wrestling, if you want to call it that, and in a way, the modern pro wrestling is the gladiatorial games of the Romans.”

Thus, on this trip back to New York, he sampled training in several different styles. He attended a training session in catch wrestling with Sambo Steve Koepfer at New York Combat Sambo, as well as one in judo at Long Island Judo with Sensei Gary Rasanen, and even met with a group which performs the staged pro wrestling.

We also discussed the status of wrestling and grappling in China, how there is not now a large feeder system there on the amateur and youth levels of wrestling, how children in regular schools do not play sports, why it would be difficult for catch wrestling to succeed in China at present, his future plans, and much, much more.304 469 489