Monday, 13 January 2014

Inside Grapple Wrestling By Craig Jarrett

Grapple Wrestling is a promotion and school based out of Leeds in West Yorkshire, they run three weekly sessions and are starting to make a noise on the local scene with the school attracting more students and the live shows attracting bigger attendances. I have decided to go and have a chat with Grapple's promoter and trainer Paul Clarke and ask if a few questions regarding his school/promotion and his hopes for it's future.

I started off by asking Paul, why he decided to start up a professional wrestling school, he responded by saying "A few reasons really. It had been suggested by several people that I should open something in Leeds; my wife, some people whom I trained with and a couple of friends. I had been training at City of Steel Wrestling (CSW) for a few months to get back into the flow of wrestling after a period away from the game. However when that closed down due to financial reasons I found myself coming around the idea of starting something locally. There was a breakaway group from CSW who were to set up NCWA (no one involved had anything to do with the downfall of CSW or its financial difficulties) in Dronfield. I would have naturally followed the group and continued training with them, but Dronfield was further still than Sheffield, not that I mind traveling but I wished there was something closer to home so I now committed myself to open my own place. One morning I thought of the name ‘Grapple Wrestling’, set up an email account and started searching for venues to host it. I came across Leeds Cage’s website whilst searching. I nearly didn’t send the email because I thought there was no way a MMA gym would want to have ‘Professional Wrestling’ training associated with it, but I had the template email ready so I had nothing to lose by sending it. Not sending it would have been a huge mistake. I am extremely lucky to be able to use such a great facility. With NCWA getting set up at the same time, I was fortunate enough to have regular contact with Andy and Danielle Hogg who shared their experiences of setting up with me and pointed me in the right direction of insurance and kindly gave me copies of their disclaimer forms and other essential stuff. It took a great deal of stress away from me. From that initial morning of sending emails, to actually opening was just three weeks"

With so many wrestling schools starting up these days and Yorkshire having one of the top schools in the country with NGW in Hull, what do you bring to training others how to be wrestlers? "As a trainer you have the task of teaching a huge amount of people to wrestle. All those people want to and need to have their own style. It’s my task to be able to give a load of moves and knowledge to each person as an individual. To be able to do this I need to deliver lessons that suit everyone. I seem to be doing this right as every class I teach is really busy and everyone in attendance arrives and leaves in a good mood and I often get great feedback afterwards."

With the nature of professional wrestling being both a sport and an entertainment business what can people learn at your wrestling school? "Wrestle!!! I try to cover it all. My lessons are split up in four different ways. Fitness- This is conditioning training and I include; strength training, shooting and drills.

Techinical- Mat wrestling, reversals, submission moves. Throws & bigger moves- Basically things you need a crash mat for; suplexing, dropkicks, backdrops etc. Ring- Sequences, match structure, drills and matches.

Recently Grapple had visits from former ECW, WWE and TNA stars Sabu and Kid Kash, was much learned from yourself and your students during these visits? "Kid Kash was great to have around. He showed what sort of a workout you’d need to be doing daily if you were to make it in Japan or one of the big companies in the US. He is very passionate about training people and is a perfectionist when it comes to how to wrestle. Generally a nice guy to have around, and he loves everything about Grapple. Sabu on the other hand was a great disappointment. With the visits from Kid Kash being so successful, I though getting a legend in like Sabu would also be great. He was offered to me by his agent. The dates he was available coincided with ‘Slammers Week’ (which I was doing for one week in the August summer holidays). I had tried and unfortunately failed to get Johnny Saint as a guest trainer, so when Sabu was offered I thought ‘why not?’ When he turned up, he asked me what I wanted him to teach? Slammer week was 25 hours of wrestling training, all he had to do was come up with something for three hours, I had done the other 22 by myself! I wasn’t impressed and was then told by his agent that he didn’t like doing seminars or teaching larger groups. He prefers one to one! We had 35 trainees waiting for him. He left without saying a word to me."

With the rise of the UK wrestling over the last few years would you say you do have or have had many trainees that you feel would make waves on the UK scene? "For sure; we have some great potential at Grapple. Some natural, some who work extremely hard to improve themselves. In a few years time I know there will be some working full time as wrestlers and others are not far behind. I’m not going to name names because from past experience some of the better talent disappear from wrestling for one reason or another, usually work or family commitment so it no longer possible to follow their dream."

Again with the nature of professional wrestling being about not only the sport and athletisism but also the spectacle of the entertainment and characters, what do you feel is the most important thing for you to teach your students when wanting to be wrestlers? "Two sides to this question. Initially they should be taught to wrestle safely and look after their self and whom they’re working with. The other side of it is the do’s and don’ts’ of the business when spreading their wings away from where they train. The handshakes, getting paid etc."

Thank you for taking this time out to do this interview for Wrestlings Last Hope,would you like to give the information to people in the West Yorkshire about how they can get involved with Grapple "My pleasure. People can get involved by turning up to any session and joining in. There is an age limit of 14, and all under 18 need parental permission. People wanting to enquire before they come can contact myself on" What upcoming live events do Grapple have to kick off 2014 with? "We have two upcoming shows. Saturday 18 January in Horsforth and Sunday 16 February in Boston Spa. Full details can be found at and tickets can be purchased from"

Again thank you to Paul for taking time out for this. For those of you wanting to know more information about Grapple, it's school and its events then you can follow them on Twitter @Wrestlingleeds, like them on Facebook at "Wrestling In Leeds" and as Paul said there is an email address to contact him and tickets for the two upcoming events can be bought from the website mention earlier.

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