Frank Gotch’s 1908 “Wrestling and How to Train” & Funakoshi’s 9 throws

Frank Alvin Gotch ( April 27, 1878 – December 16, 1917) was an American professional wrestler of German ancestry, the first American to win the world heavyweight free-style championship, and credited for popularizing professional wrestling in the United States. He competed back when the contests were largely legitimate (see catch wrestling), and his reign as World Heavyweight Champion (from 1908 to 1913) is one of the ten longest in the history of wrestling. He became one of the most popular athletes in America from the 1900s to the 1910s.

Click on this link to download an authorised free copy of his book, ‘Wrestling, and how to train’ written in 1908.

This is an interesting piece of wrestling history. At the time this book was originally released, Frank Gotch had recently won the World Championship from George Hackenschmidt. This book is part biography, partly an explanation of wrestling, and partly a training manual.

From a Karate perspective it’s interesting to note the picture above matches one of Gichin Funakoshi’s 9 throws, and predates the publication Karatedo Kyohan in which the only pictures we have now are from.  No doubt there are other connections between the contents of this book and Karate Kata.

The biography piece wasn’t written by Gotch. However, it is an interesting read to see how both the coverage of wrestling and the use of the English language has changed in the past century.

The next chapter has Frank describing the different variations of wrestling. It is quite mind-boggling to read his description of the science of wrestling in today’s environment.

Frank then gives his hints on training and that is followed by illustrations and explanations of 29 different moves. Many of these moves were popular during that era but would surely result in “Boring” chants if used today.The book is loaded with pictures of wrestlers from this era and it is great to be able to place faces with these legendary names.

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