What is catch-as-catch-can?

‘Catch as Catch Can’ or ‘Lancashire Wrestling’ is an art-form and a sport which evolved over many centuries and preserved by Lancashire miners. Probably the most famous coach of all time was Billy Riley who founded the Snakepit in 1948, eventually his students would make a name for the art around the world, for 70 years the snake pit has been known as the home of Catch as Catch Can.

Catch is suitable for men and women, young and old. Whilst practising Catch wrestling develops amazing fitness and strength the moves are based on a combination of clever use of leverage, angles and psychology meaning the art is not only is it fun to practice but it is also a great way to improve self-defence. A good wrestling session is like a yoga routine and a chess match combined, a workout for the mind and body.

Catch matches are won through pinning or submitting the opponent meaning the art contains throws, takedowns, joint locks and many methods for controlling an opponents structure. Due to the non-percussive nature of wrestling it means you can pressure test the moves against a fully resisting opponent with minimal risk of injury, which means you can have faith that each move you learn works as they has been used successfully countless times before.

The best way to get ready to develop the right fitness for Catch wrestling is to come to a seminar and start.



The event manager is responsible for the safety of the event. The event manager will also have the responsibility for checking the weights and the matching of opponents and ensuring that they are fit to compete and that all health and safety requirements have been met for the event.


(a) The central referee has overall say before, during and after the match. He is responsible for ensuring that nails, skin, attire, head guards, protective guards and such standards are met by the wrestlers. This can also include asking wrestlers to remove jewellery that is a risk to themselves or their opponent.

The central referees overall responsibility is to ensure that this is kept at all times. It is the responsibility of the referee to apply the rules and cease the wrestling in the event of a pin/ fall or submission.
Should the bout run the full time, the referee decides and declares a winner based on the overall dominance of either wrestler. Note – there are no points to be scored in Catch wrestling.

(b) The peripheral referee is there to support the central referee and advise in case of query. They do not have overall say but will support and work with the central referee to aid with decision making.


It is the responsibility of the timekeeper to ensure that the clock is accurate and pause should injury time be called or if the referee calls for ‘time’ during the bout.


It is the responsibility of the doctor / medical representative to ensure the safety of the wrestler as much as possible and work alongside the referee to this effect.


Coaches must be approved by The Snake Pit and must be able to share their credentials and ability to coach and manage their wrestler.



Close fitting shorts, full leg tight fitting bottoms, short or long tight sleeve tops / rash guards are permitted. No tracksuit bottoms, hoodies, t shirts, loose shorts will be permitted.
Clothing must not be grabbed and so it is the responsibility of the wrestler to ensure that clothing worn cannot be grabbed.


Wrestling boots or bare feet permitted. Trainers or any outdoor footwear is not allowed.




Headguards or protective guards are at the discretion of the referee as to whether or not they are to be allowed. The referee has the right to refuse the wearing of a head guard or knee guard if he feels that it can be used detrimentally against the opponent. For example, where metal framing forms part of the guard. An example of acceptable attire would be a soft knee guard used to protect the knee needing additional support.


  • Fly weight 8 stone 9 lbs 121 lbs 55kg
  • Bantam weight 9 stone 4 lbs 130 lbs 59 kg
  • Feather weight 10 stone 140 lbs 63 kg
  • Light weight 10 stone 10 lbs 150 lbs 68 kg
  • Welter weight 11 stone 9 lbs 163 lbs 74 kg
  • Middle weight 12 stone 12 lbs 180 lbs 82 kg
  • Light heavy weight 14 stone 2 lbs 198 lbs 90 kg
  • Heavy weight 15 stone 10 lbs 220 lbs 100 kg
  • Super heavy weight Over 15 stone 10 lbs Over 220 lbs Over 100 kg