Americana: Where American Wrestling met Brazilian jiu jitsu

Americana: Where American Wrestling met Brazilian jiu jitsu

My name is Bob Anderson and I’m a
national champion wrestler in all three
styles Greco, freestyle and Sambo and I
was an Olympic coach Pan American Games
coach and World Cup coach.
I had my surfboard with me because I heard
there was good surf and everything and
I’m trying to get through customs and I
can’t get out because I don’t have
anybody to pick me up I don’t have a
place to go and and I’m waiting for this
governing body leader from wrestling to
show up and pick me out two hours pass
and nobody comes. I got picked up by
Carlson and Rolls Gracie, they said that they
were the governing body representatives
for wrestling, which they weren’t.
Actually I think they had a rift between
each other and so I went with them and I
said what took you guys so long well we
had some other things and training to do and
so that’s why I said okay. Then I went on
and stay there at his house and then
he’d get me up and we’d go to a practice
but I’m coming in and I’ve done samba I
was Pan American Games champion in that.
But, he had guys with long pants and
jackets on and it looked like judo and I
so I thought that was kind of strange
but I said well maybe they do both and
they’re trying to learn wrestling after
about three days I’m going these guys
are always wearing jackets how come they
don’t get into wrestling attire and he
says well we we do both. We do jiu-jitsu
and we want to get trained well enough
so that we can make the Pan American games
team and do well and I said okay that
makes sense I mean I was sent down there
by the governing body of the FILA to
help develop wrestling in that country.
He would he’s kind of like a Renaissance
guy I think he would take things from
different sports and apply them into his
jiu-jitsu which I thought was very good.
There’s a lot of jiu-jitsu guys just
only jiu-jitsu stuff and they don’t
break out of that he did. Well some
people don’t realize that the Americana
was really named after me and that
American wrestlers and up into the 50s
in college had submission wrestling and
when I was training in 1968 going to LA
why these old guys would come up to me
and asked me if I’d roll around with
them and just out of respect cuz you
know they’re older guys and so anyway
one of them did a keylock on me and then
another one did something else and was
hurting me and I said is that’s not
legal is it? He says it used to be Sonny so
when I went to Brazil I remember the key
lock and and how to make it painful and
we adjusted a little bit and I taught
the Gracie’s that one time because a
Rolls asked me to show that if the guy
did this what would you do… He was
always brainstorming and we came up with
the key lock and bringing it in and
became the Americana named after the
American wrestler that came down and
showed them techniques. We joked around
and had fun. His wife Angela, I’d always
tease him like athletes tease each other
I said well I don’t know if you could be
a wrestler you know you’re kind of small
to be a wrestler and I’d say stuff like
that in front of her and she would get so
upset that I didn’t respect him because
he was at the time and I didn’t know it
the toughest guy in Brazil. He had
actually they showed me a picture a
video of a Super 8 Camera
shot of him and his ten students going
against this guy about and his ten
students in karate and then jujitsu and
how all of his students submitted every
one of the karate guys and then he went
against this guy about really buffed
about six one 240 pounds
and submitted him in about 30 seconds so
just to prove that jiu-jitsu was better
than karate and so that was pretty
impressive to me. We went to a soccer
he wanted to go really bad and I
remember him we were late as he got off
work late because he was a cop part time
and so we’re driving down the sidewalk
in Brazil and and lucky there was hardly
anybody on the street but we’re driving
down the sidewalk didn’t past all these
cars that are going to this big soccer
match and then finally we pulls onto the
freeway and then he parks the car right
in the offramp to get there and we walk
down he goes behind the gate flashes his
badge talks to these guys and the place
is completely full but they let us in
and we ended up watching the game
sitting on the stairways of the soccer arena.
I’ll never forget that that was
quite a trip with him. We became friends
really within about a few days I really
liked the guy his personality his
attitude of openness to learn technique
and he was just a nice a super guy. Just
a few days before I was ready to leave
Rolls decided that he wanted to have a
We had a match we started off and we had
jackets on and we fought for 30 minutes
yeah but the problem was I wanted to
start on my feet and he said no way he
said you get down here you get on
top of me in the guard man I go what is
“the guard”? That’s the first I had
ever seen it. So get on top of him and
I think I’m gonna… You know, a wrestler
thinks he’s dominating the top
well I soon learned that wasn’t the
case. We fought and we fought and we
fought for position for arms for chokes
for arm bars for figure fours and we
both fought each other until I was just
sweating and really hot and so I said
wait a minute wait a minute let’s just
stop this right now
I said and take off these jackets and
fight like real men without a jacket
referring to wrestling so then I did
so he’s said, Okay. No problem.
I stood up there and he goes no no get
back into the guard get on top so I got
back into the guard and we went at least
another 25 minutes finally caught me in
a heel hook and you know had it pretty
tight so I just tapped out and it was a
good move and but I was a little
disappointed I got caught in it so I act
to him before I was leaving I said why don’t
you come up to California
visit me at my house bring your wife and
your son Igor. There’s a Pan
American Games let me see if I can get
you in the pan america
games in samba its along with the World
Championship in Greco in freestyle.
He called me back up said he’s coming. He came
up, I picked him up and he stayed at our house for
a while. We went down to San Diego we
tuned up at a national YMCA Championship
which he submitted everybody, I won.
Then we went into the Pan America
Games. I had to really talk some people
and they’ll let him in because he didn’t
have the official paperwork but he got
in and he won it. He looked great and
that was I think the first really showed
Brazilian Jujitsu in America. That medals
right here we had a problem with the
governing body they were fighting and
for control and we couldn’t get the
medals for a while and then he passed
away sadly doing in a hand gliding
accident and so it was I couldn’t get it
to him then I lost contact with his
family and… Here it is. This is the medal.
It’s got his name on it and he’s the
champion and I’d really like to get it
to his family or Igor or
something have a little a little small
presentation of and honor the man. He was
not only a great innovator but it was a
great loss to jiu-jitsu
when Rolls Gracie passed away on that
on that hand glider… it was terrible.
I lost all heart.
I just went back into wrestling.

47 thoughts on “Americana: Where American Wrestling met Brazilian jiu jitsu”

  1. Just a small correction: in the picture at 2:00 it is Mauricio Gomes (Roger Gracie's dad and Rolls' black belt) with Rolls, not Rickson. Great video, thanks for your work!

  2. Bob … a wonderful human being. Has taught at Rigans old Academy. So lucky to have a man of his calibre, mixing with some of the top BJJ crew.

  3. 3:11 I believe these are archived clips from back in the day. One guy is gable, the other is one of his teammates i think. there are two videos- advanced wrestling circa, and basic wrestling circa.

  4. I was the man that Rolls beat in the finals of the 1979 Pan American Sombo Championships.  As a wrestler, I did not fully appreciate submission holds and was leading him on points until the final 30 seconds. Out of nowhere. he caught me with a submission hold.  We became friends afterwards and he showed me his tricks for getting out of submission holds.  No one ever again caught me in one, in ten years of Judo and Sombo.  He was a tremendous person and I mourn his passing.  Bob Anderson, incidentally was my coach for the 1979 World Sombo Championships, which team he organized and coached, the first full team ever sent to a world Sombo championships by the USA.  We all placed in the top ten in our weight classes, with two bronze medals.  Bob Anderson was probably best at Greco-Roman wrestling (US Champion) and probably the strongest man I Know (check out the photos of him as a young man).  He made a true contribution many disciplines, including  Sombo (notice the blue Sombo Hall of Fame certificate above his right shoulder). You are a great man, Bob.

  5. Interesting story! Sounds like they barely rolled or not at all before their final farewell roll. I would've thought during their time together they would have gone over more than just the Americana

  6. I always found it strange that the Gracie's learned the americana from Mr. Anderson (not says that I doubt this story or anything btw). You would think that this would have been one of the first subs that Maeda would teach to Carlos. I mean Maeda surely knew the technique as it was taught in the Kodokan even in his day.

  7. "you have to start in my guard" is like saying "let me get you in this hold real quick". How lame was Rolls. He shoulda faced him standing. Good video Anyway

  8. Asking the other to begin in the guard is a little like a boxer asking the other to shut his eyes, drop his hands, raise his chin and count up to one hundred at the beginning of a fight! 😉

  9. Foi ele que mudou totalmente o Jiu-jitsu , Hélio Gracie começou com o sistema de alavancas mas ele ,com o aprendizado que teve nós EUA com o Westriling e Sambo ,introduziu e adotou o jiu-jitsu assim nasceu o Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

  10. Sorry, but this account may be a bit biased as I've heard some others…

    Both Wrestlers and BJJ guys are notorious for giving accounts of events which elevate their own abilities in hindsight.

    Its hard to believe that the two of them never EVER rolled until their final day together. I had heard that they traveled around Brazil together giving demonstrations in order to foster interest in Wrestling before Bob left. Also that Rolls tapped him several times.

    The claim that he was forced to start 'only' in Roll's guard instead of in some neutral position is also a bit suspect since this is never done and goes against every other account of Roll's personality and competitive nature.

  11. Wow…awesome history. Americana was named after Bob Anderson…cool.

    I will be sharing this in every Jiu Jitsu gym I walk into! Realize Mr. Anderson was taught this by an old wrestler…which is catch wrestling.

  12. They conveniently forgot to write the ages of the two in those stats to make Rolls look good. To be fair Coach Anderson was already 36 years old at that time, way past his prime. Rolls was at a perfect 28 years. That's a big difference in times before casual steroid use.

  13. Coach Anderson is talking about Catch wrestlers when he's telling the story about the "old wrestlers". Top Wrist Lock ("Keylock") used to be a staple of Catch wrestling during its heydays when they dominated everybody.

    It's a real pity Olympic movement banned submissions from wrestling in 1930s. They should add submissions back to wrestling, and transform amateur wrestling back to professional wrestling to make it great again!

  14. You can see the pain in his eyes when he talks about Rolls passing away m he really admired him and rightfully so. Rolls was learning modern day BJJ even back when GJJ was all about self defense

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