Neil Melanson is head grappling coach at Extreme Couture and a submission grappling Black Belt under Karo Parisyan. I've been a big fan of Neil for some time now especially after watching his interviews and videos. He shows a true passion for the game and a deep understanding of grappling for MMA. Although I admire his passion and technique he has received his fair share of criticism over the years which ranges from him awarding "belt" ranks for his NoGi submission grappling system as well as describing himself as a catch wrestler.
Many argue that giving BJJ rank to Submission Grapplers is just preposterous. Also there are some that would make the argument that his background does not contain any formal CACC training, so why would he describe himself as such? Well, I don't have answers for these particular questions, but I will whoafully give you my opinion.
Neil is a legit grappler, he comes from a well respected and highly accomplished linage which derives from Judo Gene Lebell. A legend in his own right, Gene has produced and trained some of the best Judokas and submission grapplers around. For those of you out of the loop his linage looks something like this:
Gene Lebell > Gokor > Karo > Neil.
Now, those names don't rhyme with "Tracy," but that shouldn't take away from there significance to the grappling arts. Secondly, Neil clearly knows what he is talking about and can easily detail and execute his techniques, regardless whether he has or has not competed in MMA or grappling.
Neil is good enough to be hired by Randy Couture and serve as his personal grappling coach as well as the head coach for his gym. If that's not a worthy seal of approval then I don't know what is. Now with those points I just made, why shouldn't he be allowed to give out rank, whether it's in the form of a number, letter, color, shirt or belt - it's his system leave the dude alone. Some hate the fact that Neil considers himself a Catch wrestler, which may upset some aficionados, but he kinda is. Maybe not in the traditional sense but take a close look at Luta Livre fighters. They are renowned for being the rivals and antithesis of BJJ, and their linage comes right from wrestling and judo. Isn't that almost exactly where Neil comes from? We don't hate on BJJ players that decide to add their name in front of Jiu Jitsu. So why should be hate on the Melanson's, Brennan's or the Bravo's of the world? If someone decides to take a path of grappling with a focus on gi, nogi, BJJ, Judo, Sambo, Dumog, Chin Na, MMA, or Self Defense why should we give them a hard time - especially if they are legit.
In all reality, the grapplers listed above have all followed the famous words of Bruce Lee - “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” Maybe martial artists, particularly those involved in grappling, should focus more one learning with an open mind and I'm sure we could all learn from each other.
So get comfortable, grab yourself an adult beverage of your liking, and tune into Neil giving his adaptation of the MMA guard and the Irish Collar for a solid 35 minutes. Neil has a legit answer to grappling with strikes that can easily be adapted for MMA, Sub Grappling or self defense.