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Tips For Wrestlers Transitioning To Jiu Jitsu

Tips For Wrestlers Transitioning To Jiu Jitsu

Ideas for wrestlers on how to get the most out of Jiu Jitsu...

As a white belt, I hated it when a wrestler joined the gym. Here I was trying to decode the mystery of Jiu Jitsu and I would be instantly destroyed by a wrestler on his first day.  They already spoke the language of grappling. They understood pressure, center of gravity, alignment and other key concepts. They instantly understood techniques that I struggled endless to successfully execute.

Now that I have many more years of experience, I love training with wrestlers. They approach grappling through a different lens. That lens is beneficial for me to look through. They bring pressure and speed that forces my technique to be better.

However, wrestling is approached differently than traditional Jiu Jitsu. Often times you see wrestlers apply the same simple formula in Jiu Jitsu. First, they get the takedown. They stay out of guard and on top. They leverage extreme pressure and speed to progress to more dominate position. Often, they finish with a simple submission. While there is definitely a time to look thorough the wrestlers lens it is also important for the wrestler to see the world as a Jiu Jitsu practitioner. Here are a few tips on embracing the unknown world of Jiu Jitsu.

I am sure there is a lot of pressure for someone with years of grappling experience to not look like a novice in Jiu Jitsu. The grappling experience should count for something. However, you are in Jiu Jitsu because there are lessons to be learned.  You have to check your ego. This is a battle for every Jiu Jitsu practitioner. If you don’t check your ego then your career will end quickly in Jiu Jitsu. Catastrophic injury is only a roll away. Beyond that it is a lesson that we learn and relearn in Jiu Jitsu. If we don’t check our ego then we stop learning technique and we stop progressing. 

A second key idea for the wrestler is to slow it down. I am not saying that speed does not have a place in Jiu Jitsu. What I am saying is that the focus should be on precision and details in technique for the beginner. Sure you can be successful through speed. However, in the long term you will see a higher growth potential if a technique is executed both correctly and quickly.

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A third idea is to wear the gi. I am not one to say that Jiu Jitsu can only be done in the gi. Truth is that I train primarily no gi. However, if your school is primarily gi, learn the gi. The gi will make your defense superior if you transition to no gi. Even beyond that, your school is now your tribe. Learn to grapple the way your tribe does.

A fourth key component is to fight off your back. Start from guard as often as possible. This is a hard lesson for any Jiu Jitsu practitioner to learn. I would imagine it is far more difficult for a wrestler to learn. However, it needs to be done. A key component of Jiu Jitsu is learning how to either submit, sweep or escape from the back. Certainly, there is a place for takedowns and a solid top game in Jiu Jitsu. But it is equally important to be well versed in every position of Jiu Jitsu; even the positions that are diametric to a wrestlers background.

Jiu Jitsu has many similarities to wrestling. However, there are many differences as well. To make the transition to Jiu Jitsu successfully, it is necessary to embrace the unknown by checking your ego, learn to fight in the style of your new tribe and be well versed in every position. Enjoy your journey to Jiu Jitsu. It is a beautiful one.



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