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Why Wrestlers Should Consider Adding BJJ into their Training Using Neil Melanson’s Snap Guard and Shin Whizzer DVDs.
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Why Wrestlers Should Consider Adding BJJ into their Training Using Neil Melanson’s Snap Guard and Shin Whizzer DVDs.

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 As a former Iowa State DI wrestler, coached under legends, Cael and Cody Sanderson (currently leading the Penn State dynasty) BJJ training was critical to my success in winning five No Gi World Championships in the Black Belt Division.  Adding BJJ training will teach wrestlers how to fight from their back, hips, and shoulders experiencing the three Cs: Comfortable, Cool, and Calm, opening their minds to new ways of thinking about different approaches to effective ground fighting. 

As a trained wrestler, you want to continue to develop the mentality of staying in control at all costs actively looking for a sweep, a scramble, or a way to get back on top. By continuing to train with that type of mentality, BJJ teaches you new ways to use your feet and hands, adding new submission elements. In fact, you will soon be using your feet like hands learning new ways to use momentum, angles, and body mechanics using new triangles, arm locks, and deep half guards through BJJ.  For the wrestling fanatic, the rewards of BJJ are worth the effort.

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My advice is to start with the Snap Guard and Shin Whizzer DVDs by Neil Melanson, teaching you how to be comfortable, cool and calm on your hips and back using techniques that allow you to return to your wrestling moves immediately.  If you are an experienced wrestler, the odds of being held down frequently are low; however, if you are a fellow truth seeker, choose challenging partners who are good enough to put you in difficult positions (on your back, shoulders, hips) creating the opportunity to use the Snap Guard and Shin Whizzer successfully.

Neil’s DVDs are on the cutting edge of understanding the crossover between wrestling and BJJ.  Understanding both styles, Neil has two decades of experience in crossover work with wrestlers and BJJ practitioners.  As you experiment with the Snap Guard and Shin Whizzer DVDs, you may decide you would like to join a BJJ academy.

To have the best experience possible, find an instructor that understands that wrestling is more than just strength and a scramble.  Flawless technique is just as important in wrestling as in BJJ. Perfecting wrestling techniques takes years, just like BJJ techniques. Finding an instructor who understands this is critical in creating the best learning environment for you to develop your crossover skill set.  

In my opinion, Neil Melanson is an elite BJJ/wrestling practitioner, having one of the best heavyweight guard games in the world.  His style is dynamic. He has a deep respect for both styles, constantly learning and working with the best grapplers in the world, numerous world champions and professional fighters.  Fluent in wrestling and BJJ, he is the perfect coach for your crossover journey, always maximizing the leverage secrets of both styles. Whether training a professional or hobbyist, Neil walks you through the intersections available in his DVDs, the perfect coach for a wrestler to explore BJJ.

An example of effective cross training in wrestling and BJJ is Bo Nickal, an exciting wrestler from Penn State, coached under the lineage of Cael and Cody Sanderson.  During Bo’s NCAA championship win in 2017-2018, mighty Myles Martin took him to his back. Using BJJ concepts, Bo was comfortable, cool, and calm while being a hot second away from being pinned.

Using expert mat work and body awareness to scoot his hips, he sweeps Myles, landing in a perfect pinning position on top, to win the championship.  Many wrestlers only know how to attack using base, standing or shooting takedowns. Bo was and is comfortable in every angle of the game whether he is on bottom or top. Viewers of this match saw no panic in Bo. They saw poise and confidence as he was taken to his back attributing to Nickal’s three NCAA back-to-back championship titles.  

In full disclosure, I have seen rare instances when BJJ was not helpful to a wrestler; however, this can be avoided if you understand these principles in finding the right BJJ coach: 

Do find a BJJ coach who understands the importance of wrestling technique.  Wrestling isn’t just strength and scrambles.

Do find a BJJ coach who understands why you shouldn’t just work on your back for the next 1-3 years.  Find a coach that allows you to grow in both styles.

Do find a BJJ coach who isn’t intimidated by your wrestling mentality.  Wrestlers specialize in hunting (offense). BJJ practitioners specialize in catching (defense).  With the right coach, you can be both, which is the goal.

Do not work on your back because you are lazy.  Work on your back because you really want to understand how to fight successfully from the back, shoulders, and hips.  (Only you know if this is happening. Be careful, it’s easy to get lazy while rationalizing you are learning while having fun but not putting forth 100% effort.  When that happens, true growth stops.)

And growth, my friend, is what it is all about.  Anything else is a waste of precious time.

p.s. As always, remember to follow your BJJ academy’s etiquette.  Stay strong out there, my friends as you improve 1% Better Every Day.   

Neil Melanson is a military veteran and retired Federal Agent.  He has more than 17 years of grappling experience and is a Blackbelt in the Hayastan Grappling System under the legend Judo Gene LeBell and Gokor Chivichyan.  Even though Neil is an MMA coach by trade, he is known for being a ground fighting specialist. Neil has coached many professional MMA athletes, most known for his work with Randy Couture.  Has coached top teams such as Xtreme Couture, Alliance MMA, and the Blackzilians. Neil currently has 9 instructional DVDs on grappling available at bjjfanatics.com as well as an instructional book called “Mastering Triangle Chokes”.                                                                                                    

Ricky Lundell is a 4th degree Gracie BJJ Blackbelt under Pedro Sauer ((8th Degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Coral Belt under legendary Grand Master Helio Gracie and Master Rickson Gracie) and wrestled for Iowa State University under Cael and Cody Sanderson (Olympic Gold Medalist in Wrestling and 4X All American Collegiate Wrestler).  Ricky is the author of the 1% Better Every Day Strength Training System DVD on bjjfanatics and 1% Better Every Day, Ricky Lundell’s Personal Guide to Back Squats, available on BJJ Fanatics!

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