WRESTLING FOR BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was created as a self defense Martial Art, and in the early years of its inception to Brazil, many of the technical systems were utilised wearing the Gi. As the art evolved so did many of the technical systems, including other forms of Martial Arts like sambo techniques, and judo for bjj throws.
What this article covers:
- What Is Wrestling
- The Origins of Wrestling
- The Benefits of Wrestling for BJJ
- How Wrestling Has Influenced Grappling
- Integrating BJJ and Wrestling
- Wrestling Takedowns
- Wrestling Transitions
The culmination of Jiu Jitsu entering the Mixed Martial Arts scene created a huge profile for many athletes across the world. The popularity surged, as the traditional styling of Gi Jiu Jitsu was coupled by the addition of No Gi submission grappling, as events like the ADCC took precedence in the modern era.
Nowadays No Gi Jiu Jitsu has become one of the most popular forms of combat, and with this formidable style came incredible innovation. After the western world was introduced to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, many American athletes would begin to take hold of this diverse form of Martial Art. Athletes like Keenan Cornelius, Gordon Ryan, Dean Lister, and Rafael Lovato Jr all began forming their own innovative ways to improve their game styles. The new aged grappling has become a hybrid version of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu mixed with Wrestling, and with old styles of Catch Wrestling, Collegiate Wrestling, and Professional Wrestling, the art has become extremely dynamic.
WHAT IS WRESTLING
Wrestling is an age old art form that dates back a long time, and this physical contest between two highly advanced athletes can be brutal. Two combatants will stand toe to toe, as each competitor tries to gain the significant advantage in the clinch battle. The athletes will use a variation of different holds like body locks, arm drags, under hooks, over hooks, takedowns, joint locks, and pins. The objective is to secure the dominant grip and take their opponent to the mat, in order to pin them on their back with both of their shoulders on the mat. There are many different forms of Wrestling like Greco Roman, Freestyle, Folkstyle, Catch Wrestling, Professional Wrestling, Shoot Wrestling, and Submission Wrestling. All of these forms of Wrestling are highly similar to the controlling systems in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and as a combination they can be aggressively successful.
THE ORIGINS OF WRESTLING
Wrestling is one of the oldest forms of combat, as the art dates back over fifteen thousand years. There have been many ancient Egyptian, and Babylonian cave drawings that depict combatants using a variety of common Wrestling holds. Wrestling has also been seen in history throughout the Trojan war, and the Indian Ramayana and Mahabharata. The ancient Greeks have Wrestling etched into their history books, as many contests ended in fights to the death. Wrestling was added to the ancient Olympic Games in 708 BC, and showcased a savagery of grappling that was brutal and historic. The Roman empire took many of the ancient Greek Wrestling concepts, and changed them by eliminating many of the brutal aspects, turning the sport into a more civilised system that consisted of rulesets.
Wrestling continued to grow on a global scale, as France, Japan, and England all had strong ties to the combative system. British migrants that traveled to America, along with native Americans would also find Wrestling to be popular and influential to many civilians. The amateur Wrestling scene began to build, as contests were seen throughout county fairs, and in military exercises. In 1888 the first National Wrestling tournament took place in New York City, and since 1904 in St Louis Missouri, it has been in every Olympic Games, and has become an American iconic sport. The UWW was established in 1912, and this governing body would oversee the rise of the modern form, and in 1928 the NCAA World Championships held their inaugural event. In 1983 Colorado Springs became the governing body for wrestling, as this American jewel is practised among many young American athletes.
THE BENEFITS OF WRESTLING FOR BJJ
Wrestling will always give a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete a technical advantage in a fight, and this is because Wrestling has highly advanced systems involved. Aside from the technical standpoint, there are other benefits to adding Wrestling to a BJJ athlete's repertoire. Wrestling can be extremely aggressive, and learning these processes will ensure an athlete builds up a greater resilience to highly dynamic grappling. This will also create incredible strength and conditioning for an athlete, as the cardiovascular workout is unmatched by other Martial Arts. In Wrestling drills, an athlete will be required to get up to their feet numerous times, which can take a lot of energy, and this is extremely beneficial to an athlete. Wrestling will also improve an athlete's ability to be aggressive, and stay determined, and this can separate the champions from the winners. Wrestlers are notorious for their ability to stay strong within their base, and this makes them considerably hard to takedown. Having a strong base, a good balance, and a spatial awareness ability is similar to yoga for bjj, and is pivotal for athletes to succeed with Wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
HOW WRESTLING HAS INFLUENCED GRAPPLING
There have been many different forms of Wrestling, and over the years the art has contributed to the overall stylings over grappling, and Mixed Martial Arts. The old school Catch As Catch Can Wrestling, which later became Catch Wrestling was a hybrid style of Submission Wrestling developed in the late 1870's by the British. The culmination of this Wrestling became the cornerstone to other forms of grappling like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Professional Wrestling, Sambo, and Shoot Fighting. Many modern day Mixed Martial Artists have a background in Catch Wrestling, and the influence it has had on the overall game style of grappling has been phenomenal.
Nowadays the international No Gi scene has become its own style of combat, as it has created its own path away from traditional Gi Jiu Jitsu. No Gi, or submission grappling has evolved into a hybrid form of Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Sambo, and Wrestling. The modern No Gi athlete uses a wide range of Wrestling transitions, and takedowns, the leg locking ferocity seen in Sambo, the high calibre throws seen in Judo, and the all round submission systems, guard passing, and guard principles from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The popularity of Wrestling in BJJ has become instrumental, in the way modern athletes will attack their opponents with takedowns, and positional control.
INTEGRATING BJJ AND WRESTLING
Martial Arts has always had its elements of integration, and since Mixed Martial Arts burst onto the scene in the 1990’s, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has steadily grown in popularity. Nowadays Wrestling has become an integral part of the grappling culture, as many Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes are integrating both of these styles. Combining Wrestling into a BJJ arsenal won't just happen overnight, an athlete will need to put time in on the training mats. Wrestling can be an extremely brutal combat sport, and all Mixed Martial Artists will need both of these elements along with a muay thai and jiu jitsu combination. Integration of Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be highly achievable, as both of these arts are symbiotic. Using Wrestling holds, and maneuvers can be combined with many of the BJJ systematic movements. Although most academies will run separate classes of each art, a high level academy will simply incorporate Wrestling skills into their technical systems.
The Double leg takedown is one of the most iconic maneuvers utilised in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and from a Wrestling standpoint, it is one of the most dominant takedowns in the Wrestling playbook. The double leg takedown is a move used to take an opponent to the mat with force, and using power and momentum, makes this a dangerous maneuver. The athlete will change levels, lowering their body towards the mat, while maintaining a postured position. Their knee will nearly skim the mat, as they secure a double grip around the back of their opponent's legs. From here the athlete will use their abdomen to drive into their opponent, as they turn the corner with their opponent, driving them sideways into the mat.
The single leg takedown is another successful Wrestling move that has made its way into the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu repertoire. The single leg involves scooping up an opponent's ankle, and securing it between their legs, as they wrap their arms around their thigh. The athlete's head will be on the inside of their opponent's body, glued to their hip, as they use their outside leg to step backwards, giving them room to circle their opponent to the mat using their head, and their momentum. There are many different variations of the single leg, like after securing the leg the athlete will scoop both hands around the shin, allowing them to lift the leg high up in the air. This creates two different opportunities by simply lifting higher, the opponent will lose their balance, or they can execute a foot sweep on the grounded leg. The benefits of using the single leg in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are heavily reliant on how the opponent reacts, and an athlete with good Wrestling skills will be able to apply these methods.
The ankle pick is another easy Wrestling maneuver to utilise, as is seen at the highest levels of Wrestling, BJJ, and Mixed Martial Arts. An ankle pick is created when an athlete uses a collar tie grip on the neck, and a grip on the wrist. The athlete will use these grips to unbalance their opponent, and pull downwards on their neck. As the opponent attempts to retract from the collar tie, the athlete will use their momentum and shoot in low, letting go of the wrist grip, and securing a grip around the back of their opponent's heel. From here they can use their grips on the heel, and the neck to circle their opponent to the mat, as they begin to control the position.
Shooting in on an opponent for double under hooks is another key position for a wrestler. The double under hook position is vital to controlling an opponent, and being successful at taking them down to the mat. The double under hooks are a powerful way to secure the body lock, and access the back control position. Athletes can move to the side with a double under hook control, lowering their grips around the top of their thighs, and simply run their opponent sideways. This will force the opponent to lose balance, where the athlete will secure an easy takedown. The double under hooks positions can also help the athlete to utilse foot sweeps, the valley drop, or even lifting techniques like a suplex, or a high crotch takedown.
There are many Wrestling transitions that have become extremely popular in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The collar tie, or the necktie is one of the main controlling aspects, when an athlete attempts to take down their opponent. Controlling the head in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Wrestling is crucial to dictating which way an athlete wants their opponent to go. The collar tie can also be used from the guard position, as maneuvers like the scissor sweep, or the technical standup revolve around controlling the head with a collar tie. The snap down can also be used from the collar tie position, and this is an iconic transition used in Wrestling. The snap down is utilised by pulling down hard on an opponent's head, and is instrumental in breaking down their posture. The snap down combined with a wrist grip, can also allow an opportunity to use foot sweeps, or leg reaps to execute takedowns.
From a takedown position, an athlete is always looking to stifle the attempt with takedown defense. The sprawl position in Wrestling is basically the front headlock position, and has become famed for its precision, and its ability to reverse the takedown attempt. The sprawl is a well timed defense that is used to escape an athlete's legs backwards, while keeping their chest over the top of their opponent. The sprawl in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu allows an athlete to set up submission holds like the guillotine, the anaconda, the peruvian necktie, and the darce choke. A good technique from the sprawl is to time the defense for when an opponent shoots in for double under hooks, and secure an under hook on one side as they sprawl. This will allow the athlete to use the momentum, and the under hook to turn their opponent onto their back.
Under hooks, and over hooks are a critical part of the Wrestling process, and in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu it can be just as important. The under hook is used in many different controlling situations like passing the guard, takedown attempts, and sweeping setups. A common mistake that athletes will make is to secure a shallow under hook, and this will only create submission opportunities for the opponent. A good under hook is a really deep one, and this means reaching around the back of an opponent, and using their shoulder as a leverage point. The over hook is the reverse position to the under hook, and this involves wrapping an arm around an opponent's arm. This position can be used for sweeping, takedowns, submissions, and submission defense. An over hook combined with an under hook is how an athlete can control their opponent in the butterfly guard, or the cocoon position.
Arm, and leg dragging have been instrumental for Wrestling for decades, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has the same familiar approach. An arm drag is as simple as securing a wrist grip, and using their other arm to secure a cross tricep grip. From here the athlete will pull the tricep back towards the athlete, which will force the opponent off balance, and will allow the athlete to step past, and wrap up a back control position. Using arm drags from the standing position can make it easy to set up takedowns, and they can also be used from the guard position to set up different variations of arm bar submissions. The leg drag can be just as important as the arm drag, and this concept is used in BJJ when an opponent is in the guard position. The athlete will usually attempt to control their opponents ankles, and securing a leg drag to a squatting position makes it extremely easy to smash pass an opponent's guard.
If you enjoyed this piece, consider checking: