Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wrestling Wrestling Wrestling

They say wrestling is dominating the sport of MMA. This is a correct statement. Not for the reasons one may think. Let me explain why:

The question has come up why wrestling is dominating and I wanted to explore this question from my perspective, as a thoughtful Jiu Jitsu practitioner. Obviously wrestling dictates where the fight goes, standing or on the ground. But is being able to dictate where the fight goes the key? What if you are fighting a guy with better striking and better submissions? Either path you take would be a bad one at that point. Yet they still dominate.

There's a lot of reasons for this. MMA has rounds, and in Pride rules the first round was 10 minutes. This allowed for more submissions. A black belt match is 10 minutes not 5, so good guys need time to finish each other. If the first few minutes is a feeling out process, then a couple minutes to get a takedown, you really don't have a lot of time to work for a submission. All of these things are out of the control of the fighter and are also obvious.

The other reason I believe wrestling dominates in MMA and partially in Jiu Jitsu tournaments is because a lot of Jiu Jitsu guys try to wrestle a wrestler. A lot of guys never developed a good bottom game and have relied on being on top and outworking guys to get on top, a Jiu Jitsu wrestler as I call it. When they are faced with a real high level wrestler, their clash of styles allows for the wrestler to dominate. You cannot out wrestle a wrestler with Jiu Jitsu wrestling. Your single legs from belly down or from your knees or the double leg you learned in Jiu Jitsu class just won't cut it. It worked against Jiu Jitsu guys but it won't work on college wrestlers.

In MMA I see good BJJ guys using all their skill to get back up, get on top, or out scramble and out wrestle a wrestler. What got them this far in the first place was their submissions and they are throwing it out the window. I won't name names because it seems like every fighter does it at some point, either in a fight or in their career. Instead of trying to defend yourself and submit or sweep from bottom. They need to try to submit from closed guard not just try to stall and look for the ref to stand them up. Maybe they don't need to work so much on their wrestling as they do on their guard and attacks, or their frequency of attacks. Guard was invented to fight top players in the first place!

So how do you counter a wrestler? With Jiu Jitsu of course. They should be wondering how they can counter Jiu Jitsu not the other way around. I think positions like guard, half guard, the back, mount. These are the key positions against wrestlers. Wrestling off your butt, sit up guard, singles off your knees, rolling belly down, cross side, or trying to out wrestle them are a bad idea. Even being explosive may work against you.

Trying to hold a wrestler in cross side becomes difficult, but from mount they may give up their back. You have to force them into positions they are not used to. Sweeps are hard due to their base but they are not used to sweeps where you are already pinning yourself. A butterfly sweep or a sit up sweep may be low percentage. But X guard sweeps or deep half guard sweeps where you are pinning yourself are unorthodox for a wrestler and they have less muscle memory fighting such moves off.

A great example of a Jiu Jitsu guy who never took a day of wrestling beating wrestlers is Marcello Garcia. All straight Jiu Jitsu. He even took a wrestling type move like armdrag and converted it for BJJ and used it in a way wrestlers weren't use too. Which is off his butt and basically pulling back to where he is pinning himself to take their back.

Roger is another example, with the simple use of close guard at the highest level. They can't scramble or wrestle you if they are caught in between your legs.

I don't have all the answers. I wrestled myself in high school (which was a very long time ago) but this is just my perspective on the matter.


  1. I just fell in love with your blog. And you may have answered the question I have had problems with in every competition. How to beat the wrestler?

  2. Many few people are familiar with bjj gear. In the Bjj Gi, Bjj is a martial art of Japan.



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