3 Reasons to Add Wrestling to BJJ

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Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a truly amazing grappling martial art and self defense system. Which is practiced by millions of people around the world.

When BJJ showcased its superiority as a martial art in the first UFC, the world was in absolute amazement as until that moment, most martial arts practitioners thought martial arts combat looked like a Jean Claude Van Damme movie with spinning kicks, deep stances and block punch sequences.

Royce Gracie showed the entire world that having a grappling base was a true equalizer when fighting against much bigger, heavier and stronger opponents. Decades later, BJJ has become one of the most popular martial arts in the world and a definite must have for any MMA fighter wanting to win in the cage.

The evolution of grappling, BJJ and MMA has showcased 2 things, one is that grappling is effective and the second is that if you cannot take an opponent to the ground, your grappling skills are ineffective. On top of this, we can see that all forms of grappling as well as MMA are constantly evolving in order for competitors to dominate one another for the win.

This has led to a natural evolution of fighters understanding that knowing how to takedown an opponent as well as having the ability to not allow an opponent to take you down lets a fighter choose where the fight ends up as well as how the fight will be dictated.

Naturally, several grappling arts that address throwing and takedowns have successfully been added to many modern BJJ practitioners’ repertoire such as Judo, Sambo and Wrestling (Freestyle, Greco Roman and Folkstyle). Judo and Sambo are gi arts (Sambo’s gi is called a Kurtka) and Wrestling is a no-gi art. That said, all these arts have a natural crossover to gi and no gi with some adjustments to grips.

Out of the 3 arts, the art that is the simplest to learn and has had the most success when adding to BJJ is Wrestling as due to BJJ’s open rules when it comes to takedowns, Wrestling can fit easily to both No gi and gi training (gi just needs to address gripping with the gi). There are numerous BJJ world champions that train wrestling regularly and it is for more reasons than just takedowns which will be discussed in this article. 

Here are 3 reasons why you should add Wrestling to your BJJ game today.

Wrestling Pressure

One of the biggest differences between how Wrestlers and Jiu-Jitsu practitioners roll is pressure. You are probably asking yourself what is wrestling pressure? Wrestling pressure simply means having a resisting opponent that is not static as well as using their weight on you in all positions (regardless of standing or on the ground). Yes, BJJ has some pressure but it is nowhere constantly emphasized as we see in wrestling. In fact in many cases, many BJJ schools and practitioners look down at a training partner when they use more than minimum amounts of pressure.

Proper Wrestling Pressure
Proper Wrestling Pressure

Wrestling pressure should not be confused with aggressiveness, although these are related, they are not the same thing as you can still wrestle with a lot of pressure without being aggressive and this is where BJJ needs to learn from wrestling as in BJJ when pressure is added, it is often mistaken for being aggressive.

Adding proper wrestling training to your BJJ will add the attribute of pressure, it will help you use your weight properly, it will help develop proper realistic setups for taking an opponent down as well as simply make it harder for you to be taken down. It will help you understand how to work properly from the clinch as well as improve your overall conditioning.

Wrestling pressure is barely spoken about in the BJJ community as the BJJ community generally wants a technique based approach to takedowns but adding wrestling pressure to your takedown training will exponentially increase your takedown game.

The Wrestling Scramble

Have you ever wondered why wrestlers are so damn tough to take down and even tougher to hold down? Well it’s due to their emphasis on scrambling properly out of a bad position.

The wrestling scramble is one of the most important benefits of learning how to wrestle, it is an amazing attribute to add to your BJJ game and if you are interested in fighting in MMA, it is one of the most important wrestling skills you can have.

To understand the benefits of the wrestling scramble for BJJ, we must understand a truly significant reason why BJJ practitioners need it. When addressed with a very tough position a BJJ practitioner simply can hold on to the opponent and slowly make their way out of a bad position into a better one, this is great and is a reason why BJJ is so effective in a fight but it is a 100% defensive maneuver in nature and emphasizes completely shutting down all movement in a fight regardless of being on top or bottom. The wrestling scramble when addressing being in a tough position or threat of being dominated uses an increase in movement and preconditioned techniques to gain a better and more dominant top position.

We can see many of the best BJJ competitors using superior scrambling ability in order to attain a dominant position such as Buchecha, Marcelo Garcia, Nick Rodriguez, Garry Tonon and more.

There is no doubt that training wrestling will increase a BJJ athlete’s scrambling ability as well as help with their movement and ability to attain top position out of a scramble.

Another huge benefit of knowing how to scramble is the effect on takedown defense. Takedowns usually have 3 moments in the timeline of a takedown, the first is the setup which can be using footwork and hand fighting in order to enter the takedown with the right body positions, an example would be performing a snapdown on an opponent in order for them to resist and move their head upwards to open up the hips and legs for a double leg shot.. The second is the actual commitment to the takedown where you must make the major movement of both you and your opponent’s body in the attempt to takedown, this would be a shoot for a double as an example. The 3rd is the follow through of the takedown where once you have secured the takedown you must follow through to finish the takedown successfully, an example would be driving through the opponent and to the side until you are on top of the opponent after shooting a double leg.

Wrestling Position Advantage
Wrestling Position Advantage

Scrambling can help with defense on 2 out of the 3 elements of a timeline of a take down (being number 2 and 3 in the timeline) as once there is body contact and pressure, you can use a lot of scrambling techniques to get out of a takedown and even reverse the takedown to your advantage. Whereas in BJJ, you would generally revert to guard and an immediate bottom position.

Wrestling’s Emphasis on Standing Back Up

Having the ability to stand back up when you want is a truly advantageous asset to have in a BJJ or UFC match, it gives you the ability to control where the fight is as well as in some cases play to your opponent’s weakness should they not be good at takedowns. Having the ability to stand up also gives you the ability to score points for a take down once again and improve your standing in terms of BJJ match points.

Standing up when you want to can also frustrate the opponent as well as each time you stand up, should the opponent decide to stay seated, will give you the opportunity to pass their guard standing up as well as force the opponent to move to a position on the mat you want to start from as they will be forced to commit to you.

The emphasis on standing back up is directly related to the ability to scramble as having scrambling ability will allow you to get into a proper position to safely stand up without being thrown., takedown, held down and submitted easily.

In Conclusion

Wrestling is much more than techniques, it is a system of attributes, tactics and strategies that when used with time proven techniques can truly benefit the effectiveness of your BJJ game. Try adding some wrestling training and wrestling to your BJJ game and you surely will start seeing some benefits that will help keep you a monster on the mats.

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