The Benefits of Jiu Jitsu for Wrestlers.

0 comments | Posted by MatTime ®

It is a foregone conclusion that if you ask any Jiu Jitsu athlete if they'd benefit from wrestling, I think most would would answer with an emphatic, "Yes". Perhaps there are a few high level Jiu Jitsu athletes who's games only include seated guard or other positions that don't require them to stand up, but most understand the importance of a takedown game, or their ability to stop takedowns.

With new rule sets popping up, including the ADCC Rule set which places an emphasis on one's wrestling - especially late in the match, having a solid wrestling based is becoming increasingly important. I think the same could be said for high level wrestlers having the ability to scramble.

Wrestlers with 'funk' - a term that has defined wrestlers that embrace scrambling - seem to be popping up with more frequency in recent years. And while Ben Askren and a few others like him started the trend, dynamic wrestlers like Jason Nolf, Bo Nickal, and Seth Gross are becoming a bit more frequent.

When it comes to Jiu Jitsu, and a wrestler potentially benefiting from this, the feeling isn't mutual. Meaning, I don't think you'll find many wrestlers that want or believe they can benefit from training Jiu Jitsu in the off-season. If you ask wrestling coaches, I think that almost NONE OF THEM would suggest that their wrestlers get some Jiu Jitsu training during the off season. Why is this?

Well for one, most wrestlers and wrestling coaches all think and believe the same thing. 'Why would I want my wrestlers to train off their back?' To me, this is an antiquated view of Jiu Jitsu - going back to the days of Royce Gracie's closed guard in the early days of the UFC. Many wrestling coaches don't know who Gordon Ryan is, or Craig Jones or Lachlan Giles (a wrestler) and how much the game has changed. In fact, many wrestling coaches do not know who John Danaher is. Some would argue that Mr. Danaher is probably one of the top grappling coaches (inclusive in wrestling for combat sports)  in the world today and that he basically has brought to Jiu Jitsu to an entirely new level.

Jiu Jitsu, especially no-Gi Jiu Jitsu, is ever changing, evolving, dynamic and has many different styles within it. Some Jiu Jitsu athletes do not play a bottom game, some do.  Admittedly, I think if you watch Worlds (Gi) and watch a Mikey Musumeci match, you would see a very specific style of Jiu Jitsu playing out that doesn't necessarily lend itself to wrestling. Don't get me wrong, Mikey Musumeci is an absolute bad-ass but any similarity or cross-over to wrestling would be harder to discern. On the other hand, if you watch ADCC (no-Gi) matches, things start getting a little different. Even so, a wrestler that watches ADCC would wonder why many of the competitors are standing up so straight. This is true, their wrestling stances aren't stellar, however, what isn't apparent is their god-like abilities from the front headlock position, guillotine or triangle which allows many of them to have more of an upright stance. And then there are competitors like Gordon Ryan that are solid in almost all positions.

With all this said, my intent is not to draw comparisons between competition Jiu Jitsu versus competition wrestling. It's Apples to Oranges. My goal rather is to start shedding light on certain positions in Jiu Jitsu that, if a wrestler becomes comfortable in, they'll have some additional tools in their shed.

In a previous tournament, this MatTimer (red and white singlet) ended up in a similar position as he was in the video below. When he went for a butterfly sweep (wrestlers are not easy to sweep from a butterfly) the #1 Seed stepped out of it and scored. Our MatTime kid ended up losing a close match but wrestled well. After this tournament, we had our wrestler work on these Jiu Jitsu positions to tighten them up.

In the match below - against a State Champion from Colorado - the work paid off and I talk through the positions in the video. In a short period of 25 seconds or so, the wrestler in the red/white singlet went from an open guard position to attempted back take, a roll-through sweep, z-guard and then a modified butterfly positioned where he ended up scoring and eventually winning the match against a State Champion. 

The purpose of the video is to point out some Jiu Jitsu positions that can be used in wrestling. This is an in-depth topic that would need to be addressed at many different levels. That said, the first thing to understand is what makes a take-down a take-down, knowing what will have a referee hold up two fingers, 3 points of control..etc. From here, we can gain a better understanding of when back-takes or sweep attempts make sense. It wouldn't make sense for a wrestler to go for sweeps or back takes from disadvantageous positions because the result will most likely involve more that two points against the defender, or a pin!

Please also note that the basic back take from open guard (via an arm drag) is explained in detail from Gordon Ryan himself. The wrestler in the red/white singlet in the video has worked specifically on this technique and other positions and it showed.

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