While helping coach wrestling at my local high school for five seasons, I also trained Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the off-season. It was a whirlwind of techniques and rule-sets, with each system using various leverage points. There were similarities and differences between the systems, but I tried to focus on what united them. They were both forms of grappling.
I’ve seen many instances where wrestlers begin training Judo or BJJ, taking a few lumps while learning the ropes, but otherwise making a decent transition. We often see the parallel and crossover often from Judo and BJJ. A recent event made me take a look at how a BJJ practitioner may fair transitioning to Wrestling.
What might the Jiu-Jiteiro bring into the room?
While I believe there are more similarities between Judo and Wrestling than between BJJ and Wrestling, I thought about a few items that I was able teach from BJJ that transitioned fairly well for my wrestlers. Here they are:
- Defending on your side: In BJJ, it’s never good to be flat on your back, even with guard. Playing on your side is the better position. If you have developed that portion of your BJJ game, it will serve well in Wrestling. Being on your side and framing can help with going belly down instead of going to your back.
- Scissor Sweep: If a Wrestler hits you with an inside leg trip, you have a scissor sweep waiting there if you can capitalize on the movement. I generally hit it with an elbow grab and a collar tie as soon as my butt hits the mat.
- Defending the hands: One thing I noticed about many wrestlers was that they didn’t fight the hands as much as they should have when someone had them in a cradle or in a ride position. In BJJ, you have to fight the hands because they are what will choke or armbar you, not the legs. In Wrestling, he can’t pin or turn you effectively if he doesn’t have solid control. Fight his hands and it will be hard for him to get control or keep it.
- Leg ride positions: If you have a decent knowledge of back control, and how to maintain it while your opponent is scrambling, you may adapt to leg riding positions well. If you are used to throwing in hooks on your opponent when he turtles, that’s the same is throwing in legs for a ride. The only thing to worry about is getting hit for stalling if you throw both hooks in and don’t start moving to a side or working a turn (power half, bundle, etc.).
The principles of leverage transcend styles. If you learn them effectively, you can apply them in any arena. With my students, I often tell them they should learn to fight for any rules, or no rules. I like to look at the principles in Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu (Japanese and Brazilian) as being the same roads to different locations. The rules of the sport or expressions of the art dictate the end game, but many of the leverage points and techniques are arguably the same. Go train.
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