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Musings on BJJ to wrestling and back again [white belt]

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by KenkaBancho, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. KenkaBancho Blue Belt

    Oct 13, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Hi guys, longtime lurker here. I posted this somewhere else but thought I'd share it here too.

    Here goes:

    I started out training when I was 17 with the gi for about 3 years. When I went to uni I sort of lost interest and went on a BJJ hiatus (I know) for about 2-3 years. During my hiatus, I found out my local gym (in Bristol, UK if any of you are interested) offered Olympic wrestling classes which were ran by an Iranian coach. Started going to wrestling practice exclusively without any BJJ for about 2 years. Due to the lack of competitions in the UK and the rigor of my degree course, I never competed in wrestling tourneys. Just lots of technical drills and live wrestling. Fell in love with a few moves:
    • double leg / High C to double;
    • sweep single;
    • lateral drop;
    • ankle pick; and
    • front headlock
    After I graduated, I started attending BJJ practice again.

    Advantages I experienced when rolling were:
    • Strength: I felt a lot stronger than I used to be before I wrestled (I haven’t done any weight lifting since I first began BJJ). I think it may have been something to do with the intensity of wrestling practice but I found myself being able to execute a lot more guard passes, sweeps and escapes much more effectively. The psychological difference for me was that whereas when I first started in BJJ I was a lot more methodical and slow paced, after wrestling I ceased looking at moves as "moves" but a means to get to a better position (esp side mount).

    • Base/balance: I found that my hips were instinctively defending sweeps a lot more effectively. I used to get swept from the guard all the time but after wrestling I found myself naturally throwing down all my weight on my hips during sweep attempts. Also I felt a lot stronger especially in side mount to the point where I could just hold my partners down for as long as I wanted to. I think this really came from doing a shit ton of sprawling when live wrestling from partners trying 100% to tackle the shit out of me.

    • takedowns: this one is obvious. When in BJJ I just learnt very methodical 3 step double legs and single legs finished with my knees pinched together. After wrestling, I was shooting all sorts of takedowns on my partners with great success. Started having a lot of disdain for pulling guard and am now of the view that this habit detracts from BJJ as a martial art. The upside down guard thing I started seeing people do I find to be ridiculous. The main thing I really appreciate is the ability to decide what position I want to start from when the fight actually hits the mat. The FRONT HEAD LOCK IS SOMETHING NOT TAUGHT/USED ENOUGH IN BJJ. Surprised to learn how Cormier actually did lots of headlocks and hardly any shots. Recently I've been loving the "lasso" front headlock (when you lasso an arm over your opponent's head when said arm is gripped by both your opponent's hands which i saw in a Tomohiro Matsunaga video on youtube).

    • psychology: the thought of rolling with higher belts used to make me mentally quit immediately. Like "I'm going to lose anyway so let's go light" and proceed to get dominated for the entire roll. After wrestling it's "I'm not going to lose to this guy so gogogogogo". Corrected my confidence issues I suppose.
    The downsides were getting caught in guillotines more often and a shit ton of injuries sustained in wrestling (but not BJJ).

    Do you guys have any similar experiences?

    Tl;dr – did BJJ first, stopped and started going for wrestling practice, went back to BJJ again and felt that it helped. Felt stronger, better balance, better takedowns (esp front headlock), got rid of a quit before we begin mentality. Got guillotined more. Got injured.

    PS - love reading Dirty Holt's insights on this forum.
  2. discrawg Brown Belt

    Jul 8, 2008
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    Down Under
    I have experience in BJJ, not much in wrestling, but thanks for the insight. Interesting post!
  3. Dirty Holt Black Belt Professional Fighter

    May 11, 2005
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    Olympic Training Center
    Really, it comes down to who you train with, and at what level you are willing to bail out on defense.

    If you are training with bigger people, you are going to get injured in wrestling at some point. There is no avoiding it.

    If you are fighting every move and unwilling to concede points to save injury in practice, you are gonna get hurt.

    My strategy at this point when I wrestle to avoid injury is to stay with guys my size or smaller, and if I get in a compromised position where there is a 20% chance of injury that comes with an 80% chance of escape, I just concede, defend on the ground, then start over. My mentality in wrestling, because I no longer compete anymore, is to keep my skills sharp for coaching and training, and keep my techniques there for BJJ competition if I do decide to compete. I am 35, so I really have to pick my battles.

    Getting hit in chokes and stuff from your wrestling, you can tweak technique and fix that. Being a high level wrestler and now a black belt, honestly, holding on to wrestling instincts that hurt you in BJJ was the easiest thing to fix.

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