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Submission Grappling

Kelly Anderson coaches students in the brutal art of "submission wrestling."

Kelly Anderson coaches students in the brutal art of “submission wrestling.”

Submission Grappling is a new sport with a long history. The object is to submit your opponent using a variety of joint locks and chokes, or to win the match on points. Competitions in this sport resemble those of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in St. Pete, although competitors do not usually wear “gis” or “combat kimonos”. This lack of gi increases the amount of speed and athleticism required, and it also limits the sweeping and submission options of the competitors.

Submission Grappling is mainly based on Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu descended from pre-World War 2 Judo, which itself was heavily influenced by the classical Jiu-jitsu systems of medieval Japan. The influence of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in St. Pete can be seen in the types of positions and submissions most commonly used in our Academy.

Other grappling arts have also influenced Submission Grappling. The most common takedowns come mainly from freestyle wrestling. The prevalence of leg-locks shows the influence of such arts as Sambo and Catch-As-Catch-Can wrestling (the ancestor of today’s ‘Pro Wrestling’). Many of the top Submission Grappling competitors also compete in MMA St. Petersburg, FL or no-holds-barred competition, and this brings a certain intensity to the sport.

Submission Grappling is very similar to the grappling required for MMA competitions such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship or the Pride Fighting Championship. Positions and maneuvers that would be advantageous in a real fight (such as passing the guard or achieving the mount position) are rewarded by the point system, even though striking is not allowed in competition.

Training in Submission Grappling typically involves significant amounts of sparring or ‘‘rolling’’. Live training against a resisting opponent is considered invaluable in developing the skills and attributes considered essential for high-level performance in real-life situations.

There are also three main ways that gi and no-gi grappling differ:

  • Clothing
  • Strategy & Techniques
  • Tournament Rules

As stated before, the no-gi is the practice of Submission Grappling without a combat kimono, but rather wear an attire usually associated with surfing; gi grappling practitioners on the other hand, wear a pair of heavy cotton drawstring pants, usually with reinforced knees, and a heavy cotton jacket with a thick collar and a hem that is notched on either side.

Another difference between gi and no-gi grappling has to do with strategy and techniques. In gi grappling, use of the gi – sleeves, collar, pant legs – figures prominently in gaining and controlling position, as well as in applying submissions. In no-gi grappling, grabbing the clothes is generally not allowed. Instead, practitioners can try to control an opponent by gripping the body’s natural handles: the neck, the wrist, the elbow, the knee, the hips, etc.

The lack of heavy cotton cloth to soak up sweat in no-gi grappling also tends to affect the pace of a match and the ease with which an opponent can slip out of a bad position.

Finally, just like in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in St. Pete, and as often seen in MMA St. Petersburg, FL there are some rule differences in competition as well. Different tournaments have different expectations, but a general rule is that a move called a heel hook (which is allowed in advanced no-gi divisions) is not allowed in any gi divisions.

A heel hook is a move that puts potentially serious pressure on the knee. It is difficult enough to defend no-gi, but the idea is that the potential for getting tangles in the gi pants make it dangerously difficult to defend, even among expert grapplers. So heel hooks are generally not allowed in the gi.

So the next time you watch grappling, note some of the characteristics of gi versus no-gi. See if you notice differences in pacing, types of moves, etc, and see if you have a preference!

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