Wrestlers are a great resource for BJJ people. To me the goal should be to become a complete grappler. And there is no way to do this without learning wrestling. However, when most BJJ guys think about wrestling they only think about takedowns. Many wrestling coaches are brought in only to show takedowns. And I think this is a waste of a good resource because wrestling can add to your BJJ in many ways beyond just the takedown. Here are 5 things to learn from wrestling
#1 – The all fours (referee) position
In BJJ we are always told “never give up your back”. And while this is true overall, good wrestling complicates this rule a little bit on both the attacking and defending point of view.
From the defensive stand point, wrestling teaches you how to stand up and escape this position. This is a huge thing to learn from a purely grappling point of view and even more important in a fight. One thing that BJJ practitioners often forget is that there are three dimensions to grappling. Most of the time both people are on the ground because they’ve agreed to it. But if one person does not want to be on the ground, that can make a big difference.
Wrestling gives you the tools to disengage from the ground and get back to your feet. In my mind, this is usually a lot safer option for a fight/self defense situation, than rolling to guard.
From an offensive point of view wrestling does two things very well from the all fours/referee position:
#1 – It teaches you to stop someone from standing up. Like I mentioned before, in BJJ it’s always assumed that both people want to be on the ground grappling. But in a fight/mma situation, or even grappling with a wrestler, one person may not want to be on the ground. Wrestling helps you gently “insist” that they stay on the ground. This is a great skill for law enforcement to learn as well.
#2 – It shows you how to break down the all fours position. A wrestler buddy of mine described it like this: you want to either flatten their stomach on the ground, or get their hips pointed to the wall before you put the hooks in. The way this is accomplished is through various rides. One of my favorites is the spiral ride which Jason Layton shows in this video here
#2 – Using single leg attacks from the half guard
Since wrestlers are usually pretty good at scrambling and finishing single leg takedowns, the half guard bottom usually becomes a strong position for them. The reason being is with a good set up to an underhook the half guard becomes a single leg takedown. Here’s a good sequence from one of my favorite BJJ teachers to watch: Nick Albin aka Chewy
#3 – The quarter nelson turnover
This is a great demoralizing move. My friend Jeff does this really well and I hate him for it! In wrestling it is used to pin your opponent. In BJJ it can be used to stop someone from escaping sidemount and put them right on their back again. Once again Jason Layton breaks it down from the wrestling POV.
And as a special bonus, here is internet forum sensation Shen aka Perry Hauck showing this from a BJJ perspective
#4 – The front headlock
BJJ guys tend to use the front headlock mainly to set up a guillotine/d’arce/peruvian neck tie or to take the back. Both of these are great options but wrestlers have some great details on setting up the front headlock, using it to get takedowns, or just plain torturing you from the position!
Here is one example of many options you have from the position. It’s a front headlock to far ankle pick as shown by former Wisconsin wrestler Steven Hoffmann
#5- The re-scramble
This one is the hardest to explain as it’s more a general strategy than a specific technique. The best example I’ve seen online was BJJScout‘s breakdown of the GSP vs Johny Hendricks fight. When GSP got the first takedown, rather than fight the takedown off, Hendricks immediately pummeled his left arm in for the underhook. By the time they hit the ground he was already working his way to his feet again and GSP had to try a guillotine. The actually example is at the 3:35 minute mark.