by Clyde Lewis
Grappling should be approached like any other martial art. It needs to be studied in whole, as an art in itself, and not just casually studied as a sideline in order to be truly mastered. Grappling as a whole is one of, if not the most intricate of the martial arts. Just as in deciding which of the other martial arts you want to study, the same factors should decide the style of grappling you want to study. And like other martial arts, grappling has a wide area of application, but each style has its inherent strengths and weaknesses. The two styles that I will cover are, sport style grappling, and combat grappling.
First is sport style grappling. Sport grappling has many subsets and a very wide area of application. Sport grappling includes styles such as wrestling, Brazilian jiu jitsu, judo, and submission grappling to name only a few. Although these styles contain techniques that can be beneficial for self defense. They were not designed for this application. This is where their weakness lies. For example, let’s look at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The popularity of this particular style saw a surge during the early days of no holds barred style competitions. And may or may not be effective for a self defense situation. A lot depends on the person applying it. The primary training for this style as with all sport styles is geared towards winning some sort of competition. And no matter how brutal the competition is, the participants still work under the confines of rules, and without the worry of outside influences.
Now let’s look at combat style grappling. Combat grappling does not follow the same path as the sport styles in training methodology or application. Combat styles focus on one primary goal. To win a ground battle as efficiently and quickly as possible. Due to the nature of this style, its practitioners are usually limited to military, law enforcement, and other protective agencies. This style also focuses its training more on principles than techniques. Due to the venue this style of grappling usually sees its application. It is more efficient to teach the principles how joint locking, strangulation, and knockout techniques work. Then to have the student apply the principles to many different situations, letting the technique flow, and form itself. This eliminates the need to get your opponent into a particular position to apply your technique. And also speeds up the application of a technique simply by not making the practitioner mentally recall all the techniques they have been taught, and then chose the appropriate one for the situation. Instead they can apply the principle of an elbow lock, and let the technique form itself.
Though neither style is superior in all areas, each has its own inherent strengths and weaknesses. And each has many varying sub styles attached to it which focus on different areas within their respective style. The best style out there is the one that fits you’re needs, and appeals to you. The key in grappling like any martial arts training is to find a qualified instructor that you feel comfortable with, and enjoy training with.