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What Is Grappling? | Wrestling, MMA, BJJ & More

what is grappling

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In the past few decades, grappling arts have become increasingly popular, and for good reason! People from all around the world look at this subset of martial arts and gaze in awe. The technique and skill shown by grapplers are not only jaw-dropping but demonstrate that the use of striking techniques is not the only way to fight back in a self-defense situation. With that being said, what is grappling?

what is grappling

What is Grappling?

At its core, grappling revolves around the art of controlling and manipulating an opponent through body-to-body contact, without the use of strikes. Practitioners use an array of techniques such as throws, takedowns, joint locks, chokes, and pins to gain dominance and submission over their opponents.

Grappling is not limited to any particular age group or gender, making it an inclusive and accessible pursuit for anyone interested in learning self-defense, improving physical fitness, or engaging in competitive sports.

What Is Grappling Used for?

Grappling can be used for a wide array of reasons ranging from self-defense to a competitive outlet. Here are some of the biggest reasons people of all ages decide to engage in one or more Grappling martial arts.

Grappling for Self-Defense:

More than a handful of individuals pick up defensive technique from sports such as BJJ, Krav-Maga, and Judo to have a wider skill set on the streets. These sports are very beneficial to an individual because they allow you to defend yourself while not seriously injuring your opponent.

Instead of knocking someone unconscious with some sort of strike and possibly injuring their brain, Grappling techniques allow you to take down, and control an attacker until help comes.

That being said, it is important to be cautious and mindful when engaging in close-quarters combat with some random on the street. You never know what type of weapon they may possess or how many friends they might have around the corner. The best thing you can do in a self-defense situation is to run the opposite way.


Many grapplers enjoy their sports due to the competitive nature of the martial art. Many young wrestlers, Judo players, and BJJ practitioners travel around the world to compete in high-level competitions with other athletes.

This is not only great for the grappler physically and mentally but for businesses, companies, and the respective sport.

Mental Health:

The benefits found through grappling martial arts are nearly endless. One of the positives discovered through combat sports is an increase in a practitioner’s mental health. Sports such as BJJ, Sambo, Mixed Martial Arts, Judo, etc. give a practitioner a sense of community that is difficult to find anywhere else. In addition, many athletes form life-long bonds through their sport.

Not only that but studies prove that getting out of the house and putting some time into getting some exercise drastically increases your mood. Not only are martial arts good exercise, but they are some of the best out there. Many would agree that the sport of wrestling is one of the most physically demanding activities of all time.

Lastly, almost all grappling martial arts will increase your mental fortitude. There is a reason high level grapplers are so legit. They can practice their moves at full force every day and still wake up and do it again next week. On the contrary, some techniques in Mixed Martial Arts, Muay Thai, and Boxing are very difficult to master due to the lack of intensity in sparring sessions.

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Types of Grappling Techniques

Below, we will cover some of the most common techniques you can expect to find yourself doing while grappling.


Takedowns are an extremely important array of techniques that are beneficial in both combat sports and self-defense. Although many of them are quite simple, these forms require strength, intelligence, and mat knowledge to pull off. Taking someone down can be a difficult process but it is a necessary skill to have when looking into any grappling martial art. Some of the most common takedowns include:

  • Double leg takedowns

  • Single leg takedowns

  • Inside and outside trips

  • Ankle picks

  • Throws

    what is grappling


Sprawling is the act of throwing your hips down and back in an attempt to defend an opponent’s takedown. While this isn’t the only form of defense for a shot, it is arguably the simplest and most reliable way to keep someone off of your legs.

Sprawling typically lands you in a semi-dominant position known as the Front Headlock. Depending on your sport, there are a lot of different techniques that could be used from this spot. If you are a wrestler, there are cradles and spin-behinds from the Front Headlock.

If you are a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, there are a wide array of submission holds that could be applied to this position, some of which include:

  • The Guillotine Choke

  • The Anaconda Choke

  • The Darce Choke

  • The Kimura

There is also the possibility of gaining positional advantage and circling to gain back control!


While often neglected, throws can be extremely beneficial in the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Throws fall under the category of takedowns, they allow you to use techniques to put an opponent on their back. The throws taught in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu come from the sports of wrestling and Judo.

Wrestlers are taught a wide array of throws without a Gi on such as:

  • The Suplex

  • Mat Returns

  • Hip throws

Although Judo is only in the Gi, the techniques taught are incredibly applicable to No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling. Some of the techniques taught in this powerful combat sport are

  • O-Goshi (Hip Toss)

  • Koshi Guruma (Headlock throw)

  • Tai-Otoshi (Body Drop)

All in all, the upper body throws taught in Wrestling, Judo, and even sports such as Sambo are extremely powerful and applicable to sport grappling. We believe that these martial arts can benefit any BJJ practitioner, no matter what their experience level is.

Submission Holds

Submissions are only taught in specific grappling arts such as BJJ, Judo, and Mixed Martial Arts. Sports such as wrestling do not teach defensive techniques and focus on dominant positions and control of your opponent. But what is a submission hold?

A submission refers to a technique that is applied during a match or training session to force an opponent to give up by placing them in a position where they are at risk of injury. Submissions can be applied in the form of Chokes, Joint Locks, or even neck and back cranks.

Some of the most common submission grappling techniques include:

what is grappling
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Technique is the most important aspect of BJJ/grappling performance. But want to increase your chances of landing submissions, finishing takedowns, and maintaining position? This program will have you man handling your opponents making them ready to tap.

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Escapes are essential tools to have when looking to round out your grappling. If no one can hold you down and no one can submit you, a lot of athletes are going to have trouble defeating you in combat.

These defensive techniques benefit your offense as well. Knowing how to get out of a position means that you know how to keep someone in that position as well. All in all, escapes are extremely important in order to defend yourself while drilling, sparring, or competing.

Mastering Escapes

What Do I Wear When Grappling?

Choosing the right attire for grappling is essential to ensure both comfort and functionality during training or competition. Many practitioners go for a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Gi, which consists of a jacket-like top and pants. The Gi offers multiple gripping opportunities, enhancing the technical aspects of grappling techniques.

If No-Gi training is preferred, which involves wearing shorts and a rash guard, the focus shifts towards speed and fluidity. Rash guards protect against friction, rashes, and potential skin infections, while shorts with minimal pockets prevent obstructions during grappling. Ultimately, the choice between Gi and No-Gi depends on personal preference, training goals, and the ruleset of the specific grappling style being practiced.

So where is the best place that you can invest in your BJJ attire? We have a few recommendations.

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Future Kimonos

Future kimonos are out go to brand right now. They have a great focus on creating unique and quality products. Their latest gi drop was surprisingly good, the gi is both light and stylish. They have a number of options to choose from but are a little more on the pricey side.


xMartial is a great choice for anyone looking for great designed gear. They are second to none in this category. They have a wide range of products to chooses from. If you are looking for a good looking pair of shorts, spats, or rash guard they have you covered. They do not offer Gi’s or belts!

Gold BJJ

Gold BJJ is the happy medium between to the two brands listed above. Gold BJJ have great quality products that are still in an affordable price range. They do have less options to choose from so if you are looking for a simple look, this is probably a great option to choose from!

Other options for BJJ gear are found here.

Essential BJJ Items

Get Started Training BJJ Today

BJJ is one of the greatest grappling martial arts you can get into! You can do it as a hobby, or even as a profession! Hundreds of people make a living off of competing and owning BJJ gyms around the world.

The sport has become so incredibly popular that it is super easy to sign up and try out your first class today at a local gym near you! Whether you are looking for a new hobby to have fun with or a competitive sport you want to excel in, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an incredible martial art to try out!

More than anything, Grappling is a gift. A gift that can be given to anyone willing enough to put in their precious time and effort to excel. Although these martial arts have become a huge part of competition in the world of combat sports, grappling is so much more than that. It’s about family, it’s about community, and it’s about bringing people together.