Why learning different grappling styles will help with Brazilian jiu-jitsu

An interesting read from the minds at BJJ Eastern Europe today about how learning grappling skills, i.e. wrestling, can help Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners grow in their practice:

Some of the most prominent figures in the martial arts community did it. Bruce Lee just loved to learn anything related to martial arts. The Gracies had quite a long love affair with Olympic wrestling. The Ribeiro brothers have long been training with a judo star Flavio Canto (who has learnt a lot of his newaza game with the Ribeiros). Erik Paulson, Marcelo Garcia, I could go on for a while. If that doesn’t convince you, here are some more arguments for mixing it up a little.

1) Different emphasis
The main emphasis in BJJ is the ground game. That’s why some gyms, especially those competition oriented ones, don’t put enough emphasis on the stand-up game (takedowns and throws). There is never enough time for it and there is no incentive, since you can be a world champion and not execute a single throw pulling guard instead. Some judo or wrestling training will open your eyes to a different aspect of grappling fight and teach you how to throw somebody and instantly apply an arm bar, get side control. Sambo, on the other hand, is great for finishing up your takedown with some nasty leg lock.

2) Different dynamics
Those of you, who started their grappling journey in a BJJ class will know what I mean – you try to apply you best technique you have spent so much time drilling against a judoka. And to your surprise he is able to resist. A typical mental excuse for a jiujiteiro would be „he is too athletic” (is there even anything like that?), or „he is just using too much strength”. Well guess what, the fight is sometimes about strength, timing, explosiveness. Concepts that a BJJ practitioner doesn’t always pay enough attention to, because as the saying goes „technique conquers everything”. Cross-training with other grapplers, especially Olympic wrestlers or judokas, might open your eyes to the importance of these aspects of your game.

3) Different techniques
BJJ in its emphasis on ground game techniques has brought them to the level of complete mastery. But that doesn’t mean other grappling styles have nothing to offer in that department.

Besides, even with the same techniques, there are some details that we can learn from fellow grapplers. Sambo has great leg locks executed right after a takedown. Catch wrestling and luta livre- cranks and heel hooks that you may never learn in BJJ because they are illegal.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu authorities have gradually banned techniques that are potentially dangerous making our sport safer to train and compete in. That’s what Jigoro Kano did and it’s a good thing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn some dirty tricks even if it’s for learning’s sake.

4) Humbleness
Last but not least is the lesson in humbleness. You know what I mean if you…
… have always trained in the GI and got your butt kicked the first time you participated in a NOGI class;
… have been focusing on the ground game and your judoka/wrestler friend throws you around like a rag-doll;
… were a successful purple belt competitor and after being promoted to brown belt you learnt the usefulness of leglocks (and you learnt it the painful way);
… you drilled your favorite trick for weeks and discovered it wouldn’t work against a stronger judoka or wrestler because „they are too athletic”;
… you only train BJJ and went to your first MMA class…

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