Submission Wrestling 101: Tips & Techniques

Submission wrestling is a form of grappling that focuses on submission holds, rather than striking. This can be a great martial art to learn if you're looking for a self-defense system that allows you to control your opponent without causing serious injury. It has been made famous by professional wrestling and mixed martial arts competition but even beginner martial arts practitioners can enjoy its benefits

In this blog post, we'll discuss some tips and techniques to help you become a successful submission wrestler. Keep in mind that practice makes perfect, so don't be afraid to get out on the mat and give it your all!

Submission Wrestling: Beginner Tips

There are several submission wrestling tips and Brazilian jiu-jitsu techniques you can use during your training or on the martial art mats.

While some of these may be obvious to expert submission wrestlers or BJJ practitioners with a black belt, these can be a paradigm shift for grappling beginners. Here are some quick submission wrestling tips and techniques to keep in mind when training for ground fighting:

  • Stay calm, breathe evenly, and focus on executing the technique.
  • Stay out of reach from your opponent's legs by staying lower than them or keeping one leg between you and their upper body. This reduces the chance for a kick or knee to the head.
  • Use your hips and leverage to apply submission holds.
  • When defending against a submission, always try to keep the hold as far away from your body as possible. This will help you to maintain control and prevent the submission from being completed.
  • Be aware of your training partners. Certain BJJ submissions (i.e. a Kimura) can be very dangerous and should not be used with full aggression against submission wrestlers that haven't learned when to tap out in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected. In submission wrestling, anything can happen and you need to be ready for it.

These submission wrestling tips and techniques will help you to better control your opponent on the mats and give you an advantage in competition. Remember to always practice safe techniques and be aware of your surroundings when training.

Submission Wrestling: Basic Techniques

It can be difficult to describe with just words what these techniques look like and the proper positioning of limbs to ensure the effectiveness of these submission wrestling moves.

That's why Submission Shark suggests that you learn in person from a qualified instructor. You can learn through videos on Youtube if you'd like or explore other helpful combat submission wrestling resources such as BJJ fanatics or Gracie University.

This article is a helpful overview of the terms and a starting point for BJJ beginners or submission wrestling novices to explore and dive deeper into. Subscribe to the Submission Shark e-mail newsletter as we will begin to share free videos to support the School of Sharks articles.

1. Grip Fighting For Submission Wrestling

- The two most common grips in combat submission wrestling are the over-under grip and the double under hooks. 

- To control your opponent, you need to maintain a strong grip on them at all times. 

Grip Fighting In Submission Wrestling (BJJ)

Why Are Grips So Important In Martial Arts Grappling?

- The most important reason that grips are so important is because doing so creates a positional dominance over your opponent. Proper grips also allow you to control how your opponent moves for both offensive and defensive purposes.  It is a fundamental principle in Submission wrestling and other common forms of martial arts.

If you're training or competing in a combat submission wrestling tournament such as judo or Brazilian jiu jitsu, gripping the combat kimono or gi is fair game.

2. Submission Wrestling Positioning: Over-Under Hooks

How To Obtain The Over Under Grip & Why It Is So Important For Submission Wrestling: To obtain the over/under grip you need to grab an opponent's arm on the opposite side of where your head is placed. You want to grab their wrist with your hand. 

3. Submission Wrestling Positioning: Double Under hooks

How To Obtain The Double Under hooks & Why It Is So Important For Submission Wrestling: Grabbing your opponent's arms and placing them under your armpits is called the double under hooks grip. This allows you to control and restrict your opponent's movements. 

Double under hooks is a common move for sport grappling and you may have even seen this in professional wrestling as well. Wrestling coaches may describe the battle to gain this dominant position as 'swimming' for under hooks 

The Importance of Posture In Brazilian jiu jitsu

Posture is essential for martial arts like combat submission wrestling. That's why Submission Shark has created a complete guide jiu jitsu practitioners. Submission fighting is a larger sport setting and we focus on the one art of BJJ in the helpful resource above.

5. Controlling The Center: Passing The Guard & Escaping From The Guard

  • When you are on top and controlling your opponent, always focus on pinning them down and not allowing them to make any space between the two of you.
  • Even if you're pinned against the bottom man's chest, he can still use his leg strength to push you off of him.
  • Make sure that you're in control by using your upper body strength and securing yourself in a dominant position.

Why You Need To Control The Space Between You & Your Opponent When On Top:

  1. Prevents the bottom man from being able to relieve any pressure by giving up his back.
  2. Prevents the bottom man from using his leg strength to push you off of him. 
  3. Gives you space in order to punch, pass guard, and transition into a submission hold if necessary.

6. Submission Grappling Escapes

When your opponent has you in a submission hold, it's important to know how to escape and get back to a neutral position. If your opponent has you in a bad position, try sweeping them off their feet and taking back control of the match.  This is a common move to learn in Brazilian jiu jitsu and is often taught at beginner levels.

Submission Grappling Escape 101: Shrimping

Shrimping (BJJ Move) ~ Submission Wrestling

Another common escape is the hip-escape or 'shrimping'. This is when you use your stomach muscles to wriggle backward on the mat, underneath your opponent's hips. When you feel your feet touch the floor, place them against your opponent's hips and push hard. This will create distance between you and your adversary, enabling you to stand up or perform another technique.

7. Submission Wrestling Attacks:

The term submission wrestling wouldn't be quick complete without the attacks (submission) Here are the main forms of submission wrestling attacks.

8.Chokes & Strangles

One of the quickest ways to win a martial arts match is by choking or strangling your opponent into submission

There are many types of chokes in submission wrestling such as the Rear Naked Choke, Guillotine Choke, D'arce Choke etc.

8. Armlocks & Leglocks

Another way to submit your opponent is by locking their arms or legs in position that forces the opponent to submit due to pain or potential for injury. Martial arts such as catch wrestling, greco roman wrestling, freestyle wrestling and shoot wrestling can often place practitioners into uncomfortable positions but joint locks is what distinguishes submission wrestling with other forms of wrestling.

Submission Wrestling: Armlocks

Submission Wrestling ~ Armlocks

Some armlocks include Americanas, Kimuras and wrist locks.

Americanas: Start in the closed guard and lock your hands behind your opponent's head. Now grab your own wrist and push the arm down, away from you. The arm should be bent at the elbow pointing towards your opponent's head.

Next, pull your wrist back towards yourself and push your shoulder upwards. You can now slide your other arm over the top of your opponent's arm and grab under their chin. Finish by squeezing with both arms.

Submission Shark ~ BJJ Techniques

Kimura: Start in the closed guard and lock your hands behind your opponent's head. Now grab your own wrist and push the arm down, towards your opponent's waist.

The arm should be bent at the elbow pointing downwards to your left side. Next, pull your wrist back towards yourself, bring your shoulder up and push your arm further over your opponent's body. Finish by squeezing with your arms.

Submission Wrestling: Leg Attacks

The two basic and most popular leg locks submissions are the Straight Ankle Lock and the Kneebar.

  1. The Straight Ankle Lock is a move that will hyperextend your opponent's leg, which is extremely painful.
  2. The Kneebar utilizes the shin bone to put extreme pressure on your opponent's knee, which can cause it to break.
Submission Wrestling Kneebar

There are many other lower body submissions and joint locks such as Heel Hooks and Toe Holds, but these are less common and can be more difficult to set-up.

9. Submission Fighting: Mounted Position & Back Control

- A mounted position occurs when your opponent is laying flat on their back and you're sitting on top of them.

- The bottom man can escape from the mounted position by bridging his hips, turning over to his stomach and pushing off the ground with both hands.

- It's important to remember that back control is a dominant position so you shouldn't let your opponent turn over.

10. Combat Submission Wrestling: Prevention

Preventing yourself from being in bad situations can be your best form of defense both on the streets and in professional submission fighting.

Here are some quick ideas on submission wrestling prevention:

  • When you're on the bottom, tucking your chin into your chest and holding onto both of their wrists (or one wrist and one arm if they are using one of your arms to pin you down) is the best way to stay safe.
  • When on the bottom, keep both legs in between your opponent's legs at all times.
  • If your feet are on the mat, you can push off of them to give yourself some space if you're pinned underneath your opponent.
  • If you feel the bottom man begin to push off of the mat using his feet, use one leg like a spring to immediately sweep him off his feet.
  • If you're in the bottom man's guard, keep your elbows in close and keep a high guard. This will prevent your opponent from grabbing your head or neck to attempt a submission.
  • If you're in the bottom man's half guard, you need to be aware of your hip positioning. The closer you are to his head, the more dangerous it is for you because he could transition into a Kimura or Americana.
  • If you're in the bottom man's deep half guard, try to get your hips closer to his head and your legs out of his control. Keep one leg against the mat and the other leg on the outside to prevent him from transitioning into a Kimura.
  • If you're the bottom man in open guard, keep kicking your opponent off of you and pushing his head away so he can't try to lock in a guillotine choke.
  • If you're the bottom man, don't overcommit to your submissions or sweeps because your opponent can easily counter them.

11. 3 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Strategies: Offense

If you notice your opponent tiring out, try to go for submissions once again. You'll be surprised by the number of people who submit their opponents when they're exhausted.

If you're on top and your opponent is tired, go for a collar choke and he'll probably tap out.

If your opponent attempts to get away from you when you're on top, turn over his hip with your knee, step over his body with the leg that's on the same side as you're holding his head with and get into a mounted position.

Submission Wrestling 101 Conclusion

In this blog post, we discussed some basic tips and techniques to help you get started on becoming a successful submission wrestler. Remember that practice makes perfect, so don't be afraid to get out on the mat and give it your all. Brazilian jiu jitsu and other martial arts can take time to learn. Be patient and consistent and learn to enjoy the journey with the flow state.

Submission wrestling brings many martial arts together to create the term submission wrestling. Experiment with other arts and grappling methods like shoot wrestling, Greco roman wrestling, Brazilian jiu jitsu, catch wrestling, judo, luta livre, combat wrestling, and even muay thai clinching. This is especially important if your aspirations involve competing in combat sports like mixed martial arts.

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