mixed martial arts & fitness

What is Grappling?

Grappling refers to techniques, maneuvers, and counters applied to an opponent in order to gain a physical advantage, such as improving relative position, escaping, submitting, or injury to the opponent. Grappling is a general term that covers techniques used in many disciplines, styles and martial arts that are practiced both as combat sports and for self-defense. Here at WNY MMA & Fitness of Buffalo, NY we focus on two main grappling arts: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & Wrestling


Grappling most commonly does not include striking or the use of weapons. Grappling techniques can be broadly subdivided into Clinch fighting, Takedowns and Throws, Submission holds, Pinning and Controlling Techniques, and Sweeps, Reversals, Turnovers, and Escapes.

Clinching: takes place with both competitors on their feet using various clinch holds applied to the upper body of the opponent. Clinch work is generally used to set up or defend against throws or takedowns.


Takedowns: A takedown is used by one grappler to manipulate his opponent from a position where both are initially standing, to a position on the ground. The grappler completing the takedown aims to end on top of the opponent in a position of relative control.


Throws: A throw is a technique in which one grappler lifts or off-balances his opponent and maneuvers him forcefully through the air or to the ground. The purpose of throws varies among the different disciplines of grappling with some emphasizing throws with the potential to incapacitate the opponent, while leaving the thrower standing, or to gain a takedown or controlling position.


Sprawling: A sprawl is a defensive technique done usually when the opponent attempts a takedown. It is performed by shifting the legs backwards and spread out in one fast motion. If done correctly one will land on their opponent's back and gain control.


Submission holds: There are generally two types of submission holds: those that would potentially strangle or suffocate an opponent (chokes), and those that would potentially cause injury to a joint or other body part (locks). In sport grappling or MMA, a competitor is expected to submit, either verbally or by tapping the opponent, to admit defeat when he is caught in a submission hold that he cannot escape. Competitors who refuse to "tap out" risk unconsciousness or serious injury.


Securing or Controlling Techniques: A pin involves holding an opponent on his back in a position where he is unable to attack. In some styles of competitive grappling a pin is an instant victory, and in other styles it is considered a dominant position that is rewarded with points. Other controlling techniques are used to hold an opponent face down on the ground or on all fours in order to prevent an escape or attack. Either of these types of technique may also be used as a prelude to a submission hold.


Escapes: In a general sense, an escape is accomplished by maneuvering out of danger or from an inferior position; for example when a grappler who is underneath side control moves to guard or gets back to a neutral standing position, or when a grappler is able to maneuver out of a submission attempt and back to a position where he is no longer in immediate danger of being submitted.


Reversals or Sweeps: These occur when a grappler who was underneath his opponent on the ground is able to maneuver so that he gains a top position over his opponent.