Submit, Subdue or Survive? | Which is best ground fighting style?

best ground fighting style
The world of the grappling arts is a fascinating one. It is so diverse and offers you a multitude of techniques. From arm locks, strangles chokes and cranks to leg locks, tendon poppers, stretchers and joint breakers. Whatever you’re grappling needs you will find something out there.
One problem facing novice grapplers is the question. ‘What system do I choose to train in?’ This can cause problems. In this day and age there are so many grappling systems and classes out there.
When I started training way back in 1975, you had Judo, Wrestling and Japanese Jujutsu. That was about it. Now we are spoiled for choice. Although in my opinion the previous mentioned arts are still hard to beat.
To the mix these days we can add Brazilian Jiu-Jiutsu. Russian Sambo, Japanese Shooto and MMA Style grappling amongst many others.
The question you really need to ask yourself is. ‘What do I want my grappling skills for?’
Do you want to compete on the mats wearing a gi?
Do you want to fight in the cage?
Do you want it for self defence?
Or do you want to enjoy grappling for its many different techniques and gain an understanding of how they function to round you out as a more complete martial Artist?
Once you know the answer you can then find the right class to train in. I have found over the years it is hard to pursue all the above mentioned. In my time I have done so, but it has taken a lot of years and incredible amounts of training and time on the mats.
In started training in Japanese Jujutsu in 1982. This was for combat and self defence and also belt grading purposes. Within this system are many sub-systems and hybrid spin offs.
I added to this elements of wrestling, BJJ, Sambo, Shooto, Judo, Submission Wrestling
best ground fighting style
and so on.
I fought and competed in Jujutsu kumite with a gi. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition with a gi. Submission wrestling (no gi). Full contact no rules fighting (anything went) and Amateur, Semi pro and Pro MMA.
All are very different from one another, although there are certain cross over’s along the way. When I got heavily involved in MMA or as it was then ‘Vale Tudo’, I realised I couldn’t keep up all my gi training. Some of it did compromise my MMA stuff. I personally don’t believe you need to be doing gi training to be good at MMA.
It is extremely tough to achieve a high level in both, unless you are prepared to devote a lifetime’s pursuit to it. Many people in this day and age do not have the dedication or inclination to do this. Or maybe indeed the time.
Mat time is precious so don’t waste it. As Bruce lee said.’ Absorb what is useful and disregard the rest.’ I tend to put what isn’t relevant on the back burner until I need to re-visit it.
If I am training guys for amateur MMA fighting, then I will stick to grappling in that format. Working on the high percentage submissions, pins and escapes etc. 99% of these matches end up grappling on the floor and submission wins.
If I am teaching Combat Jujutsu then I will throw in neck cranks, spinal twisters, pressure pints, gouges and other nasty stuff as I am not conforming to the rules. This sort of stuff is for self defence where you aren’t fighting for a ‘tap out’. You need to know the difference between mat contest, cage fighting and street grappling. Basically all the stuff that is illegal in MMA you need to bring back in and add to your arsenal if you’re up against it on the street.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow but a bite will negate most grappling holds. That is coming from a man who loves the grappling arts. But is also not blinkered by only submissions.
I remember many years ago at a Renzo Gracie seminar having a grappling match with one of his black belts. This was in the days where I was trying to make the transition from an all out combat street grappler into learning some Brazilian submission techniques.
best ground fighting style
We had a tough match that went on for about ten minutes. Eventually this black belt secured on me a triangle leg choke from mounted position. He cranked it on and said to me. 'You might as well tap, you won’t get out of this’. Now that sort of triggered my survival instincts and my old fighting mind frame burst into play and I bite him three or four times on the soft inner thigh. He screamed like a banshee and leapt off of me.
He shouted. ‘You can’t do that. That’s not in the rules!' He was well pissed off. Of course in the realms of a BJJ match it wasn’t in the rules and I will hold my hands up to it. But in my world of combat survival it worked and that’s all I was really worried about!
Usually what beats you in any fight is what you don’t see or what you don’t know.
There is no one superior grappling system no matter what an instructor will tell you. It is good to have an open mind and explore many but then try and refine what you need for your immediate goal. Don’t become a jack of all trades and master of none.
It’s got to be productive. Working hard doesn’t necessarily mean working productively?
If I am training a guy for an amateur MMA fight (no head shots). I will not be spending time working on boxing combos. They will be predominately grappling.
The same stands if you are going to have an MMA fight I will not be working gi grappling with you.
If you are training for a pure wrestling match you would be working takedowns and pins not submissions and so it goes.
If you came to me to learn grappling for self defence, I would concentrate on showing you how to hold an attacker down and pound them or choke them out bare handed, with their t-shirt, jacket or hoodie. Sprinkle this with some head butts, bites and gouges and you’re pretty much in good shape.
For a female there would be more benefit learning to work off her back in the guard, as it can simulate the ‘classic’ rape position than learning any fancy kickboxing moves.
It’s a matter of ‘horses for courses’.
I have been fortunate to ‘roll’ with some world class grapplers such as, Renzo Gracie, John Machado, Neil Adams and Erik Paulson to name but a few and I have taken valuable lessons from them all.
I also have learnt much from my ‘old school teachers’ like Dave Turton and Mickey Upham and their like. All solid and incredibly knowledgeable Combat Jujutsu men and fearsome street grapplers like the late and great Gary Spiers and Geoff Thompson and his ‘boys’.
I try to compartmentalise the various grappling techniques and strategies for play, competition or survival. You need to do the same thing to get the most out of your grappling experiences. Enjoy.
If you want to learn more about realistic street grappling then I recommend you purchase my book ‘Grappling with reality ‘. It covers in detail the major differences between competitive and street grappling. It shows many tactics and techniques to help you become more proficient in this area. Go to www.kevinohagan.com click products and go to books. Order now and I will get a signed copy out to you right away
About the Author:
Kevin O'Hagan has been training and teaching Martial Arts for 37 years at present. He holds the rank of 7th Dan Full Master’s level in Combat Ju Jutsu. He also holds black belt ranks in Japanese Jujutsu and Karate Jutsu.  

He is a senior self protection instructor with the British Combat Association and was recently inducted into Martial arts illustrated magazine ‘Hall of fame’. 
www.kevinohagan.com


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