Grappling & Combat Grappling

Tuesday, 19. October 2010

Of the 3 pure combat skill sets that a fighter possesses (Grappling, Percussion and Weaponry) grappling seems to be getting a lot of attention nowadays.  A basic level of attention needs to be given to everything to make a well rounded fighter at least from the standpoint of having a defense against it.  Nobody wants to be picked apart by jabs, cut up by weaponry or pinned by something simple just because they’re entirely unfamiliar with it.  In a self defense situation it can easily mean your life hangs in the balance.

In this case I list grappling separate from combat grappling because even though they share the same skill set,   their application is quite a bit different.  Grappling as a study itself is very interesting;  it’s essentially the study of kinesiology.  How a body moves and equally important, how a body does not move.  What are the limitations of the joints, what are the limitations of the musculature, circulatory and nervous systems.

For a simple demonstration for those who are unfamilar; make a fist with either hand.  If you force the wrist inwards to its limit of travel (We’ll say 90 degrees but it varies obviously.)  it is physically impossible to hold the fist closed.  The setup of the musculature won’t allow it.   This is a simple methodology that is easily exploited for disarming someone or otherwise opening a grasp without causing serious damage.

I separated the 2 earlier based off of the ease of effect and how quickly the effect occurs in grappling.  The pins of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are absolutely devastating and beautiful at the same time.  Typically the execution of these takes some work and positioning to get to.  This combined with the fact the techniques are performed on the ground make them very limiting in a real fight or self defense situation. 

Try this for an experiment; next time you’re watching a UFC or MMA match, see how many times the fellow that’s being grappled could strike or grab at the eyes, throat or groin of their opposition before they finally got pinned.  There are more, but these are a limited number of obvious fight stoppers or at least grapple breakers.  You should see a lot of openings.  Next, put a short weapon in the persons hand such as a pocket knife or a screwdriver or an icepick.  How many openings are there now?  The list should explode exponentially as to the potentially damaging places that can be cut, pierced or struck.

For these simple facts a lot of the usable techniques aren’t nearly a usable as they might seem to be.   I realize there are masters out there who can pin people amazingly quickly.  You need to be wagering that you are a) one of them and b) the person you’re performing the grapple on has little defensive skills in this regard.  Otherwise you’re exposing yourself to the same risk.  As such we need to work towards something that takes effect immediately, something that dosen’t require that same amount of exposure while we are putting our target into position.  Typically this lends itself towards fast techniques, typically breaks or chokes after the target has been sufficiently softened up.

The purpose of this isn’t so much to teach technique, but rather to make you think about well roundedness as a fighter and the applicability of the techniques you are learning.  Just because something is applicable in the ring or for a movement study doesn’t mean it’s usable in a fight.  Likewise – how can you modify your technique to be usable in the same situation.  It’s something that takes time and practice, but is well worth considering and being ble to add to your repertoire.

Technorati Tags: ,

3 Responses to “Grappling & Combat Grappling”



  1. a shadow on the water Says:

    Good post. I’d say the same thing goes for striking and weapons too. I’ve seen people I knew to be competent *tournament* strikers get taken apart in conditions approximating those of a real fight (no limitation on targets, grappling and weapons allowed, multiple attackers, terrain and light variability, etc.) The difference has long been noted in both Western and Eastern schools of fencing too: fencing is one thing, fighting is another.

    Interestingly, the dissimilarity goes the other way too. I’ve seen people who are among the most competent fighters I know lose in the first round of a tournament to a relatively inexperienced opponent. Just as it’s hard to see openings and targets that aren’t on the tournament menu, it’s hard to take them off the menu when you know that they’re there. In either direction the speed with which a response can be deployed goes down proportionally to the thought that has to be expended in order to select or de-select a target, hold, move, or other technique.



  2. Grey Says:

    Oh, most definetely. You’ve stolen 2 of my later posts on the same topic! Hah.
    I’d say the self defense angle is a bigger problem however unless you’re making a living off of tournaments. Likewise, the attitude that can go along with it can be a major problem. It’s one thing to think you can get fight and get tore to pieces because of it and quite another to maintain some attempt at modesty and succeed when life throws curves.



  3. Stan Leung Says:

    Thanks for the awesome post!

Leave a Reply

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree