What is Grappling? – Unlocking the Secrets of Grappling in MMA

February 2, 2023
From: Spartacus
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When it comes to mixed martial arts (MMA), grappling is where it’s at! It’s all about taking down your opponent, holding them in place, and making them tap out. You know, like a boss! Grappling is a crucial piece of the MMA puzzle because it lets you call the shots when you’re on the ground. MMA is like a delicious stew, blending a variety of martial arts styles together. But grappling is like the special seasoning that makes it stand out from the rest!

In this article, we’re gonna dive deep into the nitty-gritty of grappling. We’ll look at its roots, its purpose, and why it’s so darn important in MMA. You’ll learn all about the different moves, holds, and throws that are used in grappling, and how they can make or break a fighter’s chances of winning. So, buckle up, buttercup, and get ready to learn all about the awesomeness that is grappling!

The History of Grappling in MMA

Did you know that grappling has been around since ancient times? That’s right! People have been using grappling techniques in hand-to-hand combat for centuries. From ancient gladiators to modern-day MMA fighters, grappling has been a key element in combat sports.

But let’s fast forward to the 20th century, where Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) came onto the scene. BJJ is a grappling-based martial art that focuses on ground fighting and submissions. It quickly gained popularity and became a cornerstone of MMA.

In the early days of MMA, fighters came from a variety of backgrounds, including wrestling, BJJ, judo, and other grappling-based martial arts. They brought their skills into the octagon and used them to dominate their opponents. And let me tell you, it was a sight to see!

But that’s not the end of the story, friends. Grappling in MMA continues to evolve and adapt to the sport. Fighters are always looking for new ways to incorporate different martial arts styles into their grappling game, and the results are mind-blowing!

Today, grappling is still a crucial component of MMA. Fighters use it to control their opponents on the ground, set up strikes, and secure submissions. It’s a beautiful thing to watch a skilled grappler in action, seamlessly moving from one position to another, all while keeping their opponent in check.

But trust us when we say that the story is far from over. As long as there are fighters stepping into the octagon, grappling will continue to evolve and amaze us with its awesomeness!

The Basics of Grappling in MMA

Grappling in MMA is not just about brute strength, but it involves a set of techniques that require a strategic approach to gain control over your opponent. These techniques are built on three fundamental principles that make grappling a unique and exciting part of the sport.

Body Control


First off, we have body control. This principle is all about using your body to control your opponent’s movements and limit their options for escape. An expert in grappling understands how to effectively control their opponent’s movements by utilising their own body, effectively limiting their opponent’s ability to mount an offence. This is akin to playing a game of chess, but with the human body serving as the pieces on the board!



Next up, we have leverage. This principle is all about using your body weight and strength to gain an advantage over your opponent. Think about it like this: you’re a small fighter going up against a larger opponent. By using leverage, you can control their movements and use their size against them. It’s like David vs. Goliath, but with grappling!



Lastly, we have positioning. This principle is all about where you position yourself in relation to your opponent. An accomplished fighter understands the importance of maintaining a position of dominance while simultaneously preventing their opponent from taking control of the fight. By effectively using their positioning, these fighters can set up both striking and submission opportunities, all while anticipating their opponent’s next move.

But it’s not just about the principles, folks. It’s about the thrill of the fight! When two skilled grapplers meet in the octagon, it’s like watching a dance between two predators. They move with such grace and precision, constantly looking for ways to gain control over their opponent. It’s like watching a high-stakes game of tug-of-war, but with bodies instead of a rope!

So the next time you watch an MMA fight, pay attention to the grappling. You might just be surprised at how much strategy and skill is involved!

Grappling Techniques in MMA

With a plethora of techniques to choose from, like joint locks, chokes, and takedowns, grapplers aim to control, manipulate, and subdue their opponents like a lion taming its prey. It’s a thrilling part of the sport that always keeps fans guessing what the next move will be, and which fighter will come out on top

Let’s talk about grappling techniques – the bread and butter of MMA. This is where fighters use their wits, strength, and skill to get up close and personal with their opponents, grappling and wrestling to gain the upper hand. Fighters use these moves to control and manipulate their opponents on the ground, setting them up for submission holds and victory! Let’s look at them-

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), the grappling technique that turns people into ground-dwelling submission machines! BJJ focuses on using technique and leverage instead of pure strength, so it’s a great martial art for people of all shapes and sizes. You’ll learn how to control your opponents and submit them using a variety of techniques, like chokes, joint locks, and positional control moves.

In the world of MMA, BJJ is a vital component of a fighter’s skill set. Being able to control and submit someone on the ground can give you a big advantage in a fight. And if you’re looking to up your grappling game, BJJ training involves drilling and sparring against other practitioners.

BJJ also has a belt ranking system, which lets you track your progress as you develop your skills. So come on and join the BJJ fun – you might just surprise yourself with what you can achieve!



Wrestling is the granddaddy of all grappling techniques in the world of MMA. It’s been around for ages, way back when cavemen were fighting over who got the biggest chunk of mammoth meat. Today, it’s a sport that’s enjoyed all around the globe, from the sweaty mats of amateur tournaments to the big leagues of professional wrestling.

When you wrestle, you’re not just trying to win a match, you’re mastering the art of domination. You learn how to take your opponent down to the mat with the finesse of a ninja, and then keep them there with the strength of a gorilla. It’s a workout that’ll make you sweat, but it’ll also make you feel like a total badass.

One of the coolest things about wrestling is the takedowns. You get to surprise your opponent with moves they never saw coming. It’s like playing chess, but with your whole body. So if you want to become a grappling master, put on your wrestling shoes and get ready to rumble!



Sambo – the martial art and combat sport that packs a punch! This tough guy originated in the Soviet Union in the early 1920s and is a combination of judo, wrestling, and various grappling styles. The name “Sambo” is an acronym for “SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya,” which sounds like a sneeze, but actually means “self-defence without weapons” in Russian.

With a focus on throws, takedowns, joint locks, and chokes, Sambo is all about controlling your opponent and bringing them to their knees. Literally. It’s not just about stand-up fighting, either. Sambo includes ground fighting techniques like those in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so you can get up close and personal with your foe. It’s also influenced the development of modern MMA, so you know it’s legit. So go ahead and try out Sambo – it’s self-defence without weapons, and a whole lot of fun!



Judo teaches you how to use your opponent’s strength and momentum to your advantage, like a ninja hiding in the shadows, waiting for the right chance. It’s not just about throws and pins, you also get to try joint locks and chokes, giving your opponent no choice but to tap out and say “yokes!”

If you want to compete, Judo’s got you covered, with points scored for throws and pins, just like any other sport lover. And if you’re a fan of the Olympics, then you’ll be glad to know that Judo is recognized, for both men and women, so don’t let your passion be diminished!

Catch Wrestling 


Catch wrestling is all about taking down your opponent with submissions and techniques that can be used in real-life self-defence situations.

To master catch wrestling, you need to control your opponent’s body with leverage and pressure. This means using takedowns, pins, and submissions to keep them in check. Catch wrestlers are known for being adaptable and using a variety of techniques to come out on top.

But that’s not all – catch wrestling also puts a huge emphasis on physical conditioning and mental toughness. Train hard and you’ll develop the endurance, strength, and resilience needed to dominate in the ring. 

Greco Roman


Greco-Roman wrestling is like no other, originating from France and spreading all over the world. It’s the real deal, baby! And guess what? It’s also an Olympic sport! Now, in Greco-Roman wrestling, you gotta bring your A-game, because you can only use your upper body. No fancy footwork, no tripping, just pure upper body strength and technique. That’s what makes it so hardcore and intense!

The aim of the game is to throw your opponent onto their back and pin them down like a champ. If you can do that, you win, baby! And if you can’t, don’t worry, because the wrestler with the most points at the end of the match still wins the title.

Understanding these different grappling techniques and how to use them effectively is crucial to becoming a successful grappler in MMA. It takes years of training and practice to master these techniques, but the rewards are worth it. A skilled grappler can control the fight and submit their opponent, making them a force to be reckoned with in the octagon.

The Importance of Grappling in MMA

If you’re looking to level up your grappling skills in MMA, there are some tips and tricks you can try that will make your training sessions more efficient and effective.

To begin with, it’s important to focus on mastering the fundamentals of grappling techniques such as body control, leverage, and positioning. These are the building blocks of successful grappling and will give you a solid foundation to build upon.

Once you have the basics down, drilling regularly is key to improving your skills. Repetition is the mother of skill, so focus on perfecting each technique, and aim to execute them smoothly and efficiently. Practising with partners will also help you hone your skills and get the muscle memory required for a successful grappling game.

Training with more experienced grapplers is another great way to learn and improve your grappling skills. You’ll gain valuable insights and knowledge from those who have more experience, and you can learn from their techniques and strategies. Seeking out training partners who are better than you and pushing yourself to learn from them will go a long way in developing your grappling game.

Cross-training in other grappling styles such as wrestling, judo, or BJJ can also help you become more well-rounded in your grappling game. Each style has its unique strengths and weaknesses, and by training in multiple styles, you can develop a broader range of techniques and strategies to draw from.

At Spartacus MMA, we have some of the best grapplers in the world, and we take pride in showcasing their skills in the cage. Spartacus MMA provides a platform for fighters to showcase their grappling skills and compete against some of the best in the world. As a fan of MMA or someone who is just getting into the sport, it’s important to understand the role that grappling plays in fights. By watching fights from promotions like Spartacus MMA and studying the techniques used by top fighters, you can gain a deeper understanding of the sport and what it takes to be successful in the cage.

Last but not least, focus on your conditioning. Grappling requires a lot of physical strength, endurance, and flexibility. Therefore, regular exercise and conditioning will help you perform grappling techniques effectively and efficiently, both in training and during fights.


Grappling is an exciting and dynamic aspect of MMA that requires a combination of skill, technique, and physical ability. By mastering the basics of grappling techniques such as body control, leverage, and positioning, and consistently drilling and practising these techniques, fighters can develop a strong grappling game that will serve them well in the octagon.

It’s important to remember that grappling is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Different styles of grappling, such as BJJ, wrestling, Sambo, and Judo, each offer unique strengths and weaknesses, and fighters should consider cross-training in different styles to develop a well-rounded game.

Furthermore, conditioning and physical fitness play a crucial role in grappling, and fighters should focus on building strength, endurance, and flexibility to ensure they can perform grappling techniques effectively.

In addition to physical skills, mental strength and strategy are also important in grappling. By studying your opponent’s tendencies and weaknesses, and developing a strategic approach to grappling, you can gain a significant advantage in the octagon.


What is grappling in MMA?

Grappling in MMA is like the unsung hero of the octagon. While striking gets all the glory with its flash and bang, grappling is where the rubber meets the road. We’re talking takedowns, ground control, and submission holds that can make even the toughest opponent scream “uncle!” It’s like chess, only you’re using limbs instead of pawns, and every move could be a checkmate!

Why is grappling important in MMA? 

Grappling is the tool you didn’t know you needed until you’re on your back gasping for air. It’s the Swiss Army knife of MMA; it’s multi-functional! You can use it to tire out your opponent, to dodge those deadly strikes, or even to set up a submission that’ll end the fight right then and there. It adds a whole new layer of strategy that turns brawls into tactical masterpieces.

How does Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fit into MMA grappling?

If grappling is the cake, then Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the frosting that makes it irresistible! BJJ specialises in the nitty-gritty of ground fighting. We’re talking arm locks, chokes, and leg traps that can end a fight faster than you can say “Jiu-Jitsu.” It’s the go-to discipline for anyone looking to become a ground-game virtuoso. Without BJJ, your MMA grappling game is like a guitar without strings, baby!

Can wrestling be used effectively in MMA?

Wrestling is like the trusty old pickup truck of MMA grappling; it might not be glamorous, but darn it, it gets the job done! Focusing on takedowns and ground control, wrestling teaches you how to be the boss in the ring. It’s like real estate—location, location, location! Control where the fight goes, and you control the fight. Plain and simple!

What are some basic principles of grappling? 

Alright, so you’re ready to be a grappling genius? Remember these three magic words: Body Control, Leverage, and Positioning. Body control is all about knowing what your limbs are doing and making them work for you. Leverage is your best friend when you’re smaller or weaker; it’s like the slingshot that took down Goliath! And positioning? That’s the Holy Grail. Get in the right spot, and you’re golden; mess it up, and you’ll be tapping faster than a Morse code message.

What is a submission hold?

Ah, the submission hold, the pièce de résistance of grappling! Imagine you’ve got your opponent in such a precarious position that they have no option but to tap out, admitting defeat. Whether it’s an armbar, a choke, or a leg lock, a submission hold is the grand finale that steals the show.

Is strength crucial in grappling?

Now, you might think you’ve got to be built like a tank to excel in grappling, but that’s not the gospel truth! While strength can help, it’s all about technique, my friend. It’s like the old saying goes: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

How can you practise grappling safely?

Safety’s the name of the game, compadre. When practising grappling, use mats to cushion those falls, and never, I mean NEVER, go full-force when you’re just practising. Train with someone who knows the ropes, so you’re not stepping on a landmine without knowing it.

Is grappling effective in fights?  

While I wouldn’t go picking fights down at your local watering hole, if push comes to shove, grappling can be a lifesaver. It’s all about neutralising the threat and controlling the situation without causing permanent harm. In street fights, you never know what’ll come your way, so being able to grapple can mean the difference between walking away and being carried away.

How do I get started in MMA grappling?

Want to be the next grappling guru? First off, find a reputable gym with qualified instructors. You want to learn from the best to be the best, capiche? And remember, practice makes perfect; so put in those hours on the mat, always keep learning, and before you know it, you’ll be the one making opponents tap out!

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