Grappling is an essential component of mixed martial arts (MMA). It refers to techniques used to control, manipulate, and submit an opponent through clinching, holds, and throws. The goal of grappling is to gain a dominant position over the opponent and to either strike or submit them.

Grappling is a critical aspect of MMA because it allows a fighter to control the action on the ground. The sport of MMA is unique in that it incorporates elements from various martial arts styles, including striking, grappling, and submissions. However, grappling is what sets MMA apart from other combat sports, as it allows for a full range of movement and techniques in a fight.

This article will provide an in-depth look into what grappling is, its history, and its significance in MMA. It will cover the basics of grappling, various grappling techniques used in MMA, and how grappling shapes the sport as a whole. Whether you are a seasoned MMA veteran or just starting to explore the sport, this article will give you a comprehensive understanding of grappling and its role in MMA.

The History of Grappling in MMA

Grappling has a rich history that dates back to ancient times, where various grappling techniques were used in hand-to-hand combat. Over the centuries, grappling techniques have evolved and been refined in different martial arts styles.

The roots of grappling in MMA can be traced back to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), which was developed in the early 20th century. BJJ is a grappling-based martial art that emphasizes ground fighting and submissions. It quickly gained popularity and was soon adopted by other martial artists looking to enhance their grappling skills.

As MMA began to gain popularity in the 1990s, grappling became a key component of the sport. Early MMA fighters often came from backgrounds in wrestling, BJJ, judo, and other grappling-based martial arts. They brought these grappling techniques into the octagon and used them to dominate their opponents.

Over time, grappling techniques have continued to evolve in MMA, with fighters incorporating elements from different martial arts styles and adapting them to the sport. Today, grappling remains a crucial aspect of MMA, with fighters relying on grappling to control the action on the ground, set up strikes, and secure submissions.

The Basics of Grappling in MMA

Grappling in MMA involves the use of various techniques to control, manipulate, and submit an opponent. These techniques can be broken down into several key principles, including body control, leverage, and positioning.

Body control is one of the most important aspects of grappling. It involves using one’s body to control the opponent’s movements and maintain a dominant position. Good body control allows a fighter to effectively control their opponent and prevent them from escaping.

Leverage is another important aspect of grappling. It involves using one’s body weight and strength to gain an advantage over the opponent. By using leverage, a fighter can control their opponent’s movements and apply submissions more effectively.

Positioning is also a crucial component of grappling. It refers to the position a fighter takes relative to their opponent. Good positioning allows a fighter to control their opponent, apply strikes, and set up submissions. In grappling, the goal is to maintain a dominant position and prevent the opponent from gaining a superior position.

These principles are essential to understanding the basics of grappling and becoming a successful grappler in MMA.

Grappling Techniques in MMA

In MMA, there are several grappling techniques that fighters use to control their opponents and secure submissions. Some of the most common grappling techniques in MMA include Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), wrestling, Sambo, and Judo.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a grappling-based martial art that emphasizes ground fighting and submissions. It is known for its focus on leverage and technique, allowing a fighter to control their opponent and submit them even if they are physically smaller or weaker. BJJ has been a staple of MMA since its inception and remains a critical component of the sport.

Wrestling is another common grappling technique in MMA. It involves the use of throws and takedowns to control the opponent and secure dominant positions. Wrestling is known for its powerful takedowns and control on the ground, making it a valuable asset for MMA fighters.

Sambo is a Russian martial art that combines elements of wrestling and judo. It is known for its throws and submissions, and is used by many MMA fighters to enhance their grappling skills.

Judo is a Japanese martial art that focuses on throws and grappling. It is known for its emphasis on leverage and control, allowing a fighter to control their opponent and set up submissions.

There are several grappling techniques used in MMA, each with its unique strengths and weaknesses. Understanding different grappling techniques and how to use them effectively is crucial to becoming a successful grappler in MMA.

The Importance of Grappling in MMA

Whether you’re just starting out in MMA or are a seasoned veteran, improving your grappling skills is an ongoing process that requires dedication and hard work. Here are some tips for improving your grappling skills in MMA:

  1. Focus on Fundamentals: Start by mastering the basics of grappling techniques such as body control, leverage, and positioning. Focus on perfecting these fundamentals before moving on to more advanced techniques.
  2. Drill Regularly: Practicing grappling techniques regularly is crucial for improving your skills. Drill with partners, focus on repetition, and aim to perform each technique smoothly and efficiently.
  3. Train with Experienced Grapplers: Training with experienced grapplers can provide valuable insights and help you improve your grappling skills more quickly. Seek out training partners who are better than you and push yourself to learn from them.
  4. Cross-Train in Other Grappling Styles: Consider cross-training in other grappling styles such as wrestling, judo, or BJJ. Each style offers its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and cross-training can help you develop a more well-rounded grappling game.
  5. Focus on Conditioning: In order to perform grappling techniques effectively, you need to be in good physical shape. Focus on building your strength, endurance, and flexibility to ensure you are able to grapple effectively in fights.

Grappling is a critical component of MMA, and its importance cannot be overstated. From controlling the action in a fight to securing submissions, grappling skills are essential for success in the sport. By developing their grappling skills, fighters can become well-rounded and successful in the octagon.


Grappling is a critical aspect of MMA that every fighter should strive to master. By understanding the basics of grappling, developing your grappling skills, and incorporating grappling techniques into your training regimen, you can become a well-rounded and successful MMA fighter.