Grappling (also called submission wrestling or submission fighting) is a general term describing martial arts that focus on grappling to effect a submission (admission of loss) usually by means of chokes, joint locks, and other manipulations of the opponent's body by arms and legs. In fact, many combative sports have "submission" features, like judo, sambo, jiu jitsu, Brazilian jiu jitsu, Shooto modified wrestling, and many other grappling arts. Grappling is also the globalization of the many grappling arts from around the world into a single system, and can include techniques from a wide range of arts. Mixed martial arts schools and fighters may use "submission wresting" to describe their grappling methods while avoiding association with any one art. In other words, a grappling contest is no-hit fighting until submission of one of contestants. Unlike the "classical" wrestling forms (freestyle and Greek-Roman) in which takedown an opponent and pinning him/her is the main key for the victory, in grappling the main goal is to force an opponent to submit (to give in) or to make him/her not capable to continue the bout.
There are many different regional styles of grappling (submission wrestling) around the world that are practiced within a limited geographic area or country. Several grappling styles like Judo, Shoot wrestling, Catch wrestling, classic Jiu-Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Sambo, etc. have gained global popularity. Judo is an Olympic Sport while Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Sambo have their own World Championship Competitions. Other known grappling-oriented systems are shuai jiao, malla-yuddha, aikido, hapkido etc.
In these martial arts, the object is to take down and to catch the opponent in a specialized chokehold or joint lock which forces him or her to submit and admit defeat or be rendered helpless (unconscious or broken limbs). There are two forms of dress for grappling that dictate pace and style of action: with a jacket, such as a "gi" or kurtka, and without it - "no-gi". The jacket, or "gi", form most often utilizes grips on the cloth to control the opponent's body, while the "no-gi" form emphasizes body control of the torso and head using only the natural holds provided by the body. Most Brazilian jiu-jitsu competition require wearing jackets. Grappling techniques are also used in mixed martial arts along with striking techniques. Strikes can be used to set up grappling techniques and vice-versa.
There are several federations and organizations promoting various forms of grappling; each one has some particular features and distinctions:
British Grappling: an organisation that represents Grappling in the UK that was founded in 2010, and held its first ever Grappling Championships; British Open Grappling Championships in 2013.
ADCC (The ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship) is the most prestigious full range (takedown, position, and submission inclusive) grappling tournament in the world.
FILA (FILA Grappling) is a competition format used by FILA. Also called "submission wrestling" or "submission grappling", this discipline and sport consists of controlling the opponent without using striking, in standing position or on the ground after a throw.
The World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, also commonly called the Mundials (Portuguese for "Worlds"), is the most prestigious jacketed full range (takedown, position, and submission inclusive) grappling tournament in the world. The event also hosts a non-jacketed division (no-gi), but that sub-event is not as prestigious as ADCC in terms of pure non-jacketed competition.
NAGA (The North American Grappling Association) is an organization started in 1995 that holds Submission Grappling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments throughout North America and Europe. NAGA is the largest submission grappling association in the world with over 175,000 participants world-wide, including some of the top submission grapplers and MMA fighters in the world. NAGA grappling tournaments consist of gi and no-gi divisions. No-Gi competitors compete under rules drafted by NAGA. Gi competitors compete under standardized Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) rules. In fact, BJJ is considered as a form of grappling.
While a number of combative sports have maintained the great practices of throwing and pinning, until very recently, no event has single mindedly emphasized the great tradition of submission. Submission, over throwing or pinning, has now proven its value beyond dispute in Mixed Martial Arts competitions (style where techniques are used from different fighting styles and martial arts).
Classic wrestling inherited the traditional duel rituals (like pinning) from pre-historic times. Such rituals are popular among males when they mating. In such a contest the dominance revealed by putting an opponent on his/her back and holding him there is clear even at a mammalian level - an animal characteristically attempts to put its adversary on its back, exposing the weak underbelly.
Fights in grappling wrestling look quite differently from freestyle or Greek-Roman wrestling matches. Since none of opponent body positions (including the pin) guarantees a victory, a grappling match often lasts for a long while and runs tougher and more ferociously. Sometimes dragging out takes place while neither one manages to force an opponent to give in. One of the typical grappling techniques is so-called "scissors" - a clench waist or neck by thighs. Even a pinned wrestler may win by a firm "scissors". Freestyle and Greek-Roman wrestling styles seem to be more aesthetically beautiful, "elegant" and "nobly" whereas grappling seems to be more straight forward and "fierce". A Russian freestyle wrestler says that in order to win in grappling "you have to choke, break joints or inflict unbearable pain to an opponent" which she considers to be unacceptable in sports.
Beatrice Goffin is undoubtedly one of the pioneers of female submission wrestling. She was the first among few in number female amateur wrestlers who consistently developed the objective to wrestle until the submission rather than the pin. She started practicing wrestling in 1974 when it was a men only sport. She regularly met her female accomplices in her apartment in order to train and explore her newly found love of wrestling. In 1976 Beatrice and her husband formed Belgium's first female wrestling club “Les Lutteuses Rochefortoises” (The Female Wrestlers of Rochefort). The club was managed by Beatrice Goffin for almost 30 years until its closure in October, 2005. Goffin and her wrestlers traveled constantly doing private sessions and taking part in various events throughout Europe, as well as in United States. In fact, unlike men’s submission wrestling having a long history in world martial arts, female submission wrestling arose from private apartment wrestling for fun and as a means to stay fit. In fact, besides strong athletic line, early female submission wrestling also had strict entertaining (and even erotic) component (not without reason, several commercial video producers recorded female wrestling). However, Beatrice Goffin and other early female wrestling enthusiasts conclusively proved that women had stamina, strength, determination and tenacity for tough physical single combat in full contact until submission. Moreover, the female wrestling pioneers demonstrated well developed wrestling skills, including persistent ground grappling for obtaining a dominant position in effort to destroy the opponent’s will to resist and to force the opponent to submit. Despite commercial components in their performances, Beatrice Goffin and her colleagues broke with the tradition of burlesque professional wrestling and developed the real competitive ferocious female combat sport which eventually became widely popular among women all over the world. The submission wrestling style (which did not look too feminine) has become very popular among women which can be explained by several reasons. First, female lower body is much more powerful than the upper body, so a woman can effectively accomplish clenches, overturns and other techniques by thighs and legs. Besides, perhaps, for women conventionalities and rituals (like the pin or scores) make less importance than for men. Real females' dominance and control reveals when an opponent is explicitly suppressed and defeated, which should be obvious for everyone. That's probably why the submission style turned out to gain big popularity among women competing for fun or in self-organized contests.
One of the biggest promoters of grappling is the North American Grappling Association (NAGA) http://www.nagafighter.com/#intro. It holds male-male and female-female contests in grappling and mixed martial arts (no-hold barred fights). In some of the youth divisions, boys may be paired with girls if there are insufficient entrants to justify a separate division. Exceptional female grapplers can petition the Commissioner to compete in the male division. This may be granted in limited circumstances. Such fighters as Shannon Logan are definitely qualified.
Actually, the concept of the submission wrestling is similar to "no-hold barred" fighting (or mixed martial arts - MMA) but without striking.
NAGA has elaborated the most established and proved rules and terms of submission wrestling:
There are two age categories for girls: 11-13 and 14-16.
In some of the youth divisions, boys may be paired with girls if there are insufficient entrants to justify a separate division.
In some competitions, older female wrestlers also compete. Exceptional female fighters can petition the Commissioner to compete in the male division. This may be granted in limited circumstances.
Players are divided into any of several different categories, depending upon the number of players in the division. If there exist two weight divisions, women’s cutoffs are:
Lightweight (below 125lbs)
Heavyweight (125lbs plus)
The match is one period of four minutes in length for the Novice, Beginner, Women, Senior.
All female players, of all ages, have the option to wear an athletic breast protector. Female athletes must wear a sports bra at a minimum.
The purpose of a submission is not injury but concession of defeat (by an agreed-upon sign - by voice or by clapping).
- Players must apply holds in such a way as to cause their opponent to submit, but not to instantaneously injure the joint in question.
- Explicitly, the referee can disqualify a player, even after he/she has secured a submission, if the hold causes genuine injury, and was applied recklessly or with malice. In this case, obviously, the losing player will not continue.
- Even in the absence of an injury, the referee can caution, warn, or even disqualify the offending player.
Types of fouls
1. No striking of any kind is permitted.
2. No attacks are permitted to the front of the windpipe. Non-explosive, defensive pressure may be applied to the throat to effect an escape.
3. No attacks are permitted to the groin. Non-explosive, defensive pressure may be applied to the groin to effect an escape.
4. No pressure of any kind may be applied the opponent’s eye. This includes but is not limited to the fingers, chin, and elbow.
5. No small joint submissions can be applied to either the fingers or the toes. The fingers and toes can be grabbed for purposes of control or escape, but at least four digits must be manipulated at once. In no circumstances can a submission be applied to the fingers or toes, not even all at once.
6. No fish hooks may be attempted.
7. No biting is allowed, either offensively or defensively. If a player has secured a lock or is applying pressure across the other players face, the second player is responsible for keeping his/her teeth together in such a way that his/her teeth do not apply pressure to the opponent’s skin.
8. A player executing a takedown cannot bring his/her opponent to the mat in such a fashion as to cause injury. A player is expressly forbidden to bring another player down on his/her head. While the effectiveness of a slam is recognized and permitted, it cannot be in such a fashion that injury results. Note: Particularly in a Guard situation, the slammed player is encouraged to be responsible for protecting him(her)self, either by grabbing a leg, or by releasing the guard.
Serious athletic submission wrestling is close to Jiu-jitsu and to other combative sports including Mixed martial arts. Submission form of wrestling is also common in "friendly" matches between women and matches for taping for sale (see the section “Amateur wrestling”).
In submission wrestling scores for accomplished techniques are not counted and the position "pin" is neither special nor critical. For example, a pinned participant may catch the opponent's waist by "scissors" and overturn him/her gaining more advanced position or (if the opponent has a weak abdominal belt) even force him/her to give up remaining “pinned”. The most of contests are held until several submissions and a winner is one who has more of them. Contests often drag out by slow actions when contestants are wrestling in lying down position and catching their breath. Sometimes, a wrestler being on top is unable to achieve a submission for a long time (especially in entertaining contests). In the most cases a submission is forced by clutching a neck or a waist by legs (scissors), by a pain hold or by leaning heavily on the opponent's face in order to make breathing difficult. In friendly contests a submission might take place when one of wrestlers is tired or thirsty.
Unlike freestyle wrestling having standardized set of techniques and a pin as the main goal, some "violent" techniques are allowed in submission wrestling such as locks, scissors and sometimes chokes and pain holds. However, female “submissioners” are less technically skilled than "free-stylers" and the selection of really used techniques is relatively poor. Submission wrestling matches usually are more static than freestyle ones; “submissioners” are often involved in a long power withstanding on the ground. That’s why muscular and physically stronger wrestlers may have some advantages. This fact determines a body shape of a submissioner who has developed static musculature, especially in the lower body.
History of grappling
Beatrice Goffin in wrestling
"Golden Gate" match
Grappling in "Virago
Grappling in "Beka"
Grappling in "DWW"
Young girls grappling
in "Female Muscle"
in "Female Muscle"
Heavy Russian girls in wrestling
Scissors and neck hold
Grappling in standing