Submission wrestling

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For other uses, see Wrestling

Submission wrestling is a term used to refer to a martial art and combat sport, a family of martial arts, a group of combat sports, and an aspect of martial arts in general focused on grappling in the clinch and ground ranges with the goal of defeating an opponent through the use of submission hold. In reference to the martial art and combat sport, this generally implies the absence of [gi]s and the prohibition of grabbing clothing, although this is not true in reference to the family of martial arts or group of combat sports.

Submission wrestling meanings

The term "submission wrestling" is often used with a number of different meaning. In addition, other terms like submission fighting, submission grappling, and grappling are used to refer to meanings that are also associated with submission wrestling. As there is no consensus for general use, and terms are often confused and conflated.

Submission wrestling as a generic martial art

Some martial arts schools, particularly mixed martial arts schools, use "submission wrestling" to refer to the submission grappling skillset while avoiding association with a single art like Brazilian jiu-jitsu or judo.

Submission wrestling as a strategy in MMA

Submission wrestling is also sometimes used to refer to the strategy in MMA focusing on using submission wrestling skills to win a fight.

Submission wrestling as a sport

The term "submission wrestling" used to refer to the single sport implies two wrestlers vying for a submission hold on the other, through the use of grappling, with no striking allowed. Generally, this usage also implies a prohibition on grabbing clothes and an absence of gis.

One prominent submission wrestling venue is the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC), drawing competitors from around the world. A well-known regional venue is the North American Grappling Association (NAGA).

Submission wrestling has been accepted as an amateur sport of its own within the jurisdiction of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) under the name "Grappling". The World Grappling Committee, including grappling authorities such as Renzo Gracie, will govern the style within the FILA umbrella. The World Grappling Committee is charged with sponsoring and promoting amateur tournaments under the International Olympic Committee banner, in contrast with pre-established events such as the Abu Dhabi Combat Club which do not qualify as strictly amateur organizations.

Although FILA refers to submission wrestling as "Grappling", a usage also commonly found in judo, the term "submission wrestling" in this context is far more common, as grappling holds a number of alternate meanings.

Submission wrestling as a family of martial arts and group of combat sports

Submission wrestling sometimes refers to a family of martial arts and related group of combat sports that are focused on the use of submission grappling.

  • Brazilian jiu-jitsu: Commonly practiced in America and Brazil, this art can be practiced with or without a gi.
  • Catch wrestling: The original style of submission wrestling taught in America. It is experiencing a resurgence during recent years.
  • Judo: A Japanese martial art emphasizing throws using a gi jacket, but also possessing a well developed groundfighting system. Judo submissions focus on arm locks and a variety of chokes.
  • Jujutsu: "Jujutsu" refers to many systems of self defense, some of which emphasized unarmed combat and grappling.
  • Luta Livre: The form of wrestling native to Brazil.
  • Sambo: A Russian combat system partly derived from judo. Instead of using chokes, most Sambo schools emphasize joint locks.
  • Shoot wrestling: A Japanese martial art which uses catch wrestling as a base. The two major sub-disciplines of Shoot wrestling in America are Shooto and Shootfighting.


Submission wrestling as an activity generally involves grappling in the clinch, movement into the ground range, establishment of a dominant position, and then application of a submission hold, although this does not always happen.

  • Clinch grappling
    • Tie-ups
    • Takedowns
      • Lower-body takedowns / shots
      • Throws / upper-body takedowns
  • Ground grappling
    • Positional dominance
    • Positional transitioning
    • Submission holds