Submission wrestling is a type of martial art that has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is often referred to as “no-gi” or “grappling” and involves using grappling techniques such as joint locks, chokes, holds, and throws.
Submission wrestling focuses on controlling an opponent through the use of these maneuvers rather than striking them with punches or kicks. Submission wrestlers are typically trained to be highly aware of their opponents’ movements so they can anticipate and counter any attempted submissions.
This guide will provide you with an overview of submission wrestling including its history, basic techniques, competition rules, and safety tips for training. With this knowledge in hand, you’ll be ready to start your journey into the world of submission wrestling!
Table of Contents
What Is Submission Wrestling?
Submission Wrestling is a grappling-only discipline in which an athlete competes on the ground with the opponent attempting to submit him/her by using various holds such as chokes, armlocks, and leg locks.
Submission Wrestling is a well-respected sport that requires great amounts of training and dedication from the athletes who compete in it. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, catch wrestling, Sambo, and freestyle wrestling are probably the main styles from which Submission Wrestling has evolved.
Submission Wrestling History and Facts
The term ‘Submission Wrestling’ itself has been used for the first time in 1985 by a Japanese organization called Universal Fighting-Arts Organization (UFO). That year ten athletes competed in a single-elimination tournament with Kazuhiro Kusayanagi emerging victorious.
In 1993, another style named Combat Wrestling was born from the idea to make the sport easier to understand by spectators.
In 1995, the name Submission Wrestling was used for the first time outside Japan when French fighter Christophe Leininger described his fighting style as a mixture of Catch Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, and Shootfighting.
In 1997, the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) recognized Submission Wrestling as an official wrestling discipline even though it didn’t have many rules yet.
In 1998, two major events occurred: on one hand the United States Grappling Association (USGA) was created, and on the other hand Submission Wrestling opened its official rules that were later modified in 1999.
What Is Combat Submission Wrestling?
Combat Submission Wrestling (CSW) is a grappling-only discipline in which an athlete competes with the goal of submitting their opponent as fast as possible. The rules allow athletes to fight both standing up and on the ground, including ground fighting techniques close to submission wrestling.
This fact makes CSW very similar to Mixed Martial Arts. Combat Wrestling was born in 1994 and although it is a relatively young discipline, CSW has become very popular among submission wrestling fans.
In combat, submission wrestling fighters can use any type of hold they want, including strikes on the ground with fists, knees, or elbows. In fact, CSW events include both grappling and striking competitions held on the same day.
What Is No-gi Submission Wrestling?
No-Gi Submission Wrestling is a grappling-only discipline in which athletes compete without the kimonos typical of jiu-jitsu. In No-Gi, both chokes and leg locks are allowed.
No-Gi Submission Wrestling is very similar to Combat Wrestling but it also includes some techniques from the world of Mixed Martial Arts.
No-Gi Submission Wrestling was born in 2004 and it’s gaining popularity, especially among grapplers that want to add some variety to their training.
Submission Wrestling Holds and Moves
Submission Wrestling hold types are the same used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. No-Gi Submission Wrestling, on the other hand, allows athletes to use both chokes and leg locks.
With the goal of making Submission Wrestling more accessible to the fans, the FILA created in 1999 an official list of techniques that can be used to score points. The following Submission Wrestling moves are allowed in FILA competitions:
– Armbar – The fighter starts from a top mount position. He forces his opponent to face down and traps one arm between his biceps and thighs. The fighter controls
– Choke (only when the opponent is in a lying position)
– Neck crank (only when the opponent is in a lying position)
– Foot lock
– Leg lock (only when the opponent is in a lying position)
– Straight ankle lock (only when the opponent is in a lying position and with his feet pointing towards his head)
– Kneebar (only when the opponent is in a lying position and with his feet pointing towards his head)
– Bicep slicer (when the opponent is in a standing position)
– Shoulder lock (with an arm trapped between the legs)
– Crossfade (when the opponent is in a standing position)
– Wristlock (with an arm trapped between the legs)
– Guillotine (when the opponent is in a standing position)
Submission Wrestling techniques can be divided into two major groups: joint locks and chokes. Joint locks include armbars, Kimuras, Americanas, and other techniques that involve isolating an opponent’s limb and creating a lever using the body, and chokes (referred to as “strangles” in Brazil) such as rear-naked chokes, triangle chokes, and others which stop the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain.
Submission Wrestling Tournaments
Submission Wrestling tournaments are recognized worldwide by sports federations, associations, and organizations. There are two great Submission Wrestling events every year: the No-Gi World Championships and the Combat Wrestling World Cup.
In general, Submission Wrestling tournaments are very similar to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitions. Some grappling tournaments, however, use a points system that favors grapplers with great stamina, balance, and technique.
Submission Wrestling Rules
FILA Submission Wrestling rules are very similar to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, SAMBO, and Judo rules. The only major difference is that, as mentioned above, chokes and strikes on the ground are allowed.
From a technical standpoint, Submission Wrestling rules try to limit stalling and encourage athletes to fight constantly during the match. Each time a grappler leaves his/her opponent’s guard or gets into a dominant position, for example, he/she has to try a submission.
If there’s no action for three seconds, the referee stops the match and brings both fighters back to the center of the mat.
Like any other grappling event, Submission Wrestling matches are divided into rounds that last five minutes. There are no points or advantages in Submission Wrestling.
If there’s no submission, the winner is decided according to the referee’s criteria:
– if one of the fighters has more points than the other, he wins
– if both fighters are equal in points, they go to a sudden death round that ends as soon as someone scores a submission.
– if no one has scored any points, the winner is decided according to the referee’s judgment
FILA Submission Wrestling Rules: the Points
FILA suggests a scoring system that awards one point for each of the following actions:
– Taking an opponent’s back from standing or from the ground
– Sweeping an opponent from standing to mount
– Passing an opponent’s guard
– Takedown from standing position
– Submission hold
This system has the benefit of rewarding the athletes who go for submissions instead of mere control and top positions, which is in accordance with the spirit of Submission Wrestling.
The Points System
FILA’s scoring system (also known as the “Pitbull Point” system) is the following:
– Each fighter receives one point for each completed pass
– A sweep that leads to a full mount earns two points
– A sweep that leads to the opponent ending up in a dominant position (spider web, North-South, side control) earns three points
– A sweep that leads to the opponent ending up in back control earns four points
– Submission hold earns five points
If none of these actions has happened during a round, no points are awarded.
There is yet another system used in Submission Wrestling, the one created by the ADCC (the world’s most prestigious grappling event, which is held every two years), in which points are awarded according to the position achieved after any sweep or takedown:
– Each fighter receives one point for each completed pass
– Two points are awarded when a fighter takes his/her opponent’s back
– Four points are given when one fighter gets into full mount
– Three points are awarded when a fighter takes his/her opponent’s back with hooks in
– Five points are given for each submission hold
This scoring system is the same as the one usually used in SAMBO and Judo.
No points are awarded for sweeps that lead to side control or north-south position since these positions are considered transition phases rather than definitive control.
FILA Submission Wrestling Rules: Penalties and Disqualifications
In FILA Sub-Wrestling, penalties are given when a fighter commits one of the following five actions:
– Illegal Holds (to manipulate joints or to make an opponent fall, exposing his/her back, or bending his/her arms with the use of the legs)
– Wrestling moves that involve contact to the larynx
– Groin Attacks
The first three offenses are punished with one point against the penalized fighter. If a fighter commits two or more of these offenses, his opponent is awarded one point and the penalized fighter receives a yellow card.
A second yellow card is followed by a red card and the opponent’s victory, while two red cards lead to disqualification.
In case of a knockdown or a situation when the referee’s attention is drawn by the fighters’ excessive holding, the points are given according to who had done that restraining before.
FILA Submission Wrestling Rules: Victory Conditions
The submission victory is achieved as soon as the opponent submits, whether verbally or by tapping the mat repeatedly.
It is possible to achieve victory by points, control, or disqualification. However, Submission Wrestling is a contact sport and the primary goal is to force your opponent to submit, so points are awarded rarely.
The athlete who led the score after three rounds is declared the winner. The duration of the rounds is five minutes each.
Submission Wrestling Vs Catch Wrestling: What’s the Difference?
It is very difficult to find two grappling fans who would agree on which of these forms of wrestling is superior.
The only thing that can be stated with certainty is that both are less popular than SAMBO, Judo, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
From a technical standpoint, Submission Wrestling is based on the same leg locks and chokes as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In case of a tie at the end of a match, most competitions follow the “sudden victory” rule: the first athlete to achieve a submission gets full points for his performance.
Catch Wrestling, on its part, is focused on the head and arm locks. In case of a tie at the end of a match, either victory by points or victory in an overtime round is awarded to the athlete who was on top for a longer period of time during the bout.
Is Submission Wrestling Good?
It can be stated with certainty that all types of wrestling are good if practiced regularly. In the end, it is important to choose one and stick with it. However, each combat sport has its own characteristics and own appeal.
What’s more, Submission Wrestling may be interesting for fans of grappling and leg locks since this form of wrestling include all the elements that can be found in Jiu-Jitsu: takedowns, pins and holds on the ground. SAMBO and Catch Wrestling focus mostly on throws and holds on the ground.
Is Submission Wrestling Effective for Self-defense?
Since it originated as a style of fighting and since its rules allow almost every submission hold, Submission Wrestling is definitely effective for self-defense.
There are very few people who would be able to resist the attacks of an experienced grappler in case they were attacked by several opponents at once.
The most important thing here is that due to its rules, Submission Wrestling is a full-contact form of combat and one should be ready for the possibility of receiving injuries even during training.
Is Submission Wrestling Dangerous?
Being a full-contact combat sport means that Submission Wrestling also exposes its practitioners to a number of risks. The most common injuries are traumas of joints and ligaments due to classical throws and leg locks, as well as injuries during groundwork.
In case one is training with too much power, one can sustain traumas of the cervical spine. There are also chances of getting injured while practicing submission holds on the ground.
This is why it is very important to choose an experienced coach who will be able to teach you how to practice Submission Wrestling safely and effectively.