Saturday, October 18, 2008

Grappling by John Owen Ong

(Note: This article is reprinted with the permission from the author, John Owen Ong, a family man, martial artist and a businessman.) Oct 8, '08 10:33 PM

A lot of people were scrambling to learn Jiujitsu, Brazilian, Japanese or otherwise, because of the UFC. they saw how smaller people can beat bigger guys using this style. They thought that this must be the ultimate style. There is no best style for everyone. The best style for me may not be best for you and vice versa. Styles evolved due to cultural and environmental factors, to name a couple. For example, in China there are Northern and Southern kung fu. Generally speaking, the Northern styles emphasize long range fighting, kicks being favored. This was because the Northerners were taller and the place they lived in was more open. The Southern styles focused more on strong stances and close quarters fighting. This was due to their shorter stature and tighter spaces. They were also fishermen, that relied on strong solid stances while working on boats. Not all of them were fishermen, but it was part of their daily lives.

Back to grappling. A lot of people think that Jiujitsu is dragging someone to the ground and submitting them. It's more than that. Jiujitsu is a comprehensive art with strikes, throws, chokes and breaking. The choking and breaking part became submissions for competition. Don't tap and something gets broken. There are even Jiujitsu schools that have extensive weapons training. By weapons, I mean traditional Japanese weapons. This is not an in depth essay on jiujitsu, but just a reminder of what it is. So, when people say that Jiujitsu is just groundwork and submissions, they are not entirely correct. Many have placed a lot of value on the shooting takedowns shown on tv. This is dangerous in real life. In competition, there are rules and the rules favor the shootist as it limits the opponent's viable target areas. In real life, the back of the head is a good target. Knees to the head are also common. Shooting for a takedown is okay in competition, but not very wise outside. In certain conditions, it's okay. Would you grapple if there are more than one attacker on the street? I would not. In the street, the objective is to get away with the least harm. Running is a very good option. Throwing yourself on the ground on purpose is not.

Recently, an episode of Fight Quest featured Krav Maga. That really highlighted the weakness UFC takedowns and submissions. I use UFC as an example because it is the most popular where I am. One of the hosts of the show tried to submit a Krav Maga student. While he focused on the ankle, the other guy rained kicks and punches on his face and body. Result? He got beat and tired himself out without getting the submission. Granted he wasn't a master Jiujitsu practitioner, but even masters get hit trying to submit. The difference is they get their lock. Another instance showed him shooting for a single leg takedown. It might have been a double leg, but he ended up with one. He was not successful. The scenario was fighting multiple attackers. While he held on to the leg of one, the rest of the attackers pummeled him. The instructor told him to stay on his feet because once you go down, you are dead. It was a very graphic example of grappling against multiple attackers. If you can take someone down and choke/break them and get back to your feet in a second then go for it, otherwise keep your mobility in the face of multiple attackers.

Cross training is the key here. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Grappling, whatever style, is not the best style. There is no one best style for everyone. This is true for striking and grappling. Train in what you like, but be aware of your limitations. Knowing one's self is half the battle.

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