Training Wrestling for BJJ & MMA

For this week’s blog I would like to included a few important ways I adapt my wrestling for BJJ & MMA. This is a question I get a lot and while most wrestling carries over well, there are some important changes to technique and concepts.

This blog is written by Connection Rio team member Torryn Heffelfinger. He blogs weekly on life and training BJJ, wrestling and MMA in Rio de Janeiro. In the following excerpt from his weekly blog “Training the Dream”, he talks about how it feels to Train Jiu-Jitsu in Rio with UFC fighters. Click the link to read the full post.


Torryn coaching wrestling to a team of MMA fighters in Rio de Janeiro

Torryn coaching wrestling to a team of MMA fighters in Rio de Janeiro

1. Head positioning is key
In wrestling the way you position your head on takedowns is important, but for BJJ/MMA it may be even more so. With a large number of chokes in BJJ and knees and strikes in MMA, head position is key. When shooting in for a takedown it is important to keep your chin tucked and your head up, you never want to go in high chinned or looking away. On the finish it is important to change the angle by looking up and across your opponents back to help avoid dangerous chokes like the guillotine.

2. Different Set-ups
While in nogi grappling most all wrestling set-ups carry over, in the kimono and for MMA there are some adaptations needed. For BJJ the biggest difference is gripping the gi. While the gi can slow the pace down there are some advantages as well. Most times when showing gi takedowns I will use my grips to hit snap downs and pull-bys using my strong grip on my opponent lapel to pull him out of position so I can attack. For MMA I teach/use various striking combos (or defensive work) to set up my takedowns.

3. Finishing across the body
This is important in wrestling, BJJ, and MMA. When finishing a takedown such as a double leg it is important to finish across your opponents body, with your head on one side and your legs and hips on the other. Learning to finish takedowns in this manner will help you to completely bypass the guard directly into side control. Working to finish this way will also help to avoid quick submissions such as the guillotine or darce.

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