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What is Submission Grappling?

Submission grappling is a combat sport that allows a participant to win a match by forcing his or her opponent into submission. The bouts in submission grappling have a similar structure to wrestling and judo matches. However, no striking is allowed and the primary distinguishing factor of this combat sport is that it is ultimately won by submission rather than pinning or throwing your opponent on the mat. Submission grappling allows you to participate against active opponents in live sparring matches.

The nature of the resistance encountered in this sport is not only varied but also unpredictable. It also allows you to develop cardiovascular fitness and great strength, which makes it a phenomenal and enjoyable workout. The effectiveness and practical application of submission grappling cannot be over-emphasized, as professional athletes in different mixed martial arts frequently use it.

A Brief History of Submission Grappling

Submission grappling may seem a new sport but it has a long history. The competitions involved in this sport resemble Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but are distinguished by the fact that participants do not wear gis. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu descended from Judo, which was heavily influenced by the classical systems of medieval Japan. The types of submissions and positions used commonly in submission grappling show that it was influenced by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The primary goal is to submit your opponent using a variety of chokes or leg locks. The lack of gis in submission grappling limits submission and sweeping options of the competitors. The method of training used in this sport involves significant amounts of “rolling” or sparring. Participants who have developed the skills and attributes required for high-level performance have benefited significantly from live training against a resisting opponent.

Styles Used in Submission Grappling

Leg Locks

Submission grappling utilizes different styles of leg locks to force an opponent into submission. However, not all types of leg locks may be allowed depending on your belt level or rules set by the overseeing professor. Some of the common leg locks include knee bar, toehold, calf slicer, and heel hook.

  • Kneebar

Kneebar is relatively easy to administer but requires you to be swift and precise. To apply this technique, a participant uses his leg as the lever and applies force on the “ball” of the heel or Achilles tendon. Placing the knee of your opponent on your belly is essential, as it allows you to use your knee as the pivot point when hyperextending their leg.

  • Toe Hold

A toehold is a leglock technique that uses a figure-four grip on the foot of your opponent to twist their ankle thus hyperextending the ankle. This prevents an opponent from kicking or turning their leg away from you.

  • Calf Slicer

Calf slicer is a technique applied in reaction to your opponent reacting or escaping from your first leg lock attempt. In most cases, their reaction places them in an ideal position where you can implement the calf slicer. It applies pressure on the knee and calf forcing your opponent to tap out.

  • Heel hook

The heel hook locks both the ankle and the knee of your opponent. It is usually taught when you already have experience with other leg locks after attaining a brown belt. This type of submission technique allows you to lock your opponent’s leg and gives you full control over their knee.


In submission grappling, you have the choice of forcing your opponent to submit using ultimate chokes. It is important to learn the different types of chokes so that you can apply them carefully when competing against an active competitor. The most common types include rear naked chokes and guillotine.

  • Rear Naked Chokes

This is one of the most popular types of chokes used by professional MMA fighters. In order to perform a rear naked choke, you need to be in a perfect back position (behind an opponent). Your right elbow should be under their chin and your upper arm on the other.

  • Guillotine Chokes

There are many variations of guillotine chokes out there. However, the most common ones involve placing your forearm under the neck of your opponent. The other arm can grip under the opposite side arm, or on the other side.

Submission grappling is an exciting, creative and fast-paced combat sport that uses different techniques to force an opponent into submission. As you learn the various techniques used in this sport, you get to develop quick reflexes and acquire technical skills that allow you to become a well-rounded martial artist.