Tag Archives: russian wrestling

Why I’m Glad Russian Wrestlers Don’t Do Jiu Jitsu (Yet)

In jiu jitsu, we often talk about overcoming ego. It’s kind of like the concept of “eating healthy”. Everyone knows they need to do it, but few actually live it 100% of the time. For no one is the process of “overcoming ego” in jiu jitsu more challenging than Division I collegiate wrestlers. I’m friends with a few (current and former), and am yet to see any of them get on the mat in a gi for the purpose of learning the art of jiu jitsu, despite being naturally interested in MMA.

I think what’s keeping these guys away is the fact that they have to suck again for at least a few months, and they haven’t sucked at any athletic endeavor for many many years.

As MMA (and its relative allure of fame and fortune) becomes more popular, the idea of submissions is slowly creeping into wrestling rooms all over the world. While the jiu jitsu community has grown by leaps and bounds, we can’t forget how small it still is relative to the wrestling and judo communities. We can’t forget that there’s thousands of elite level grapplers that have been putting in millions of reps on their takedowns and thousands of hours of intense scrambling. They just haven’t heard about Abu Dhabi or IBJJF… yet.

Here’s a video of some beautiful scrambles by Russian wrestlers. Teach them the guillotine and the rear naked choke and they’ll help bring the submission grappling competitions to another level.

Russian Wrestling vs American Wrestling

I “believe” in technical wrestling. Similar to the spirit of jiu jitsu, I believe that technique can beat power and aggression. That’s a tough thing to believe because it involves being crushed a lot as part of the learning process.

That’s why I’m a fan of Mike Denny-run wrestling practice. He’s a Gable guy, with that Iowa wrestling mindset, and at the same time he emphasizes crisp slow drilling of technique. To take a quote a bit out of context, Tuesday he said “Russians are the best wrestlers” for the reason that they drill and drill and drill with clean technique.

I’m not sure how real it is, but there certainly seems to be a divide between the American way and the Russian way of wrestling. The former is a style of hard aggressive wrestling that wears down the opponent while the latter puts much more emphasis on timing and technique.

I like to watch the American way, but I like to grapple the Russian way. In practice, I try to relax and work on the right timing of applying technique with minimal strength. It’s very frustrating at times, because as long as my technique sucks, I get punished for it. But I try to remind myself that there’s no losing or winning on the mat during practice, and sometimes I even believe it 😉