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My First Wrestling Class*

*This title should be taken with a grain of salt. My BJJ coach, Jack McVicker, has made wrestling a part of his game and passed what he considers the highest yield on to his students. I had numerous wrestlers teach when I was chief instructor of Goshin Jitsu.

At the young age of 40, I participated in my first wrestling class. That is, a class that only did wrestling, not as part of another grappling art or mixed-martial arts training. I think I know now why wrestlers start a “little” bit younger than 40.

Penetration Step: Step forward on the heel, roll to your toes, then to your same knee. Bring your trail leg up so that the toes land parallel with your knee line. This allows for greater variability when turning the corner. Hands grasp behind the knees. Face welds to their hip.

Sprawl: Toes back, hips forward, cross face. We practiced off our partner’s penetration step, sprawling on top of them. Rotate the hip opposite their face weld into your opponent, this gives space for you to cross face from their ear to their nose to their opposite ear. Underhook on the opposite side. Remember that if their takedown folds you, it is better to reestablish the cross face then try to hold their hips.

Go Behind: From the front headlock, sprawled on your toes, cupping their chin with one hand while placing your shoulder at their proximal thoracic spine. Cup their opposite elbow, rotate away from this side, pull/lift their elbow, so that their head goes toward the mat and their arm comes away from it. Now, release their chin and place your forearm on the back of their head and the back of your hand on their triceps. Step a little forward with the foot on this side and then pivot step bringing your other leg around so that you are parallel in the same direction as your opponent. Secure grips under each arm pit.

Snap Down: Tie up behind their head and controlling their opposite biceps, push into them and then violently snap their head forward. Secure the front headlock grip on their chin. Then sprawl to pull them to the mat.

Peek Out: More optimal, less intuitive, go in the direction away from the headlock. Place the hand that is on the same side as their headlock between their legs, touching the opposite knee if possible. Bring this leg through so that it is outside and perpendicular to where it started. Your head should trace under his body, with your neck being attached to his lats. Your other arm swims, almost as if you are trying to elbow/backhand your opponent. Reverse direction to spin behind/next to your opponent and be able to take their back.

Half Sit-Out: Less optimal, go in the direction of the front headlock. Post up on the foot on the same side as the headlock, sit on the opposite thigh. With the outside hand secure your opponents elbow, with the inside secure his wrist. Now bring your head toward his centerline, essentially unwrapping the front head lock. Secure the 2-on-1 grip on their arm.


Catching kicks means using your head...just not literally

I’ve always considered myself an expert at catching kicks…I mean that I’m really good at getting kicked in the legs, liver, and head. Apparently there is a better way. Always step laterally with the kick to decrease its kinetic energy.

Overwrap catch: As you step laterally away from the kick over wrap the kick and tuck their shin into your trapezius. You can wrap at the knee or the ankle. For these variations we are doing it at the ankle.

Elbow Underwrap: Reach across your body and cup the kick pulling the kick into the ipsilateral elbow. Literally, pulling the kick into your elbow to damage their shin.

Overwrap Series Kick to Rear Leg Side:

  • Pull their leg by twisting at the hips and throw a cross
  • Obtain cross control of their neck with your free hand, step forward with rear leg and deliver knee opposite their kicking leg
  • Obtain cross control of their neck with your free hand, step forward with rear leg and kick sweep their base leg with ipsilateral leg, simultaneously pull their head

Underwear Series Kick to Rear Leg Side

  • Pull their leg and throw cross
  • Pull their leg, step forward, and deliver rear up elbow
  • Pull their leg across your body, step behind them, reach across their anterior body to their far shoulder, lift their leg, push backward, and kick sweep their far leg. This works best if they are leaning backward or bending their knee to defend the knee clinch.