I know that some people call submission rolling “sparring”, but for simplicity I usually just call it grappling, and I call stand-up striking sparring. Then I got to thinking about what I would call it when we practice rolling with striking (you know, MMA style). Strolling? Um, no. Sparpling? Strappling? Grarring? Oh, I kind of like that one, but it needs more rrrrr’s…grrarrring. “I’m going to the dojo to grrarrr!”

Whatever you want to call it, I don’t train it enough. Grappling is a lot different when striking is involved, and I think focusing too much on submission rolling can give a false sense of security when it comes to self-defense. I might be alright on offense with only Jiu-Jitsu, but if I could not defend against strikes, I could be at a big disadvantage. I’ve seen some great Jiu-Jitsu fighters lose MMA matches because they couldn’t seem to figure out how to stop getting hit.

Luckily, my Karate training has taught me how to defend against striking, but I rarely practice that skill on the ground. When I have done it, I was really surprised by how much it changed everything. Although I am very comfortable with either rolling or sparring, when they are put together it’s whole new game, even when the striking is just light contact. It would be even more of a challenge in a real-world situation.

I’ve seen people training MMA at the dojo, and other fighters in local matches, where as soon as the fight goes to the ground they appear to forget that they can strike. This seems to particularly affect those whose main style is submission grappling. It’s not really Mixed Martial Arts, or complete self-defense, if you just practice the arts separately.  You have to put them all together to get the full advantage.


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