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Acquiring Grappling Experience?
Huerfano is Looking to Catch-Up on The Clinch
Huerfano commented on Berry Berry Sep-23-2020 6:58 PM UTC
James, I have a request unrelated to the post, but I think it might be useful to visitors to the blog.
I've got many years of Karate, but zero grappling/wrestling experience. What's a good way to get some experience? I've got Judo and JJ schools in my city, but, well, it seems they mostly market to those wanting fitness, and I'm looking for substance in dealing with real situations on the streets.
Thanks, H.

Acquiring grappling experience?
This is best done when young by wrestling.
As a teen I think Judo is the best.
As a man with less pliable body avoid BJJ. It is expensive, it is focused on ground fighting and is fateful to its origins: winning match fights in the sand of Rio and on the Dojo mat against kickboxers, and displacing karate as a delusion magic bullet that solves all fitness and self-defense concerns. BJJ has become a cult and they have no idea what to do with a knifer, which they inherited from karate and judo.
Ask the Judo teacher for privates on self-defense that would work well from your karate base. Judo guys tend to have more respect for and understanding of karate.
You are not training for match fights, but for attacks, so you want experience managing the clinch and push and throw on your feet.
Second you want to be able to get off the ground immediately after you hit the ground, as you will be being swarmed by attackers.
I have some other suggestions:
I know many karate, boxing and MMA men who have gotten proficient in BJJ late in life, proficient enough to deal with purple-belt level BJJ men and keep the fight on their feet. Get together with one or two karate men and study grappling, practice grappling, using videos and fight films. This is how Baltimore's Team Ground Control started, out of a karate school and they have been a Henzo Gracie school since 2000. John Irwin was a karate guy, Mark LaFond was a wrestler, Cliff Perry was a weightlifter and John Rollo was basically just a goon. One of their members was Esau, an Olympic wrestler from Iran. They work-shopped grappling under visiting instructors. You guys will never get as good as if you wrestled from grade school, but you can get more than good enough to keep a Kang from dragging you off your feet.
Find someone to do boxing clinch drills with, then Muay Thai clinch drills, then pummeling drills. You can do this stuff with a woman if necessary.
Do shadow grappling. I know various grapplers who shadow-grapple just like I do shadowboxing and shadow stick. You can learn a lot this way.
Develop a sprawling drill you can do based on instructional videos. Just look up wrestling instructionals on YouTube.
Here is one where people laugh at me:
Cross train with a wrestler interested in self-defense and MMA.
Are you an instructor?
Do you have a school?
Go to the local wrestling program and see if you could be of any assistance as a logistics person, chaperone, transporter, gear wrangler, whatever, in return for some matt time with the coach.
There are sometimes wrestling clubs that you could join.
The best thing you can do is start clinch drills for control against a wall and focus on staying on your feet, then expand to sprawling and pummeling drills, then go to the floor and practice scrambling.
You can learn a surprising amount about grappling by experimenting because you are not getting your face punched in. Also, karate often develops strong hips and upper legs, which are assets in grappling, unlike boxing which encourages lower leg development.
Where karate translates poorly into grappling is the same place where boxing translates well, which is a lack of relaxation in traditional karate technique. The most important thing is that you get relaxed in the grapple. With striking as your base, your grappling training is all about staying on your feet, breaking clinches and getting back to your feet. Starting old, you'll never get to the point where you can sprawl out of or stuff the shoot or takedown attempt of a well-trained and fit grappler who is physically your equal. But against typical street attacks: pushes, shoves, grabs, waist tackles, head locks, bear hugs and wall presses, you should be able to learn and drill counters effectively and early.
What you want is plenty of work. A lot of the best grapplers I know started as karate people and got flipped by the Gracie Challenge. Without getting sucked into the cultism of believing that the floor is the place where fights are won—because that is where rich Brazillians beat up poor Brazillians in Vale Tudo matches—you can develop a passable grappling set.
I wrestled for two years in middle school and never won a match.
Then I boxed and lost my only bout.
That translated to me winning or drawling in bare knuckle fights against five wrestlers who were all better or stronger than me with much more matt experience.
Once you hit reality, and everything goes, than being proficiently passible in a few areas can give you the advantage over more specialized people. The untrained thug is the ultimate specialist, with rarely more than three methods in his entire arsenal.
In stick fights and machete duels, any time I dealt with a skilled grappler—especially catch wrestlers—who was close to my level with the weapons, they would take me down and finish me. But against big goons who ran me over or threw me or close-lined me, being a shitty wrestler helped, because I was able to scramble, having spent all of my wrestling time trying to escape the inferior position.
So long as you can manage to train grappling fluidly against resistance for a year or two, and avoid ego-based fights with jocks and other ghost men, you have little to worry about on the ground, as those assigned to drive you to the ends of Modernity, have a traditional aversion to floor fighting, lack discipline of any kind and like to throw hands and shove.
Good luck, Sir.
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Add a new comment below:
Increase Mather XXIOctober 17, 2020 8:37 AM UTC

Hey Jim, what is your opinion of Tim Larkin's "Target Focus Training" with regard to real world effectiveness? Thanks.
responds:October 17, 2020 1:41 PM UTC

Sorry, I know zero about this man or his training.

I love your handle!
HuerfanoSeptember 28, 2020 5:26 PM UTC

Lots of great stuff in the post to work on and use. Thanks James. And thanks to Juan for the advice on Judo.
responds:September 28, 2020 6:36 PM UTC

good luck, sir.
Juan StaboneSeptember 24, 2020 4:20 PM UTC

James, your whole response is good, but the final sentence is the money shot. Most shitbirds seem averse to close bodily contact, and none of them know what to do when they're on the ground. Grappling is a weapon that "they" just don't have, and this is a ghostly weapon of significant power. When the fight hits the floor, they will think "oh, shit" and you will think "oh, boy!" It will be as if you have both fallen into a lake, but only you know how to swim.

Judo dojos are fairly rare nowadays, with BJJ having seduced away many prospective judoka types, but one of the practical advantages to "the gentle way" is cost. Most judo dojos are run as non-profit clubs, and you will pay a fraction of what you would shell out for BJJ.

If you get nothing more out of judo than learning to fall properly, you will be way ahead of the game. This is the first great commandment of judo, and the others are like unto it. Not only will ukemi skills save your pale ass when the knockout game is afoot, but it can obviously save you from injury during the mishaps of falling in daily life.

For street purposes, I have found that the most elementary judo throw (o-soto-gari) is extremely effective. An aggressive collar-and-elbow clinch, a step to the outside, and a right leg-to-right-leg outside sweep always resulted in a crashing fall to the pavement and a cessation of hostilities because I "hit 'em with the planet". This is one of the rare things that seems to work as well on the street as it does in the training hall.
responds:September 25, 2020 1:28 AM UTC

A man named Winter used to run the Baltimore Judo club and charged very little. He was a very kind man and would have loved to have some more crossover interest from strikers.
Adam SwinderSeptember 24, 2020 2:04 PM UTC

Excellent post, it is an absolute shame that the kung flu has devastated grappling styles as of late. Even the BJJ dojo in my area has been forced to close out right due to current events.

There's going to be a lot of wrestling coaches and BJJ black belts that are in desperate need of employment, even if that means going over to someone's house and making their life hell for a couple of hours and then getting paid gig by gig. Find those people, they sill show you what you need to know.
responds:September 25, 2020 1:29 AM UTC

Great point, Adam.

the kung flu is opening up solo training opportunities.