What is Submission Wrestling? 3 Things That Make it Exciting

Many people are familiar with the more mainstream form of wrestling, but submission wrestling is on the rise. It can be very physically demanding, but also very enjoyable. In this article we tell you what submission wrestling is and how it compares to other grappling arts.

Submission wrestling

What is Submission Wrestling?

The term ‘submission wrestling’ can be used to refer to any martial art that includes submissions, or to refer to a specific type of wrestling that focuses on submissions more than anything else. In this latter sense it’s a unique martial art with its own history.

Submission wrestling was first introduced in the late 1800s in England and quickly spread to other countries. It was seen as a way to make wrestling more exciting and realistic. Submission wrestling was popularized in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s by catch wrestling legend Billy Robinson.

What makes Submission Wrestling Unique?

Submission wrestling is sometimes used to refer to all grappling arts that include submissions, but it can also be used to denote a wrestling style that emphasizes submissions over anything else. In this latter sense, submission wrestling differs in the following 3 ways from all other martial arts.

1. You must win by submission

The main difference between submission wrestling and other forms of wrestling is the emphasis on submissions. The goal is to win by submission rather than by pin. This differentiates submission wrestling from freestyle wrestling and Greco Roman wrestling, which don’t allow submissions.

Submission wrestling also differs from pro wrestling, as professional wrestling matches are staged.

2. Submission before Position

A big difference between submission grappling and other traditional grappling arts such as Judo and jiu jitsu is the uniform. Submission wrestlers don’t wear a gi, but instead wear tight clothes, just like in no gi BJJ.

Also, other grappling arts that include submissions usually emphasize control (position before submission). Submission wrestlers go for submissions more agressively. This is one of the biggest differences between BJJ and submission wrestling.

3. No striking allowed

Submission wrestling is often related to mixed martial arts because many MMA fighters have a background in submission wrestling. In fact, many of the moves that are used in MMA are derived from submission wrestling.

However, MMA allows striking techniques from Muay Thai, kickboxing and other striking arts. Submission wrestling is a pure grappling martial art so it doesn’t allow strikes.

Popular submission wrestling moves

Submission wrestling is a popular form of wrestling that is practiced by many people around the world. Some of the most common moves in submission wrestling include:

Armbar – This is a move where the wrestler applies force on the opponent’s elbow joint. An armbar can be applied from top and bottom position.

Triangle choke – This is a submission hold that is executed by the opponent wrapping his legs around the opponent’s neck and squeezing.

Submission wrestling

Rear naked choke – This submission hold is executed by the opponent wrapping his arms around the opponent’s neck and squeezing.

Kimura – This is a hold where the opponent’s elbow is twisted behind the back by the wrestler. The aim is to dislocate the shoulder.

Heel hook – This is a position where the opponent’s leg is twisted by the wrestler. It’s an especially devastating submission that leads to a serious injury.

Pinning – This is a move where the wrestler immobilizes the opponent by forcing him to touch the mat. In true submission wrestling pins are used to set up submissions rather than for their own sake.

Most popular forms of submission wrestling

Submission wrestling in the broader sense of the term has many forms and different styles. Some of the most popular forms of submission wrestling include:

Catch Wrestling

This is a type of submission wrestling that was popularized by the legendary wrestler Frank Gotch. This style is popular in Japan and was used by the legendary wrestler Antonio Inoki.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

This is a popular martial arts that includes submission wrestling. It was developed in the 1990s and is now very popular in the United States. In addition to submission holds it also includes strikes. Some famous mixed martial artists who were primarily sub wrestling fighters are Ken Shamrock, Sean Sherk and Josh Barnett.

Combat submission wrestling

Combat submission wrestling is a program set up by Erik Paulson, a former Shooto or Shoot wrestling champion. It’s a mixed martial art that uses both grappling and striking techniques, with an emphasis on submissions. Erik Paulson teaches combat submission wrestling at his CSW Headquarters in Fullerton CA, where he trained professional fighter and former UFC champion Josh Barnett.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the most popular form of submission wrestling. It was developed in Brazil in the early 20th century by Carlos Gracie. The art was heavily influenced by Judo. The main purpose of BJJ is to use leverage to overcome physical strength. This form of submission wrestling uses submissions, throws, takedowns, and pins to defeat an opponent.


Sambo is a Russian martial art that was developed in the Soviet Union. The art combines techniques from wrestling, judo, and combat sports. Sambo emphasizes throws, takedowns, and submission techniques.


Hapkido is a Korean martial art that emphasizes joint locks and throws. It is a highly effective art that is primarily used by police and military. The art was developed by a man named Choi Yong Sul in the 1950s.

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