Making the Transition from Sport BJJ to MMA
Without a doubt, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu remains one of the most important arts to learn when wishing to compete in MMA. Even submission wrestling stylists will invest a great deal of their time training in BJJ to round out their game. Not all BJJ players invest a lot of time training in MMA (striking) oriented scenarios. This can put them at somewhat of a disadvantage when trying to make the transition to MMA rules. The fundamentals of BJJ never change but the way in which the art is used in MMA changes quite a bit. In short, there are quite a few differences that have to be taken into consideration.
The first thing that must be understood is MMA is a much more top game oriented environment. The guard is most definitely an important position to learn for MMA but you really do not want to make playing a guard game your “Plan A.” The reason for this is you have to deal with strikes reigning down on you from the top. Certainly, it is a much better to be on the bottom in the guard than it would be mounted, in side control or in a scarf hold. However, many have been defeated due to being hit too brutally in the guard to make using the guard a first choice option.
This brings up another point. On the BJJ tournament scene, you can get away with having limited takedown skills. Even those with weak takedown defenses can survive and win a match since a takedown is “only” worth two points. In MMA, a takedown is given much more weight. If you are taken down one time, you can lose the round. If you are taken down more than one, you would have a very hard time winning the round. And this only refers to the scoring aspect of the round. If you are taken down with a wrestling takedown, you will be in the unenviable position of having to deal with ground and pound assaults.
Submissions become harder to apply as well. The lack of a Gi, the sweat and the inclusion of MMA gloves can make submissions a little harder to employ. Also, submission illegal in BJJ such as the heel hook are legal in MMA. Spending additional time getting used to these formerly illegal locks would be a wise plan.
Does it take a lot of effort to make the transition for sport BJJ to MMA? There is quite a bit of effort required, but anyone willing to make the right changes in training will find making the transition from sport BJJ to MMA a smooth one.
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