What is grappling?

What is grappling?

Discover this multifaceted combat sport!

Thibaut, product engineer and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, explains what grappling is, the different styles, and how fights work. He also tells us why it's important to have the right clothing to perform your grappling techniques correctly.

What exactly is grappling?

Grappling is a general term used for all wrestling disciplines, such as no gi and luta livre, where the aim is to make your opponent tap out using submission techniques (joint lock, chokehold, etc.).


The term 'grappling' refers to the act of gripping your opponent, and is therefore distinct from striking disciplines. Grappling techniques are very similar to wrestling techniques, with the main difference being the use of ground grappling techniques.

The different styles

Several disciplines fall under the grappling family. No gi and luta livre are the two most well-known and popular, but there are also other forms of grappling such as catch wrestling, submission wrestling, and other regional forms of wrestling.


Although reasonably similar, these disciplines all have different fighting styles and their own rules and holds. No gi is Brazilian jiu-jitsu but done without a gi (kimono). Instead, grapplers wear shorts and a T-shirt. Luta livre is a separate discipline descended from wrestling, with a distinct fighting style.

What is grappling?

How does a grappling fight work?

All grappling fights start with an upright phase (wrestling phase) where the aim is to take your opponent down onto the ground. Although uncommon in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (done with a gi / kimono), you can also choose to start the fight "from the knees" without doing the upright phase. It is the fighter's decision whether to kneel down to start the fight.

Once on the ground, the aim of the fight is to achieve a dominant position with control over your opponent. The aim of these positions is to get your opponent to submit. The more dominant the position, the more successful the submission hold is likely to be. For example, one of the characteristics of luta livre is that fighters aim to get their opponent to submit without first getting into a dominant position.

The fight stops automatically when one of the fighters taps out following a submission hold by their opponent. The fight can also end if the referee stops it because they think one of the fighters is at risk of serious injury.

The vast majority of fights take place with a set time. Once time is up, if neither opponent has tapped out (or the referee hasn't stopped the match), the winner is the one with the most points. Points are scored by getting into dominant positions (e.g. side control, full mount, back, etc.).

Grappling competitions are generally organised by level, age and weight category. There is often also an "absolute" division for all of the fighters from every weight category, which highlights one of the sport's main principles: "technique is more important than strength."

Grappling clothing

For grappling, you need to wear the right clothes to suit the needs of the sport. The clothing you wear must have excellent FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT, good PERSPIRATION WICKING, and the best possible DURABILITY to withstand being constantly rubbed against the floor. It is also important that your clothing stays in place during the movements or holds you perform in intense fights.


The DECATHLON OUTSHOCK team of combat fighters has designed an entire outfit that meets these needs. It is composed of shorts, a rashguard, leggings and long boxers (the latter 3 can also be worn as base layers when doing disciplines with a gi).






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