Submission Fighting Skills

Submission Fighting (also known as submission wrestling, submission grappling, submission combat) is a big hit these days. Ever since the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and other Submission Fighting events hit the mainstream, it appears that everyone is obsessed with learning submission fighting skills. While there’s no denying the vital necessity of ground fighting skills for effective street fighting, you must realize that predicating your entire self defense arsenal on submission wrestling techniques and strategies can get you killed in a life and death self defense encounter.

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Submission Fighting Defined
Submission Fighting or submission wrestling “is a general term describing the aspect of martial arts and combat sports that focus on clinch and ground fighting with the aim of obtaining a submission using submission holds. Submission fighting is sometimes also considered a separate sport, with many grappling arts integrated into single system, and can include techniques from a wide range of arts. Submission fighting is very common in association with Catch wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Shootfighting, Shooto and others.”

Submission Fighting skills like grappling and ground fighting are an essential component of reality based self defense training. Regardless of how proficient your kicking and punching skills may be, there is still a very strong possibility that a self defense situation will go to the ground. As a matter of fact, it has been stated that nine out of ten street fights end up on the ground. So it makes absolute sense to equip yourself with the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary to handle a ground fight. This is one of the reasons why grappling and submission fighting comprises a substantial portion of my Contemporary Fighting Arts self defense system.

Submission Fighting and the Streets
The problem is most submission fighting skills and tactics taught in today’s mixed martial arts (MMA) schools are inadequate for reality based self defense. Furthermore, many submission fighters believe that when faced with a real self defense situation, they will simply tackle their opponent to the ground and apply a submission wrestling technique. While this may sound strategically correct or logical to most mixed martial artists, I can assure you that it’s wrong – dead wrong!

Most submission wrestling techniques and tactics are too risky and dangerous to be applied in real world self defense situations. In actuality, there’s only a limited amount of submission fighting techniques appropriate for self defense situations. Knowing the safe and appropriate submission fighting techniques can make the difference between life and death for a self defense practitioner. If you would like to learn more about practical submission fighting skills for the street, see the Submission Fighting for the Street dvd series.


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Submission Fighting is dangerous when faced with multiple assailants – While submission fighting can be applied in a one on one fight, it will not help you if you get jumped by multiple opponents. Since submission fighting requires maximal body entanglement, it is virtually impossible to fight multiple attackers at the same time. You better pray to God that you are equally skilled with stand up (punching and kicking) street fighting skills if you are to survive a multiple attacker situation. There is no other way around this! If self defense against multiple attackers interests you, see my dvd, Rat Packed: Defeating Multiple Attackers in a Street Fight.

Submission Fighting is dangerous when your attacker has a knife or other weapon – Submission fighting experts and experienced grapplers will admit that it’s extremely difficult to defend against knives and other weapons when ground fighting. Most mixed martial arts students forget that submission fighting techniques were never created to handle weapon attacks. They are not designed to intercept, control or disarm hand held weapons such as knives, guns and clubs. Submission fighting techniques were made for the ring and not the street. If you are interested in practical self defense, make certain to learn knife defense skills when ground fighting. If your mixed martial arts does not address this critical issue, look elsewhere for self defense training!

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Submission Fighting is dangerous when onlooker intervention occurs – Human are inveterate champions of the underdog. Nobody likes to see a guy mounted and pummeled with vicious blows. There is always a possibility that witnesses observing your street fight might decide to jump in and help your adversary out – even though your adversary was the one who committed the criminal assault! Remember, if you are locked up on the pavement with your enemy and spectators decide to intervene, you are in big trouble. Once again a submission wrestling arsenal will force you to lock up with the opponent and make you vulnerable to spectators jumping into the fight.

Submission Fighting vs. psychoactive drugs – If your adversary is high on psychoactive drugs he will have freakish strength and often be immune to pain. I know of one case where it took five police officers ten minutes to wrestle and arrest a 120-pound woman who was high on PCP. Could you image how difficult it would be to submission fight a large man on such powerful drugs? The bottom line is many submission fighting techniques will not work against such an adversary. Remember, self defense and street fighting is unfair and unpredictable!

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Submission Fighting is dangerous in many urban environments – Submission fighting generally takes place in relatively safe and controlled environments such as training halls, gyms and martial art schools. Once again, they were designed for such clinical environments. So what happens when you take submission fighting out of the gym and into the streets. Well, in the streets your environment and immediate surrounding can harm you (heavy traffic, a cliff, a street curb, etc.) when submission fighting with your enemy! I know of one situation where a submission fighter and a criminal wrestled their way into a busy intersection. Both men were struck and killed by an oncoming truck!

Submission Fighting doesn’t address weapon retention skills – If you are a law enforcement officer or security guard there is a good possibility that your attacker can retrieve your holstered sidearm and shoot you while you are applying a submission wrestling technique on him. Most law enforcement (LEO) instructors will agree that the ground is the last place that you want to be if you are a cop or security officer! The fact of the matter is submission fighting is not designed for law enforcement scenarios.

Submission Fighting does not prepare you for biting or gouging – Some submission fighting techniques can be negated with biting, gouging and various other self defense maiming techniques. Mixed martial arts schools do not take this into account when they teach their submission wrestling techniques for self defense purposes. The problem is it leaves their submission fighting students vulnerable to this type of attack. Remember, there are no rules in a street fight.

This is not to say that all submission fighting techniques are useless in a self defense situation. For example, there may be circumstances when a choke or joint lock are necessary. But then again there might be other situations where it could be risky or even deadly for you. A good self defense student must know how to ground fight, yet still be acutely aware of the its limitations and inherent dangers of submission techniques.

If you would like to learn practical submission fighting techniques specifically designed for reality based self defense, take a look at my Submission and Ground Fighting dvd library.

Sammy Franco
Founder & President
Contemporary Fighting Arts

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Warning! Articles are property of Sammy Franco and Contemporary Fighting Arts, LLC. Reprint or distribution is strictly prohibited. Sammy Franco will aggressively prosecute those found publishing Contemporary Fighting Arts materials on the Internet without written permission. Copyright 1998-2012 ©, Contemporary Fighting Arts, Submission Fighting. All rights reserved.