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How Wrestling Can Improve Your Jiu-Jitsu Game

Darren "BC" Uyenoyama explains his transformation. To wit:

OTM: Despite your successes back in those days, you took a little time off not only from competition but from grappling in general.

BC: I was doing Jiu Jitsu up until about 2001 and I had a no gi tournament where I got taken down and I felt very vulnerable standing up. I followed in the footsteps of a lot of other Jiu Jitsu guys and started wrestling. I wrestled at Skyline which is a California JC. I heard BJ was wrestling at West Valley at the time so I figured hey, if it works for him I might as well try it myself. So I spent about two or three years just dedicated to pure wrestling. I figured that would be the only way I could truly understand pure takedowns and get better on my feet, and then I came back to Jiu Jitsu.

OTM: What did wrestling bring to your game?

BC: At Ralph's we always had a really good top game, so getting better at takedowns helped me to push the top game a lot more. I wrestled at Skyline for two years, I was on the 2001/2002 team. I also got to work out at Stanford with Coach Klemm and learned more of an International style of wrestling, which gives me an advantage against collegiate wrestlers. I think it's develop a better base and just made me more confident in both fighting and Jiu Jitsu, because if a guy is hitting on my legs I feel I can counter it and put me on the attack more because I'm pushing the attack more which is a big part of wrestling.

I like how BC promotes - albeit inadvertently - the idea of learning wrestling from wrestlers as opposed to sparring partners at the gym or from a BJJ player. If you want to improve any part of your MMA game, one of the best ways to do so is to seek out and learn from experts and specialists in each field. Obviously one must learn how to put the pieces of the puzzle together and tweak each martial art for MMA application, but the foundation should be built by the purists.

I also admire how BC's game improved when he adopted the wrestling ethos of "We attack. When you're defending, you're not attacking." BJJ players attack aggresively as well, but those with a wrestling background tend to stay on the offensive far more than others. A solid BJJ game from all positions (particularly the top) combined with solid wrestling fundamentals topped off with a healthy dose of strategic aggression seems to be a winning formula.

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