Welcome to the first in a hopefully regular feature of answering questions from Catch Wrestling U Patrons. Thank you all for the support!
Mário asks: What would you say are the fundamental techniques in Submission Grappling that every practitioner should master?
The essential skills in Submission Grappling often aren’t the most glamorous, but they are what everything else will be built upon. Whichever art you practice there are usually a set of skills – or at least concepts – that are true and similar in each one.
Knowing how to break-fall and land safely from various throws and takedowns is one. Knowing how to move your hips, whether it’s shrimping, bridging, returning to base or simply getting back to your feet, is another. Knowing the concepts behind controlling and manipulating the head and the hips of your opponent will truly accelerate your game.
From there it depends on what style of grappling you have an affinity for. Mastering grips in hand fighting and pummeling (underhooks & overhooks) is a must – those who control the grips, control the fight. Guard players should be active even when defensive, and although getting a submission from guard is attractive, it should not come at the expense of neglecting skills such as the technical stand up, the arm drag to the back, or knowing how to break an opponent’s posture and disrupt their base for an effective sweep.
As for specific techniques built on these concepts, I would say everyone should learn the High Elbow Guillotine choke (the traditional version is largely worthless by comparison), using the Front Head Lock as a control to turn, go-behind or finish and similarly using the Double Wrist Lock as a control to turn, sweep, throw or finish (and other Chickenwing variants of it).
I’ve always been an advocate for the humble Half Nelson as another control, but it can also be a finish that parleys into (for example) Mounted Guillotine Chokes. For the Half to be effective though, especially in finishes from top, you have to sprawl your legs back and hips down; traditional Jiu-Jitsu side control will not help, especially without a Gi.
And of course, the King of Chokes, the good ol’ Sleeper hold.
Vandread125 asks: Should there be more ‘Reality’ or less in pro wrestling? Example; people say pro wrestling is becoming “legitimate” within the last 5-6 years with inclusion of “real” characters with less gimmicks but, then the same people complain there aren’t enough “good” characters like Undertaker, Stone Cold, Triple H, Mankind & The Rock all of which (including actions) had no basis in reality.
Finding the right balance between Sport and Entertainment in the world of Pro Wrestling has always been the challenge for promotions looking for success. And it really depends on whether you are looking to attract as wide a demographic as possible or if you are looking to carve out your own niche and unique identity in the industry.
Fortunately there are so many options out there now to cater to different wrestling tastes. If you like your wrasslin’ on the wackier, more comedic side, promotions like Chikara, DDT Pro, Ice Ribbon, Bar Room Wrestling and even Pro Wrestling Guerrilla at times are there for you (though serious wrestling is far from absent).
If the comic schtick does nothing for you, more straight laced promotions like wXw, MLW, All Japan, Noah, Evolve, Progress and NXT exist (though comedy wrestling is far from entirely absent).
Mankind & The Undertaker might not work as new characters in today’s WWE, but they could easily work in some of the niche promotions I mentioned. Stone Cold, Triple H and The Rock as characters are easier to adapt for modern audiences, since in their cases a lot of it is a part of the workers’ real personality that hass just been dialed up to 11.
In either case what’s most important is being more attuned to audience tastes and moods especially if you are aiming for the mainstream – and not have a promoter be insistent that they alone know what their audience wants.