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Wrestling Blog : Cross Training Martial Arts With Wrestling

Hey Everyone , Im back with my weekly wrestling blog to share some experiences and things I have learned along the way in the sport of wrestling. Today's topic is a fun one for me as I get to share 2 of my passions with you. Wrestling and Martial Arts. A few years back , I remember a guy writing a message on a message board on a website about my kids. It went something like " Those boys are great wrestlers and are good at martial arts too " or something along those lines. I remember commenting underneath something like " No , they are really good martial artists who are also good at wrestling " .

So let's get into it. Do the 2 help each other and if so how ? Let me start out by saying my background prior to my kids wrestling was 100% Martial Arts. Boxing , Brazilian Jiu jitsu and Muay Thai is what I knew. My kids started out in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and did that for a year or so before they began wrestling. Thru the years I used the different arts / sports to keep things from getting boring with my kids. If you do just wrestling everyday for 10 -15 years a young kid is more than likely going to get bored or sick of it. So , thru the years if i ever saw the boys getting bored of 1 thing, we would focus on another for a few months. Later on we developed almost seasons for each. They would focus on wrestling during the wrestling season and in the offseason primarily focus on Jiu Jitsu and Boxing. We also sprinkled in some Judo thru the years by traveling up to the Jason Morris Judo center in Scotia NY. Over 15 years Jason became a good friend and was a valuable resource for us.

In Martial Arts you are using many of the same tools you would in wrestling ,so it can give your child a mental break from the sport , meanwhile they are still unknowingly honing the same skills. It gives them something fresh and new. It also teaches them some other great skills and gives them mental strength they could get no place else. When the boys started competing in High School wrestling is when I really noticed just how much of an advantage they had over other wrestlers. Here is the thing, the good wrestlers are for the most part the ones who attend wrestling clubs year round. They do the same moves and work from the same positions year round for years upon years. If a child starts wrestling at the age of 5-8 , think about how much time they have to master those moves.... Do we need that amount of time doing the same move over and over? I say no, I can tell you in the same amount of time that I have seen parents put a child in purely club wrestling to develop a decent wrestler at the high school level, I have trained kids to be just as good if not better in wrestling while also being just as good and if not better at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu , Judo , Boxing and Muay Thai. Mind you , these kids also played baseball , football , snowboarded , hunt , ride dirt bikes etc. These aren't kids stuck in a gym day in and day out doing nothing but that. Between the ages of 5-18 we have a lot of time on our hands.

So lets get back to the kids in club wrestling doing the same moves over and over for 15 years. In the end 90% of them are good at the same moves, move the same way , have a similar style of wrestling . What separates kids who do Martial Arts is that they are different. They are comfortable in positions and situations other wrestlers may not be. They at times know moves used in martial arts that while may not be a wrestling move, still work in the sport and a wrestler will not know how to react or defend. Some of the things that specifically come to mind are the use of putting legs in , in Jiu Jitsu as well as tying up and throwing in Judo. 2 major things that I see high school wrestlers struggle with. I had a kids dad come to me last week. This kid has been in club wrestling for 6-8 years , will win sectionals this season and is a good wrestler. He asks me to show him things from top with legs in because his club doesn't do that. I cant tell you how many times I am watching a match and the coach is yelling to his wrestler " Don't Tie up with him " .... So your wrestler has been in club wrestling his whole life and your afraid of tying up? SMH . How can a kid be doing a sport year round for 10 -15 years and be afraid to be in certain positions? Thats like a kid taking a math test , doing well on addition but then afraid because he doesn't know subtraction. Is that really the most efficient way we can teach an athlete over 10 years? The problem is clubs teach the same moves and focus on those moves over and over. Can you get good at wrestling by only wrestling and doing club wrestling year round. The answer is yes if you have a good club. But the chances of a kid burning out are much higher and you are limiting your wrestler.

1 year prior to my son winning his first High School State Wrestling Championship he did not train wrestling at all. He trained Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that entire year. He was nursing a couple injuries coming out of the season before, so he switched to Jiu Jitsu to protect things he was recovering from. He stuck with it right up until the next season as he was enjoying it and ended up winning it all that year. One other aspect Jiu Jitsu brings is the fact that if your child starts in it young, by the time they are 13 they are facing grown adults. In a sport which teaches you to submit your opponent and to be able to do that to a grown adult , gives you a huge mental advantage over opponents who are used to facing children on the mat. I cannot tell you how many times I see a kid enter a big match intimidated of who they are facing. That doesn't happen to kids who are used to facing adults. Then enter boxing or Muay Thai into the equation . How many wrestles get into a tough gritty match and cant pull out the win when things get rough? These other sports again, get kids used to being in these situations , so when tough matches in high school become fights , they hold the advantage. When a kid hits high school and competes in the post season these things will happen.

I have heard wrestling coaches advise their athletes to stay away from Martial Arts, well actually just one. They told their student to stop doing Jiu Jitsu because they will get confused of what sport they are doing and actually blamed the fact the wrestler was getting taken down on it. Well, if all you teach is a straight up and down stance and a headlock, chances are your legs will be exposed and you'r gonna get doubled out of your shoes. This is just ignorance. Ive never had a student confuse the 2 sports, I think its just poor coaching and making an excuse on why a kid is not doing well vs coaching them to be better. Some of the best wrestlers in most recent years from section 2 have had strong backgrounds in Jiu Jitsu and Judo. Obviously Trent and Caleb but Kiernan Shannahan from Shenendehowa and the Journeymen club was also a spectacular wrestler and very fun to watch on the mat. All 3 are or are headed to compete for Major Division 1 programs in college.

I could write a book about all of the advantages in wrestling and in Life that Martial Arts can bring but am trying to sum things up for you in this short blog today. Strength , Balance, Mental Focus , Mental toughness , training with Adults , being in different positions and situations, working different techniques are just some of the things that help them in this sport. When a kid is starting out, you can focus on the sport and in the end maybe end up with a pretty good wrestler if they go to a good club.You can also put them in Martial Arts as well and your end product will be am adult good at wrestling and all the other arts who will be more well rounded and have the ability to to whoop some ass. I can say that, it's my blog. I hope you guys liked it and consider using martial arts to enhance your child's wrestling.

Lions Den Martial Arts - 501 Columbia Turnpike , East Greenbush NY

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Richard Davis
Richard Davis
Sep 10, 2022

My son is doing MMA training this off-season I'm looking forward to seeing his growth. He is certainly more athletic and fluid in his movements this year


Joe Monzon
Joe Monzon
Feb 09, 2022

Cross training martial arts with wrestling is great for fighters. A very informative article. Thank you for sharing this post with us. It would really helpful. I love to read their blogs:

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