Grappling vs. Striking? Your answer here

There is an illness spreading in the martial arts community and it seems to be reaching a boiling point. It’s the concept that one specific style or method is better than all others. I was just reading on a discussion forum a “Striking vs. Grappling” thread, and I was just awestruck by the moronic, prejudiced, inane arguments going back on forth about “who beat who in the UFC” and fights on Youtube, and all this mindless bullshit.

striking vs. grappling

Before you think I sound like one of these guys, I will add my disclaimer. Yes I am a striker, and yes my preferred fighting style kickboxing with roots in Taekwondo. However I still have immense respect for the intricacy and difficulty of grappling. I simply choose to specialize in the stand-up fighting because it resonates with me better.

I’m going to lay myself on the line and say you’re all a bunch of dumbasses if you say any of the following statements:

  • X style is best
  • Y style is better than Z style
  • Z style is shit

It happens more than you might realize, and unfortunately the principles of humility, honor, and discipline that the martial arts are famous for, are not always displayed by its practitioners. This is especially true in the MMA scene where, let’s be honest, it’s just not taught. This is not meant to be a blanket statement. There are some exceptions at the schools with traditional backgrounds. However, the martial arts scene is degrading into a bunch of shit talking meat heads.

Rant over.

Why the “style vs. style” argument is completely useless and debunked? Because NO STYLE is perfect. Each style has its strengths, and its disadvantages. For the sake of brevity, I’ll simply compare striking against grappling to keep it simple.

First, I will debunk the arguments of “Grappling is better because 90% of street fights go to the ground.” This may be true. However, 75% of those fights on the ground end up back on the feet within 10-15 seconds. Forgot to include that statistic, didn’t you?

Also, there is a significant risk in taking a fight to the ground. Rolling on broken glass, getting cornered with no mobility, dealing with multiple attackers, or taking a knee to the face while going for a takedown are all some of the painful risks you take by trying to bring a fight to the ground.

Yes there are some great ground fighters in the UFC, and you see a lot more action there than you did in organizations like Pride. Do you know why that is? Because in the UFC there’s a rule that you can’t kick or knee your opponent in the head once they have their head on the ground. Yeah, that means if I drop a knee to the ground to go for a takedown, I’m protected from knees or kicks to the head. If it happens, then I win by disqualification. In the street? There are no rules protecting you from knees to the head, broken bottles, or your opponent’s 3 drunk buddies. Grappling is better myth debunked.

Striking is better myth: There are few people that try to argue this one, but those that do usually use the “XYZ fighter won this fight against a Gracie student.” So what? What does that mean? That he got caught? To quote Dana White “A striker always has a punch’s chance.” We’ve all seen those flash KO’s where one fighter just lands a lucky shot right on the button. All it takes is one punch, but if you don’t land that lucky punch, and you get taken down to the ground by a skilled grappler, well yeah, you’re fucked.

The top fighters in the world have all mastered one specific style, whether it be BJJ, Muai Thai, Taekwondo, or Karate. They have specialized in a particular fighting style, and supplemented it in their weaker areas. Look at the early greats. Chuck Liddell was a 5th Dan in Karate, and then started training BJJ. Anderson Silva started training Taekwondo at age 12, Capoeira at 16, and then Muai Thai. It wasn’t until he trained with the Nogueira brothers that he started training BJJ. He started as a striker, and then supplemented with grappling. I may seem biased toward the strikers, but it’s because I kind of am. They’re my favorites. What can I say? Feel free to post your favorite grappler in the comments section. Share some love for the grapplers here too!

So what do I do? I started in Taekwondo, but I wanted to expand into kickboxing, so I started training with some experienced boxers and Thai fighters. I knew that fighting up close and using my hands was a weak point, so I decided to develop on that.

I know that I’m not a great or very experienced grappler, so I focus on where I’m strong, and supplement where I’m weak. Will I shoot a double against an Olympic wrestler? Umm no… Am I gonna try to submit a BJJ black belt? Fuck no. That’s just stupid, and it’s not gonna happen. I will, however focus on learning how to defend takedowns, slip submissions, sweep from less favorable positions, and escape back to my feet. This keeps me in control of my dominant position: planting my foot on my opponent’s jaw, and standing over him unconscious.

So what do I recommend? Find a style that resonates with YOU. If you feel that you are more proficient on the ground, go for BJJ or wrestling, and let that be your focus for a year or two. Get your blue belt, go to a few tournaments, etc. You can still do one or two classes in other styles on the side, but focus on one thing specifically. After you have dedicated to that style, then branch out into other styles and develop your other skill sets. It’s pursuing mastery, rather than being a jack of all trades. There are some great well-rounded fighters out there, but the ones that take the championship belts and HOLD them are the specialists. Whatever you decide to specialize in, be the best there is and kick the shit out of your competition. If you are doing BJJ, do every possible tournament and shoot for the gold medal every time. If you are going for striking, jump on every kickboxing, muai thai, or full contact Karate tournament you can. Fight opportunity and do everything you can to make sure the ref is holding your hand at the end of the match.

Let\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s hear your thoughts!