Which Is Harder to Learn Striking or Grappling?

Which Is Harder to Learn Striking or Grappling?

Which Is Harder to Learn Striking or Grappling?

Striking and grappling both have their benefits and challenges; let’s look at which is harder and why.

Combat Sports and their Techniques

Combat sports are a type of competitive exercise where opponents aim to dominate each other physically in a controlled setting such as a boxing ring or a hexagon (also known as cage fighting). There are many different types of combat sports, each with a different focus, usually on striking or grappling or a combination of the two.

Striking-based combat sports:

  • Boxing focuses on punching techniques with the hands while standing
  • Muay Thai, from Thailand, incorporates punches, kicks, knees, and elbow strikes
  • Kickboxing combines kicking and punching techniques from martial arts and boxing
  • Taekwondo, from Korea, a martial art focusing on kicking
  • Karate, from Japan, a martial art encompassing many striking techniques including punches, kicks, knee strikes, and elbow strikes

Grappling-based combat sports:

  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) focuses on ground fighting and submission techniques, utilising joint locks and chokeholds
  • Judo primarily involves throwing opponents to the ground and immobilising them with pins or submission techniques
  • Wrestling involves takedowns, throws, and pins, with a focus on overcoming opponents.
  • Sambo, from Russia, a martial art that combines elements of wrestling and judo, often incorporating ground fighting and submissions

Hybrid combat sports:

  • Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) incorporates techniques from various martial arts, including striking and grappling, both standing and on the ground
  • Combat Sambo is a variation of Sambo that includes striking and grappling
  • Sanshou/Sanda is a Chinese martial art which combines traditional Chinese boxing with wrestling and other techniques, allowing both striking and throwing.

Each of these combat sports has its own rules, techniques, and strategies, catering to different preferences and styles of fighting. Whether one combat sport is harder than another to learn depends on your own skill level, previous understanding of the sport and accessibility to classes.

Learning to Strike

Learning to Strike

When learning to strike, you can watch videos online for a rough idea, but for the correct technique it’s best to attend a boxing or other combat sport class or train under a qualified coach. Many gyms have classes for boxing or martial arts as well as personal trainers who can help with your striking technique if you want the one-to-one attention.

Learning to strike isn’t necessarily easy, but there are only a few basic punches that you can practise, or a few leg strikes you can also incorporate. To make it easier for yourself, one-on-one instruction, at least in the beginning, will help you to learn quicker than in a class as your coach can give you personalised feedback.

Strikes include:

  • Jab, cross, hook and uppercut
  • Front kick, roundhouse, side kick, spinning kick
  • Knees and elbows
  • Combinations for more effective attacks

If you’re already in good physical health and have a sporty background, you’ll find striking relatively easy to learn, but you’ll also benefit from having good coordination, balance and agility. However, these are also skills you’ll learn as you train and your performance in your sport improves.

Effective striking will take time, patience, guidance, proper equipment and resilience, so don’t expect it to be easy – combat sports also require a strong mental attitude so be ready to struggle through your training but make sure to celebrate each improvement.

Choosing the Right Punching Bag

Choosing the Right Punching Bag

Punching bags are a crucial part of learning to strike and training, as they provide a comfortable surface with necessary resistance to strike against, without hurting yourself or a training partner. There are several types of punching bags, some to improve speed and accuracy, while others are to utilise power, so choosing the right punching bag for your training is crucial for your learning and training.

Heavy hanging punching bags are the most famous and possibly the most versatile, allowing trainers to enhance their cardio, improving their fitness, and practise their striking and performing powerful punches. Hanging bags are also available longer so can be used for kicking and knee strikes.

But free-standing bags are also good for strike training; free-standing bags are like heavy bags but don’t require installation, so you can keep them at home to train. You can practise all kinds of punches, kicks, knees and elbows safely, making them great for boxing and other striking-focus combat sports. Plus, they’re not too expensive either.

Learning to Grapple

Learning to Grapple

Learning to grapple can be challenging, but with dedication and proper guidance, it is achievable for individuals of all skill levels and worth the effort for your physical and mental health. Like most combat sports, the best way to learn to grapple is by attending classes dedicated to certain grappling-focused martial arts like BJJ, judo or wrestling. In these classes, you’ll have the guidance of experienced teachers and the appropriate space and equipment to learn.

Unlike boxing which can be self-taught to an extent with punching bags, boxing gloves and online video tutorials, grappling sports require a coach and a training partner to learn the fundamental techniques including basic takedowns, escapes and submissions. In BJJ, for example, beginners learn positions such as the guard, mount, and side control, as well as techniques for controlling opponents and submitting them using joint locks and chokeholds.

Learning to grapple effectively requires a lot of repetition of techniques. Students practise techniques with partners, gradually refining their movements and improving their timing and execution under the guidance of a trainer. Repetitive drilling helps students develop muscle memory, which is essential for performing techniques instinctively in live sparring or competition.

Live sparring, often referred to as “rolling” in BJJ, is an essential part of learning to grapple. During rolling sessions, students apply their grappling techniques against resisting opponents in a controlled but dynamic environment. Rolling allows students to test and refine their skills, develop their timing and sensitivity, and gain practical experience in applying techniques against a resisting opponent. This won’t be appropriate for beginners but it will be gradually brought into training as you progress.

While learning to grapple can be physically and mentally demanding, it can also be highly rewarding and enjoyable. With consistent practice, guidance from experienced instructors, and a willingness to learn, individuals can develop effective grappling skills over time.

How to Train with a Grappling Dummy

Grappling dummies shouldn’t be used initially for the basic training as you cannot learn the proper techniques without a partner and a coach. However, once you understand the fundamentals of grappling, grappling dummies are useful tools to have at home to practise drills and repeat movements.

Grappling dummies are useful in many ways, including:

  • Practising submissions, transitions, reversals and escapes without a partner
  • Strength training exercises useful in grappling including lifting, carrying and throwing
  • Mentally rehearsing fight scenarios and improving muscle memory
  • Solo drills incorporating several techniques for smooth flows and transitions
  • Strike practice in combination with grappling moves

Grappling dummies are versatile and useful for training alone and enhancing technique as well as physical strength, but they should be used as a training aid, not a replacement for rolling with a partner or learning under an experienced coach.

Benefits of Learning Grappling

Benefits of Learning Grappling

Grappling and striking are both useful techniques to learn for mental, physical and social skills, and both have their benefits for self-defence. If you do find yourself in a street fight or needing self-defence skills, which is better of striking or grappling depends on the scenario. However, grappling-based martial arts are often highly effective for self-defence due to their focus on controlling opponents, neutralising threats, and subduing attackers without necessarily causing significant harm.

Physically, grappling training offers a comprehensive full-body workout, improving cardiovascular health, strength, flexibility, and coordination. The practical self-defence skills acquired through grappling techniques enhance personal safety and confidence, while also serving as an effective stress reliever.

Grappling fosters problem-solving abilities, adaptability, discipline, and patience, instilling valuable life skills that extend beyond the mat. Confidence and empowerment grow as practitioners progress, supported by a sense of community and camaraderie within the grappling environment, since learning to grapple needs to be social. Respect, humility, and sportsmanship are integral values promoted through grappling, enriching both personal interactions and broader aspects of life.

Overall, grappling offers a holistic approach to combat sports making it a rewarding and enriching endeavour for practitioners of all levels.

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