Submission Grappling Heading to the Olympics?


Randy Couture grapples with Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Photo courtesy of the PSL.

Submission Grappling an Olympic sport? It’s not as far-fetched as it may seem.

In an article posted yesterday on ESPN.com, Jay Weiner dives into the sport of wrestling, and how submission grappling and many of the techniques used today in the sport of mixed martial arts, might actually end up saving wrestling, which is continuing to experience the loss of it’s programs in various schools and towns across the country.

“There is a school of thought among traditionalists that our sport will exist in its current form forever,” USA Wrestling executive director Rich Bender said in the article. “But even those within that traditionalist community would have to admit our sport has changed. We have to keep our eyes wide-open.”

Last year, the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles sponsored the 2007 World Grappling Championships in Turkey, of which the United States ran away the winners. Bender took notice, and became part of the decision to hire Jason Towsend, the coach of the U.S. team and the former wrestling instructor at Xtreme Couture, to oversee the development of various styles within USA Wrestling.

Townsend strongly believes that submission grappling could eventually become an Olympic sport, even as early as 2016.

“If I’m going to sit here and play wizard for a day, there’s a high probability grappling can be an Olympic sport,” Townsend said in the article. “I don’t know how the wrestling landscape can change. Twenty years? I’d bet it could change pretty dramatically and sooner than you think.”

I completely agree with him. If USA Wrestling has already made the decision to infuse submission training into their regimen, who says other countries haven’t already followed suit? Getting the rest of the world to evolve as well shouldn’t be that hard. Grappling is extremely popular in Brazil, Russia, Japan, etc.

Even more exciting for Bender and company is the premise that the International Olympic Committee wants to modernize certain sports in order to attract a younger audience according to the article. Example: BMX will debut as an official event in Beijing this summer.

With the massive explosion of MMA here in the States and around the world, it’s only a matter of time before submission grappling gets a good look from the IOC. Judo has been an Olympic sport since the 60’s, why not jiu-jitsu?

HT: Bloody Elbow

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