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Wrestling and Grappling Drills in a Cage


Last night at NEMMA we were doing a lot of wrestling drills – Single leg takedowns and low single takedowns mostly. Some of it great stuff, other stuff not really meant for MMA training, but still great technique.

Live Wrestling in a Cage

Cage FightingAfter the technique, we split up into groups of 3 – big guys in the cage!. I am about 230 right now and went with another good grappler who weighs about 260, and another wrestler who weighs about 225+. The drill was go live for 2 minutes straight, rest a minute.
At first I tried to just setup my takedowns as normal, not using the cage at all. I had good success. A couple double-legs and Kosoto Gake (body lock takedowns); then something clicked in my brain saying “You’re training for a MMA fight with a cage – use the fucking cage you dumbass”.

Using the cage added such a different feel and dynamic to the techniques. It was like grappling at Kobukai Ju-Jitsu against the wall. There is a little more give with the cage, but I was easily able to pressure my opponent against the cage and then attack his legs, go for underhooks, and body locks.

The most successful techniques I had against the cage were:

  • Getting double-under hooks then taking the back
  • Double-under hooks to a body lock takedown
  • Over-under grip to Harai Goshi (nailed that two times)
  • Pressuring against the cage to double leg

Defending and Attacking Against the Cage Wrestling

After the live wrestling in the cage drill we stuck with the same partners and worked on having one person with their backs against the cage, and the other pressuring them into the cage. The goal for the attacker was to get a thai clinch or double-under hooks. The goal of the defender was to get off the cage or reverse the situation.

This was another great MMA drill for fighting in the cage. And again, learning to use the wall at Kobukai Ju-Jitsu definitely helped.

Lessons Learned

  • Wrestling and training in a cage is similar to training against a wall. There is more give to a cage, but the cage is less forgiving. The chain link fencing in a cage does a number on your hands and fingers without gloves.
  • Using the cage to pressure your opponent, and not give them an “out” can make it easier to setup some great takedowns and throws.
  • While attempting throws and takedowns, you need to be careful of punches and knees. Forgetting that your opponent can punch or knee you, will create problems in the long run.
  • When against the cage, tie up and control their arms and / or hips. Don’t give them the power to swim out or reverse the situation.
  • Watch out for you hands… I’ve got one swollen middle finger and bruises up and down my hands, forearms and elbows. Sleeping last night was bitch!
  • Cage wrestling is fun!!!!!


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