Wrestling Techniques and Terminology


Wrestling Techniques and Terminology

Wrestling terminology often varies from region to region and organization to organization. The same technique will often have numerous names. This glossary is designed to translate Wrestling terminology to Japanese Judo and/or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This glossary is by no means complete.

Ankle Pick – Kibisu Gaeshi (Judo), Heel Trip Reversal

Base – generally refers to balance (e.g., someone who is difficult to sweep may be described as having a “good base”), in particular the position the person on top takes when in someone else’s guard: keep your weight low, back straight, head up, knees wide. This is the same “bottom man” starting position in Wrestling.

Breakfall – Ukemi (Judo) – a method by which you can reduce the impact of being thrown or falling. The general principle is to disperse the force by slapping the ground with your hands (specifically the palm heel) and feet. Differs slightly depending on direction – for example, with a backwards breakfall, both hands slap the ground, whereas with a side breakfall, you only use one hand.

Bridge – Arching onto the head and lifting one’s back off of the mat to prevent a pin. See Upa in BJJ.

Ball and Chain – a favorite setup to a Half-Nelson / Yoko-shiho-gatame (Judo) reversed

Barb Wire

Clinch – A position in which one person has gripped the other whilst standing, such as UNDERHOOKING their arms. In BJJ, this will generally be the precursor to a TAKEDOWN. Also seen in many other martial arts, especially muay thai, which uses the same position as an opportunity to throw knees into the opponent’s legs and body. This is the same type of “tie-up” standing position in Wrestling.

Crank – A term used to describe submissions that operate by twisting parts of the body into abnormal positions in order to cause pain. Cranks tend to be crude and rely on brute force, in comparison to submissions like chokes and armbars. Due to the increased risk of serious injury, particularly to the neck and spine, cranks are often either frowned upon or outright banned. A typical example is the ‘can opener’, performed by grabbing behind the head and pulling it towards you while in somebody’s guard. Note that there can be a grey area, especially between certain chokes and neck cranks, such as the guillotine choke. Crank may also be used to describe the process of locking on a submission: e.g., “she cranked that armbar”.

Cross Body Ride – Nail

Cross Body Ride – Leg Split

Cross Body Ride – Guillotine


Cross-Face Cradle

Double-leg Takedown – Morote-Gari (Judo) and baiana (Portuguese). A takedown, best known in Wrestling, executed by attacking both legs, generally gripping the back of the knees to facilitate bringing your opponent to the floor.

Duck-Under – a typical setup to Te-Guruma (Judo)


Fireman’s Carry – Kata Guruma (Judo)

Gable Grip – also known as Wrestler’s Grip – a grip in which your palms are together, fingers wrapped round the edge, not using the thumbs. It is named after legendary wrestler Dan Gable.

Granby Roll

Grapevine – Tate-shiho-gatame (Judo) – a type of control that most commonly applies to MOUNT. You have your legs threaded through your opponent’s, hooking around with your feet to stop them escaping. This makes for a stable defensive position, though attacks are mostly limited to the EZEQUIEL.

Guillotine – Mae Hadaka-Jime (Judo) – may see this referred to as guilhotina (Portuguese), mae hadakajime and front headlock. Applied by wrapping one arm under the neck, gripping your own bicep of the other hand, securing that behind the head, then squeezing for the submission.

Half Nelson – Yoko-shiho-gatame (Judo) reversed

Head Throw – Koshi Guruma (Judo)

High Crotch

Hip Throw – O Goshi (Judo)

Hooks – also known as gancho (Portuguese). Normally refers to getting your feet wrapped under a limb, especially under the leg. For example, for butterfly guard, you need to ‘hook’ your feet to secure the position. This is also important when TAKING THE BACK, to stop your opponent REVERSING you.

Lateral Drop – Yoko Otoshi (Judo)

Mount – Tate-shiho-gatame (Judo) – Position where one person is sat on top of the other, legs straddling the torso. There are several variations, such as a high mount, where your knees move up into their armpit, a low mount, where you GRAPEVINE your legs, and TECHNICAL MOUNT, ideal for when they are attempting to roll free.

Near-Fall – Osaekomi (Judo) position.

Near-Side Cradle

No-Gi – also known as nogi, no gi and gi less. Training without the gi jacket, normally in some combination of rash guard or t-shirt and shorts or gi pants. In no-gi training, you cannot use many of the grips available when rolling with the gi. This means that UNDERHOOKS and OVERHOOKS become much more important. Manipulating your opponent’s clothing is generally not permitted, ruling out COLLAR CHOKES. Freestyle Judo competition has No-Gi divisions.

Overhook – known as a whizzer in Wrestling – A position in which you have managed to get a limb secured over the top of your opponent’s arm or leg – i.e., ‘hooked’.

Peterson Roll – Soto Makikomi (Judo), normally performed from the knees, but also done from standing position when opponent is standing behind.

Pin – Osaekomi (Judo) position, but with both shoulderblades touching the mat.

Post – used as a verb, posting. A term which refers to placing a part of your body on your opponent or the mat in order to gain stability and prevent or set up movement. For example, if someone is attempt to use the UPA to escape your MOUNT, you can ‘post’ your arms to the relevant side in order to prevent being swept.

Posture – also known as postura (Portuguese). Good posture means that your back and neck are straight, your head in line with your spine.

Quarter Nelson – common follow-up after sprawling on top of opponent

Rear Naked Choke – Hadaka-Jime (Judo) – also known as a sleeper hold, mata leo or mata leão (‘to kill the lion’ in Portuguese), often abbreviated to RNC. Same principle as the GUILLOTINE, but from behind the opponent as opposed to a front headlock position.

Reversal – also known as inversão (Portuguese), and can be a verb – reverse. A term used to describe a movement or technique that manages to change the combatants position. For example, if you managed to SWEEP an opponent who previously had MOUNT, meaning that you ended up in their GUARD, this could be described as a reversal. The concept is similar in Wrestling however, wrestlers avoid exposing their back to the mat.

Rolling – Newaza Randori (Judo) – a term often used in BJJ and other grappling styles, which has the same meaning as ‘sparring’ or randori, but on the ground. In Portuguese, the noun is either dar um rola or escrima. Generally when rolling, one person attempts to submit the other, who fully resists them. Alternately, the instructor may use ‘specific sparring’ in order to familiarise students with certain positions, such as sparring from guard with the end goal of passing or sweeping.

Scarf Hold – Kesa Gatame (Judo) – head and arm (Wrestling). This is a controlling position in which you are facing towards your opponent’s head, with one arm threaded under their armpit and around their neck, while your other hand is pulling their remaining arm tight into your stomach.

Shoulder Throw – Seoi Nage (Judo)

Shrimping – also known as snaking, snake move, hip escape, hipscape and ebi. Used to describe a motion in which you use your legs to shift your hips to one side or the other, pushing out your posterior. This is an integral part of Judo and BJJ, especially escapes.

Side Control – Mune-Gatame (Judo) or sometimes Yoko-Shiho-Gatame (Judo) – also known as sidemount, cross-side, across side, thousand kilos, one hundred kilos, 100 kilos, cem kilos (Portuguese). A position in which you are on top and perpendicular to your opponent.

Single-Leg Takedown – Kuchiki Taoshi (Judo)

Sprawl – Defense from a Double-Leg Takedown or similar leg attack.

Stack – can be a verb – stacking. A position in which you compress your opponent by squeezing their legs towards their head or chest. Ideally, their knees will be pressing against their head. This is often used when passing the guard, or when escaping submissions such as ARMBARs. This is a popular Wrestling position.

Submission – sometimes abbreviated to sub. The term used to refer to any kind of finishing hold which results in one person TAPPING.

Takedown – Nage Waza (Judo) – a throwing technique, also known as queda (Portuguese). As the name would suggest, this term is used to refer to any technique which takes the opponent down to the ground. For example, a throw or a trip.

Take the Back – also known as taking the back and pega as costas (Portuguese) or “cowboy ride” (grappling). When somebody manages to secure a position on the back of their opponent, aiming to get their legs wrapped around the hips, with feet acting as HOOKS – can be referred to as back mount and rear mount.

Tapping – when someone indicates they wish to concede by slapping the ground with their hand, normally due to the pain caused by a particular SUBMISSION, or occasionally simply out of exhaustion. Sometimes they will tap on their opponent’s body instead, or even with their feet if both arms are trapped.

Three-Quarter Nelson

Tulsa Ride

Turtle – can be a verb – turtling. A position in which you are on all fours, with your posterior pressed to your ankles, limbs tightly tucked into your body. Also known as the “Chicken Judo” position. Turtling is considered stalling in Freestyle Judo and most Wrestling competition.

Underhook – opposite of the OVERHOOK. A position in which you have managed to secure a limb underneath one of your opponent’s, such as under their arms when in the CLINCH. This is a popular Wrestling position.

Wing-Over – Hani-Makikomi (Judo) from a kneeling position. Defense from an incorrectly-performed Half-Nelson

Wrestler’s Grip – also known as the Gable Grip – a grip in which your palms are together, fingers wrapped round the edge, not using the thumbs. It is named after legendary wrestler Dan Gable.