Craig Jones: Every jiu-jitsu practitioner should train under wrestling rules

In a recent appearance on the El Segundo podcast, jiu-jitsu wizard Craig Jones emphasized the immense impact developing his wrestling skills has had on his grappling game. While jiu-jitsu has exploded in popularity over the past two decades, Jones believes most schools are still lacking in quality wrestling training.

“Every jiu-jitsu practitioner should train under wrestling rules at times to understand getting up and not just playing guard,” said Jones. He explained that training takedowns, scrambles, and bottom position escapes through the lens of wrestling has paid huge dividends in his development.

Jones contrasted his current training environment in the United States with his origins coming up in the Australian jiu-jitsu scene. He noted that the depth of credentialed wrestlers at all levels in the US provides training partners that can pressure test jiu-jitsu players in ways most Commonwealth countries still cannot.

“In Australia you might have a guy possibly that’s just way too good of a wrestler. It’s not even worth his time to train with you,” detailed Jones about the skill discrepancy.

To fully round out deficits, Jones recommends seeking out wrestlers of varying aptitude so exchanges remain competitive for development. He believes that losing fear of the takedown game and becoming competent in scrambles, guard retention, and stand-ups should be priorities for any jiu-jitsu player looking to evolve their game.

“I think that aspect of training is most fun to me these days. It’s most applicable to ADCC – not getting scored on and obviously to coaching my guys,” concluded Jones.

It’s clear that mastery of wrestling skills serves not just as a complementary asset, but rather as a prerequisite to achieving the well-rounded grappling repertoire needed to reach the pinnacle of the sport. Jones believes lack of wrestling is the missing ingredient holding back both individuals and the greater jiu-jitsu community from reaching their full potential.