Friends, this year we will be celebrating the 5th anniversary of our signature #WWEBJJWeek — an annual event that combines the very best of grappling with professional wrestling. Every year, our videos have attracted more than 100k views from jiu-jitsu and wrasslin nerds alike.
Along the way we’ve been lucky to get a handful of some of the biggest names in the sport to submit a few videos of their own and join in on the fun. Such as this dork below.
Terrible Garry Tonon submission aside, the origins of #WWEBJJ go back to when I first started training jiu-jitsu and had to break a few of the habits that I learned from years of watching professional wrestling. One of the very first things I turned into a video was a recreation of the very first moment I realized that a “rope break” didn’t exist in grappling (even though it totally should!).
Every year we get asked by people who are looking to contribute a video what they need to do join in on the fun and submit a video of their own. There are some clear guidelines:
1) Try to make videos the length of an instagram video (1 min or less)
2) Concentrate on moves and techniques that show your best jiu-jitsu attributes.
3) Be sure to send the videos to us and tag both #WWEBJJ and #WWEBJJWeek.
4) Don’t hurt any of your teammates making these videos.
But there are also some things that really give your submissions a punch. With respect to that, we thought we’d make a blog post that would help outline a series of pointers and tips that will help you to create your very own WWEBJJ submission.
Demonstrate a Technique
As avid jiu-jiteiros, we all actively seek technique videos that can help us improve our game. In the past, we have done videos that not only parody the technique video format, but also allow us to have some fun with the conventions that come along with it. In this installment, John Combs helps us parody the role of the uke, who always tries to put on a good face even when they’re getting wrecked.
One of the first videos to go viral for us was a on Bret Hart’s sharpshooter (my signature finish). A fun game we like to play in the gym is seeing if I can connect the jiu-jitsu technique demonstrated in class to a professional wrestling move. So we’ve turned that game into a recurring segment where I come up with a new way to hit a sharpshooter each year. My pal John Evans (above) helps me demonstrate a variation from X-guard.
Stunt performer and wrestler Cody Lowe has actually trained and performed as a professional wrestler (he actually did a short film on it that you can see here). When we discussed what kind of move he had in mind, I matched him up with another wrestler (10th Planet Van Nuys’ Eliot Aguyao) to get the perfect execution of a move that was equal parts wrestling and jiu-jitsu.
One of my favorite videos from last year came from our pal David Husley who amplifies the teaching of his technique with a voice that combines the best of Cactus Jack, Dusty Rhodes, and the Macho Man Randy Savage. As you see in the video, the technique and demonstration is well within the world of jiu-jitsu that we already know and love, just given a little something extra with the performance of it.
Show A Move By Itself
The Kent Peters is a well-known source of jiu-jitsu knowledge who puts out quality jiu-jitsu technique videos. He happened to crush this instructional that shows you how to take an ordinary DDT into a heel hook finish (see it to believe it).
Niko Radich is a hell of a competitor and instructor. When he told me he had an awesome figure four leg lock finish, I knew it would be good. The best WWEBJJ moves are the one you can legitimately see happening in a roll. Here Niko shows you how to surprise your opponent with a very simple, yet effective finish.
Film A Match
Of course, isolated moves are great, but there’s nothing quite like a match. The best part about filming a match for WWEBJJ is that you can throw away all of formalities and rules of decorum that usually apply to jiu-jitsu. In the video above, Drew from Because Jiu Jitsu gives us a great example of the blending or rules of pro wrestling and jiu-jitsu (notice how they have a ref to count for a pin).
The world of professional wrestling gives you a lot of creative freedom. While it might be frowned upon to have a teammate come and help you in a handicap match against one of your teammates, in WWEBJJ it’s perfectly normal. Triple threats, tag teams, handicap matches are all accepted and great ways to get your team in on the fun.
Matches also have a 24/7 hardcore rules time frame. Meaning, you can literally be challenged to a match at any time or any place. So you have to watch your back, especially if you’re the champ.
From the onset of WWEBJJ, we’ve had the support of a number of prominent athletes within the world of jiu-jitsu, but it’s always great when we get somebody in the world of professional wrestling who decides they want to play along. Pro wrestler Douglas James has gotten in on the fun a handful of times and shows us what a clean execution looks like.
Or even our pals like Mike Flach (EBI, RFA, KOTC) to make an appearance and do his very best Kurt Angle impression.
Tell A Story
Moves and techniques are always great to watch, but when it comes to creative in WWEBJJ, the sky is the limit. In one of our all-time best videos, Nick “Chew-jitsu” Albin demonstrates what happens when you turn the dial all the way up and concentrate on telling a story.
That creative energy has evolved over the years to feature submissions like this, from our pal Ryan Ford of the Grappling Central podcast. The role of the reluctant, but easily irritated practitioner demonstrates exactly how quickly a situation can go sideways. It’s bookmarked by a hilarious tag that’s sure to speak to the generation of kids who grew up in the 80’s watching larger-than-life characters on Saturday mornings.
When frequent guest of the show, Brandon McCaghren told me that he had an idea in mind for WWEBJJ week, I knew it would be good. But this was beyond good, it was a creative form of storytelling that demonstrates how to properly come up with a swerve (or a finish that deviates from the expected). Him and his crew from 10th Planet Decatur always bring something good every year.
Last year we decided to up the ante and tell a handful of long-form stories of a rivalry between myself and MMA fighter Milton Arguello. We set them up with a few vignettes like the one above, where we preview part of the long-form match.
We also used recap videos to summarize previous storylines and show different angles from the footage we shot. They often allow the creators to tell a different story or show a different experience.
Of course, sometimes, the very best storylines have large elements of truth to them. The video above is a take on one of the most unfortunate stoppages in UFC history. We just happened to get the guy it happened to (Drew Dober) to make a cameo and then cross-applied it to one of the most iconic pro wrestling moments of all time.
And, of course, you can always play with the conventions of how a match finishes in pro wrestling.
Last year, we decided to give the ultimate unfortunate uke a power storyline. And what better way of telling a powerful storyline than utilizing a theme song from the greatest film of our generation, Rocky IV. It’s just one way we recommend extending the storylines off the mats.
Not many podcasts have sponsors who are willing to get in on the fun. Especially when it comes to the insanity of WWEBJJ. But last year, our good pals over at North South Jiu Jitsu Underwear got in on the fun and submitted a video of their own. It’s one of the reasons we are truly proud to work with them.
Don’t forget, WWEBJJ videos can also be used as a form of commentary as well. If you ever hang around jiu-jitsu practitioners as they watch pro wrestling, they certainly have a lot of comments on the techniques demonstrated (let alone the incorporation of more jiu-jitsu and striking in matches). We made the video above as a way to poke fun at the conventions of pro wrestling from a BJJ lens.
Finally, sometimes you’ll notice that jiu-jitsu moves set you up perfectly for pro wrestling finishes. The following video began as a set up I once saw Tom DeBlass do for a heel heel finish, where I said, “oh ok, so he actually sets you up for a sharpshooter. Cool.”
Overall, the real key is to have fun and not hurt anybody. We created WWEBJJ as way to let loose and get people to do some silly videos. Over the years, we have consistently been surprised by the caliber of the videos that are submitted to us.
We will begin taking submissions at firstname.lastname@example.org starting this Friday, March 22nd. Submissions will be accepted until April 4th.