Let's face it, if you're going to compete in jiu jitsu, you're going to have to start on your feet. If you attend a gym or academy in which every sparring session starts sitting down - either due to crowded mats or concerns over injuries - and you intend on competing sometime in the near or far future, you're doing yourself a grave disservice if you don't work on your standup game.
Yeah, of course you can immediately pull guard, but guard pulling is an art itself. If you don't practice it from standing, your guard pull in competition will be easily thwarted and you'll quickly find yourself in a very, very terrible situation (... and you don't want to have to tell people you "pulled mount", do you?). What about judo, you ask? Yes, judo is an excellent addition to your game, and I'll elaborate on why in a later post.
However, one of the best standup styles to integrate into your BJJ game is wrestling, and here are some reasons why:
An Easy Two
In an IBJJF-ruled tournament, if you face a guard puller, there's an easy two points there just ripe for the picking... and you wouldn't know - or have built the reflexes to catch it - if you haven't practiced your wrestling. Just the slightest touch on your opponent's leg when he/she goes to pull guard, is most likely going to earn you that "easy two". Who wouldn't want to start a match a whole two points ahead?? That way your opponent is going to be concerned about trying to recoup those two points, and in doing so, will most likely make mistakes that you can capitalize on to advance your position or sink a submission.
The Sprawl Factor
If you face a wrestler, especially a takedown artist, you're going to want to know how to sprawl... otherwise you risk giving your opponent an easy two. Even if you aren't the greatest at taking someone down yourself, knowing how to sprawl - and sprawl hard - is going to make your opponent think twice about trying to take you down. Additionally, knowing how to sprawl - and developing that specific timing associated with great sprawling - is going to help you throughout your jiu jitsu. For example, if your opponent is on his/her back and is trying to reverse the position, knowing how to drop your hips and make yourself as heavy as possible is going to help you thwart your opponent's attempts, keeping you on top and in a better position to dictate the pace of the game.
Confidence on Your Feet
Probably the most amazing gift wrestling will give you is confidence on your feet. Between learning how to effectively and efficiently take someone down and knowing how to sprawl on a moment's notice, you're going to develop an incredible sense of comfort on your feet. Even if you have no intention of taking your opponent down, that sense of confidence will be apparent, and it'll weigh on his/her mind when he/she is facing you on the competition mat. Maybe there will be a slight hesitation in his/her guard pull, or he/she will think twice about taking you down. That kind of psychological warfare is invaluable.
It's Freaking Fun!
For those who have never taken a wrestling class, or have only taken a couple of classes, wrestling can seem hard and intimidating. Yeah, the first few sessions will definitely kick your butt and have you seriously questioning the status of your cardio, but once you get enough under your belt to become just a little more proficient... wrestling is freaking fun! Exploring the angles you need to offset your opponent's balance and being able to effectively duck under his/her arms to reach the legs presents a delightful new puzzle. And you'll never forget that delicious feeling of elation that first time you execute a perfectly-timed and technically correct takedown on someone who isn't just letting you do it.
Even if you never execute a beautiful highlight-reel-worthy suplex takedown in competition... or ever in your life... you will never regret adding a bit of wrestling into your jiu jitsu game.
Train on... and take 'em down. Oss.