Submission Grappling

FILA, the governing body of Olympic Wrestling, is also the authority for submission grappling, international competition beach wrestling, and Sambo. In 2008, The New Zealand Wrestling Union, a FILA member, began the establishment of submission grappling in New Zealand. I was tasked by the President of the New Zealand Wrestling Union, Mr Brian Stannett, to assist with this establishment. The aim is to conduct submission grappling at wrestling tournaments to complement freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling.

Karl Webber - Footlock
Karl Webber demonstrating a submission technique

The Combat Sport School Olympic Wrestling club for several years now has been a most successful wrestling club at the national championships. The Combat Sport School Olympic Wrestling club operates out of the Todd Group facility in Dunedin, and is not only the oldest combative and self-defence facility in New Zealand, but also has over 80 years history in wrestling and Jiu Jitsu.

The Todd Group has promoted kickboxing, world title fights, prize fighting, and has been involved in leading the way in unarmed combat and self-defence training for over 80 years. The Todd Group facility incorporates three mat rooms, a boxing ring, all the required kickboxing and boxing bags and equipment, as well as a fully equipped close combat training facility and lecture room. We now have 35 Todd Group Depots nationally and internationally.

While many clubs seek instruction and qualification in martial arts and combat sports from overseas, the Todd Group are the international close combat training providers and exponents and instructors instructors travel down under for training and testing making the Todd Group and systems specialist and unique.

We also have the Sports Master Athletics International martial arts sole New Zealand agency. Sports Master Athletics International are based out of Australia and are the largest manufacturer and distributor in Australasia and one of the largest in the world supplying the global market. They were sole TKD uniform suppliers in Athens and supply International Judo Federation, World Karate Federation, and World Taekwondo Federation approved lines to over 40 countries. We are the biggest supplier in the country and pride ourselves in providing price service and product. We also have a combative training camp set in 280 acres with accommodation for 100 exponents.

Fight Times, through its Todd Group members, will be opening martial arts stores in Christchurch and Auckland this year to meet the demand and aid in reducing the volume of a mail-orders from customers in those locations. In these hard economic times being supplied from Australia by the biggest in the business down under really advantages our customers. The Todd Group are very much into utilizing and supporting our rank-and-file in their expertise with our operation and expansion especially in areas where members have required expertise.

Over the years, members have represented us, achieving impressive accolades including national wrestling titles from the 1930s until today. Harry Baldock’s son Peter was a national wrestling champ and my daughter Jessica has won several national titles and been a gold medallist at the down under games between New Zealand, Australia and the United States of America. Members currently hold 13 national wrestling titles, and on top of being the most successful club at the 2008 national wrestling championships we also took out the best female club in the country. Our boxers have included national champions and New Zealand team members Stuart Henderson and Dawn Chalmers. In kickboxing, former heavyweight champion Steve Hamilton, and in mixed martial arts reality fighting, heavyweight champion Lee Smith.

Some combative members such as Joe Jansen, Scott Hewit, Aaron Boyes, and Karl Weber joined the Todd Group already having expertise in combat sports codes and are respected for their achievements.

Karl Webber is someone I've known since the early 1990s and is one such member that has extreme expertise in mixed martial arts as well as being a long time Todd Group member and CQB practitioner. I first met Karl when he was training at the Todd Group Papakura depot under Ron Evans, and in 1996 he attended the first open application national and international CQB course conducted here at the Todd Group headquarters, Dunedin. He successfully passed phase 1 testing and has since undertaken phase 2 training. Karl’s start was with Aikido training back in 1990 before changing code to Jujitsu training in 1992. He has since committed himself to learning as much as he can about mixed martial arts and Jujitsu, including training in three different forms of Jujitsu. Karl was instructed by Sensei Derna Trifilo in Aikido, Master Ron Evans in combat Jujitsu and CQB, in Rickson Gracie Brazilian Jujitsu under Lindolfo Collar, as well as Yoshin Ryu Jujitsu under Terry Evans, and he was one of my CQB exponents.

Karl Webber - Phase 1 CQB Test
Karl Webber – Phase 1 CQB Test 1996

Karl Webber - Phase 2 CQB Test
Karl Webber – Phase 2 CQB Test

Karl Webber - Phase 2 CQB Test Group Photo
Karl Webber – Post Phase 2 CQB Test Group Photo

Karl has proven to be a strong competitor with a very good attitude towards his opponents, colleagues, and understudies. He is friendly by nature and committed to his personal training and the training of others. Karl and his Universal Jujitsu Club joined up with Strike Force Martial Arts club, under head instructor Aaron Boyes, in 2002 and become Strike Force MMA.

I can remember many years back first hearing of Aaron Boyes, from Terry Hill, when Aaron was a fledgling kick boxer and how Terry considered him to be a tough competitor and a real future prospect in the New Zealand fight scene.

Mike Snowden, a respected senior Todd Group member, who also held Aaron in the highest regard as a fighter then introduced me to Aaron and later Aaron attended a Todd Group annual course and successfully phase tested. Karl holds Aaron in the highest regard as a fighter instructor and friend and is inspired by his warrior example. The two make a formidable team and in an effort to expand Strike Force and provide South Islanders with their expertise Karl moved south to Christchurch in 2008 and established Strike Force MMA Canterbury.

Karl has an impressive record as a competitor and instructor including in cage fighting five wins and three losses. He is a six time New Zealand Jujitsu champion in Brazilian Jujitsu and Sport Jujitsu, as well as a two-time submission wrestling champion. In 1999 he was ranked number two in the light heavyweight division with the International Sport Jujitsu Association after the world championships in Canada. In 2000 at the world submission wrestling championships at Abu Dabu he was the runner-up. In 2001 at the Australian open Brazilian jujitsu championships in Melbourne in the light heavyweight blue belt division he was a silver medallist.

Karl has produced many national champions and top ranked combat sports fighters in Sport Jujitsu, Brazilian Jujitsu, submission wrestling, mixed martial arts and Vale Tudo. Since teaming up with his respected colleague and tough competitor in Aaron Boyes under the Strike Force banner he has produced three New Zealand champions while in Auckland with a 100% win record from his stable of fighters in MMA. The same success has been achieved since his 2008 move to Christchurch with his understudies recording two wins from two fights.

The Todd Group needed a submission grappling instructor in order to partake and assist in the New Zealand Wrestling Union’s introduction of submission grappling and the solution was obvious in Karl, one of the long-term members of CQB, with considerable expertise and a proven track record in MMA. I put a proposal to Karl in the form of him becoming the head submission grappling coach at the Todd Group travelling down from Christchurch regularly to conduct continuation training for the grapplers. He not only graciously accepted but it was with the same old enthusiasm and commitment I've seen from him in the early 90s.

Karl Webber, Ron Evans, Danyon Loader
Karl Webber, Ron Evans, Danyon Loader – Todd Group, Dunedin

For us, with a strong wrestling team and Alan Rolton, our head wrestling coach, conducting training at the Todd Group week in week out, all we needed was Karl’s expertise in the submission skills. Alan’s wrestlers are renowned for their fitness and following in the ways of many of the submission champions of today coming from wrestling backgrounds we know we have the environment and expertise through Alan and Karl to produce some good future submission grapplers.

We have, in a minority sport, wrestlers that are juniors and have been with us since they were children, racking up impressive numbers of competitive belts with many having competed in more than 250 bouts. We believe with so much competitive mat time under their belts and with the inclusion of submission skills from Karl we have a winning formula.

The national competitive wrestling season runs for six months and in that time our wrestlers will attend annually six or more tournaments and can wrestle five or more bouts at each tournament. They also have the opportunity to compete in Greco-Roman at the nationals and some provincial championships. Including submission grappling at provincial wrestling championships along with freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling will give competitors the ability to compete in multiple codes if they so desire and gain that all important mat time.

Wrestlers also get the opportunity to be picked for international competition including the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships, and Down Under Tournament and with FILA, the governing body, controlling submission grappling as well as European wrestling codes the prospects for competitors and coaches as well as officials is very exciting.

The Combat Sports School intends to conduct a major tournament in 2009 in the form of the combat sports open, where freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling as well as submission grappling, boxing and Thai boxing will be competed. This will be an invitation match tournament where top ranked competitors will showcase to the Dunedin public the various codes of combat sports.

Our Thai boxing coach, Big Mike Russ, is currently in training to not only fight but also enter his understudies at this and other South Island competitions. We invite new Dunedin submission grapplers to join us now in the infancy of this new combat sports code and be part of it from the beginning and this goes for officials as well.

Many grapplers are not into striking or kicking, so submission grappling will really appeal to them. We have had interest from Judo players and Hapkido practitioners as well as many practitioners of various Jiu Jitsu and grappling styles. We believe that, minus the striking and kicking, submission grappling has a major global place in international combat sports competition at the highest level.

When you consider that there are over 80 million wrestlers globally, and submission grappling is a natural progression from Greco and freestyle, the future looks massive.

Those that are interested in submission grappling please contact us on [email protected] or phone/fax 03 477 8902.

Article written by Tank Todd

Special Operations CQB Master Chief Instructor. Over 30 years experience. The only instructor qualified descendent of Baldock, Nelson, and Applegate. Former instructors include Harry Baldock (unarmed combat instructor NZ Army WWII), Colonel Rex Applegate OSS WWII and Charles Nelson, US Marine Corps. Tank has passed his Special Forces combative instructor qualification course in Southeast Asia and is certified to instruct the Applegate, Baldock and Nelson systems. His school has been operating for over eighty years and he is currently an Army Special Operations Group CQB Master Chief Instructor. His lineage and qualifications from the evolutionary pioneers are equalled by no other military close combat instructor. His operation includes his New Zealand headquarters, and 30 depots worldwide as well as contracts to train the military elite, security forces, and close protection specialists. Annually he trains thousands of exponents and serious operators that travel down-under to learn from the direct descendant of the experts and pioneers of military close combat. Following in the footsteps of his former seniors, he has developed weapons, and training equipment exclusive to close combat and tactical applications. He has published military manuals and several civilian manuals and produced DVDs on urban self protection, tactical control and restraint, and close combat. He has racked up an impressive 100,000+ hours in close combat.