A submission is a combat sports term that has become commonly used throughout the martial arts world. When a practitioner applies a submission hold, it generally means that they have sunk in a joint lock or choke hold designed to cause an opponent give up or face injury. When an opponent submits in martial arts competition, it generally means they have given up either by tapping out (tapping their hand or other body part on an opponent or the ground, clearly signaling that they cannot continue) or verbally indicating such.
A technical submission refers to a submission in combat sports where the referee ended the fight. Some common reasons for this are when a fighter becomes injured (their arm is broken from an armbar, for example) or they are choked unconscious and do not tap.
Styles of Fighting That Stress Submissions
Six of the Greatest Submission Fighters in History
This is hardly an exhaustive list. But these fighters certainly deserve some notoriety for their contributions to submission fighting.
- Helio Gracie: Gracie is widely considered to be the inventor of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Given Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s impact on the art of submissions, he should make any list of the greatest submission fighters in history. Gracie died in January of 2009.
- Rickson Gracie: Rickson is not as well-known as his brother Royce or father Helio. But he never lost in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or MMA competition and is widely considered to be the best Gracie fighter ever. Which, of course, makes him the best submission fighter of all-time in many people’s eyes.
- Royce Gracie: Helio’s son, Royce, showed the world once and for all how effective Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was when he won three out of the first four UFC Tournaments. All of his wins in these early UFC encounters came by way of submission.
- Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: This former PRIDE and UFC Heavyweight Champion utilized submissions to become one of the most feared MMA grapplers on the planet.
- BJ Penn: You’d be hard-pressed to find a fighter that’s more dangerous with submissions than Penn. He’s one of the most flexible fighters ever.
- Kazushi Sakuraba: Most of the guys on this list are pure Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters. But Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not the only submission fighting art. Enter Kazushi Sakuraba, a great catch wrestler whose nickname, “The Gracie Killer,” was given due to a host of victories over Gracie fighters, with many of these coming by way of submission.