I've been thinking about creating an ontology of grappling/martial arts techniques recently. I know there are things like flowcharts for BJJ. Google directed me to this question: An Ontology of Combat There's a link to an ontology made via WebProtegé, which sadly doesn't work anymore. So I am wondering if there is still somebody out there working on an ontology of BJJ or something similar?

I'm generally thinking of something like "positions" that have certain significant positions of arms and legs, "transitions" that have certain significant changes in positions of arms and legs etc. I see that my English might be too limited...but I hope to be able to deliver the point.

Ontology, not a taxonomy. A taxonomy would be nice, too. But I'm after e.g. the transitions in grappling styles, which might be modelled as relations between different positions (e.g. sidemount to mount and vice versa). I don't think this is covered by/in a taxonomy.

So...any directions?


Yes, this is kind of a duplicate to An Ontology of Combat. But 1) I don't want to spam 50 (?) questions to earn reputation, so I could then comment on the other question. And 2) the other problem is time: The question is as old as the answers to it and those answers do not seem to be valid anymore. I could comment on the answers - see 1).

All in all the question hasn't been answered thoroughly yet and it's just not a "How do I wrap my bandages properly?"-question. If there is a way to revive the old question and/or fuse both, I'd be grateful for that!

Reformulating my previous question: Are there any ontologies of combat sports? Are there different approaches? General ontologies or specific (e.g. boxing, BJJ, MMA)? Is there an open access to those ontologies?

I would be glad for any hints on technique-databases, too.

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    If you had a little more reputation, you could start a bounty of the previous question to attract newer answers. Maybe a kind soul who does BJJ and has enough reputation to spare could do that? I would but I know little to nothing of BJJ so my judgement would be poor at best. May 2, 2017 at 13:40
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    Also, do you want to do a ontology, i.e. describing what there is and what the basic, existential relations between the existing techniques are, or a taxinomy, i.e. some kind of ordering the techniques according to their phenomenological differences and similarities into classes, families, etc. - Your second paragraph could be read as both. May 2, 2017 at 13:48
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    Might I suggest you took the tour to see how this site works? May 2, 2017 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


This is a massively broad topic. Let me try to give you a little idea by answering your rephrased questions:

Are there any ontologies of combat sports?

No, not really.

Are there different approaches? General ontologies or specific (e.g. boxing, BJJ, MMA)?

Yes, there are different approaches.

Consider just throwing techniques. Judo classifies throwing techniques based on the primary body part of the thrower responsible for the throwing action (hand, hip, leg, falling to rear, or falling to the side). Even within judo, people will disagree about what a throw should be called and what the primary mechanism is. Outside judo, Principles, Analysis, and Application of Effortless Combat Throws by Tim Cartmell classifies throws based on how the throwee moves through space (spiral, arc). How you think about a throw leads you to understand it relative to other throws differently.

It gets worse. At least with the throws, there is a single commonly recognizable action that you can discuss. Take piquan from xingyi. It's a posture, it's a block, it's a grab, it's a pull, it's a strike. If you consider it from outside the perspective of xingyi, it's likely multiple distinct actions. There may be no agreement of what a unit is.

Is there an open access to those ontologies?

No. You are stuck mostly with books and oral transmission. You cannot expect complete knowledge from any source, and sources will frequently disagree on major points.

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