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Catch Wrestling vs BJJ: Full Guide

Catch Wrestling vs BJJ: Full Guide

Catch Wrestling vs BJJ – they share a common ground: A grappling based martial art that uses takedowns, pins, and submission to dominate an opponent.:

  • Catch Wrestling (Catch) and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) both focus on grappling techniques but have different approaches and philosophies.
  • Catch Wrestling is more brutal and aggressive, using pain and force to attain submissions, while BJJ focuses on technique and position.
  • Both martial arts have proven to be effective in self-defense scenarios and mixed martial arts (MMA).
  • In terms of who would win between catch wrestling vs bjj, catch may have the upper hand since a catch wrestler would be familiar with all the bjj techniques (but the bjj practitioner wouldn’t know all catch techniques)
  • Catch is not nearly as accessible/available as bjj, and furthermore, it may be very difficult to get quality catch wrestling instruction (whereas top bjj instruction is way more available/accessible)

Both catch wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are great grappling martial arts that are very effective for self defense.

So in a fight between a Catch Wrestler and a BJJ practitioner, who do you think would win?

Below is a nice breakdown between bjj and catch with two of its most famous practitioners:

Renzo Gracie (BJJ) vs Kazushi Sakuraba (Catch)

Main Differences Between Catch (Wrestling) and Jiu Jitsu

The primary differences between Catch Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) lie in their objectives, techniques, and training focus.

Here is a video of Josh Barnett (Catch Wrestling) vs Dean Lister (Jiu Jitsu)

Next, a table comparing the main differences between Catch Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu:

AspectCatch WrestlingBrazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)
ObjectiveForce opponent to submit through aggressive techniques and pain-inducing movesControl and submit opponent using leverage, technique, and fluid movement
Submission Goaloften catch wrestling involves diving for submission over dominant positionBjj teaches position over submission
Common Submissions Toeholds, neck cranks, and twisting arm locks (no chokes)Joint locks, strangles
PinningValid method for victoryNo points awarded for pinning*
TakedownsTakedowns are a key part in catchTakedowns may be lacking in bjj
Gear and ClothingDifferent colored bands for differentiationBelt ranking system with different color gis for each competitor
Gripping of GisNot applicable, as Catch Wrestling does not use gis (usually a wrestling singlet is worn)Many submissions and techniques rely on gripping gis
Expansion and AccessibilityFragmented competitive scene, fewer gyms and competitionsWell-developed competitive scene, widely accessible with gyms and tournaments
TechniquesEmphasis on takedowns and pins as viable ways to winFocus on securing positions before executing submissions
ChokesSometimes allowedAllowed
Match LengthNo scheduled time, winner decided in a best-of-three seriesVaries depending on belt level, typically 5-10 minutes
Competitive SceneLess organized with no single organization handling competitionsWell-established organizations and tournaments for various skill levels
AccessibilityRequires physical strength and endurance, less accessible for physically weaker individualsWidely accessible to people of all body types and ages, including children and older adults

Catch Wrestling is a more aggressive and pain-inducing style of grappling, often utilizing techniques that cause discomfort to force an opponent into submission.

On the other hand, BJJ is known as “The Gentle Art” for its emphasis on fluid movement, technique, and leverage to control and submit an opponent.

BJJ focuses on achieving a dominant position and submission, with no points awarded for pinning an opponent.

Catch Wrestling also has a broader arsenal of leg attacks and submissions compared to traditional BJJ, which is largely due to Catch Wrestling’s emphasis on inflicting pain and forcing opponents to submit from any position.

Although Catch Wrestling and BJJ are both grappling sports, there is a vast difference between the two.

Catch Wrestling features superior throws and takedowns. Hence, it is named a brutal art and is more on attacks because its only goal is to make an opponent submit. On the other hand, BJJ has a point system that can be a basis for a winner.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) uses a belt ranking system regarding gear and clothing. Each competitor in a match wears a different color gi than their opponent. In contrast, the catch wrestlers differentiate themselves from one another by wearing various colored bands.

Many submissions and techniques rely on the gripping of gis, which you can’t apply in Catch Wrestling.

In addition, more competitions, events, schools, and visual and reading guides and aids are available in BJJ. It implies that the sport expands at a far faster pace than the other.

What is Catch Wrestling

Jiu Jitsu vs Wrestling


Catch Wrestling has unknown roots. However, it is said to be a way for British miners and dock workers to take a breather after a long day at work. It also serves as a source of entertainment for them.

Catch Wrestling derives from the phrase “catch-as-catch-can,” which means “catch as much as you can.” and was formerly used to call the sport.

British sailors who sailed the world between the 15th and 19th centuries brought a wide range of grappling techniques from around the world. Thus, they added new tactics into the overall style of Catch Wrestling every time they came home.

When the British settled in America, they also brought the said sport to the people.

In this modern day, the practice of Catch Wrestling was developed and introduced to the world by John Graham Chambers in the 1800s. 


Catch Wrestling, like any other combat sport, is guided by a specific set of rules:

  • The goal is to immobilize an opponent with a pin or force them to submit through joint locks, strangles, or painful holds.
  • There are no points for position; the only ways to win are to pin or submit the opponent.
  • To pin an opponent, you must hold them for three seconds on their back.

Each fight’s objective is to force the opponent to tap out using different submission techniques.

With no time limit, you engage in a grappling match with your competitor. And once you get a hold of them, you continue to apply force or the allowed techniques until you can make them submit, or you can pin your opponents to the ground. 

The tapping on the ground/floor or shouting “tap” indicates submission, and a full pin will automatically win.

The below submissions are allowed in catch wrestling:

  • Joint locks: These can target various joints such as the ankles, knees, wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
  • Strangles and chokes: While some styles of catch wrestling may limit or prohibit certain neck attacks, others include a variety of strangles.
  • Leg locks: Including heel hooks, toe holds, and knee bars.
  • Compression locks: Such as bicep slicers and calf crushers.
  • Twisting locks: Like wrist locks and neck cranks.

Common Techniques

Catch Wrestling is a mixed wrestling and grappling style, incorporating skills from various disciplines.

The following are some of the standard techniques that are permitted to use when participating in the sport:

  • Ankle lock
  • Leg Locks
  • Hand and Wrist lock
  • Neck cranks
  • Elbow lock
  • Knee lock
  • Hip lock
  • Spine lock
  • Shoulder lock
  • Throws

Catch Wrestling Submissions?

Catch wrestlers emphasize submissions rather than pins to develop their skills. They often resort to more painful methods to force their opponents to submit and stay in control.

The most popular submission techniques used in Catch Wrestling are the neck cranks and leg locks, though more body locks are to be used, as mentioned above.

Here is a video of Chris, a black belt professor, and catch wrestler, performing Catch Wrestling submissions to learn more about it.

How to Learn Catch Wrestling?

If you plan to learn Catch Wrestling, expect it to be a bit more brutal than other grappling styles, so you need to be more capable or at least ready to get hurt. And so, being founded on grappling and wrestling techniques would help.

Catch Wrestling can be learned and taught with the help of Catch wrestlers and coaches. 

In learning the sport, you can always start by knowing its fundamentals and disciplines through books and available videos. 

Some schools and academies focus on teaching Catch Wrestling and offer courses both online and in gyms.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – Pros/Cons 

Every sport has its advantages and disadvantages. It is crucial to know this information before starting a sport.

Here are the pros and cons of Catch Wrestling:

Grappling sport (no striking)Painful submission techniques
Do not allow chokesFewer schools/academies offer Catch Wrestling courses and training
Does not require much and expensive gearNo breaks during the competition
Good for self-defenseThe risk of injuries

Catch Wrestling vs BJJ – Which One Is Better for Self-Defense?

There is no doubt that both Catch Wrestling and BJJ are applicable and suitable for self-defense—the two use grappling techniques to make an attacker submit.

But because of the more intense application of techniques in Catch Wrestling, it may inflict more pain on someone than BJJ. 

When evaluating Catch Wrestling and BJJ for self-defense purposes, it is important to recognize their unique strengths and weaknesses.

Catch Wrestling’s aggressive approach and focus on takedowns and pins can be particularly effective in controlling or neutralizing an opponent in a real-life scenario. This style teaches students to apply intense pressure and pain, disorienting and wearing down adversaries.

In contrast, BJJ emphasizes ground control and positional dominance, focusing on submissions from various positions.

While this approach may take a longer time to subdue an opponent, it is often considered safer and more controlled. BJJ’s emphasis on fluid and flexible movement may offer a more comprehensive and adaptable skill set for self-defense situations, particularly against larger or stronger opponents.

It’s crucial to remember that self-defense is not solely about physical techniques but also the ability to stay calm and composed under pressure.

Both Catch Wrestling and BJJ can provide invaluable insights and training in mental fortitude and problem-solving.

Is Catch Wrestling in UFC/MMA?

Yes, Catch Wrestling has a place in both MMA and UFC. Catch Wrestling has produced several notable athletes in mixed martial arts, including UFC champions and other MMA stars.

Former UFC champions Kazushi Sakuraba, often known as the Gracie Hunter, and Frank Shamrock are among the best fighters in the sport that helped it to be known.

As mixed martial arts (MMA) and competitive grappling gain popularity, more individuals are also beginning to take an interest in Catch Wrestling.

Several grapplers also consider taking up catch wrestling to enhance their no-gi skills.  

Who Would Win Between Catch Wrestling and BJJ?

Both styles of martial arts teach comparable techniques. Still, a lot of their fundamentals and approaches to instruction also differ from one another.

The guard is an essential part of BJJ, and students learn how to execute techniques from it. Catch Wrestling is where all moves in the top position, with the guard position utilized very little.

Both martial arts styles instruct very similar skills, but their underlying ideologies and the ways they teach are pretty different.

Guard is an integral part of BJJ, and students learn how to attack while in this position. All the moves in Catch Wrestling come from the top, with the guard position seeing minimal action.

The objective of Catch Wrestling is to finish as promptly as possible and to have rapid submissions. In Catch Wrestling, the position doesn’t matter that much. In contrast to BJJ, which uses a point system, this gives enough time for you to put your opponent in submission, making it more dependable.

Is Catch Wrestling the same as submission wrestling?

Ultimately, submission grappling or submission wrestling is sometimes used interchangeably with no gi Brazilian jiu jitsu. However, by definition catch wrestling is submission wrestling (wrestling with submissions).

Catch wrestling, as discussed earlier, is a hybrid martial art with origins in 19th century England. It combines traditional folkstyle wrestling with various submission holds, focusing on causing pain and discomfort to prompt an opponent to “tap out” or give up.

One defining aspect of catch wrestling is the absence of a points system, with matches determined solely by pins or submissions. This element fosters a more ruthless and aggressive approach to grappling when compared to other combat sports. Whereas submission grappling or submission wrestling is more often used to refer to No Gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Where Can You Learn Catch Wrestling?

Catch wrestling, despite its rich history and effectiveness, has become more of an underground art, with way fewer practitioners and gyms compared to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

However, this does not mean that quality instruction is impossible to find. Several gyms, teams, and associations worldwide are dedicated to preserving and promoting catch wrestling, allowing enthusiasts to learn and hone their skills in this fascinating martial art.

You may often see Brazilian jiu jitsu gyms or other types of training facilities teach catch wrestling techniques or you may find instructors at these gyms with a catch wrestling back ground. Ultimately, its unfortunately not very likely that you’ll find a pure catch wrestling gym.

You can start by researching local gyms and martial arts schools in your area to see if any of them offer catch wrestling classes or instruction from experienced practitioners. If there are no dedicated catch wrestling gyms nearby, consider joining an MMA gym or a grappling school that incorporates catch wrestling techniques and concepts into their curriculum.

Another option is to attend seminars or workshops led by catch wrestling specialists, where you may get an opportunity to learn from experts such as Josh Barnett, Neil Melanson, or Billy Robinson.

Catch Wrestling vs BJJ – Conclusion

So, what is the verdict? Catch Wrestling vs BJJ – which one should you learn for self-defense? The answer really depends on your personal preferences and goals. 

If you want to be able to defend yourself in a street fight, then BJJ might be a better option because it relies more on ground fighting techniques that can subdue an opponent quickly. 

However, if you are looking for a martial art that will give you the ability to take down an attacker regardless of where the fight takes place, Catch Wrestling is a great choice. 

Thanks for reading, and see you at the next one!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are wrestlers stronger than BJJ practitioners? 

Wrestlers are not necessarily stronger than BJJ practitioners since both are grappling-based sports.

But it can argue that Wrestling requires more aggression, speed, and strength, and the submissions are considered more painful than in BJJ.

Is Catch Wrestling suitable for self-defense? 

Yes, Catch Wrestling is suitable for self-defense. 

What is harder, Wrestling or Jiu-Jitsu? 

Both grappling sports can be highly challenging and competitive. 

However, Wrestling is more competition-based. You will find more hobbyists in BJJ since it has to have commercial appeal to all. Whereas Wrestling draws more competitive athletes, the training and competition schedule for Wrestling can be considered harder than BJJ.