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BJJ vs Wrestling: Who Has the Advantage? (Full Breakdown)

BJJ vs Wrestling

When it comes to jiu jitsu vs wrestling there are some key differences. Jiu jitsu focuses on submissions through joint locks and strangulation whereas wrestling focuses on securing the take down and pinning your opponent to win the match. Both of these are grappling based martial arts and are extremely effective.

Wrestling teaches a faster pace and stronger emphasis on takedowns and pinning techniques in its athletes while Brazilian jiu jitsu puts more emphasis on leverage, control, and submissions with less emphasis on takedowns.

Takedowns are only a small piece of the puzzle in jiu jitsu. Above is an estimation of the skills that jiu jitsu teaches you. Notice how takedowns are one of the smaller pieces of the puzzle (however, currently, we are seeing a strong rise of wrestling in BJJ so this may change in the future):

Related: Learning to wrestle as an older bjj athlete is always a struggle – check out our guide here

Jiu Jitsu vs Wrestling – Key Takeaways

  • Jiu Jitsu attempts to encompass all aspects of a grappling based martial art (so it takes influence from wrestling, judo, sambo)
  • While bjj does have takedowns they are not heavily focused on or trained nearly enough when compared to other takedown focused spots like wrestling or bjj
  • Wrestlers who go into bjj have a strong advantage since all they have to do is:
    • learn where the submission danger is
    • avoid some bad habits that sport wrestling teaches
  • If you didn’t wrestler in school or when you were younger, I strongly recommend focusing on wrestling if you train BJJ (see section towards the end of the post about how to ease into learning wrestling at a later age – like I did)
  • Finally, if you take nothing else from this post, check out the main pros and cons of each grappling based martial art below
jiu jitsu pros+ / cons-wrestling pros+ / cons-
+ effective on larger opponents+focuses on positional dominance
+ less taxing on your body+ higher paced matches
+ submission based+ requires more conditioning
+ less rigid rule set+ more intense training program
+ more calculated+ strong takedown emphasis
+ more complete skill set+ more competitions
+ promotes efficiency of movement– tougher on your body
+ can be learned by someone of any age/size/athleticism– requires more athleticism/strength
+ there are more positions to rest in a bjj– no submissions (points/pinning only to win a match)
– can rely on playing from your back too much– done purely for sport/competition
– vulnerable to takedowns (since they are not emphasized as much)– techniques limited by rule set
Above is a quick table comparison with a breakdown of wrestling vs jiu jitsu and the pros and cons of each – keep in mind these are based off of the opinions of myself and my training partners; some of whom wrestled at the high school and college level.

One of the big factors that makes wrestling so effective is there strong emphasis on takedowns. I will go into this later in this post.

Related: Which Martial Art Should I Learn First?

Quick Comparison: Jiu Jitsu vs Wrestling

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

  • relies more heavily on techniques that use leverage
  • using multiple parts of your body against a single weak point of your opponent
  • a strong emphasis on controlling your opponent in order to gain a submission

Jiu jitsu takes from a wide variety of martial arts and is continuously evolving and maintains only the most effective techniques.

Other popular martial arts sometimes refuse to evolve and attempt to maintain only their most traditional move sets and techniques that may or may not be effective in a live sparring or self defense scenario.

Jiu jitsu may also be considered a more all encompassing martial art since it doesn’t rely heavily on the strict point based system that wrestling does.

Jiu jitsu vs wrestling comes down to jiu jitsu only focusing on the most effective techniques regardless of traditions and point structure.

Ultimately, the goal in any jiu jitsu match is to begin severely limiting the options of your opponent until their only option left is to submit.

This is vastly different than a wrestling match where the goal is to pin your opponent by getting both of their shoulders to touch the mat.

The rigid point structure and goals of wrestling can sometimes be seen to limit the martial art since it can limit how effective it would be in a real life self defense scenario where there are no points. 

Since there are no submissions in wrestling, only takedowns and pinning, wrestlers lack the vast amount of knowledge on how to properly perform and defend effective submissions.

From the very beginning jiu jitsu practitioners are exposed to submissions. It’s actually one of the most important if not the most important aspect of the sport. The finality of a submission often draws many practitioners to the martial art in the first place. There is no doubt that you have bested your opponent if they had to submit.


Jiu Jitsu vs Wrestling

Wrestling can create bad habits such as turning to your stomach when you are taken down when it comes to bjj or self defense.

Therefore, wrestlers are most susceptible to the below submissions when they start Brazilian Jiu Jitsu:

  • Rear Naked Choke
    • when they turtle or face their back to opponent
  • Guillotine
    • when they attempt to take a shot with their head outside
  • Triangle
    • when they attempt to pass their opponents legs without being wear of their hand placement

Since the early days of learning wrestling, students of the sport are taught not to be put on their back and to immediately turn which makes their back face their opponent.

In a jiu jitsu scenario students are taught to never face your back to your opponent since this gives you an extreme inability to properly defend attacks and submissions.

While within the point structure of wrestling this does make sense to avoid being pinned. However, in a real life self defense scenario or jiu jitsu match this gives your opponent an opening to achieve one of the most effective submissions in jiu jitsu, the rear naked strangle.

While wrestling has a strong and very effective focus placed on take downs, jiu jitsu students are constantly looking for the opportunity to perform submissions on their opponent.

Again, when it comes to jiu jitsu vs wrestling there are some key differences.

  • Jiu jitsu focuses on submissions through joint locks and strangulation
  • Whereas wrestling focuses on securing the takedown and pinning your opponent to win the match.

Both of these are grappling based martial arts and are extremely effective.

Wrestling Origin and History

Wrestling is an ancient sport that dates back to prehistoric times.

Its origins can be traced through cave paintings discovered from around the world, particularly in Egypt, Babylon, and ancient Greece. The sport’s history has evolved significantly from its roots in ancient cultures to the modern wrestling we see today.

Despite the various forms and styles that have emerged over the years, wrestling’s core concept remains consistent: two athletes, using strength and technique, compete to pin their opponent to the ground or score points.

Here is a quick breakdown on the evolution of wrestling through time:

  1. Ancient Wrestling: Wrestling possibly originated from hand-to-hand combat, being practiced as a sportive form of combat. The Sumerian Gilgamesh epic, dating from around 3000 BCE, describes a form of wrestling. In ancient Greece, wrestling was a focal point of social life for young men, and it was included in the Olympic Games from 776 BCE. During the Roman Empire, the Greek style of wrestling was adopted and adapted, forming the basis for what later became Greco-Roman wrestling.
  2. Middle Ages: During this period, wrestling spread across the globe through various invasions and cultural shifts. Turkish soldiers brought a style of wrestling called “koresh” to Persia. In Japan, a style of belt wrestling known as Sumo gained popularity under imperial patronage, evolving into a highly ritualized spectator sport. Wrestling was also prevalent throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, with different styles developing in different regions.
  3. Modern Wrestling: Modern wrestling began to emerge in the 18th century, with strongmen and wrestlers appearing at fairs, theaters, and circuses. Two styles that eventually dominated international wrestling emerged in the second half of the 19th century: Greco-Roman wrestling, which involved holds above the waist, and catch-as-catch-can, or freestyle wrestling, which allowed holds above the waist and leg grips.
  4. Olympic Wrestling: Greco-Roman wrestling was included in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Catch-as-catch-can was included in the Olympic Games of 1904. International freestyle, a form of catch-as-catch-can, was introduced in the Olympic Games in Antwerp around 1920.
  5. Professional Wrestling: During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, professional wrestling was popular, with notable wrestlers such as George Hackenschmidt and Frank Gotch. However, professional wrestling later became pure spectacle, with the outcomes often predetermined by promoters. Despite this, it remained popular, especially in the United States and Mexico (known as lucha libre).
  6. Amateur Wrestling: Significant improvements occurred in amateur wrestling during the 20th century. Weight divisions were introduced, and a system to award points based on one wrestler’s control of another was devised. This point system and control time are used to decide the victor in no-fall bouts.
  7. Global Wrestling Styles: There are many global styles of wrestling, including Greco-Roman, Freestyle, Folkstyle, Catch Wrestling, Sumo, and more. Each style reflects different cultural influences and competitive objectives.
  8. Sambo: In the 20th century, a third international style of wrestling, Sambo, was created in the Soviet Union. This style, similar to judo and Mongolian wrestling, became popular in the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, and Japan.

One significant milestone in wrestling’s history was its inclusion in the ancient Olympic Games in 708 B.C.

This event solidified the sport’s status as a premier athletic competition, showcasing the prowess and tactical skills of athletes from various regions. Wrestling continued to evolve during the Roman Empire, where the Greeks’ traditional style was integrated into Roman culture and adapted into what would later become the basis for Greco-Roman wrestling.

Today, wrestling encompasses numerous styles and rulesets, such as Greco-Roman, Freestyle, Folkstyle, and Catch Wrestling, each offering unique methods and techniques that reflect different cultural influences and competitive objectives. While each style may vary, the shared history among these wrestling styles serves as a testament to the sport’s enduring popularity and effectiveness as a combat discipline.

Rules and Scoring System for Wrestling

The rules and scoring system for wrestling varies depending on the specific style and format of the competition. In this section, we will examine the rules and scoring systems for the two most prominent Olympic styles: Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling.

Here is a basic description of Freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman and point breakdown:

  • In Greco-Roman wrestling:
    • Athletes can only attack their opponent’s upper body.
    • The focus is on throws and holds using the upper body.
    • A pin, where both of an opponent’s shoulder blades touch the mat for at least two seconds, results in an immediate victory.
  • In Freestyle wrestling:
    • Athletes can attack both the upper and lower body of their opponent.
    • Techniques include takedowns, holds, and pinning moves.
    • Similar to Greco-Roman, a pin results in an immediate victory.

Scoring in both styles:

  • High-amplitude throw that puts the opponent onto their back: 4-5 points.
  • Exposing the opponent’s back to the mat (near fall or danger position): 2-3 points.
  • Takedown: 2 points.
  • Reversal (gaining control from a defensive position): 1 point.
  • Escape (escaping from the control of the opponent): 1 point.

In Greco-Roman wrestling, athletes are prohibited from using techniques that involve attacking any body parts below the waist.

This style primarily focuses on throws, upper body strength, and strategic positioning. Freestyle wrestling, on the other hand, features a more balanced repertoire of both upper and lower body techniques, incorporating takedowns, holds, and pinning moves. One rule that is shared across both styles is that a pinned opponent – one whose shoulder blades touch the mat for at least two seconds – will result in an immediate victory.

Scoring in both Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling is based on points awarded for executing various offensive and defensive maneuvers.

Points are assigned based on the complexity, difficulty, and effectiveness of each technique. For example, a wrestler who successfully completes a high-amplitude throw that puts their opponent onto their back can earn between 4 to 5 points. Conversely, a wrestler who exposes the opponent’s back to the mat can earn 2 to 3 points for near fall or danger position. Other scoring actions include takedowns (2 points), reversals (1 point), and escapes (1 point).

Goals and Principles of Wrestling

Wrestling is centered around the primary objective of controlling one’s opponent, through takedowns and pins, to emerge as the victor.

Wrestlers rely on takedowns, clinches, and ground control techniques to immobilize their opponents and maintain a dominant position. In essence, the wrestler’s ultimate aim is to establish a position of clear dominance over their opponent, either through physical force or technique.

In practical terms, this means that wrestlers must develop strong physical attributes, including power, agility, and endurance, to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses and execute their moves effectively.

A crucial principle in wrestling is the concept of leverage, which allows wrestlers to gain positional advantage and perform their techniques efficiently. Beyond physical prowess, wrestling also necessitates a sharp tactical approach to strategize the best ways to dominate the match.

Different Types of Wrestling

There are numerous wrestling styles, each with its distinct set of techniques, rules, and even attire. The most prominent styles include Greco-Roman, Freestyle, and Folkstyle wrestling.

Wrestling StyleRecognized in OlympicsMajor Characteristics
Greco-RomanYesHolds below the waist are prohibited, focusing more on throws using upper body strength. Originated for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
FreestyleYesAllows for use of the wrestler’s or the opponent’s legs in offense and defense. Ultimate goal is to throw and pin the opponent to the mat. Derived from traditional wrestling, judo, and sambo techniques.
Folkstyle (Collegiate)NoPrimarily practiced in U.S. colleges and universities. The focus is on controlling the opponent, and both offensive and defensive leg techniques are allowed. It is regulated by the NCAA in the U.S.
Folk WrestlingNoA general term for traditional wrestling styles practiced globally. Each style varies greatly depending on the culture and country it originates from.
Catch WrestlingNoA hybrid grappling style developed in Britain around 1870. Known for using submission holds or “hooks” to enhance effectiveness against opponents.

Greco-Roman wrestling, an Olympic discipline, emphasizes upper-body strength and forbids holds below the waist. This style encourages powerful throws and body slams, rewarding wrestlers who can successfully execute these high-impact moves.

Freestyle wrestling, another Olympic sport, permits holds both above and below the waist, and it incorporates moves such as joint locks, throws, and leg takedowns. Its well-rounded emphasis on both upper and lower body techniques makes it popular worldwide. Folkstyle wrestling, also known as collegiate wrestling in the United States, is a derivative of Freestyle wrestling with additional rules that promote control and position over an opponent.

Other less-known but equally skilled wrestling styles exist, such as Catch Wrestling and Submission wrestling. These styles focus on forcing an opponent into submission through joint locks and choking techniques, similar to some aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. As a practitioner, becoming proficient in one or multiple styles of wrestling can offer a significant advantage in both competitive wrestling and other combat sports like MMA.

Wrestling Uniform and Gear

Here is a quick list on the attire and gear that is usually worn by wrestlers:

  • Singlet: A one-piece, tightly fitted garment that allows for maximum flexibility on the mat and prevents opponents from grabbing or pulling on it.
  • Wrestling shoes: Provide excellent grip on the mat and crucial ankle support. They are designed to prevent injuries and encourage swift movement.
  • Headgear: Protects the ears from injury and cauliflower ear, a condition that occurs from repeated trauma or friction to the ear’s cartilage.
  • Mouth guards: Used to safeguard the teeth and gums from harm during intense grappling matches.
  • Knee sleeves: Provide cushioning and support for the knees, absorbing some of the impact during takedown techniques and other knee-related movements.

The primary uniform for wrestling is a one-piece singlet, which fits tightly to the body with a snug stretch, allowing for maximum flexibility on the mat. This design prevents opponents from grabbing or pulling on it during a match, making sure the focus remains on technique and skill.

Apart from the singlet, wrestlers also use wrestling shoes that offer excellent grip on the mat while providing crucial ankle support. The shoe’s design helps prevent injuries and encourages swift movement as the wrestlers compete.

Headgear is another essential component in a wrestler’s gear, as it helps protect the ears from injury and cauliflower ear – a condition that occurs from repeated trauma or friction to the ear’s cartilage.

Mouth guards are also sometimes used to safeguard the teeth and gums from harm during intense grappling matches.

Lastly, knee pads are sometimes worn to provide cushioning and support for the knees, absorbing some of the impact wrestlers face during takedown techniques and other knee-related movements. Overall, wrestling’s uniform and attire are designed with the primary purpose of securing the athlete’s comfort and protection during intense competitions.

What Is Wrestling Training Like?

Wrestling training can vary widely depending on school, district, time of season. Here is a breakdown on what you can expect in an average wrestling practice

College D1 Wrestling Class

  1. Warm up: 10 minutes of jogging, gymnastics, stretching, etc.
  2. OYO (On Your Own) Drill: 15 minutes for individual practice of previously learned techniques.
  3. Technique (Tech): 30 minutes of learning and practicing new techniques.
  4. Live Practice: 30 minutes of live sparring or wrestling against a partner.
  5. Total time: Practices typically run for no longer than 2 hours.

High School Wrestling Class

  1. Run: Start practice right after school with a 2-4 mile run around the track after stretching, sometimes involving bleacher runs.
  2. Warm up: Return to the room, change into wrestling shoes, and perform a warm up that includes somersaults, cartwheels, sprints etc.
  3. Stance and Motion Drills: Perform stance in motion drills, spin drills, leapfrogs, etc., for a few minutes.
  4. Drilling: Start drilling doubles, then singles, followed by a water break. Continue with more drilling that focuses either on neutral, top, or bottom, which changes daily.
  5. Live Practice: Go live for a few minutes (format depends on the day).
  6. Cooling Down: After live wrestling, perform a relaxing jog, followed by some sprints.

Note: Again, intensity varies throughout the season. Early season often consists of two 1.5 hour practices daily, focusing on conditioning and hand-fighting drills. The heart of the season transitions to high-paced technical drills and live practice with some conditioning and lifting twice a week. During the post-season preparatory practices, focus shifts to technical coaching, while the post-season workouts are shorter, highly focused sessions with one-on-one coaching. This pattern is aimed at optimizing performance for competitive events.

Is Wrestling Training Harder than BJJ Training?

One factor that generally sets wrestling training apart is its high intensity nature, which is characterized by frequent explosive moves, constant pressure on an opponent, and relentless requirements for strength and cardio.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Training:

  • is a commercial sport
  • is accessible to all (regardless of athleticism, age, level of fitness)
  • while there are certain more advanced classes, in general, wrestling training will be more challenging

In general, I would say its valid to assume that wrestling practice is harder than bjj training

Wrestling Training:

  • will involve high intensity movements like sprints, wrestling drills, and live rounds
  • explosive movements and higher pace of matches requires a higher level of fitness

For example, beginners learning to wrestle often find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer physical demands of this sport, including the need to develop an exceptional cardio and muscular endurance foundation. Side note: It is essential for wrestling students to develop strong core strength, powerful legs, and a robust upper body to excel in gripping and handling opponents. On the other hand, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu emphasizes technique and finesse, often allowing practitioners to rely on their accumulated knowledge, timing, and leverage to succeed on the mats rather than exclusively on physical strength.

Why Wrestling Training Might Be Considered Harder than BJJ Training:

  1. High-Intensity Nature: Wrestling training often involves more high-intensity and explosive moves, requiring constant pressure on the opponent. This energy demand often surpasses that of BJJ training.
  2. Physical Demands: Wrestling tends to have more substantial physical demands, often requiring exceptional cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance. The strength training for wrestling also often focuses on building a strong core, powerful legs, and a robust upper body.
  3. Overwhelming for Beginners: Beginners learning to wrestle often find themselves overwhelmed by the sport’s sheer physical demands. In contrast, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu places more emphasis on technique and finesse, often allowing practitioners to rely on their accumulated knowledge, timing, and leverage rather than solely on physical strength.
  4. Fast Pace: Wrestling tends to be faster-paced than BJJ, which can be a more significant challenge for newcomers to the sport as they must quickly learn and adapt to techniques.
  5. Less Rest Time: There is often less downtime or rest periods during wrestling training, which can make it physically more demanding than BJJ training.

Despite the differences in physical demands, it’s worth noting that both wrestling and BJJ training involve a steep learning curve that can be frustrating for new students. BJJ training, for instance, requires a high level of patience as practitioners progress through a gradual belt system, which can take multiple years to reach higher ranks.

In comparison, wrestling students need to develop a strong mental fortitude to deal with the constant pressure and high-intensity training sessions. Keep in mind that regardless of which sport one chooses, the key to success lies in consistent training, an eagerness to learn, and a dedication to overcoming various challenges along the way.

Are There Belts or Ranks in Wrestling?

Unlike Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which uses a belt ranking system, wrestling does not formally recognize specific levels of expertise with belts or ranks. The progress and skill level of a wrestler are typically evaluated through their performance in practice and competition. As wrestlers continuously train and compete, their abilities are honed, and they develop a personal reputation for their skill level.

Side note: Many wrestling programs, especially youth divisions, assign ranks based on age and weight categories to ensure fair and level competition. This classification system aids in matching wrestlers with similar skill and experience levels, fostering just and viable contests that contribute to the athletes’ personal growth and development.

What Are Some Big Achievements for Wrestlers?

Instead of ranks or belts like other martial arts, you can often tell the skill of a wrestler based on their achievements in the sport.

Ranking of Achievements That a Wrestler Can Achieve:

  1. Olympic Gold Medal: As the highest level of competition in the sport, winning a gold medal at the Olympic Games is considered the pinnacle of a wrestler’s career.
  2. Wrestling World Championships: This is one of the most significant international wrestling competitions and a victory here is a testament to a wrestler’s skills and dedication.
  3. Pan American Games Medal: Winning a medal in wrestling at the Pan American Games is another high-level international achievement, especially coveted by athletes from the Americas.
  4. European Wrestling Championships: For European wrestlers, securing a championship title here represents a significant accomplishment in the sport.
  5. NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships: Winning a title at this prestigious tournament is the top goal for college wrestlers in the United States, providing them with national recognition.
  6. State Championships (High School): Winning a state championship in high school wrestling is a significant achievement that can pave the way for college scholarships and opportunities to participate in elite wrestling programs.
  7. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Title: Many wrestlers transition into MMA and a title in the UFC, the most prestigious MMA organization, is considered a significant achievement.
  8. Bellator MMA Title: Winning a championship in Bellator MMA is another important milestone for wrestlers transitioning into the realm of professional fighting.

In the wrestling world, there are several major accomplishments that athletes aspire to achieve. The most prestigious among these achievements are the Olympic Games, where wrestlers compete at the highest level in their sport. The Olympic gold medal is seen as the pinnacle of a wrestler’s career and is highly sought after. Other prominent international competitions include the Wrestling World Championships, Pan American Games, and the European Wrestling Championships.

Nationally, wrestlers strive for success in various tournaments and championships, such as the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in the United States, where college wrestlers aim for the coveted title. Successful high school wrestlers often set their sights on winning state championships, which can provide opportunities for college scholarships and potential inclusion in elite wrestling programs.

Outside of traditional wrestling, many athletes transition into mixed martial arts (MMA) and pursue titles in organizations like the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bellator. Notable wrestlers who have become MMA champions include Daniel Cormier, Randy Couture, and Henry Cejudo, demonstrating the effectiveness of wrestling techniques in the realm of professional fighting.

Going from wrestling to bjj

When considering going from wrestling to bjj, Wrestling has a different pace than bjj.

There are a few key differences to be aware of when going from wrestling to bjj:

  •  different pace of jiu jitsu (there are times to go fast and a time to go slow during a jiu jitsu match. Additionally, jiu jitsu matches are longer usually 5-8 minutes
  •  goals of jiu jitsu (there is a strong emphasis placed on submissions from every position while the overall goals are still to take your opponent down, control them, and submit them, a good jiu jitsu practitioner will be actively looking for submission at every step of the way)
  •  learning to become comfortable when lying on your back in live matches (Jiu jitsu places a heavy emphasis on fighting from your back in common guard positions such as full guard and half guard. These are very popular in jiu jitsu and very effective.)

building blocks, cubes, cylinders-2026061.jpg

Wrestlers also gain strong knowledge of how to use their strength and manage their balance properly.

This all lends to their athleticism and awareness of their body weight in space. These are considered building blocks of bjj.

Furthermore, they give a strong advantage over someone who has just started in jiu jitsu and isn’t used to moving their body and controlling their body weight in grappling scenarios.

Finally, with wrestling vs jiu jitsu, you will find that wrestling may require more aggressiveness and strength as opposed to jiu jitsu. 

So what are the advantages of training bjj with a wrestling background?

From a survey performed among my teammates, they have agreed that wrestlers:

  1.   Perform jiu jitsu at a faster pace
  2.   Use more strength (than may be necessary)
  3.   Perform more explosive movements
  4.   Are more difficult to control
  5.   Are more difficult to take down
  6.   Are vulnerable to specific submissions such as triangles/guillotines
  7.   Are vulnerable to positional dominance due to wrestling behaviors such as “turlting” or facing your back toward an opponent

Most of these are seen as advantages when going from wrestling to bjj. Anecdotally, any wrestling I’ve met through jiu jitsu training has been much further ahead than their counterpart who only has trained jiu jitsu. 

With no-gi (bjj), you take a good wrestler and in three months he understands where the danger comes from and his game will be fine.

Renzo Gracie

Tips for Wrestlers Against BJJ Practitioners

To gain the advantage against BJJ practitioners, wrestlers should first focus on submission defense.

As stated earlier wrestlers are likely most susceptible to the below submissions in BJJ:

  • Rear Naked Chokes
  • Guillotines
  • Triangles
  • Leg Locks

Spending time drilling escapes and defenses against chokes and leg locks will provide wrestlers with the essential knowledge to avoid being submitted by a BJJ practitioner. Familiarizing oneself with the common submission attacks and chaining escape attempts can be a game-changer in these scenarios.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Origin and History

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) has a relatively modern origin, with its roots primarily in judo and jiu jitsu.

  • In the 1920s, Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese judoka, immigrated to Brazil and began teaching the Gracie family – primarily Carlos and Helio Gracie.
  • While they were initially learning traditional judo and jiu jitsu techniques, these two brothers soon started to add and modify techniques to suit their needs, prioritizing self-defense and ground-fighting.
  • The art Helio and Carlos developed was coined Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

One advantage of BJJ is its adaptability to a variety of body types and athletic abilities.

Throughout its development, the Gracie family and other BJJ practitioners emphasized technique over brute strength, making it accessible and effective for smaller, less physically imposing fighters. BJJ gained significant international attention when Royce Gracie won the first two Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) tournaments, showcasing the efficiency of BJJ against various martial arts styles.

Goals and Principles of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Basic BJJ Positions and Terms - Quick Guide

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu aims to empower practitioners with the knowledge and skills to control an opponent through precise techniques and intelligent leverage, rather than relying solely on raw strength.

The martial art focuses on ground fighting, as the majority of real-life altercations eventually end up on the ground.

At its core, BJJ concentrates on attaining a dominant position over the adversary, leading ultimately to submission through chokes or joint locks. While learning BJJ, the emphasis is on mastering the essential techniques, incorporating them into a well-rounded game plan, and cultivating a deep understanding of the human body’s strengths and limitations.

One advantage of BJJ training is its adaptability to various scenarios and situations. Practitioners can modify techniques to suit their body type, level of experience, and perceived threats. Consequently, this adaptability has made BJJ an integral component of mixed martial arts (MMA), law enforcement training, and self-defense programs worldwide.

Rules and Scoring System for BJJ

BJJ matches are often won by submission, forcing an opponent to “tap out” to joint locks or chokes. Should a match not end in submission, a points system determines the winner:

Below is a breakdown of the point system held by the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) which is the larger organized BJJ federation that frequently holds tournaments and competitions (also that different organizations may have different point structures/rules):

  1. Knee-on-belly
    • Points scored: 2
    • The top competitor places their knee or shin on the opponent’s chest, ribs, or belly while the opponent is on their back or side.
    • Must have the opposite knee off the mat and hold the position for at least three seconds to score points.
  2. Takedown
    • Points scored: 2
    • A takedown is when one competitor starts with two feet on the mat and causes the opponent to land on their back, or in a sideways or seated position.
    • The attacker must establish top position after the takedown for three seconds to score points according to the IBJJF rule set.
  3. Sweep
    • Points scored: 2
    • A sweep occurs when the athlete in bottom guard or half guard inverts the position to get on top of their opponent and holds the position for three seconds.
    • The maneuver must start from guard or half guard, and the dominant position must be maintained for three seconds after the sweep.
  4. Guard Pass
    • Points scored: 3
    • A guard pass happens when the competitor in the top position overcomes the bottom opponent’s legs in guard or half guard to end up in side control or north-south position.
    • The passer must hold side control or north-south for three seconds to score points.
  5. Mount and Back Mount
    • Points scored: 4
    • Mount is the position where the top player sits on the opponent’s torso while facing the opponent’s head. The top player must have two knees on the mat or one knee and one foot. The position must be held for three seconds to score points.
    • Back mount is a variation of mount where both athletes are facing down towards the mat, with the top athlete having the same mount position but over the opponent’s back.
  6. Back Control
    • Points scored: 4
    • Back control is when an athlete controls their opponent’s back using their legs and feet between their opponent’s thighs, while being in a position to trap at least one of their opponent’s arms. The opponent’s arm cannot be trapped above the shoulder line.
    • The position must be held for three seconds to score points, and the legs must not be crossed or triangled. If they are, an advantage is given instead of the four points according to IBJJF rules.

Points are also awarded for specific techniques and position advancements, emphasizing control and dominance during the match. The point system is as follows: 2 points for a takedown, sweep, or knee-on-belly position; 3 points for passing the guard; and 4 points for achieving mount, back mount, or back control with hooks.

Side note: There are also advantages and penalties in BJJ, which can influence match results. Advantages are awarded for near successful techniques or demonstrating control, while penalties arise from stalling, illegal moves, or poor sportsmanship. Matches have varying time lengths based on belt rank, ranging from 5 minutes for white belts to 10 minutes for black belts.

Jiu-Jitsu Uniforms and Gear

The BJJ uniform, commonly known as the ‘gi,’ consists of a thick, durable jacket; pants made of a strong, cotton-based material; and a colored belt representing the practitioner’s rank within the sport. The gi allows for a variety of techniques that involve grips, holds, and overall control over one’s opponent. It is essential to invest in a high-quality gi that is comfortable, fits well, and abides by competition standards if looking to participate in tournaments.

Along with the traditional gi, practitioners should acquire essential protective gear, including a mouth guard, groin guard, and ear protectors. These pieces of equipment minimize the risk of injury during training and competition. Correctly fitting protective gear ensures optimal comfort and freedom of movement while practicing techniques or engaging in live sparring.

For those training in No-Gi BJJ, different gear is necessary. Instead of the traditional gi, participants wear a rashguard and grappling shorts or spats. The rashguard, typically made of a moisture-wicking material, helps keep the body cool and dry while reducing the chances of skin abrasions or mat-borne infections. Meanwhile, grappling shorts or spats are designed to offer a range of motion and prevent snagging during rolling sessions.

Quick Breakdown of BJJ Gear and Attire:

  1. BJJ Gi
    • Consists of a thick, durable jacket and pants made of strong, cotton-based material.
    • Accompanied by a colored belt representing the practitioner’s rank.
    • Allows for various techniques involving grips, holds, and control over the opponent.
    • Should be high-quality, comfortable, well-fitting, and in line with competition standards for those intending to participate in tournaments.
  2. Protective Gear
    • Mouth guard: Protects teeth and gums from injury during training and competitions.
    • Groin Guard: Offers protection to the groin area, reducing the risk of injury.
    • Ear Protectors: Protect the ears from potential damage or conditions such as cauliflower ear.
    • It’s crucial that protective gear fits correctly to ensure optimal comfort and freedom of movement.
  3. No-Gi BJJ Gear
    • Rashguard: Worn instead of the traditional gi top, it’s made of moisture-wicking material to keep the body cool and dry while reducing chances of skin abrasions or infections.
    • Grappling Shorts or Spats: Replaces the gi pants, they are designed to offer a range of motion and prevent snagging during rolling sessions.

What Is BJJ Training Like?

BJJ training usually begins with a warm-up, including exercises such as running, stretching, and bodyweight movements to prepare one’s body for the lesson.

Next, the instructor demonstrates a series of techniques, which students then practice with a partner.

Finally, students engage in “rolling,” or live sparring, which allows them to apply the learned techniques to real-life situations.

Again, while usually not as rigorous as wrestling training, more advanced classes or classes focused more positional sparring or live sparring can be extremely taxing.

Typical BJJ Class Structure:

  1. Warm-Up (10-15 minutes to 30 minutes)
    • Includes break falls, gymnastics, shrimps and repetition of movements, such as alternating arm bars from guard.
  2. Technique Training (30 minutes)
    • Usually involves 2-4 techniques around a specific theme (like sweeps from guard) or a sequence (like arm bar from guard -> flower sweep -> Z-mount arm bar).
  3. Rolling (20-30 minutes to 30 minutes)
    • Begins with specific positional sparring or light, flow rolling.
    • Progresses to full free sparring, often with 5-6 minute rounds where practitioners choose their own partners.

A key aspect of BJJ training is the importance of relaxed, efficient movement, and critical thinking. Students learn to conserve energy, utilize leverage, and strategically adapt to their opponent’s movements. This cerebral aspect of BJJ training often leads to it being likened to physical chess, where anticipation, tactics, and problem-solving are just as important as strength and athleticism.

BJJ Belt System Explained

There are five primary belt colors in adult BJJ: white, blue, purple, brown, and black. Each color represents a specific stage of development, with the black belt symbolizing the highest level of proficiency.

Read More: Full Breakdown on BJJ belts in order

  1. White Belt – Defense and Survival
    • Key Focus: Building a strong technical foundation and learning self-defense techniques.
  2. Blue Belt – Escapes and Reversals
    • Key Focus: Developing a solid understanding of basic techniques and beginning to develop one’s own unique style.
  3. Purple Belt – Guards and Guard Retention
    • Key Focus: Acquiring an advanced level of technical knowledge, coupled with improved strategic abilities in live rolling.
  4. Brown Belt – Guard Passing
    • Key Focus: Demonstrating a high level of mastery and a deep understanding of the intricacies of BJJ, while refining personal styles and displaying consistent performance in rolling and competition.
  5. Black Belt – Offense and Strategy
    • Key Focus: Reaching the pinnacle of BJJ expertise, not only as skilled technicians and competitors, but also as ambassadors for the martial art, often taking on teaching and mentoring roles in their academies.

White belt is the starting point for all adult BJJ practitioners, symbolizing a clean slate and new beginnings.

Students at this level focus on building a strong technical foundation and learning self-defense techniques. Upon demonstrating a firm grasp of these concepts, practitioners are promoted to the blue belt.

Blue belts demonstrate a solid understanding of basic techniques and have begun to develop their own unique styles.

Purple belts signify an advanced level of technical knowledge, coupled with improved strategic abilities in live rolling.

Brown belts represent a high level of mastery and a deep understanding of the intricacies of BJJ. These practitioners have refined their styles and displayed consistent performance in rolling and competition.

Black belt exemplifies the pinnacle of BJJ expertise. Black belts are not only skilled technicians and competitors, but also ambassadors for the martial art, often taking on teaching and mentoring roles in their academies.

It is important to note that BJJ has no standardized examination protocols for belt promotions. Instead, instructors observe their students’ progress, examining factors such as technical ability, character, and dedication over a prolonged period before deciding when the student is ready for promotion.

Tips for BJJ Players Against Wrestlers

To gain an advantage against a wrestler, BJJ practitioners should first focus on improving their takedown defense or submission attacks off of takedown attempts like guillotines and kimuras.

Wrestlers are known for their ability to take down opponents with power and precision, so working on defensive techniques like sprawls and re-shooting will be crucial (or you can always pull guard…)

Secondly, BJJ fighters should concentrate on their guard game.

Wrestlers often struggle when placed in an opponent’s guard, as their usual methods of pinning may not work against the submissions and sweeps that BJJ players can employ from these positions. Developing a strong guard will give the BJJ practitioner opportunities to set up submissions (like triangles) or sweeps that can catch the wrestler off guard.

Lastly, it is important to manage distance and timing effectively.

Wrestlers excel at closing the gap and securing takedowns with speed, so BJJ players must learn to create and maintain distance, as well as to capitalize on an opponent’s movements to create openings. Maintaining a low stance and utilizing grips, footwork, and body positioning will help create distance and prevent the engaging BJJ player from being taken down easily.

Why Is BJJ More Popular than Wrestling?

*BJJ’s accessibility to a diverse range of individuals, regardless of age, gender, or fitness level, adds to its appeal as a martial art.

Compared to the intense, demanding nature of wrestling training, BJJ offers a more approachable learning curve, emphasizing technique over brute strength, which makes it ideal for those seeking to acquire self-defense skills.

*Next, generally, wrestling (at least in the US) is only accessible to those at elementary, high school, or college level. Beyond that, wrestling clubs, gyms, or classes are severely limited .

*Another contributing factor is BJJ’s strong association with and prevalence in mixed martial arts (MMA).

The Gracie family’s effective marketing strategies, coupled with the success of Royce Gracie in the early days of the UFC, introduced BJJ to a broader audience. This exposure led to the widespread adoption of BJJ as an essential component of MMA training, further increasing its allure.

What Can BJJ Learn from Wrestling?

One aspect that BJJ practitioners can adopt from wrestling is the relentless emphasis on takedowns. Mastery of takedown techniques can significantly enhance a BJJ fighter’s ability to dictate the fight’s direction, whether standing or on the ground. Wrestlers are known for their explosive power and aggressive offense, which provides them an advantage in close-quarter combat. By integrating wrestling takedown strategies into their game, BJJ fighters can improve their overall performance in both self-defense situations and competitive settings.

Another area where BJJ can benefit from wrestling is in the development of physical conditioning and mental fortitude. Wrestlers often undergo intense and demanding training regimens, focusing on strength, speed, and endurance, attributes that can benefit any martial artist. BJJ practitioners can adopt such rigorous conditioning methods to maximize their physical capabilities, making them more resilient and adaptable in a fight. Moreover, wrestling’s emphasis on mental toughness helps fighters push through adversity, an invaluable quality for BJJ practitioners who face many challenging moments on their journey to mastery.

Finally, BJJ athletes should study wrestling’s systematic approach to drilling and practice. Wrestlers are known for repeatedly drilling techniques to embed them in their muscle memory, allowing for swift and instinctive execution in real combat scenarios. BJJ practitioners can learn from this approach, refining their transitions, submissions, and dynamic movements through consistent and purposeful repetition. By adopting and integrating these wrestling principles, BJJ practitioners can elevate their groundwork, embody a well-rounded martial artist mindset, and increase their overall effectiveness in self-defense and sports settings.

Can a BJJ Blue Belt Beat a Wrestler?

The BJJ blue belt is typically viewed as an intermediate level between beginners and more advanced practitioners, often boasting a solid understanding of essential techniques and strategies, which may provide advantages in grappling exchanges.

I think a bjj blue belt vs a high school level wrestler is a good match up. Even though the blue belt will likely be taken down, if the wrestler doesn’t have experience with submissions, the blue belt should be able to submit the wrestler.

Can a BJJ Black Belt Beat a Wrestler?

A black belt in BJJ usually signifies a high level of proficiency, comprehensive techniques, and years of dedicated training, allowing them to potentially dominate weaker opponents. Nevertheless, it is essential to scrutinize the wrestler’s particular skill set and background before reaching any conclusions.

Yes, a BJJ Black belt should be able to takedown, control, and submit a wrestler. Even though the wrestler still may have the upper hand when it comes to takedowns, the odds of a jiu jitsu black belt controlling and submitting the wrestler when it gets to the ground is extraordinarily high.

Comparing BJJ vs Wrestling:

Wrestling vs jiu jitsu

   Now, when analyzing wrestling vs jiu jitsu, wrestling has a definitive advantage when it comes to learning take downs.

At the very start of learning wrestling you are taught take downs and drill them constantly

Wrestling also exposes you to frequent competition.

While just like jiu jitsu, you will be having live matches with other team members, you will frequently be exposed to competing against others from different schools or areas in front of an audience.

This is a distinct advantage that wrestlers have over jiu jitsu practitioners.

They compete so frequently during their time wrestling that they are able to become more accustomed to the requirements of performing under extreme stress and anxiety.

Jiu jitsu does have takedowns, and these are taught throughout the martial art often borrowing heavily from wrestling takedowns.

However, the extent that they are taught and learned is nowhere near the amount that they are practiced during wrestling training. During every single wrestling practice you will likely be practicing takedowns for the majority of the class. 

Jiu jitsu considers takedowns a piece of the pie of the entire martial art (as shown in the above pie chart).

They are learned and considered very effective; they are not the main focus. They are often used in conjunction with submissions or used to work toward the end goal to obtain a submission.

If you take a high school wrestler who has been learning jiu jitsu for 6 months and put them in their first bjj competition they will, undoubtedly, perform much better than a person who has solely studied jiu jitsu for 6 months.

Who Would Win in a Fight – BJJ vs Wrestling

The question of who would prevail in a fight between a BJJ practitioner and a wrestler is multifaceted and depends on several factors.

For example, a key variable is the fighters’ level of experience within their respective martial art – a seasoned BJJ black belt with an understanding of wrestling may fare better against a wrestler than a BJJ practitioner with no ground fighting background.

Similarly, a wrestler with experience in submissions could challenge a BJJ fighter better than a wrestler with only takedown skills.

In an MMA setting, the advantage often lies with the wrestler, who has a greater opportunity to dictate the fight’s pacing and location due to their superior takedown skills. However, BJJ fighters can still mitigate this advantage by utilizing their submission expertise in ground scenarios or employing a solid stand-up striking game to keep the wrestler at bay.

In an unregulated self-defense situation, BJJ’s fundamental principles of leverage, positioning, and submission knowledge become increasingly advantageous.

A wrestler may possess superior takedown and pinning abilities, but without the knowledge of submission escapes and joint lock defenses, they are at a heightened risk of being submitted by a proficient BJJ fighter.

Which One Is Better for Fighting and Self Defense?

BJJ typically holds the advantage. One main reason is that BJJ was specifically designed for street fighting and emphasizes on control and submission techniques that neutralize attackers with minimal force. Its ground fighting methodologies are ideal for handling unpredictable situations and defending against larger or stronger adversaries.

Wrestling skills can undeniably provide a strong foundation for self-defense; however, the focus on controlling an opponent for competition may not always translate well into real-life confrontations. BJJ practitioners are trained to escape from various positions, apply joint locks, and execute chokes – techniques that can rapidly incapacitate an attacker without inflicting severe injuries.

In our opinion, the best grappling based martial art for self defense is a combination of both wrestling and jiu jitsu.

There is a reason any mma practitioner must have a strong knowledge and understanding of both jiu jitsu and wrestling.

When considering self defense, it is also important to have knowledge of common wrestling and jiu jitsu techniques.

While wrestling places a larger emphasis on taking your opponent down, jiu jitsu focuses on securing submissions to finish the bout. 

Which Martial Art Offers More Advantages in Terms of Physical Fitness?

Both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and wrestling provide a multitude of advantages in terms of physical fitness. Their emphasis on functional training results in improved muscle conditioning, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and overall aerobic capacity. However, the physical benefits of each martial art cater to different aspects of fitness.

In terms of accessibility, if you are older than high school or college age, BJJ is way more accessible and a solid option for its physical fitness benefits. While wrestling beyond school age, may be too hard on your body if you didn’t learn wrestling in your younger years.

Wrestling demands peak physical strength and power, developed through rigorous training and endurance exercises. Its high-intensity nature translates to a potent full-body workout, with practitioners honing their explosiveness, agility, and quick reflexes. The ability to maintain control over an opponent in wrestling requires significant core strength, leading to a strong trunk and toned musculature.

How Effective Are BJJ and Wrestling in MMA?

BJJ excels in ground combat, allowing practitioners to submit and neutralize opponents lacking submission defense. It also equips fighters with effective takedown defense and transition skills, enabling them to prevent wrestlers from dictating the course of a fight.

Honestly, you need both BJJ and wrestling to be effective in MMA.

Wrestling, on the other hand, provides fighters with a solid base for dominating the positioning and takedown game.

Wrestlers can control where the fight takes place, and data suggests that wrestling has produced the highest number of UFC champions.

Ultimately, it is essential for modern MMA fighters to incorporate both BJJ and wrestling techniques into their skill set. This diversity allows fighters to adapt to various scenarios, capitalize on opponents’ weaknesses, and develop a multifaceted approach to combat. By training in both disciplines, fighters can ensure they are well-rounded and prepared to excel in the dynamic world of mixed martial arts.

So Which One Is Better for MMA?

When it comes to MMA, it’s important to understand that one isn’t necessarily better than the other, but rather, they cater to different skill sets and strategies within the sport.

If we had to choose one for MMA, it would have to be Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, since if you don’t have the takedowns and techniques in wrestling you can still submit them with BJJ, but if you don’t know bjj and only have wrestling, you will certainly get submitted.

Both disciplines offer their unique advantages and disadvantages. BJJ practitioners can effectively neutralize their opponents with submission holds, forcing them to tap out or risk injury. On the other hand, wrestling allows fighters to control the fight’s pacing and potentially dictate the location of the combat by executing takedowns. The ability to force fights onto the ground presents a significant advantage over strikers, who often rely on their stand-up game to win.

How Come Good Wrestlers Dominate BJJ Practitioners in MMA?

While it might seem surprising that exceptional wrestlers can dominate BJJ practitioners in MMA, there are several logical explanations behind this phenomenon.

One of the primary reasons is that wrestling instills strong takedown abilities and exceptional control over an opponent, both of which are indispensable when it comes to MMA performance.

For instance, accomplished wrestlers can dictate where the fight takes place with their takedown skills.

This advantage allows them to bypass the dangerous striking range and put their BJJ opponents on the defensive.

Once on the ground, the innate top control and pressure wrestlers develop through their training can significantly restrict BJJ practitioners from applying their traditional submissions and transitioning to more advantageous positions.

Lastly, the relentless training and work ethic imparted by wrestling culture cannot be underestimated. Wrestlers develop extraordinary physical conditioning and mental resilience, which can help them dominate opponents in combat.

This dedication to hard work and pushing beyond limits enables wrestlers to thrive in the intense environment of mixed martial arts and often grants them an edge over their BJJ counterparts.

Which One Is Easier to Learn?

For beginners, wrestling might be perceived as a more challenging discipline to learn, primarily due to the demand for explosive power, exceptional flexibility, and a high degree of physical fitness – not to mention that wrestling can be tough on your body.

Brazilian jiu jitsu while it can also be tough on your body, you can learn, practice, and spar bjj safely and with less risk by:

  • choosing not to wrestling
  • choosing your training and sparring partners wisely
  • relying on technique and control over explosive movements and power
  • incorporating safer movements for both you and your training partner

Furthermore, BJJ tends to prioritize technique over raw strength, and its relatively slower pace allows newcomers to absorb and implement new concepts more readily.

Ultimately, both have a tough learning curve, but jiu jitsu may be easier on your body especially if you are older since one of the main risks of injury in training is falling body weight and takedowns.

How to Learn to Wrestle for BJJ (If you have no wrestling experience*)

This is me in one of my first wrestling classes at my BJJ gym

As someone who never wrestled in my younger years in high school and college and started Brazilian jiu jitsu at 28, I have spent a large portion of my training learning wrestle basics to add to my bjj game.

I struggled with learning to wrestle and standing up with wrestlers who would just take me down and slam me within an instant.

So I created a structured plan for my own wrestling learning. This plan was meant to ease into wrestling slowly and comfortable without a large risk of injury.

Here is a quick summary of key points on how I learned to wrestle and keep up with the D1 wrestlers in my bjj classes (so hopefully you can implement some of these steps into your own training):

To learn wrestling for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) without any prior wrestling experience, consider the following steps:

  1. Study and Drill Wrestling Techniques: Start by studying wrestling basics through BJJ instructional videos or classes at your local BJJ gym. Focus on drilling these techniques without live wrestling initially.
  2. Practice “Wrestling Up”: Begin incorporating wrestling techniques from a seated position during BJJ training. This includes learning how to control your opponent’s legs, maintaining good head position, and driving through to finish a takedown.
  3. Start Wrestling Rounds with a Trusted Partner: Choose a training partner you trust and feel comfortable with to start practicing wrestling rounds. This step is crucial as beginners might not move in expected ways which could potentially lead to injuries. Your partner should be someone who won’t take advantage of your lack of experience and slam you or move in overly agressive ways
  4. Develop an Action Plan and Setups: Learn to use setups before going for a takedown. These can be push/pull motions, misdirections, or feints that elicit reactions from your opponent and open up opportunities for takedowns.
  5. Progress to Chain Wrestling: As you get more comfortable with wrestling techniques, start practicing chain wrestling – combining several setups or takedowns in a row to eventually work toward a successful takedown.

For a full breakdowncheck out our guide here on learning to wrestle for BJJ

Comparing Wrestling and Jiu Jitsu VS Other Martial Arts:

Wrestling vs Judo

When comparing wrestling and Judo, one must consider their primary objectives and techniques. These are both grappling based sports with different objects, but both are practiced and competed at the Olympic levels.


Main Points:

  • Originates from ancient civilizations, formalized in Greece.
  • The objective is to pin the opponent’s shoulders to the mat.
  • Mainly a no-gi sport; athletes wear singlets.
  • High-intensity training with constant pressure and strength requirements.
  • Techniques focus on takedowns, pins, escapes, and reversals.
  • High focus on the standing game for takedowns, with some ground game.


  • Excellent for building strength, speed, agility, and endurance.
  • Develops strong takedown and pinning techniques.
  • Wrestling mindset emphasizes aggression, tenacity, and mental toughness.
  • Commonly taught in schools, particularly in the United States.


  • The high-intensity nature may lead to increased risk of injury.
  • Limited submission techniques compared to Judo or BJJ.
  • Not as many adult-oriented programs due to the intensity of the sport.


Main Points:

  • Originated in Japan.
  • The objective is to throw or take down an opponent, pin them, or make them submit through strangles or joint locks.
  • Primarily a gi sport.
  • Techniques focus on throws, pins, and submissions.
  • High focus on standing game for throws, with ground game (ne waza) also present.


  • Excellent for developing balance, coordination, and falling techniques.
  • Great emphasis on throws which can be effective in many self-defense situations.
  • Judo mindset emphasizes respect, discipline, and efficiency.
  • Included in the Olympic Games, providing a clear path for competition.


  • The high-impact nature of throws may lead to increased risk of injury, especially if falling techniques (ukemi) are not well-practiced.
  • Less emphasis on the ground game compared to BJJ, although it is still part of Judo.
  • The requirement for a gi may not be preferred by some practitioners.

Wrestling focuses on taking down opponents and maintaining control through pins, while Judo aims to throw opponents to the ground and, in some cases, apply submission techniques.

One critical difference between wrestling and Judo lies in their takedown techniques.

  • Wrestling heavily emphasizes explosive takedowns, such as double legs, single legs, and high amplitude throws.
  • In contrast, Judo employs a variety of hip throws, foot sweeps, and off-balancing techniques guided by the principle of “maximum efficiency with minimum effort.”
    • This principle allows Judo practitioners to execute powerful throws with less reliance on brute strength and more focus on technique, timing, and leverage.

An essential aspect to consider when evaluating these martial arts is their respective training styles and intensity.

  • Wrestling often involves rigorous training regimens focused on conditioning, speed, power, and agility.
  • In contrast, Judo encourages fluid movements, the art of “breaking the balance,” and an intricate understanding of leverage.

Wrestling vs BJJ vs Judo

WrestlingBrazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)Judo
OriginAncient civilizations, formalized in GreeceBrazil, derived from Judo and traditional Japanese JujitsuJapan
ObjectivePinning the opponent’s shoulders to the matSubmitting the opponent through chokes, locks, and holdsThrowing or taking down an opponent to the ground, or making them submit through strangles or joint locks
Scoring SystemPoints awarded for takedowns, escapes, reversals, and near fallsPoints awarded for specific positions and maneuversPoints awarded for throws, pins, and submissions
Gi or No-GiNo-Gi (singlets are typically worn)Both Gi and No-GiPrimarily Gi
Competitive SceneOlympics, NCAA, World ChampionshipsMundials, ADCC, various regional and national competitionsOlympics, World Championships, various regional and national competitions
Training IntensityHigh-intensity, constant pressure and strength requirementsCan vary, generally more relaxed and technical compared to wrestlingGenerally moderate intensity, technique-oriented
Primary TechniquesTakedowns, pins, escapes, and reversalsSweeps, guard passes, submissionsThrows, pins, submissions
Ground Game FocusYes, but limited compared to BJJ and JudoHigh focus on ground game (ne waza)Yes, but less emphasis compared to BJJ
Standing Game FocusHigh focus on standing game (takedowns)Some focus, primarily for initiating takedowns to go to the groundHigh focus on standing game (throws)

When comparing wrestling, BJJ, and Judo, it’s essential to recognize that each martial art has its own unique strengths and applications.

1. In wrestling, the main focus is on takedown skills, ground control, and physical dominance, making it perfect for MMA and other combat sports where athletes want to control where the fight takes place.

2. Again, BJJ emphasizes ground fighting techniques, such as leverage, chokes, and joint locks – an incredibly useful skillset for MMA and self-defense scenarios where submission is the primary goal.

3. Judo, rooted in Japanese martial arts tradition, puts a heavier emphasis on throws and falling techniques. These skills can be valuable in MMA and other combat sports when combined with an effective ground game, like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. However, it’s worth mentioning that Judo’s stand-up techniques can help counter potential takedowns and occasionally catch opponents off-guard with dynamic, explosive throws.

BJJ vs Muay Thai

. BJJ is a grappling martial art focusing on ground combat that employs joint locks, chokes, and positional control to submit opponents. Conversely, Muay Thai is a striking-based martial art, originating in Thailand, that combines punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes to defeat an adversary in stand-up combat.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)Muay Thai
Technique DiversityEmphasizes ground game and submission techniques.Focuses on stand-up striking techniques.
Self DefenseEffective for smaller practitioners against larger foes due to leverage and technique emphasis.Effective at maintaining distance and neutralizing attackers with kicks, knees, and elbows.
FitnessEnhances flexibility, improves cardio, and strength especially in the core.Enhances cardio, strength, especially in the legs, and overall body conditioning.
Competition OpportunitiesMany local, regional, and international competitions.Many opportunities in stand-up fighting sports, including kickboxing and MMA.
Physical IntensityCan be intense with a higher potential for joint-related injuries due to submissions.High risk of injuries from striking (bruises, cuts), rigorous training and conditioning.
Learning CurveThe technical depth can be overwhelming for beginners; progress is often slower in the initial phase.Requires a high level of physical conditioning and agility which may be difficult for beginners.
Self-DefenseLimited striking techniques; less focus on stand-up game.Limited ground and grappling techniques.
Equipment CostGi and No-Gi equipment needed; can be more expensive.Requires gloves, shin guards, and optional headgear; initial equipment cost can be high.

Read More: BJJ vs Muay Thai Explained

The primary difference between BJJ and Muay Thai centers on their areas of expertise: BJJ excels in ground fighting, while Muay Thai dominates in striking. Each martial art offers its unique set of advantages when facing an opponent. BJJ practitioners possess the skills to control and submit an adversary in a ground fight, rendering their striking capabilities negligible. On the other hand, proficient Muay Thai fighters can overwhelm opponents with relentless, powerful strikes, often neutralizing the threat of being taken down.

In terms of self-defense, both martial arts provide effective tools for personal protection. BJJ’s groundwork and submission techniques enable practitioners to neutralize physical threats, even from larger or stronger opponents, without inflicting severe harm. However, Muay Thai’s striking capabilities offer high damage potential, creating an opportunity to disable an assailant quickly and effectively.

Jiu Jitsu vs Judo

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo share a common ancestral link through the Japanese martial art of Jujutsu, but they’ve developed divergent techniques and goals.

BJJ’s primary focus lies in control and submission on the ground, while Judo is primarily concerned with executing efficient throws and maintaining control during stand-up combat.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)Judo
Technique DiversityFocus on a variety of ground fighting techniques including a lot of submissions.Emphasizes throws and takedowns, with some groundwork with some submissions.
Self DefenseHighly effective in one-on-one situations, especially when the fight goes to the ground.Effective in situations where quick throws can neutralize an opponent.
FitnessEnhances flexibility, improves cardio, and strength especially in the core.Enhances balance, strength, especially in the core and legs, and overall body conditioning.
Competition OpportunitiesMany local, regional, and international competitions.Part of the Olympic Games; numerous opportunities in local, national, and international competitions.
Physical IntensityCan be intense with a higher potential for joint-related injuries due to submissions.High risk of injuries from throws and falls, requiring good break fall technique.
Learning CurveThe technical depth can be overwhelming for beginners; progress is often slower in the initial phase.Requires understanding of balance, movement, and timing, which can take time to develop.
Self-DefenseLimited standing techniques; less emphasis on throws.Limited time spent on groundwork in many schools; less focus on submissions compared to BJJ.
Equipment CostGi and No-Gi equipment needed; can be more expensive.Requires a judo gi, which is generally less expensive than BJJ gi.

Read More: Judo vs BJJ Breakdown

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that Judo is not solely a throwing martial art. It does also possess ground fighting techniques, known as “newaza.” Judo practitioners can capitalize on their ground skills, but typically their skills in newaza are comparably limited when assessed against the depth of the groundwork found in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

The high-intensity nature of Judo favors quick, decisive throws that often culminate in match-winning points or victory by ippon, whereas BJJ matches traditionally unfold more methodically and revolve around intricate, ground-based strategy.

Is wrestling harder than jiu jitsu

Is wrestling harder than jiu jitsu? The short answer to this is yes, but sometimes no.

There are many differences and variables to consider that have been mentioned above.

Wrestling requires more athleticism, strength, and aggressiveness. Additionally, the training required in wrestling can be considered much more grueling and strenuous.

Jiu jitsu has to appeal to the larger masses.

It is a commercial martial art that isn’t tied to schooling or Olympic competitions. Therefore, you will see people of all age, sex, and athletic skill level in a jiu jitsu class. 

Every gym likely has competition or advanced classes that are geared toward the more committed practitioners.

These classes or practices can seem more akin to wrestling practice. They require more endurance, cardio, and knowledge.

Furthermore, the knowledge of and understanding of jiu jitsu techniques may be considered deeper and more complex than wrestling. Therefore, it may be more difficult for a practitioner to learn and may take more time to master. 

Where wrestling requires a “go, go, go” mentality, jiu jitsu emphasizes a chess-like behavior and taking advantage of your partners explicit bodily weakness such as the weakness of their throat that can be exposed to a strangulation or the weakness of an elbow joint being hyper extended.

There are times where you can control your partner in jiu jitsu and breathe properly, and since the matches are longer this behavior is strong recommended.

The pace of a bjj match can be seen as slower and more methodical and less explosive, and there are ways to control your opponent and slow it down. 

Comparing the difficulty levels of wrestling and BJJ ultimately depends on the factors being measured. From a physical standpoint, wrestling often demands greater athleticism, conditioning, and explosive power compared to BJJ, making it potentially more challenging for some individuals to excel.

Wrestlers must develop exceptional strength, flexibility, and speed to properly execute takedowns, counters, and sprawling techniques. In this regard, wrestling could be considered more physically demanding.

However, when evaluating the complexity of techniques, BJJ arguably presents a steeper learning curve. BJJ’s arsenal of positional controls, chokes, sweeps, and joint locks can be quite intricate, requiring years of practice and mental focus to master.

Additionally, BJJ’s ground-based nature places significant emphasis on strategy, adaptability, and patience, forcing practitioners to think multiple steps ahead during a match. In this aspect, BJJ might be considered harder due to its technical depth and cerebral nature.

Competitiveness of each sport on the international stage also plays a role in determining which martial art is harder. Both wrestling and BJJ feature highly competitive scenes, with wrestling present at the Olympic Games, and BJJ hosting numerous prestigious events like the World Championships and ADCC.

In both cases, reaching the elite level requires countless hours of dedication, discipline, and sacrifice. Therefore, it is difficult to definitively declare one art harder than the other, as they each pose unique challenges, and personal preferences ultimately dictate which discipline may prove more demanding for a given individual.

BJJ vs Wrestling the final word:

One last time – when it comes to jiu jitsu vs wrestling there are some key differences. Jiu jitsu focuses on submissions through joint locks and strangulation whereas wrestling focuses on securing the take down and pinning your opponent to win the match. Both of these are grappling based martial arts and are extremely effective.

There are definite advantages to each, but they should be learned as complementary to each other especially when considering self defense.

While you want the explosiveness of a wrestling takedown, you also need the deep knowledge of submissions, positions, and control that jiu jitsu provides.

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