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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):

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.

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.


Wrestling

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.

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.

BJJ vs Wrestling – Final Words

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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