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BJJ VS Wrestling: Which one is a more effective fighting style?

BJJ VS Wrestling: Which one is a more effective fighting style?

1. Explaining all about BJJ Vs Wrestling

Many martial arts enthusiasts used to search on the Internet about the major differences between BJJ vs Wrestling. A popular question is which one is a more effective or superior fighting style. However, this debate has no particular answer as different wrestling and BJJ practitioners have  different opinions and thoughts.

Most of the time, laymen can easily misunderstand the techniques and methods used in BJJ and wrestling, mistaking them both as being the same. But still, both are having historical perspectives, philosophies, legacies , and fighting techniques. We can also say that wrestling is the oldest one that existed in the primaeval times, but BJJ has  100 years worth of history. 

Per the fact, BJJ and wrestling come from the same combat family tree. BJJ is all about using techniques which can easily knock down the opponent with the help of submission moves. Meanwhile,  wrestling uses aggressive moves to dominate and exert weight  on the opponent.

Undoubtedly, BJJ has become one of the most popular forms of martial arts and has recently been used in several grappling sports events like (Gi and No-Gi), MMA, and self-defence competitions.  It is said to be the most effective and rewarding form of MMA, putting emphasis on ground positions while  applying different chokes, locking the neck and joints to subdue  a challenger. BJJ training among people of all ages and backgrounds is growing faster as it has grown popular  as a sports/fun activity, self-defense, stress-reliever, and physical/mental healing process.

The art of BJJ fighting has gone through many experiments, adaptations from Judo, and practices. The philosophy behind the BJJ is that its learning is not based on hurting or breaking the bones of your rival, instead, it is to force  your opponent to tap out. So, learning these fighting skills gives you a chance to protect yourself, no matter what gender, size, age, or power an opponent may have . Along with learning different fighting skills, BJJ can also help you  gain self-confidence, self-esteem, focus, concentration, mental health, and physical fitness.

We cannot also undermine the popularity of wrestling around the world as it is more widely practised  at the school level and added as a part of the sports curriculum.  Wrestling puts emphasis on physical strength, speed, techniques, and controlling the opponent. It also used several grappling techniques, clinch fighting, throws, takedowns, joint locks, and pins.  It has proper rules and regulations with a less flexible structure. The basic rules for wrestling include breathing/relaxing exercises, massive movements, and maintaining balance/body structure during a match.

Thus, it is less adaptive and flexible than BJJ. Usually, wrestlers work on their physical strength and muscular body which make their training harder and highly focused. The wrestlers need to win the competition by putting a lot of physical power, gaining a superior position, and putting on the pressure.

Wrestling can be played in many different styles such as Greco-Roman, Freestyle Wrestling, Folk styles, Catch Wrestling, and Submission wrestling. Besides physical strength and building muscles, wrestling also helps build  character and instils  willpower, resilience, and preservation. The wrestling community is considered highly disciplined and follows proper work ethics. In different countries, we can find slightly different variations and techniques in accordance with culture and old traditions.

1.1. Origin and History


1.1.1 BJJ


The meaning of the word “jiu-jitsu” means gentle art, derived from the Japanese language. It was taught by Mitsyuo Maeda in 1917 to Carlos Gracie and then passed down  to the Gracie family. Maeda added many advanced techniques in BJJ from Japanese Judo to  Kodokan. 

The Gracie family was responsible for transforming this traditional fighting style into well-organised art with appropriate curriculum and values.  The official BJJ Championship was held in the 1990s.

It got much recognition from the 1920s to  the 1940s. Before the 1990s, BJJ  was not practised anywhere except in Brazil. Now, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu federation organises many tournaments worldwide such as the World BJJ Championship, WNO, Pan BJJ Championship, and European Open BJJ Championship.

1.1.2 Wrestling


Wrestling is considered to be one of the oldest recreational fighting sports. The evidence of the sports being practised  in ancient times were  found in cave drawings and picture stories that were around 15,000 to 20,000 years old.

Since 708 BC, It was also a popular game in the Olympics of Ancient Greece. It also existed during the  times of Ancient France, Southern Europe, Egypt, the Bible’s Old Testament, and even in Indian religious texts  (Ramayana/Mahabharata).

The royal families used to organise such fights in France, Japan, and England during the  Middle Ages. Then, Europeans introduced this fighting style to America. Today, it is demonstrated  at different national and international championships across the world  with set rules and stages.

2. Game Rules for BJJ/Wrestling

2.1. Key Principles (Wrestling)


The purpose  of wrestling is about  knocking down the opponent on the ground by gaining the top position using various  techniques.

2.2. Key Principles (BJJ)


The use of leverage, techniques, and guard positions are emphasized  in BJJ rather than the use of  just bodily strength.

2.3. Uniforms (BJJ)


We can observe the basic differences in the uniform worn by BJJ fighters and wrestlers during competitions and training.

A traditional uniform worn in Gi matches is the  kimono. It comprises cotton trousers and a jacket along with a ranking belt which also holds the jacket together. A No-Gi uniform includes a rash guard, shorts, and spats.

2.4. Uniform (Wrestling)


In wrestling, the uniform comprises spandex (singlet), wrestling shoes, and headgear along with elbow and knee pads.

2.5. Rules (BJJ)


The average time  limit for each IBJJF match is around 5-10 minutes in accordance with the challenger rank. The main aim of the challenger is to win the match by submission or accumulating points within a minimum time.

Listed below are the points you can earn in a match:

  • Mount/Back Mount: 4 points
  • Guard Pass: 3 points
  • Sweep: 2 points
  • Knee On Belly: 2 points
  • Takedown/Judo Throw: 2 points
  • Advantage point ( for trying different positions or to get almost submission

2.6. 5 Rules (Wrestling)


The main objective in wrestling matches is to knock down your opponent and make him tap your shoulder for one  second. Splitting up the match   in rounds is a practice used in different wrestling styles such as high school, collegiate, and international competitions.

  • High School Wrestling: Three 2-minute rounds
  • College Wrestling: One 3-minute round and one 2-minute round
  • International/Olympic Wrestling: Two 3-minute rounds
  • Points in a wrestling match include:
  • Takedown: 2 points
  • Reversal: 2 points
  • Near fall (2 seconds): 2 points
  • Near Fall (5 seconds): 3 point

2.7. BJJ ranking system


BJJ ranking and promotion are dependent on the five different colored belts. It takes  almost eight  to 10 years to get promoted to black belt.

  • White Belt
  • Blue Belt
  • Purple Belt
  • Brown Belt
  • Black Belt

2.8. Wrestling’s Ranking System


In wrestling, there are the following levels.

  • High School Level
  • College Level
  • International/Olympic Level

3. Similarities and Differences Between BJJ Vs Wrestling

3.1  Similarities between BJJ vs Wrestling


  1. Both are forms of grappling and involve fighting on the ground.
  2. BJJ fighters and wrestlers, both aim to knock down, control, and subdue  their competitors.
  3. Both fighting styles have the same aims, but their rules are different.
  4. In both sports , challengers strive for higher scores to end the match  using different submission  techniques.

3.2 Differences between BJJ vs Wrestling


  1. The whole emphasis of BJJ is on submission and ground fighting whereas wrestling is based on takedowns and pins.
  2. BJJ is based on using the right techniques at the right time with the right competitor whereas wrestlers just use their physical strength, power, and speed.
  3. Wrestling rules are rigid and strict whereas BJJ rules are quite practical and dynamic.
  4. Wrestlers use weight and pressure to win the fighting competition whereas BJJ fighters gain points through submissions to win.
  5. Due to BJJ’s emphasis on ground fighting, it is considered to be a more beneficial sub-discipline of martial arts.
  6. Although both disciplines use practical fighting styles in a street fight, BJJ has proved to be a superior way of protecting oneself from any threat/harm.

4.  Pros and Cons of BJJ Vs Wrestling

4.1. Pros (BJJ)


  • It is proven to be more useful and reliable for defending oneself .
  • It is beneficial for everyone and can be taken up as a hobby, a thrilling sport, or even a profession.
  • It helps  shape  the body and muscles perfectly through exercises.
  • It is practised  across many countries of the world.
  • It is also helpful in relieving stress and depression.
  • Anyone can start it at any age with no prior MMA experience.

4.2. Cons (BJJ)


  • Due to its growing popularity, many academies and mentors are providing fake belts to its practitioners.
  • You can’t learn aggressive fighting and attacking techniques like slamming, striking, kicks, and punches.
  • You need extra time and effort to learn the appropriate techniques before being promoted  to the next ranks.

4.3. Pros (Wrestling)


  • The training is hard and intense with a lot of workouts.
  • It helps control the opponent in self-defense.
  • It is also beneficial for physical and mental health.
  • It helps with having expertise in the standing moves.
  • As it is one of the hardest sports to learn, it helps with enhancing your mental capacity to overcome challenges.

4.4. Cons ( Wrestling)


  • It cannot be taken up as a hobby.
  • You can’t learn submissions in wrestling which is a drawback in finishing the fight.
  • The techniques of striking and slamming can be dangerous and harmful.
  • There are less reputable institutions for wrestling in other countries apart from the USA.

5. Self-defense with BJJ and Wrestling

If we talk about which fighting style will help us more with defending ourselves,  then BJJ  is preferred as it was considered gentler and related more to self-defense techniques.

Even now BJJ fighting is more popular to learn as a form  of self-defense rather than competing in tournaments. In contrast, wrestling is a more aggressive and brutal way of fighting. Both BJJ and wrestling have been proven  to protect you against any unwanted attack or street fights. With wrestling and BJJ, you don’t only learn self-defense, but also help in making your bodily responses and reflexes  fast and accurate.

A wrestler can easily knock down their competitor in a highly efficient manner. The wrestler has some advantages over a BJJ fighter. As the BJJ techniques are more focused on the ground fighter, whereas the wrestler can easily control any opponent with stand-up techniques. They also have a great ability in taking down any opponent easily with their athlete instincts. Their bodies are already prepared with strength training which is very essential in defending yourself and others from any harm.

Fighting is determined more by the individual’s skill level, physical abilities, and a whole lot of luck compared to specific styles of martial art.

 The BJJ fighters could prove themselves more skilled, as they are having a grip on the combination of submission moves. As they devote their extra time and efforts to learning submissions from their backs whereas, wrestlers don’t have many techniques to tackle from their backs.  You don’t need to fight by controlling someone’s back every time, but still, this is an extra milestone for BJJ athletes. Moreover, BJJ fighters can easily break someone’s grip on their shirts from the backside.

6. Which one is more effective: BJJ Vs Wrestling?

Although BJJ and wrestling are different fighting styles, still, they both get along very well. The athletes having expertise in both BJJ and wrestling proved to be better combatants.

Now, curiosity arises about which one is more effective, so let’s see how each fighting discipline varies from the other.

So, if we talk about BJJ, it is considered to be the best for self-defense fighting, but it does not make it a passive game. It is a complete kit to teach you all skills necessary to survive in any duel, equipping you with tough escape positions and controlling movements by an opponent.

The training for BJJ is also very intense, practising bodily resistance, pushing, and pulling with fighting partners. BJJ art combat is for everyone, regardless of gender, age, body structure, weight, or height. It is the fact that it is getting very popular among all. BJJ Athletes can also practice it for their passion, interest, hobby, or pursue further as a profession.  The training is also less intense and exhausting compared to wrestling. So, it is not necessary to have a strong muscular build to continue BJJ like wrestling.

Even though BJJ is less intense than wrestling, it is still not easy to learn all the mastery techniques easily in a few months. It took almost 12-13 years to get awarded a black belt. Most of the time, it is misunderstood in some other martial arts disciplines that a black belt is a symbol of mastery. In BJJ, a black belt is taken as the beginning of the journey to practice the complicated techniques on the ground.

Progress is guaranteed in BJJ through different ranks for only those students who continued it with passion, determination, and work ethics. This gentle art emphasises more on the practical implementation of complex techniques by deeply understanding the purpose behind them.

Now, the most important concern by Sports Athletes is who will win in a grapple between BJJ fighter and wrestler. So, most probably a BJJ fighter wins with fewer injuries as he will have more command in escaping and locking the arms or neck of the opponent. A BJJ fighter is also well-versed with such skills and techniques that helped him to knock down any aggressive or heavier opponent. Even a brown belt can also defeat a heavier wrestler than him. Usually, wrestlers tried to show their muscular strength by coming into a bad position that is easily pinned down by BJJ fighters.

On other hand, the wrestlers training is more tough and intense based on overpowering the opponent by strength. It also emphasises  stand-up techniques. They follow the simple law of Physics to exert more force and power upon the opponent while standing than laying down. So, wrestlers used to exert more force and energy per minute compared to BJJ fighters. Wrestlers could be easily submitted as wrestling doesn’t have any submission techniques.

7. Takeaways

As we already discussed, it is not justified to compare these two fighting styles. Now, it depends on you which one you prefer. Just keep in mind that if you need to test the power and physical strength of your body, then go for wrestling. But if you are interested in learning the technical fighting principles to explore the gentle art of self-defence, then go for BJJ.

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