wrestle, wrestler, sports

BJJ vs Wrestling: Which is Better?

In the world of martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and wrestling often spark debate over their respective merits, leading to discussions about BJJ vs wrestling. Both grappling arts share similarities while possessing unique strategies and approaches. How do they differ in their origins, techniques, and applications in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and self-defense scenarios? Let’s embark on a journey to explore the intricacies of these two fascinating martial arts, focusing on BJJ vs wrestling comparisons.

Short Summary

  • BJJ and wrestling are martial arts with different origins, focusing on grappling and ground combat.

  • BJJ is focused on submission holds while wrestling emphasizes takedowns to gain control of the opponent.

  • Cross-training both styles can lead to improved abilities, physical conditioning and overall proficiency in ground fighting.

BJJ and Wrestling: An Overview

wrestle, wrestler, sports

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling are both martial arts with a focus on grappling and ground combat, often referred to as wrestling and jiu jitsu. While BJJ primarily emphasizes submission holds and ground fighting, wrestling concentrates on utilizing strength and athleticism to control the opponent. The objective in BJJ is to leverage the adversary’s strength by employing angles, levers, and exhausting them. In contrast, wrestling aims to overpower the opponent and maintain control through strength and agility.

The origins of these martial arts are distinct. BJJ is a relatively recent martial art, developed in the 1920s by the Gracie family in Brazil. Wrestling is among the oldest forms of combat. It dates back to as early as 15,000 years ago, to Ancient Egypt. Despite their differences, both arts have evolved and diversified over time, creating a rich tapestry of techniques and strategies in the realm of martial arts.

Origins of BJJ

The history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is rooted in the modified version of Judo practiced prior to World War II, incorporating techniques from classic Jujutsu and a heightened emphasis on non-waza (floor techniques). The Gracie family, particularly Carlos Gracie, played a pivotal role in transforming BJJ into a well-organized art. Mitsyuo Maeda, Carlos Gracie’s instructor, made significant contributions to BJJ by incorporating advanced techniques from Japanese Judo to Kodokan. Today, many people benefit from attending jiu jitsu classes to learn this martial art.

The focus of BJJ shifted from Judo’s emphasis on throwing to more advanced ground fighting. This transformation led to the development of a martial art tailored for real combat scenarios, enhancing its effectiveness in self-defense situations and laying the groundwork for its success in MMA competitions, such as the early UFC tournaments won by Royce Gracie.

Wrestling Through the Ages

Wrestling boasts ancient origins and a rich history spanning thousands of years. It emerged as a form of combat in Ancient Egypt, with depictions dating back 15,000 years. Over time, wrestling developed into various styles and regulations, including sumo wrestling, judo, and freestyle wrestling, along with numerous other freestyle adaptations.

The primary objective of wrestling is to take the opponent down from a standing position using different takedown techniques. Once on the ground, wrestlers apply pins and locks to gain an advantageous position over their opponent. This focus on control has made wrestling an integral component of soldier training, specifically in chest-to-chest combat scenarios.

Key Principles and Techniques

brazilian jiu-jitsu, bjj, fight

Both BJJ and wrestling employ intricate techniques that require dedication to master. BJJ is unique in its focus of ground fighting and submission holds. Practitioners seek to make their opponents submit using chokes or joint locks. In contrast, wrestling emphasizes physical conditioning, strength, technique, takedowns, and dominance from the top position.

The scoring systems in BJJ and wrestling also differ. In BJJ, points are awarded for achieving a mount or back take, passing an opponent’s guard, and taking down or sweeping an opponent. In wrestling, points are awarded through the successful execution of specific moves or techniques, such as takedowns and reversals, and maintaining control during the match.

BJJ’s Focus on Submissions

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the primary emphasis is on sophisticated ground fighting and submission holds, such as chokes and joint locks. This jiu jitsu focuses on leveraging technique and control over brute strength, which is a core aspect of BJJ’s philosophy, aiming to compel opponents to submit without inflicting serious harm.

The effectiveness of BJJ’s submission-oriented approach is well documented in both self-defense and MMA scenarios. The martial art’s ability to neutralize larger, stronger opponents through technique and leverage has made it a popular choice for those seeking a comprehensive self-defense system. Additionally, BJJ’s emphasis on submissions has proven to be a valuable asset in MMA competitions, as evidenced by the early success of Royce Gracie in UFC tournaments.

Wrestling’s Takedown Dominance

In wrestling, the focus is on takedowns and control, with the objective of pinning the opponent’s shoulder on the ground for a specific duration. Wrestlers utilize strength, athleticism, and technique to achieve this goal, making it a popular choice for athletes seeking a physically demanding martial art.

Wrestling’s emphasis on takedowns like the ankle pick, and control has made it a formidable force in the world of MMA. Wrestlers often excel in MMA competitions due to their ability to dictate the location of the fight and maintain control of their opponents on the ground. This control-oriented approach allows wrestlers to neutralize the submission threats posed by BJJ practitioners, making wrestling a valuable skill set for any fighter.

Training and Ranking Systems

An image showcasing the difference between BJJ vs Wrestling in Training and Ranking Systems

The training and ranking systems in BJJ and wrestling differ significantly. In BJJ, there is a merit-based belt system consisting of:

  • White belt

  • Blue belt

  • Purple belt

  • Brown belt

  • Black belt

The black belt represents the highest level of technical and practical skill in BJJ. It typically takes approximately 10 years to be awarded a black belt, with promotions granted by coaches and masters of a gym.

Wrestling, on the other hand, employs a system of weight classes and tournament structure, with varying weight categories for distinct levels of competition. Wrestlers engage in a single-elimination format, with the winner of each match progressing to the subsequent round, while the loser is eliminated from the tournament.

BJJ Belt System

The BJJ belt system is a merit-based system that relies on promotions granted by coaches and masters of a gym, with white, blue, purple, brown, and black belts (with different degrees like the red belt) representing different levels of technical and practical skill. The black belt rank in BJJ is considered to be merely a commencement, with training being a perpetual pursuit.

The journey to achieving a black belt in BJJ typically takes between 8 to 10 years of dedicated training.

Wrestling’s Weight Classes and Tournament Structure

Wrestling competitions, featuring a variety of wrestling matches, are organized based on weight classes, with separate categories for men and women, and varying weight divisions for different levels of competition. The structure of a wrestling tournament is typically based on brackets, with wrestlers engaging in a single-elimination format. The winner of each match progresses to the subsequent round, while the loser is eliminated from the tournament.

Brackets are used to determine the order of matches and the winner of the tournament.

Application in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

wrestling, fighting, martial arts

In the realm of Mixed Martial Arts, both BJJ and wrestling have played significant roles, with each martial art contributing its unique techniques and strategies to the sport. BJJ’s focus on submissions and ground fighting has proven to be a valuable asset in MMA competitions, where fighters must be well-rounded in various martial arts to succeed. On the other hand, wrestling’s emphasis on takedowns and control allows wrestlers to dictate the location of the fight and maintain control of their opponents on the ground, making it a formidable force in MMA.

The most prudent approach for someone planning to compete in MMA is to select a particular martial art, such as BJJ or wrestling, while also gaining knowledge about other martial arts to capitalize on their weaknesses and protect against their offensive techniques. The integration of BJJ and wrestling techniques in MMA has resulted in the development of more proficient fighters, capable of adapting to various situations and opponents.

BJJ’s Role in MMA

The importance of BJJ techniques and strategies in MMA competition cannot be understated. BJJ’s emphasis on submission holds and ground fighting has consistently proven effective in the sport, with fighters like Royce Gracie popularizing the martial art in the early days of MMA.

BJJ’s ability to neutralize larger, stronger opponents through technique and leverage has made it a popular grappling art choice for MMA fighters, including bjj fighters who identify as a BJJ fighter, and jiu jitsu practitioners seeking a comprehensive grappling skill set.

Wrestling’s Influence on MMA

Wrestling has had a considerable impact on the world of MMA, providing fighters with takedowns, clinch work, and ground control techniques that are crucial for success in the sport. Wrestlers often excel in MMA competitions due to their ability to dictate the location of the fight and maintain control of their opponents on the ground, neutralizing the submission threats posed by BJJ practitioners.

The integration of wrestling techniques into MMA training has led to the development of more well-rounded fighters, capable of adapting to various situations and opponents.

Self-Defense Capabilities

box, sport, men

When it comes to self-defense, both BJJ and wrestling offer unique advantages. BJJ is often considered a more advantageous choice for self-defense due to its origins in street fighting and its focus on submissions and ground fighting. The martial art is highly effective in actual self-defense scenarios and was developed with the goal of self-defense.

Wrestling, on the other hand, offers the advantage of restraining an individual from an upright position, making it useful in specific self-defense situations. However, wrestling’s emphasis on strength and athleticism may not always translate effectively to real-life self-defense scenarios, where technique and leverage are often more important than brute force.

BJJ for Personal Protection

BJJ techniques are highly beneficial in actual self-defense scenarios, as the martial art was developed with the goal of self-defense. BJJ focuses on the utilization of leverage, joint locks, and blood chokes techniques, allowing practitioners to neutralize larger, stronger opponents and restrain them without inflicting serious harm.

This emphasis on technique and control makes BJJ an ideal choice for those seeking a comprehensive self-defense system.

Wrestling’s Practical Applications

Wrestling has practical applications in:

  • Cultivating basic athletic abilities

  • Instilling personal responsibility

  • Strengthening mental fortitude

  • Honing social aptitudes

It can also be utilized for self-defense, as it provides the advantage of restraining an individual from an upright position.

However, it is essential to consider the limitations of wrestling in self-defense scenarios, as most individuals lack knowledge of how to protect themselves or counter grapples.

Difficulty and Learning Curve

mma, bjj, jiujitsu

Both BJJ and wrestling are considered to be among the most demanding martial arts to master, requiring a significant amount of time and dedication to become proficient in grappling. The path to attaining proficiency in each martial art varies, with BJJ typically taking between 4-10 years of training multiple times a week, while wrestling proficiency can be achieved in a shorter amount of time, depending on the individual’s background and training regimen.

Training in BJJ and wrestling offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Improved physical fitness

  • Development of valuable life skills such as surmounting obstacles and managing emotions

  • Personal growth and overall well-being

The investment of time and effort in mastering these martial arts can yield significant rewards.

The Path to BJJ Proficiency

Attaining proficiency in BJJ necessitates frequent training, drilling, and establishing modest objectives. It may take between 4-10 years of training multiple times a week to become proficient, depending on the individual’s dedication, natural aptitude, and the quality of instruction received.

The journey to achieving a black belt in BJJ is a long and often challenging one, but it is also a deeply rewarding experience that fosters personal growth and self-discovery.

Wrestling’s Rigorous Training Regimen

Wrestling focuses on a rigorous training regimen that includes:

  • Strength and conditioning exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and power cleans

  • Technique work

  • Live wrestling

  • Strategy sessions

Wrestlers typically train for approximately two to three hours per day, five to six days per week, amounting to a total of ten to eighteen hours of training per week.

This intense training and dedication are required to excel in wrestling, with the average duration necessary to acquire proficiency ranging from two years for intermediate proficiency, four years for advanced level, and seven years to compete internationally.

Synergy Between BJJ and Wrestling

wrestle, wrestler, sports

The concept of synergy between Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling is the notion of combining the two martial arts to construct a more proficient fighting style. By unifying the techniques and training methods of both styles, practitioners can acquire a greater comprehension of grappling and ground fighting, thereby enhancing their overall martial arts development.

The integration of BJJ and wrestling techniques can result in a more well-rounded fighter, capable of adapting to various situations and opponents.

Complementary Techniques

Wrestling and BJJ possess complementary grappling techniques in ground fighting, such as sprawls, underhooks, and whizzers. By learning these techniques, BJJ practitioners can gain a better understanding of how to anticipate and counter their opponent’s moves, while wrestlers can benefit from learning BJJ’s submission techniques to become more well-rounded grapplers.

Ultimately, the combination of BJJ and wrestling techniques can lead to a more versatile and effective fighter.

Cross-Training Benefits

Cross-training in both BJJ and wrestling can significantly increase a fighter’s grappling abilities, throwdowns, and superiority in the upper position. It can further bolster confidence and effectiveness on the mats, as well as improve overall physical and mental conditioning.

Cross-training can also facilitate martial artists in becoming more amenable to varied styles and techniques, ultimately leading to a more comprehensive skill set and a higher level of proficiency in grappling and ground fighting.


In conclusion, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling are both formidable martial arts with unique techniques, strategies, and applications in the world of Mixed Martial Arts and self-defense. While BJJ emphasizes submissions and ground fighting, wrestling focuses on takedowns and control. Both arts require dedication and perseverance to master, but the rewards are well worth the effort, as they can significantly enhance one’s overall martial arts development and personal growth. By synergizing the techniques and training methods of BJJ and wrestling, practitioners can elevate their skills, becoming more versatile and effective fighters in the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there takedowns in BJJ?

Yes, takedowns are a part of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, although they may not be as essential to the sport as in wrestling and Judo. Learning takedowns is key to becoming a complete grappler, as it allows you to take an opponent down and defend against their attacks.

Ultimately, BJJ fighters need to know how to execute and defend against takedowns.

What’s harder wrestling or boxing?

Both boxing and wrestling are physically and mentally challenging, but wrestling is undeniably much more strenuous. Wrestling requires greater skill, strength, and endurance to perfect techniques and holds.

Furthermore, the physical contact between two competitors is more intense and demanding in wrestling than in boxing. Therefore, wrestling is harder than boxing.

How do you deal with wrestlers in BJJ?

When grappling with a wrestler in BJJ, the best approach is to make collar grips, pull-guard immediately once in contact, and be aware of shots from outside. This will help limit their offensive power and give you an advantage.

What are the key differences between BJJ and wrestling?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is an ancient martial art that emphasizes the use of leverage, techniques, and submissions to defeat an opponent. As opposed to traditional wrestling, where strength and athleticism are paramount, BJJ focuses on using technique and strategy over physical power.

Ultimately, it is a combat sport that can be used for self-defense or competition.

Scroll to Top