Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu vs Wrestling: Which Grappling Martial Art Is More Effective?

Jul 23, 2023Jiu-Jitsu0 comments

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and wrestling are two of the most effective and popular grappling martial arts. Both can greatly benefit an MMA fighter’s skills, yet there is still debate on which form of grappling reigns supreme. In this in-depth article, we will compare and contrast everything you need to know about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu vs Wrestling – from origins to rules, training formats, costs, popularity, and more. Read on to gain key insights into these impressive combat sports!


Key Differences Between BJJ and Wrestling

Goals and Strategies The primary goal in BJJ is to force your opponent into submission via joint locks or chokes. BJJ focuses on ground fighting and controlling the opponent through various positions like the guard. The guard allows self-defense even when on your back.

In contrast, wrestling prioritizes takedowns and control from the top position. The aim is to take opponents down onto the mat and pin their shoulders for two seconds to win. BJJ players often pull guard, while wrestlers look to stay standing.

Scoring BJJ matches are won by submission, points (for sweeps, guard passes, positions), or disqualification. Wrestling scoring includes takedowns, reversals, pins, exposure points, and penalties.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu vs Wrestling: Origins and History

The Roots of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu BJJ originated from Japanese judo master Mitsuyo Maeda teaching his techniques to the Gracie family after arriving in Brazil in 1914. Over time, Carlos and Helio Gracie adapted judo into a new grappling art focused on ground fighting and leverage – ideal for smaller fighters to defeat larger opponents.

Royce Gracie brought BJJ into the mainstream by winning the first UFC events in the 1990s, showcasing its effectiveness against other styles. BJJ has since exploded in popularity worldwide.

The Ancient History of Wrestling Wrestling dates back over 15,000 years with origins in hand-to-hand combat. It was integral to warrior training in Ancient Greece. Early competitions involved pushing opponents out of a circle or throwing them down.

Over time, various styles emerged including Greco-Roman, freestyle, catch, and sambo wrestling. Wrestling joined the modern Olympics in 1904 and remains a global sport today.

Competing and Training

BJJ Competition Rules and Scoring BJJ matches last 5-10 minutes. Submission wins instantly. Points are awarded for sweeps, guard passes, and securing dominant positions. If no submission occurs, the player with the most points wins.

BJJ follows a belt system that takes 8-12 years to progress from white to black belts. Promotions are based on training time and coach recommendations.

Wrestling Competition Rules and Scoring Wrestling matches end when a competitor pins his opponent’s shoulders for two seconds. Scoring also includes takedowns, reversals, and penalties. The goal is to pin or win by points.

Wrestling skills are measured by match statistics and rankings, not belts. The top high school and college wrestlers compete at an elite level.

BJJ and Wrestling Training Formats BJJ classes follow a warm-up, technique instruction, live drilling, and sparring format. They focus on submissions and positional transitions. Wresting practices emphasize intense cardio, takedowns, pins, and conditioning.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu vs Wrestling: Popularity and Cross-Training

Wrestling Is More Globally Popular Wrestling has greater global popularity and participation due to its Olympic status, role in MMA, and deep roots across various cultures. But BJJ’s popularity has risen rapidly since the 1990s.

Cross-training wrestling and BJJ can make you a more well-rounded grappler. Wrestling enhances takedown ability and top control. BJJ improves submission skills from the bottom.

How BJJ Grapplers Can Defeat Wrestlers

Wrestlers are difficult opponents for BJJ players due to their strength, base, and top pressure. Here are some tips to overcome wrestlers’ skills:

  • Pull guard at an angle instead of flat on your back
  • Use leg locks to attack their legs and disrupt balance
  • Utilize kimura grips to reverse position against pressure
  • Pick angles that make sprawling and defending takedowns harder


The Greatest Debate – Which Is More Effective?

In MMA, wrestlers often dominate due to their takedowns and ground-and-pound. But BJJ experts like Demian Maia show submissions can nullify a wrestler’s game. Ultimately, blending wrestling and BJJ is ideal for MMA and grappling success.

Both arts have advantages. Wrestling builds tremendous mental and physical conditioning. BJJ is beginner-friendly with a steeper learning curve. One is not outright “better” than the other. Train what suits your goals and interests.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu vs Wrestling: The Takeaway

Wrestling and BJJ are among the most effective martial arts for takedowns, top control, submissions, and overall grappling ability. While wrestling has greater global participation, BJJ’s popularity rises rapidly.

Cross-training both can make you a durable, well-rounded grappler. There is no definitive answer on which is outright “superior” – it comes down to the athlete’s specific skills and strategy.

Try Wrestling & BJJ at Apex MMA!

If you want to experience the thrill of grappling through wrestling, BJJ, and MMA, join us for a free trial class at Apex MMA! Our expert coaches will have you mat-ready in no time. Sign up now to start your martial arts journey!

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Team Apex MMA Martial Arts Coach
Apex MMA is a specialist mixed martial arts gym focusing on Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Led by an experienced team of instructors, Apex MMA offers comprehensive training programs for students of all ages and skill levels. With Apex MMA's systematic teaching methods, passion for martial arts, and strong community relationships, you will gain the tools to succeed in the gym and beyond.
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