Wrestling vs BJJ

Both wrestling and BJJ are popular grappling arts that millions of people around the world love and practice.

In this post, we will look at the key differences and similarities between wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This is going to be a long one, so get ready, but first let’s start with explaining what is wrestling and what is BJJ?

Table of Contents

wrestling vs bjj

Wrestling Definition in Short

Wrestling is an Olympic sport in which two people wearing special shoes and tight clothes grab each other and try to put their opponent on the ground. You can win the fight by pinning your opponent on his back (for two seconds) or forcing him to give up.

BJJ Definition in Short

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that focuses on grappling and ground fighting. It was derived from Japanese Jujutsu in the early 20th century. BJJ promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger assailant using leverage and proper technique.

What Is the Difference Between Wrestling and BJJ? 

1. Wrestling is an Olympic sport while Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu isn’t one yet.

2. Wrestling has a rich history in that it’s been practiced for centuries, but Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was developed in the 20th century and has a number of followers and schools around the world.

3. In wrestling, you wear a special uniform, called singlet and wrestling shoes, while Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gi (uniform) includes pants and a jacket which allows for faster transitions between grappling on the ground and standing up.

4. Wrestling is a popular sport in American colleges, while BJJ is rising in popularity worldwide whether on the streets or on the mat.

5. Wrestling is a sport and is not considered a martial art, while BJJ definitely is one.

6. Wrestling has weight classes, but BJJ doesn’t.

7. A match in wrestling lasts only 5 minutes, since there are no points, while a match of BJJ can be 10 or 15 minutes long because you get points for every good position that doesn’t involve getting pinned or choked/strangled.

Wrestling and BJJ Similarities

1. Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu have a rich history in that they have been practiced for centuries.

2. In both sports, you try to put your opponent on the ground.

3. Both sports are popular in America and around the world, so there are many wrestlers and BJJ practitioners.

4. In both sports, the goal is to win.

5. Both are combat sports.

6. If you want to be successful in both wrestling and BJJ, you have to work hard every day.

Wrestling vs BJJ Rules

Wrestling rules are simple, there are no points for taking your opponent down. The only way to win is by pinning him on his back or making him quit because he can’t move anymore.

BJJ rules are slightly more complicated, you get points for every position that doesn’t involve being pinned or choked/strangled. If there is no winner by the end of the match, a panel of judges will decide who deserves to win.

Is Wrestling Better Than BJJ?

We think they’re both great sports and you can’t say that one is better than the other. As long as people like wrestling or BJJ, it’s alright since they are both legit sports practiced worldwide by many fans. We personally love them both.

Catch Wrestling vs BJJ

Catch wrestling is another form of wrestling that existed in the 19th century. Some of the earliest catch wrestlers were also well-known boxers of their time, such as heavyweight champion Tom Sayers and Joe Acton. Catch wrestling has evolved over the years into a combat sport called Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) practiced worldwide by many fans.

Catch wrestling vs BJJ is the same as wrestling vs BJJ. They are both great sports and you can’t say that one is better than the other. As long as people like catch wrestling or BJJ, it’s alright since they are both legit sports practiced worldwide by many fans. We personally love them both too.

Greco-Roman Wrestling vs BJJ

Greco-Roman wrestling and BJJ are two different grappling sports. Greco-Roman wrestling is an international style that came from the ancient Olympic Games, while BJJ is a modern martial art developed in Brazil in the 20th century.

Although both their rules are similar with no points for taking your opponent down and you fight until there’s a winner, their origins and development are completely different.

Both use the techniques of submission and perception of the competitor, but at the same time, BJJ is considered a martial art while Greco-Roman is not. In addition, in BJJ you learn very effective self-defense techniques, especially in ground conditions and those that can severely injure an opponent, while in Greco-Roman the grips and learned techniques are less relevant for self-defense purposes.

Amateur Wrestling vs BJJ

Although the rules and goals of both sports are quite similar, amateur wrestling and BJJ developed in different countries and for different purposes. Amateur wrestling developed in Europe while BJJ has its origins in Brazil.

Also, both have different concepts of resistance. In amateur wrestling, you try to win by making your opponent give up or pin him on his back, but in BJJ you try to win by bringing your opponent into submission. The main difference between these sports is that amateur wrestling is about making your opponent submit while BJJ is about getting yourself into a position where you can effectively attack or defend yourself.

Gracie Jiu-jitsu vs Wrestling

Both are grappling sports with similar rules. You can’t score points by taking your opponent down, you need to get them into submission before they get you.

Lately, many wrestlers started transitioning into Jiu-Jitsu (and vice versa) because the concepts of leverage and balance learned in wrestling are very transferable to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In this way, many wrestlers have been able to dominate other Jiu-Jitsu competitors by achieving ground positions right from the start of the match.

Freestyle Wrestling vs BJJ

The origins and development of freestyle wrestling and BJJ are completely different and their main concepts of resistance.

Although both have similar rules related to grappling, freestyle wrestling is about making your opponent submit while Jiu-Jitsu is about bringing yourself into a position where you can effectively attack or defend yourself. So, although there are many similarities between these two sports, they are also very different in many aspects.

Which Is Harder?

Both wrestling and BJJ are very hard sports. They take years of painful training to even begin feeling comfortable doing them. Both require discipline and many hours of practicing. In both cases, wrestling and BJJ, you have to be willing to endure pain and sweat a lot. So, they are both hard sports in their own ways.

Which Is Better for Cardio?

Both grappling sports are great for cardio, however, they have major differences in this regard too. Since wrestling is a competitive sport that takes place for short periods of time (3 minutes), it’s not very efficient to improve your cardiovascular capabilities since you can’t keep a high intensity for a long period of time.

On the other hand, since BJJ allows you to be on your back and sometimes even lay down during matches, it’s a much better option to train your cardiovascular capabilities when compared to wrestling. Bottom line: both will improve your cardio amazingly

Which Is More Popular?

Both grappling sports are popular in different countries. The most popular is Olympic wrestling, particularly in the sport’s home country: Russia. In Brazil, it’s BJJ that is more famous while some other grappling sports like sambo and judo also have a strong presence there too. At the same time, in recent years there has been an increase in BJJ’s popularity, which is due to his great success in MMA and UFC.

Is Wrestling More Effective Than BJJ?

There are many wrestlers who transitioned into BJJ and were successful in the sport too, like Ryan Hall. Famous MMA fighters like Randy Couture or Dan Henderson also transitioned well to MMA after wrestling. This shows that both grappling sports are very effective for self-defense and fighting.

Which Is Better for Self-defense?

BJJ would be better for self-defense, especially when you find yourself on the street with no one to help. Since BJJ teaches you how to fight while you’re being choked, in a real situation this will be very useful. It’s true that wrestling could be useful for self-defense, but since wrestling is usually practiced in well-protected areas like schools or gymnasiums, in a real situation you will have a greater chance of not being able to use this skill.

Is Wrestling Better Than BJJ for MMA?

Both grappling sports are great for MMA, however, BJJ is much better suited for the sport. Wrestling’s only real advantage in MMA is from taking your opponent down and getting on top of them, but once a BJJ fighter started learning how to strike and defend takedowns, they will be able to defeat a wrestler easily. The beauty about BJJ is that it can be used to defeat any other grappling style like judo, sambo, catch wrestling, and others.

Which Is Better for UFC?

Since both grappling sports are great for UFC. it’s no surprise that many UFC fighters have backgrounds in either wrestling, BJJ, or both. Some of the most successful UFC fighters come from a background in Olympic Wrestling like Daniel Cormier and Khabib Nurmagomedov, while others come from a BJJ background like Ronda Rousey, BJ Penn, and Royce Gracie.

Bottom line: both wrestling and BJJ are great for UFC. You can be successful in the UFC while having a background in either grappling sport or even while being a complete newcomer to MMA. 

Is Wrestling Safer Than BJJ?

Since both sports are combat sports, they also share the same risks. However, with that being said, wrestling is safer than BJJ since it’s usually practiced with wearing a helmet (and sometimes other protective equipment), while in BJJ you aren’t required to wear any protective gear like helmets, knee pads, or groin protectors. 

On the other hand, since BJJ allows you to be much more creative with your movements and submissions, it’s riskier than wrestling. This is due to the fact that if you make a mistake while training BJJ, there’s a greater chance of getting injured compared to wrestling where simple mistakes are less dangerous.

Wrestling vs BJJ Injuries

Both wrestling and BJJ can cause knee or ankle injuries due to being swept or twisted while on the ground, while other common injuries take place during standup situations. Wrestlers usually get injured in their upper body parts like shoulders, while BJJ fighters are more likely to get injured in their lower body parts, especially during takedowns but also on shoulders and elbows as well.

Can a BJJ Fighter Beat a Wrestler?

Since both grappling sports are used in MMA and UFC, a BJJ fighter will have a greater chance of beating a wrestler. While it’s true that wrestlers have an advantage while taking somebody down, once the fight takes place on the ground they will struggle against a BJJ fighter with good takedown defense skills. The beauty about BJJ is that due to its emphasis on groundwork, a BJJ fighter will be able to defeat a wrestler even if they’re much bigger.

How Do You Beat Wrestling in BJJ?

When it comes to wrestling vs BJJ, most BJJ fighters would be more than happy to learn how to defend against a wrestler’s takedown attempts. To beat a wrestler in BJJ, you’ll need to use your best sweeps and submissions while on the ground since most wrestlers aren’t familiar with these techniques like back takes and armbars from the guard.

Do Wrestlers Do Well in BJJ?

Even though wrestlers do well in BJJ, it sometimes takes time for them to adapt their style of fighting from standup to ground. For example, they’re used to being more aggressive when throwing strikes compared to a more passive guard player who prefers waiting for the right moment until he can sweep or apply a submission hold.

Another downside of wrestlers is that they’re known to have poor ground defense skills against submission holds. This is due to the fact that their wrestling training doesn’t include time on learning how to defend against submissions, while in BJJ you must learn how not only to attack an opponent with your submissions but also how to defend against them.

Wrestling vs BJJ Gear: What to Wear When Training?

While you can practice wrestling with any type of clothing (including shoes), in BJJ it’s required for you to wear shorts and a T-shirt/rashguard while practicing without shoes. This is due to the fact that if somebody grabs your foot, you’ll be more likely to cause an injury by wearing shoes. 

Another upside of BJJ is that it doesn’t require any protective equipment, whereas wrestling includes using helmets and sometimes knee pads. This allows you to develop excellent balance since there are no restrictions while moving on the ground or standing up.

Should I Learn BJJ or Wrestling?

There’s no doubt that both grappling sports can benefit you in your day-to-day life and even outside of the training room (by improving self-defense skills and cardio for example). However, if we focus on which one is better, I would recommend learning BJJ instead of wrestling since it has more benefits.

These include:

-greater chance of winning against a wrestler due to BJJ’s ground fighting emphasis

-even if you’re smaller than your opponent you’ll still be able to defeat them thanks to the use of sweeps and submissions

-it doesn’t require much equipment so you can train without limitations

-it’s more popular across the world