Is BJJ Like Wrestling (Or Is It Different)? 

So, you're wondering if Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and wrestling are similar or different? Well, let me tell you, they share some similarities but have some key differences.

BJJ and wrestling are grappling martial arts that involve using techniques to control and submit an opponent. However, the approach, rules, and strategies differ between the two.

BJJ emphasizes ground fighting and submissions, while wrestling focuses more on takedowns and controlling an opponent with the intention of a pin. The rules for BJJ and wrestling also vary, with BJJ allowing more submissions and wrestling having stricter rules on what is considered a legal move.

But, what are the benefits of training in both BJJ and wrestling? The answer is simple - cross-training in different martial arts can help improve your overall:

  • Grappling skills
  • Physical fitness
  • Mental toughness

So, let's dive deeper into the similarities and differences between BJJ and wrestling, their rules, and the advantages of training in both. Are you ready? Let's get started!

Similarities Between BJJ and Wrestling

Regarding grappling-based martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and wrestling are two popular options. While BJJ focuses on ground fighting and submissions, wrestling emphasizes takedowns and controlling an opponent's standing.

However, despite these differences, the two have some key similarities.

Firstly, BJJ and wrestling require high physical fitness and mental toughness. Grappling is an intense workout that challenges both the body and mind and practitioners of both arts need to be in excellent shape to perform at their best.

Secondly, BJJ and wrestling involve using leverage and technique to control and submit an opponent. In both arts, smaller and weaker individuals can use these techniques to overcome larger and stronger opponents.

Finally, training in BJJ and wrestling can be incredibly beneficial for individuals looking to improve their grappling skills. Cross-training in different martial arts can help practitioners develop a more well-rounded skill set and adapt to different styles and techniques.

Differences In Techniques and Strategies

When it comes to grappling techniques and strategies, BJJ and wrestling have some key differences. BJJ is known for its gentle approach, where practitioners use technique, leverage, and positioning to control and dominate an opponent on the ground.

The goal is to submit the opponent through chokes, joint locks, or other techniques, without causing unnecessary pain or injury.

catch wrestlers are wrestling by the beach

On the other hand, catch wrestling is a style of wrestling that emphasizes the use of precise techniques to inflict pain and submit an opponent as quickly as possible. Catch wrestlers often use moves like neck cranks, leg locks, and wrist locks to force an opponent to submit.

BJJ and catch wrestling differ in their approach and mindset. BJJ focuses on using technique and leverage to control an opponent and submit them without causing unnecessary pain or injury. Catch wrestling, on the other hand, is more aggressive and focused on causing pain and quickly submitting an opponent.

It's worth noting that there are many different styles of wrestling and grappling, and each has its own unique techniques and strategies. Ultimately, the best martial art for an individual depends on their personal goals, preferences, and physical abilities.

For example, Olympic-style wresting does not include submissions, so it may be a better option for those who are looking to focus more on takedowns and controlling an opponent. Pins (where both shoulders are held down on the mats for some time) are the main goal in Olympic-style wrestling. Guard-playing (a primary focus of BJJ) is not advantageous in Olympic-style wrestling, as the martial artist would effectively be pinning him or herself.

Catch (or Freestyle retroactively) wrestling at the 1904 Summer Olympics

Grappling in BJJ vs wrestling

Grappling is a type of combat sport that involves no strikes, where competitors aim to subdue and submit their opponent using holds and techniques. Wrestling is a form of grappling that involves takedowns and controlling an opponent in a standing position.


In contrast, BJJ, or Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling art that specializes in ground fighting.

In BJJ, practitioners focus on using technique, leverage, and position to gain control of their opponent on the ground. The goal is to use submissions such as joint locks and chokes to force the opponent to surrender.

 Professional match between Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt, 1908

Professional match between Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt, 1908

In wrestling, the focus is on takedowns and controlling an opponent's standing, with less emphasis on ground fighting and submissions.

While there are some similarities in techniques and strategies between BJJ and wrestling, the focus and goals of each art are different. BJJ specializes in ground fighting and submissions, while wrestling is focused on takedowns and controlling an opponent in a standing position.

Ultimately, the best-grappling art for an individual depends on their personal preferences and goals.

Rules and Regulations of BJJ and wrestling

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and wrestling have different rules and regulations governing their competitions.

In BJJ, competitors can win by submitting their opponent with a joint lock or choke, or by accumulating points based on positional control and submission attempts.

Matches can last anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the level of competition, and competitors are typically divided into weight classes to ensure fair competition.

In wrestling, competitors aim to score points by taking down and controlling their opponent, or by forcing them out of bounds. Points are also awarded for the exposure of an opponent's back to the mat, and for successfully executing certain moves such as throws and reversals.

Reverse Back-body-hold as illustrated the scan of Plate 98 in Lessons in Wrestling & Physical Culture.

Matches can last for 3 periods of 2 minutes each, with a brief rest between periods. Wrestlers are also divided into weight classes to ensure fair competition.

Both BJJ and wrestling have specific rules governing legal and illegal techniques and behavior during matches. For example, in BJJ, strikes and kicks are not allowed, and competitors are not allowed to slam their opponent to the ground.

In wrestling, certain holds and maneuvers are considered illegal, such as striking an opponent, attacking the eyes, or using unsportsmanlike conduct.

Benefits of Training In BJJ

Training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) has numerous benefits for both physical and mental well-being.

Firstly, BJJ is a full-body workout that develops strength, endurance, flexibility, and coordination. It works for all major muscle groups and improves cardiovascular fitness, making it an effective way to lose weight and improve overall physical condition.

BJJ Training for Fitness

In addition to physical fitness, BJJ also has mental health benefits. It can help build self-confidence and discipline, as well as reduce stress and anxiety. BJJ requires intense focus and concentration, which can also help improve cognitive function and mental agility.

Submission Shark BJJ Gear

Moreover, BJJ training provides an opportunity to socialize and build a community with like-minded individuals. It fosters a sense of camaraderie and support among practitioners, creating a positive and supportive environment to train in.

Finally, BJJ is also a practical self-defense skill. It teaches effective techniques for subduing an opponent without the use of striking, which can be especially useful in situations where physical force is necessary but excessive force is not an option.

Benefits of Training In Wrestling

Wrestling training provides numerous benefits for individuals, both physically and mentally.

One of the primary benefits of wrestling is the development of mental toughness. Wrestling requires intense focus, concentration, and the ability to push through physical and mental barriers, which can translate to increased resilience and perseverance in all areas of life.

In terms of physical benefits, wrestling is a full-body workout that develops strength, agility, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness. It can also aid in weight loss and improve overall physical health.

A wrestling match performance in Sikeston, Missouri, May 1938.

A wrestling match performance in Sikeston, Missouri, May 1938.

Wrestling also teaches important problem-solving skills, as practitioners must be able to quickly adapt to their opponent's movements and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Additionally, wrestling is considered one of the most effective martial arts for self-defense, as it focuses on grappling and takedowns rather than striking. It can be particularly useful for individuals looking to defend themselves in close-quarters combat situations.

Beyond physical and self-defense benefits, wrestling also teaches discipline, respect, and teamwork. It is often practiced as part of a team and requires a high level of dedication and commitment to training and improvement.

Cross-Training In BJJ and Wrestling

Cross-training in BJJ and wrestling is a great way to improve your grappling skills and overall athleticism. As a wrestler, learning BJJ can be a bit challenging because the focus is on submissions rather than pins.

On the other hand, BJJ practitioners can benefit greatly from learning wrestling because takedowns offer points and can lead to dominant positions like mount.

It's important to note that BJJ players should not expect their opponents to wrestle with them on their backs. This is because the primary objective of Olympic-style wrestling is to score points or get the pin with both shoulders down. Taking the back in BJJ, however, is a much more viable strategy.

Learning wrestling can help improve their defense against takedowns. And it can also serve as an additional takedown offense. A BJJ practitioner with at least basic wrestling skills can use their knowledge to work around takedowns, gaining the upper hand in positioning battles.

When it comes to grappling on the mat, wrestling skills can greatly improve your top positions and scrambling abilities. This can be particularly helpful for wrestlers who want to improve their ability to escape from bottom positions.

Similarly, BJJ practitioners can benefit from learning wrestling to strengthen their top positions and leg-riding series.

Aside from improving grappling skills, cross-training in BJJ and wrestling can also boost your overall athleticism. Wrestling is known for being one of the most physically demanding sports, and it can help improve your endurance and toughness.

BJJ, on the other hand, emphasizes grip strength and hip strength, which can benefit wrestlers as well. In addition, BJJ sparring rounds are typically longer than wrestling matches, which can help wrestlers improve their conditioning.

BJJ Training in Submission Shark Women's Rash Guard

Overall, cross-training in BJJ and wrestling is a great way to become a well-rounded grappler and athlete. It's difficult to debate which one is better, much like debating if gi or no-gi is more effective. The best approach is to learn both and combine the skills you acquire into one complete grappling game. That way, you'll be able to adapt to any opponent and situation.

How Wrestling Training Can Help With BJJ

Wrestling and BJJ are two different martial arts with their own unique techniques and styles, but cross-training in both can bring significant benefits.

Wrestlers can improve their BJJ game by learning how to defend against sweeps and submissions on the ground, and by developing their takedown skills which can take them straight to control positions like mount.

BJJ practitioners, on the other hand, can benefit from wrestling by strengthening their top positions, scrambling skills, and cardio. Wrestling can also improve a BJJ practitioner's ability to maintain back control, score near fall and riding time, and enhance their body awareness and athleticism.

Additionally, BJJ and wrestling share some common techniques such as the body lock and leg riding, which can be useful in both sports. Overall, cross-training in both wrestling and BJJ can make you a more well-rounded martial artist, and enhance your skills in both sports.

Final Thoughts

Although some athletes may prefer to master one discipline of martial arts, cross-training can help you become a more complete martial artist. Do you train in multiple styles of grappling? Has it helped your martial arts game? Leave us a comment and let us know!

The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)
The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)

The Ice Breaker (BJJ Gi)

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