Wrestling Vs Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ): A Complete Breakdown

Wrestling Vs Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ): A Complete Breakdown

It’s no secret that wrestlers are some of the most solid athletes on the planet. It takes an incredible amount of dedication, persistence, and renunciation to succeed in wrestling. Just like jiu-jitsu (BJJ), wrestling relies on leverage, strong balance, and technical knowledge to control opponents. So which of these two martial arts is better for fighting?

Both wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu have their advantages and disadvantages, so it would be ideal to know them both, when to use them, and how to defend from them during the attack.

In the continuation of this article, we will focus on explaining the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ).

Generally About Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu


Wrestling is a martial art as well as a standard Olympic sport. It is a fight between two opponents, the aim of which is to defeat the opponent using different procedures, but they are forbidden to strike of any kind. Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in general, practiced in ancient Greece, and has been in the program of the modern Olympic Games from the earliest days to the present.

As a traditional sport, wrestling has evolved in a wide variety of styles and rules, from sumo wrestling, judo to various freestyle variants. It is often used in soldier training, so-called chest to chest fights. All these styles have in common that it is forbidden to hit an opponent with their hands, feet, elbows, or head, as well as unsportsmanlike moves such as scratching, bites, genital strikes, etc. The difference between individual styles is the duration of the fight (number and duration of the period), scoring of individual actions, the list of permitted actions, etc.

The goal of wrestling, depending on style, can be:

  • to make such an act of bringing the opponent to the floor and bringing him into a subordinate position. The most commonly known procedure is a pin. To pin your opponent you have to hold his shoulder blades on the math for at least two seconds.
  • topple your opponent to the floor
  • get the opponent to touch the floor with any other part of the body except the feet or push him out of the space provided for the fight (this is the rule in sumo wrestling)
  • raise the opponent above head height
  • bring the opponent’s body into a subordinate position in another legitimate manner

Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art and combat sport focused on grappling and especially ground combat, with the aim of gaining a dominant position and using ankle bones and choke to force an opponent to surrender. The system evolved from a modified version of Judo practiced before World War II, including some techniques from classic Jujutsu and a focus on non-waza (floor techniques).

It promotes the principle that a smaller, weaker person, using balance and technique, can successfully defend himself against a larger and stronger attacker. BJJ can be trained for self-defense, sports grappling tournaments (gi and no-gi), and mixed martial arts (MMA). Sparring (popularly called “rolling”) with an opponent plays an important role in coaching.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu emphasizes ground-holding and submission-holding techniques, including ankle and suffocation, already present in many other martial arts, with or without an emphasis on ground combat. The premise is that most of the benefits of a bigger and stronger opponent come from longer reach and more powerful shots can be negated if the fight is on the ground.

BJJ incorporates many techniques of throwing and sweeping down opponents to the ground, based on the main foundations of the human body: hips and shoulders. Such crashes are hard to avoid without training.

When the opponent is on the ground, a number of attacks (and counter-attacks) are available to manipulate the opponent into a convenient position to apply the grip. Obtaining a dominant position on the ground (in the sense that the opponent is on someone’s back and facing the floor) is a sign of BJJ style innovation, and involves effectively using the guard position to defend themselves from the bottom position, and pulling them out of the guards to gain a dominant position from the top position with flank control, mount and back mount position.

This system of attack and manipulation can be compared to the form of kinetic chess if used by two experienced practitioners. The submission grip is equal to a Checkmate.

It is a sport based on ground-floor combat, which has common points with Judo and wrestling. Of course, it is also present in MMA fights, but only because their participants are mostly BJJ experts, which somehow confirms its effectiveness as a skill. The rules of these sports are the ones that make the difference between them because they determine their specific style of fighting and technique.

When talking about techniques and skills, many would probably say that jiu-jitsu is judo on the ground (not waza), which is good and true because it evolved from that, but just as a sport, it evolved and evolves even more, and therefore has its own specific techniques.

In simple terms, jiu-jitsu is a no-hit sport, and hits are strictly prohibited in competitions. It is based on the control and holding opponent which is scoring in the fight, and on coercive and compulsion techniques such as leverage on the arms and legs, and suffocation, which, if properly performed, ensure instant victory.

The beginning of the fight always starts in a standing position, which is why jiu-jitsu fighters are also familiar with the sweeping and throwing techniques you will encounter in judo as well as freestyle wrestling.

The sport itself is very intelligent and humane and thus adequate for all groups of practitioners regardless of age and gender, but it is also physically and mentally demanding. It is often called “Human chess” because it requires you to predict the moves of your opponents up to several steps in advance. A good jiu-jitsu fighter is agile, flexible, explosive, powerful, intelligent, in a word complete.

Similarities and Differences Between Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu

These two martial arts are similar in that they are both grappling and involve ground combat. They also aim to throw an opponent to the floor and control or force him to surrender.

While the goal of these two martial arts may be similar, their performances are quite different. In wrestling, the goal is to crush an opponent to the floor and control him with strength and athleticism.

In Jiu-Jitsu, on the other hand, your goal is to use your opponent’s strength against him. Various techniques are used to do this, such as angles, levers, and tiring your opponent. The ultimate goal is to get some kind of surrender (choke or lock) or endure to the end of the fight with bigger scoring.

Differences in Rules Between Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu

The wrestling match has three rounds, while Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) has only one. In wrestling, the goal is to make complete dominance over your opponent and get a pin. While in BJJ, the goal is to force the opponent to some form of surrender or to win points while trying to reach surrender. This is, of course, a simplified version of the rules.

How Can a Jiu-Jitsu Fighter Fight Against a More Powerful Wrestler

As we said above, wrestlers are usually more physically stronger and even bigger than Jiu-Jitsu fighters. And while that may sound scary to Jiu-Jitsu recreationists, it’s not all that bad.

Here are just a few of the techniques Jiu-Jitsu fighter can win over a more powerful wrestler.

1. Stay on your feet

If you have no wrestling experience, try to stay on your feet for as long as possible. Once you have managed to repel the first few takedown attempts, prepare your fall on the ground on your own terms (you will certainly end up on the floor against the wrestler). This allows you to control which position you will find yourself in, and not immediately be in an unenviable position.

2. Sweep him down on his back

As we mentioned before, wrestlers are known for being strong, explosive, and having the ability to quickly recover from takedowns. They struggle with all their might to get out of the unfavorable position on the floor. Accordingly, every wrestler feels uncomfortable when he is on the floor on his back. When the wrestler is on his back he is not in his natural position, which allows the Jiu-Jitsu fighter to attack. Although it is almost impossible to sweep a wrestler to the floor because they train to stay on their feet, sweeping attempts can be used to open up new attack areas. If you get the chance, to sweep the wrestler down, this is certainly one of the best positions you could possibly find as a physically weaker fighter.

3. Come from behind

The wrestler will do anything to keep his back from touching the floor. He will instinctively put himself in the position of a turtle if he is knocked to the ground, thereby opening his back. With this, Jiu-Jitsu fighter has the opportunity to come from behind and attack from a superior position.

4. Slow down the pace

One way of slowing down the pace against a usually more prepared and relentless wrestler is through entanglement. If they only get a moment of space, rest assured that they will explode and instinctively try to reach a superior position. However, you can significantly slow the fight down and make him tired by using various interlacing procedures.

5. Use their dynamics to take advantage of the openings

Once you have a wrestler at a disadvantage, they will do everything they can to explode out of it. Take advantage of these openings and turn them into a spin on the back. Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait long for their move. Use it and when you have them in your field remember that you should always fake with one submission and then go for another to subdue them.

6. Go for the choke

Many wrestlers are not even aware of the possibility of choking, as this is generally not something they are prepared for. Unlike other submissions, it is much harder to get out of a deep GI choke.

7. Get them tired

When wrestling with a wrestler you must expect that he will try and probably succeed in overpowering you. So you have to implement other techniques. When you put him at a disadvantage, he will spend a lot of energy to get out of it, while you need very little to undo his attempts, if of course, you know what you are doing.

How Can a Wrestler Beat a Jiu-Jitsu Fighter

1. Condition

This is definitely the most important thing for a wrestler when fighting a Jiu-Jitsu fighter. Even his strength is beyond condition. The Jiu-Jitsu fighter will certainly try various submission modes, and the wrestler will need a lot of explosive attempts to get away, which will consume a lot of energy, while on the other hand, the Jiu-Jitsu fighter won’t tire at all (if technically well-versed).

2. Strength

The wrestler’s strength is usually much higher than the Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) fighter is used to, so if we imagine this is a fight in which these fighters know nothing about each other, that brute force of the wrestler will surely come as a big and unpleasant surprise to Jiu-Jitsu fighter.

3. Superior takedowns

You will directly bring them to the positions where you want them, control them, and put pressure on your terms.

4. Creating strong pressure from dominant positions

With takedowns, you bring yourself into a position that is right for you and break the weaker and often athletically less prepared opponent by strong pressure. Do not release the pressure for a moment, as it can easily be exploited.

5. Don’t underestimate your Jiu-Jitsu opponent

Although the opponent is physically weaker, less athletic, and less fit, he has various techniques on his side that you are probably not ready for unless you dealt with Jiu-Jitsu. Don’t underestimate him and don’t give him a breathing space.

The Benefits of Combining Wrestling and BJJ Coaching Techniques

There aren’t really many reasons why a wrestler would ever train Jiu-Jitsu to improve his wrestling unless he wanted to switch from classic wrestling to MMA. Those in wrestling cannot use submissions or work on their backs in their wrestling match.

On the other hand, Jiu-Jitsu fighters can have a bunch of benefits with combined wrestling training to improve their grappling capabilities. A wrestler who transfers to BJJ can be very successful in that martial art because of his previous knowledge of wrestling. The wrestler, in that case, has a great grappling base and knows some basic BJJ principles.

BJJ fighters who combine their training with wrestling will greatly enhance their fights. Their throwdowns will become much better, as will their dominance in the upper position.

Which Is Better for a Fighter – Wrestling or Jiu-Jitsu?

It is, in fact, a completely unfair comparison and counterproductive for these disciplines. Each discipline has its advantages and disadvantages.

If you are talking about controlled conditions like a gym or a cage, then maybe BJJ has a slight advantage, but what happens if we take into account the wrestler’s punches, power, and stamina? Well, we’ve seen many times in MMA that Jiu-Jitsu fighters are defeated by these types of fighters. Of course, we are talking about the idea that both fighters have no idea about the other’s discipline. What about a crowded bar? Who knows, a lot of things can affect that kind of fight, I would probably go with a wrestler, because of strength and condition, but what if he stumbles over something and finds himself at a disadvantage that a BJJ fighter will use in a second? It is really impossible to answer this question this way.

Jiu-Jitsu focuses on leverage, joint locks, and blood chokes techniques, while wrestling focuses on intense physical fitness, strength, technique, throwdowns, and control from the up position.

The best solution, if you are planning to do MMA, is to choose your art, but learn about others as much as you can so that you can take advantage of their disadvantages and defend yourself against their attacks.

Now that we’ve come to the end, we hope you’ve gotten an idea of the differences and similarities. If you are interested in more about wrestling and jiu-jitsu, be sure to check out everything we wrote about them. You will find something that is interesting and useful for you. Until next time!

Raffaello Sambiagio, A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he is one of the members of Tribe Jiujitsu Roma Nord, one of the most prestigious in the capital.
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Raffaello Sambiagio

Raffaello Sambiagio was born in Rome in eighty-nine. He approached martial arts through his local Judo gym, but everything changed with Brazilian jiu Jitsu. A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he is one of the members of Tribe Jiujitsu Roma Nord, one of the most prestigious in the capital. Parallel to his competitive career, Raffaello dedicated himself to teaching discipline first to children and then to adults. Our testing and reviewing method.
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