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

Sambo vs. Wrestling vs. Bjj: Which is the Best For Kickin’ A**?

It’s no secret that wrestlers are some of the most solid athletes on the planet. It takes incredible dedication, persistence, and renunciation to succeed in wrestling. 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?

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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.

Continuing this article, we will explain the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ).

Generally About Sambo, Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu

What Is Sambo

Sambo, a martial art and combat sport developed in the Soviet Union, is a fascinating blend of various fighting styles. Developed in the early 1920s by the Soviet Red Army to enhance hand-to-hand combat skills, Sambo stands for “SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya,” which translates to “self-defense without weapons” in Russian. This martial art is a unique amalgamation of judo, jujutsu, various types of wrestling, and other self-defense systems, making it a comprehensive and effective combat technique.

The roots of Sambo can be traced back to the efforts of Soviet martial arts experts like Vasili Oshchepkov and Viktor Spiridonov. Oshchepkov, born in 1893, was instrumental in introducing judo to the Soviet Union. Educated in Japan, he studied at the Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo under Jigoro Kano, becoming the first Russian to receive a second dan in the sport. His expertise in judo significantly influenced the development of Sambo’s self-defense techniques. Despite his contributions, Oshchepkov’s life ended tragically in prison during the Stalinist political purges of 1937.

Viktor Spiridonov, another pioneer, developed a style that was softer and less strength-dependent compared to Oshchepkov’s system. Spiridonov’s approach was influenced by his experiences and injuries from World War I, focusing on techniques that could be executed with minimal reliance on physical strength. Anatoly Kharlampiev, a student of Oshchepkov, is also credited as a founder of Sambo. In 1938, Sambo was officially recognized as a sport by the USSR All-Union Sports Committee.

Sambo is divided into three main disciplines: Sport Sambo, Combat Sambo, and Beach Sambo. Sport Sambo is similar to judo but with variations in rules, protocol, and uniform. It includes weight categories for both men and women and focuses on throws, groundwork, and submissions with few restrictions on gripping and holds. Combat Sambo, resembling modern mixed martial arts, includes extensive forms of striking and grappling. It allows punches, kicks, elbows, knees, headbutts, and groin strikes, making it a full-contact sport. Beach Sambo, on the other hand, is a variation played on sand with modified rules and uniforms.

Sambo’s popularity has grown internationally, with the International Sambo Federation (FIAS) being the governing body. FIAS, headquartered in Lausanne, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee and other major sports organizations. There is also a federation international amateur sambo.

Despite not being an Olympic sport, Sambo has made significant strides in gaining global recognition and is practiced by athletes in many countries.

In the United States, Sambo gained traction in the 1960s and 70s, with many practitioners competing in international judo events. The first World Cup in Sambo was held in 1969, and the sport has since seen a rise in popularity, especially among mixed martial arts fighters who incorporate Sambo techniques into their skill set.

Sambo emphasizes quick, efficient combat techniques, making it a practical and effective martial art for self-defense and competitive fighting. Its philosophy promotes personal development, self-discipline, friendship, and respect, alongside physical benefits like improved strength, stamina, and endurance. This makes Sambo an ideal martial art for both adults and children looking for a well-rounded fighting style.

The Sambo community is graced by big names such as Fedor Emelianenko, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Andrei Arlovski.

Read more about why Sambo is the reason why Dagestani MMA Fightersare outperforming others.


Wrestling is a martial art as well as a standard Olympic sport. It is a fight between two opponents, aiming 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 various styles and rules, from sumo wrestling and 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 must 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)

wrestling vs BJJ

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art and combat sport focused on grappling, especially ground combat, to gain a dominant position and use 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 is important 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 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, several 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. It 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 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 with 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 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 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, so jiu-jitsu fighters are also familiar with the sweeping and throwing techniques you will encounter in judo and freestyle wrestling.

The sport 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 your opponents’ moves up to several steps in advance. A good jiu-jitsu fighter is agile, flexible, explosive, powerful, intelligent, and complete.

Similarities and Differences Between Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu Martial Arts

These two martial arts are similar in that they are both grappling and involve ground combat. They 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, such as angles, levers, and tiring your opponent, are used. The ultimate goal is to get some 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.

What Does Freestyle Sambo Have In Common With BJJ and Wrestling

Freestyle Sambo shares several commonalities with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and Wrestling, making it a fascinating blend of these combat sports. Firstly, like BJJ, Freestyle Sambo places a significant emphasis on ground fighting and submission techniques. Practitioners from both disciplines utilize a variety of joint locks and chokeholds, aiming to submit their opponents. This focus on submissions and ground control demonstrates a shared philosophy that skill and technique can overcome brute strength.

In terms of similarities with Wrestling, Freestyle Sambo incorporates numerous takedowns and throws that are fundamental in Wrestling and a big part of self defense sambo. These techniques are essential for controlling and overpowering an opponent, a key aspect in both sports. The dynamic nature of these movements, including the use of leverage and body positioning, is a core principle in Wrestling that is equally prevalent in Freestyle Sambo.

Both BJJ and Wrestling influence Freestyle Sambo’s emphasis on positional control. Whether it’s maintaining a dominant position on the ground, as seen in BJJ, or controlling an opponent’s movement through grips and holds, as in Wrestling, this aspect is crucial in Freestyle Sambo. Additionally, the strategic approach to combat, where practitioners must think several moves ahead, is a shared characteristic across these disciplines.

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

As we said above, wrestlers are usually 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 a few 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 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 able to recover from takedowns quickly. They struggle with all their might to get out of the unfavorable position on the floor. Accordingly, every wrestler feels uncomfortable 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 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 can come from behind and attack from a superior position.

4. Slow down the pace

One way to slow 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, using various interlacing procedures, you can significantly slow the fight and make him tired.

5. Use their dynamics to take advantage of the openings

Once a wrestler is at a disadvantage, they will do everything they can to escape 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 unaware of the possibility of choking, as this is generally not something they are prepared for. Unlike other submissions, getting out of a deep GI choke is much harder.

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 you know what you are doing.

How Can a Wrestler Beat a Jiu-Jitsu Fighter

bjj vs wrestling how compare

1. Condition

This is the most important thing for a wrestler when fighting a Jiu-Jitsu fighter. Even his strength is beyond condition. The Jiu-Jitsu fighter will try various submission modes, and the wrestler will need a lot of explosive attempts to get away, consuming a lot of energy. 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 right position for you and break the weaker and often athletically less prepared opponent by strong pressure. Do not release the pressure momentarily, 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 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 benefit from combined wrestling training to improve their grappling capabilities. A wrestler who transfers to BJJ can succeed in that martial art because of his previous wrestling knowledge. In that case, the wrestler 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 – Combat Sambo, 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? We’ve seen many times in MMA that these fighters defeat Jiu-Jitsu 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 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 understood the differences and similarities. If you are interested in more about wrestling and jiu-jitsu, check out everything we wrote about them. You will find something that is interesting and useful for you. Until next time!

Frequently Asked questions about BJJ and Wrestling compared

Q: Is wrestling better than BJJ or vice versa?

A: Whether one is more effective or better than the other depends on the context. For instance, in an MMA fight, knowing both could be beneficial. A BJJ fighter may have the advantage in a pure grappling match due to the focus on submissions. Whereas in a situation where a quick takedown is necessary, a wrestling style might be more effective. It often comes down to the preference and expertise of the individual’s fighting style.

Q: What is submission wrestling, and how does it compare to BJJ and traditional wrestling?

A: Submission wrestling is a form of competition and a general term describing martial arts styles and techniques that aim to submit an opponent with chokes, holds, and locks. It draws from traditional wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Sambo, and other techniques. It does share similarities with BJJ; however, unlike BJJ, it does not use a gi, highlighting different control points.

Q: How do the takedown techniques compare between BJJ and wrestling?

A: Takedown techniques in wrestling are diverse and numerous, some of the most common ones being the single-leg takedown, double-leg takedown, and the high crotch. BJJ also incorporates takedowns, many borrowed from Judo and wrestling. Still, a BJJ match starts from a standing position, and athletes may often prefer to “pull guard, ” bringing the fight to the ground without a takedown.

Q: If I’m a BJJ practitioner, can I benefit from wrestling training?

A: Absolutely. BJJ practitioners can greatly benefit from wrestling training. The vigorous physical condition, takedown defense, and offense taught in wrestling can vastly improve BJJ practitioners’ skills, especially regarding the standing part of BJJ fights.

Q: What’s harder to learn, BJJ or Wrestling?

A: Both BJJ and wrestling have their challenges when it comes to learning. BJJ might be considered more complex due to the vast number of techniques and the need to adapt those techniques to various situations. However, wrestling’s intensity and physical demands can also make it a tough discipline to master. Therefore, the learning difficulty can often come down to the individual, their aptitude, and their preferences.

Q: Which style is more common in MMA, BJJ, or wrestling?

A: Both styles are common in MMA. However, wrestling skills, particularly takedown defense, are critical to MMA training. BJJ has also been a crucial part of MMA since its inception, and many successful MMA fighters have a BJJ background. It’s not a matter of BJJ vs wrestling in MMA; both have their place and importance in the sport.

Q: Are there judged competitions in BJJ and wrestling like in boxing?

A: Yes, both BJJ and wrestling have official competitions. In wrestling, you’ll find events such as the three styles of Wrestling World Championships (Freestyle, Greco-Roman, and Women’s). BJJ has several competitions, including the World BJJ Championship, the Pan BJJ Championship, and the European Open BJJ Championship.

Q: Can a wrestler fight a BJJ athlete?

A: Yes, a wrestler can fight a BJJ athlete. There are competitions known as “superfights,” which often pit practitioners of different styles against each other. It also happens frequently in MMA, where fighters from various backgrounds, including different wrestling styles and BJJ, compete against each other.

Q: How have BJJ and wrestling influenced each other?

A: BJJ and wrestling share many techniques and concepts because they are both grappling arts. BJJ has learned much about takedowns from wrestling, while wrestling has borrowed submission moves from BJJ. However, each art has its unique approach, making it beneficial to learn together.

Q: What are the main differences between BJJ and wrestling?

A: Both BJJ and wrestling are popular martial arts that originate from the same combat family tree, but they differ significantly in their objectives and techniques. The main goal in wrestling is to pin the opponent’s shoulders on the mat, a wrestling victory does not involve submissions. On the other hand, BJJ is all about using submission grappling techniques to make the opponent tap out. This includes locks, chokes, and other techniques. Also, wrestling focuses more on takedown techniques, while BJJ also includes ground fighting techniques.

Q: Can a BJJ fighter defeat a wrestler using submission techniques?

A: A BJJ fighter could defeat a wrestler using submission techniques. However, this would require the BJJ fighter to effectively deal with the takedowns and control of the wrestler and manage to apply a submission. This underscores the importance of a well-rounded skill set in MMA.

Q: How do wrestling rules differ from BJJ’s rules?

A: Wrestling rules primarily focus on gaining and maintaining control over the opponent, with points awarded for takedowns, reversals, and exposing the opponent’s back to the mat. In contrast, BJJ encourages seeking dominant positions and attempting to submit to the opponent. Points are gained through takedowns and for positions like mount or back control.

Q: How do wrestling matchups compare with BJJ competitions?

A: Wrestling matchups often involve high-paced, aggressive battles for control and dominance. The pace can vary in BJJ matches, with athletes spending considerable time grappling on the ground, seeking strategic positions and submissions. Major BJJ competitions include the World BJJ Championship, the Pan BJJ Championship, and the European Open BJJ Championship.

Q: Can anyone learn sport sambo?

A: Yes, anyone can learn Sport Sambo, provided they are in reasonable physical condition and have a willingness to learn. Sport Sambo, known for its dynamic throws and grappling techniques, is accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. It does not require extraordinary strength or flexibility, making it suitable for a wide range of individuals. Like most martial arts, it emphasizes discipline, technique, and mental resilience. Beginners can start at a basic level and progressively advance in skill and complexity.

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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