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Wrestling and BJJ: The Only Way to Be Top Tier

Wrestling and BJJ

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The best Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes know how to wrestle on their feet effectively. They know how to utilize hip pressure, how to scramble, and how to chain wrestle. It is for this reason that they are the best. They are multifaceted athletes that can work through any position that they are thrown into. Any great coach would tell you this, and any great athlete would tell you this. But for now, let’s educate ourselves on the subject. 

Wrestling and BJJ


Whether it be grappling or MMA, there is no question that wrestling adds a layer to your game that elevates you significantly. You can go through and look at all the UFC champions and you will notice something. 

A lot of them either wrestled in high school or wrestled in college. Be that at the Division 1 level, Division 2 level, or Division 3 level. 

The best of the best know how to wrestle, even if only fundamentally. Don’t believe me? Here are just a few examples.

Wrestling teaches you fluidity on your feet. In a live round of wrestling, you are going to be exposed to many positions that you have to work through. Leg attacks and finishes, leg defense, sprawling, re-attacking, misdirecting your opponent, fighting hands, clearing ties, the list could go on and on and on. 

Being TRULY versatile requires you to understand wrestling. How can you be at an elite level or even an above-average level if your opponent can take you down at will?

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Wrestling vs. BJJ — Which One Is Harder To Learn?

Both wrestling and Jiu Jitsu have an extremely high learning curve. It takes years to truly master these martial arts. Unlike Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling has many different styles each with there own ruleset. For example, Folk Style wrestlers focus on pinning their opponent to the mat while the main goal of freestyle wrestling is to rack up points by hitting big takedowns and exposing your opponent back to the ground. Overall, wrestlers typically use common techniques and master them by practicing repetitive drills for days in a row. Jiu Jitsu practitioners usually do not practice specific forms every day, but they keep their skillset broad and know attacks and escapes from many different positions.

Key Principles (Wrestling)

No matter what the style, the main objective in the sport of wrestling is to score takedowns. A few examples of these techniques are the double leg, the ankle pick, and hip throws. Once on the ground, wrestlers look for a position to expose their opponents back to the mat.

Key Principles (BJJ)

BJJ practitioners focus on ground techniques to control and submit their opponents. Submissions come in the style of chokes and joint locks, attacking the opponent’s arms legs, and neck. Similar to wrestling, BJJ fighters start in the standing position allowing for takedowns, as well as guard pulls.

BJJ vs. Wrestling For MMA

Fans in the mixed martial arts community often debate which style of grappling is the most beneficial when it comes to MMA. BJJ athletes will claim that the submission-oriented style of fighting is more practical when stepping into the octagon. On the contrary, wrestlers may argue that the powerful throws and gritty mindset of wrestling give these grapplers an advantage in MMA.

These two forms of grappling both benefit a mixed martial artist when competing. But, in the octagon, pins, and takedowns don’t finish the fight. The submission techniques taught in the sport of Jiu-Jitsu grant mixed martial artists the ability to finish their fight swiftly and effectively.

The Importance of Cross Training

Cross-training is important when making an effort to learn your base fighting style quicker. In 99% of situations, one thing you learn in another martial art can translate well into the one you are more focused on. For example training, judo, wrestling, and BJJ can help you become a complete packaged martial artist. If you plan to eventually get into MMA, it is necessary to cross-train and try adding new things to your style of play.


Let’s break down wrestling “styles” for a bit. Folkstyle wrestling is what you see in High School and College. The United States is the only country in the world that trains and competes in Folkstyle. 

Outside of the United States (and inside of it too) what is trained is Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. When you turn on the Olympics every four years to watch wrestling, what you see on television is Freestyle and Greco-Roman.

Fun fact: Greco-Roman wrestling is the original style of wrestling you hear about when people say that wrestling is the “world’s oldest sport”. It was the original style used in the ancient Olympics. 

But what is the difference between the two? To be very honest with you, they are more similar than they are different. 

Wrestling and BJJ

They both follow the same match length: Two 3-minute periods with a 30-second break between each period. They both scored the same for the most part too. Takedowns are worth two points, a turn is worth two points, and a ten-point advantage (meaning a ten-point difference between the athlete’s score) ends the match in a “technical fall”. In Greco-Roman there is a five-point throw though, that is the only difference in scoring. 

When you think of a five-point throw you can think of something like a “suplex”. A grand amplitude throws as the rulebook would refer to it. 

How are they different though? Simply put: in Greco-Roman wrestling, you are not allowed to touch below the waistline. You can not attack the legs with your hands, you can not trip the legs with your feet, and you can not block the legs with your legs. It is a style rooted in hand fighting and upper body techniques (though requiring a POWERFUL lower body). 

In Freestyle wrestling, you are allowed to attack the legs. You can shoot double legs, single legs, low singles, ankle picks, foot sweeps, inside trips, and much more. 

If you want to read more about the rules of the two styles here is a good resource.

Training in either style would apply to your No-Gi BJJ game because of the takedowns and skills you would learn. You learn how to hand fight, clear ties, work your ties and move an opponent on their feet to create angles to attack and score. 

The difference between the two wrestling styles and No-Gi BJJ is that in No-Gi you are ultimately looking to get to a submission to finish the match. Instead of looking for a pin or tech, you want to submit your opponent. 

If you want to be a great grappler, you go above and beyond to separate yourself from your opponents. This makes wrestling a FANTASTIC way to do that. 

Despite it being common knowledge that ALL BJJ athletes would benefit from wrestling training, not everyone does it. They either “don’t want to.” or they “want to focus only on one style.” or any other number of reasons.

You want to be elite, don’t you? Start putting some time into really learning how to wrestle. Go above and beyond your competition. 

Does Grappling help you get stronger?

The short answer is yes. Grappling arts do increase your strength in many different ways. For one, doing any martial art can be beneficial to your physical strength. Defending against another human trying to potentially strangle you is a strenuous task that can easily build muscle mass.

Along with that, grappling can strengthen your mental health, increasing your self-confidence and control.

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The uniform worn by a BJJ fighter differs from the one that a wrestler wears. Both the grappling martial arts have their reasons for such specific uniforms


BJJ practitioners wear a uniform similar to a lot of other grappling arts. It consists of a Gi and a belt. The color of the belt worn signifies the level of technique the martial artist typically has. In NOGI Jiu Jitsu, grapplers wear a dry-fit shirt known as a rash guard and shorts specifically made for Jiu Jitsu.


The uniform most commonly worn in wrestling matches is what’s known as a singlet. A singlet is a sleeveless garment made of spandex that is worn in Folkstyle, Freestyle, and sometimes even Catch wrestling.

Why Is BJJ Better Than Wrestling?

There are many reasons that one could argue the dominance of BJJ over wrestling. For one, the submission moves learned and taught in Jiu-Jitsu are much more effective in a street fight compared to just takedowns. Along with that, Jiu-Jitsu practitioners typically have a more well-rounded fighting style compared to wrestlers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I do BJJ and wrestling?

Wrestling and BJJ go hand in hand in the world of combat sports. The ground fighting style of Jiu-Jitsu benefits the bottom and top positions in wrestling. On the contrary, the forms and takedowns in wrestling can strengthen your game in Jiu Jitsu.

Does BJJ teach you how to wrestle?

As stated previously, BJJ matches start on the feet. This means that many techniques taught in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are also taught in wrestling due to the similarities in position.

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, competition matches start standing up. This means that BJJ practitioners must learn how to take down opponents similarly to wrestlers.

Can you do wrestling takedowns in BJJ?

Yes, almost every wrestling takedown you can think of could be incorporated into your BJJ game

Are grappling and judo the same?

Judo is a form of grappling that focuses on throws and takedowns along with pins and submission techniques to incapacitate an opponent.

What is the difference between fighting and grappling?

Fighting is an overarching term for combat with another person. Grappling is typically the word used when describing a form of combat that does not include striking or the use of weapons.

  • Dallas Robinson

    Hello, I am Dallas Robinson, a martial artist based out of Mesa! I wrestle, am a brown belt in Judo, and have my blue belt in brazilian jiu jistu!

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