Wrestling vs. BJJ: How They Complement Each Other

May 6, 2024
Explore the dynamic world of wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) as we dive into their unique techniques, philosophies, and the ways these grappling arts complement each other to create well-rounded fighters in the ever-evolving landscape of combat sports.
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In recent years, the worlds of wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) have begun to merge, especially with the increased popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA), no-gi grappling, and events like the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) Championship. These two grappling martial arts, while distinct in their rules, techniques, and philosophies, complement each other beautifully when it comes to the ever-evolving landscape of combat sports.

Objectives: The Dance of Takedowns and Submissions

Think of wrestling as a high-stakes dance, where the goal is to sweep your partner off their feet—literally. Wrestlers focus on taking their opponent down to the ground, controlling them, and ultimately pinning their shoulders to the mat. Takedowns, reversals, and maintaining a dominant position are key aspects of this dance.

Now imagine BJJ as a more intricate ballet, with a multitude of moves and counter-moves. The objective is to outwit your opponent by submitting them using joint locks or chokeholds. While takedowns are important, BJJ is also a chess match on the ground, with a significant portion dedicated to ground fighting and submission techniques.

Techniques: The Toolbox of a Grappler

In the world of grappling, a diverse arsenal of techniques is essential for success. Wrestlers and BJJ practitioners both have their unique toolboxes, which, when combined, can make for a formidable grappling game. Wrestlers typically excel in takedowns, such as the double leg, single leg, and high crotch, while BJJ practitioners often focus on submissions like the triangle choke, armbar, and rear-naked choke. Catch wrestling, a style closely related to wrestling, introduces techniques like the double wrist lock (also known as the kimura in BJJ) and the toe hold, which can expand a grappler's submission repertoire. Freestyle wrestling, another wrestling discipline, offers dynamic and explosive takedown techniques like the fireman's carry, arm spin, and the suplex. By integrating techniques from submission wrestling, BJJ, catch wrestling, and freestyle wrestling, grapplers can develop a versatile and unpredictable style that keeps their opponents off balance and maximizes their chances of success in competition.

Rules and Scoring: The Language of Grappling

Wrestling matches are typically shorter, with points scored through takedowns, reversals, near falls, and escapes. BJJ matches, on the other hand, award points for takedowns, sweeps, passing the guard, and achieving dominant positions like mount, back control, and knee-on-belly. Understanding the rules and scoring of both 'wrestling vs BJJ' can give a grappler a competitive edge in MMA and no-gi competitions, where adapting to various combat scenarios is crucial.

Aspect Wrestling Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ)
Objective Pin opponent's shoulders to the mat Submit opponent using joint locks or chokeholds
Scoring Takedowns, reversals, near falls, escapes Takedowns, sweeps, guard passes, dominant positions
Match Duration 3-6 minutes (depending on the level) 5-10 minutes (depending on belt level)
Victory Conditions Pin, technical fall, points lead at the end Submission, points lead at the end, referee decision
Allowed Takedown Techniques Most techniques are allowed, with some restrictions on high amplitude throws and slams Most techniques are allowed, with some restrictions on high amplitude throws and slams
Allowed Ground Techniques Limited to pins, control, and escapes Sweeps, positional control, and submissions
Attire Typically practiced in singlets with wrestling shoes Practiced in both gi (kimono) and no-gi attire
Organizations United World Wrestling (UWW), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), various national and regional organizations International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC), various national and regional organizations

Training and Conditioning: Building Physical and Mental Toughness

Both wrestling and BJJ require a high level of physical fitness, and each discipline offers unique conditioning benefits. Wrestling is known for its emphasis on explosive strength, conditioning, and aggression, while BJJ promotes technique, strategy, and patience. By incorporating elements of both wrestling and BJJ into a training regimen, a grappler can develop a well-rounded physical and mental game that serves them well in MMA and grappling competitions.

Cross-training in both wrestling and BJJ can unlock a treasure trove of benefits for grapplers. By exposing themselves to the unique techniques, strategies, and conditioning methods of each discipline, grapplers can develop a more well-rounded skill set, improve overall fitness, and gain a deeper understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.

Here are some examples:

  1. Improved takedown defense: A BJJ practitioner who cross-trains in wrestling can significantly improve their takedown defense. By learning wrestling techniques such as sprawls, underhooks, and whizzers, BJJ practitioners can better anticipate and counter their opponent's takedown attempts. This enhanced takedown defense can give them an edge during competitions, allowing them to maintain a dominant position and dictate the pace of the match.
  2. Better top control and pressure: Wrestlers are known for their exceptional top control and pressure, which can be invaluable when incorporated into a BJJ practitioner's game. By studying and applying wrestling concepts like maintaining a low center of gravity, driving with the hips, and using cross-face pressure, BJJ practitioners can improve their ability to control opponents from top positions such as side control, mount, and north-south. This enhanced control can lead to more effective transitions, increased submission opportunities, and a higher likelihood of securing points in competitions.

Conclusion: The Synergy of Wrestling and BJJ

The combination of wrestling and BJJ creates a powerful synergy that can elevate a grappler's performance in MMA, and grappling competitions. By understanding the key differences and similarities between these two sports, and embracing the complementary aspects of wrestling & BJJ, fighters can develop a versatile and effective grappling game that keeps their opponents guessing. The marriage of wrestling's takedown expertise and BJJ's submission mastery makes for an exciting and dynamic combat sports landscape, where the possibilities for growth and innovation are endless.