Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Wrestling are excellent grappling martial arts with numerous benefits. Practitioners, both young and old, enjoy training in both combat systems, making it difficult to pick just one. So, what is the distinction between Wrestling and jiu-jitsu?
Although Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Wrestling can be easily confused by laypeople, significant differences in fighting style differentiate the two martial arts in both style and function. The two also have vastly different applications and histories, with jiu-jitsu only a century-old while Wrestling predates recorded history.
The rest of this article will discuss the differences between BJJ and Wrestling. As a result, we will compare the two martial arts fighting styles, competition rules, Olympic status, MMA presence, suitability for street fights and self-defense, and so on.
What Are the Differences in Fighting Styles Between Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling?
Wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu can appear more similar than different at first glance since neither uses strikes, and both place great importance on taking the opponent down to the ground.
However, the most significant difference is the focus on the phases. Wrestling is about the takedown and the pin, whereas BJJ focuses on ground fighting.
In addition, Wrestling has a more physical focus since wrestlers train hard to improve their strength and speed, a massive factor in successful competition.
Although Brazilian jiu-jitsu is about learning and using the correct technique at the right time. This makes jiu-jitsu more of a thinking martial art than a purely brawny one.
Finally, wrestling competitions tend to have a lot of rules and a rigid structure, so wrestling can be considered more focused but less adaptable. On the other hand, jiu-jitsu is a lot more dynamic, giving it a more practical application.
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What Are the Differences in Competition Rules Between BJJ and Wrestling?
Wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu take very different approaches to determine competition winners.
Wrestling takes a more sporty approach by tracking points and averages to choose to rank. On the other hand, jiu-jitsu competitions are won by more practical means.
In wrestling competitions, you can win a round by successfully pinning the other fighter for two seconds or by having more points. Points are scored by successfully performing takedowns, reversals, and near falls.
Otherwise, the primary difference between Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling is that you can only grapple above the waist in the former.
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On the other hand, competitors can win a match in BJJ competitions by submission or accumulating points.
BJJ competitors can use submissions to end a fight, including joint hyperextension or chokes, leading to voluntary tap-out.
Otherwise, BJJ competitors score points by performing successful transitions or reaching some positions, including takedowns (2pts), reaching the mount position (4pts), obtaining the back control position (4pts), etc.
Related: How to Score Points in Jiu Jitsu? (The Ultimate Guide)
Our Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling Olympic Sports?
Wrestling has appeared in every modern Summer Olympic game since the first one in 1896, except in 1900. Moreover, Greco-Roman wrestling has appeared in every one of these games.
Besides, Freestyle wrestling was introduced in 1904 and has appeared in every one of these games, except the first ones.
We can look even further back to see Wrestling’s presence at the Olympics. The sport was introduced into the ancient Olympic games at the 18th Olympiad in 708 BCE. Ancient Wrestling, known as palé, was slightly different from its modern incarnation, but it remains one of the oldest sports in human history.
On the other hand, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is not an Olympic sport and never has been. The International Olympic Committee has criteria that sports need to match to be included in the Olympic games.
Unfortunately, BJJ still does not meet these requirements, including having non-profit organizations that aren’t government-controlled in charge of it.
These criteria are not impossible to meet, and there have been moves to legitimize jiu-jitsu in the eyes of the International Olympic Committee.
As a result, the earliest the martial art may appear in the Olympics is 2028, so for now, that’s a point to Wrestling in the Wrestling vs BJJ debate.
Related: Olympic Combat Sports (The Full List)
What Are the Presences of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling in MMA?
Wrestling and jiu-jitsu both occupy important niches within mixed martial arts. Besides, BJJ is almost essential to MMA for its superior ground fighting.
Aside from that, Wrestling shares a niche with judo, mainly focusing on takedowns, but the clinching one learns in Wrestling is also beneficial to MMA.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu dominated early Ultimate Fighting Championships, starting when Royce Gracie won the first one in 1993 using martial art. Gracie then went on to win the UFC2 and UFC , both in 1994.
After that, however, Wrestling regained some of its prominences within MMA as it adapted to this throughout the 90s.
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How Do BJJ and Wrestling Compare in Street Fights and Self-Defense?
Perhaps the most important comparison of Wrestling vs jiu-jitsu is how useful they can be in self-defense cases. Both combat sports teach practical skills that can be used in a street fight, but jiu-jitsu is often better on the whole for these kinds of scenarios.
Wrestling training is very physically intensive. For this reason, wrestlers tend to be stronger and faster on average, giving them an edge against an attacker in a street fight.
In addition, the aggressive takedown techniques that wrestlers use can end a fight very quickly by leaving the opponent unable to carry on.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is more practical for the average person in self-defense scenarios. This is because this martial art focuses on technique, making it more effective against bigger, faster, and stronger opponents.
Indeed, jiu-jitsu is less concerned with formality and rules while training, so its practitioners can adapt to street fights more quickly.
Eddie Bravo has also developed a form of Brazilian jiu-jitsu focusing on self-defense. Combat jiu-jitsu, as it’s called, is a more practical variant and incorporates striking, which is otherwise absent from the martial art.
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What Are the Popularities of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling?
The first discrepancy is in their vastly different timelines when looking at Wrestling vs BJJ in terms of popularity. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is very recent but has experienced explosive growth in popularity. On the other hand, Wrestling dates back to ancient times and has maintained its status for thousands of years.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu was first developed in the 1920s. The Gracie family created it using the Japanese martial art of judo as a foundation.
Moreover, it gained prominence in America and the world in 1993, when Royce Gracie, the grandson of one of the original co-founders, used his family’s martial art to win the first Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Wrestling is a much older sport. It even predates recorded history, appearing in cave drawings from around 15,000 years ago. Besides, many civilizations have practiced Wrestling throughout the ages, including the ancient Greeks, who introduced it to the original Olympic games.
Wrestling continues to be widely popular in many different forms. In addition to Greco-Roman and freestyle as practiced at the Olympic games, Wrestling also enjoys more theatrical forms. These include the American WWE and the Mexican Lucha Libre, famous for extravagant masks.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Wrestling are among the famous popular grappling martial arts with millions of practitioners worldwide. In this article, we’ve discovered some differences between Wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu; here is a summary:
- Wrestling emphasizes takedowns and the pin, whereas Brazilian jiu-jitsu focuses on ground fighting and submission techniques.
- BJJ is about learning the appropriate technique and applying it at the right time. However, Wrestling has a higher physical focus since wrestlers work hard to enhance their strength and speed.
- Wrestling games usually have a slew of rules and are very strict. Although, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is far more dynamic, making it more practical.
- In BJJ, points and submissions help competitors win fights. Nonetheless, Wrestling competitors use facts to help them win contests.
- Wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu are both important sub-disciplines of MMA. Yet, BJJ is almost essential in MMA because of its superior ground fighting.
- Both Wrestling and BJJ teach practical techniques that can be used in a street fight, though jiu-jitsu is frequently superior in these situations.
We’ve learned that the debate of Wrestling vs BJJ is not so clear-cut. The two martial arts may appear similar, but they’re far too different in fighting styles, history, and practicality to compare directly.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the differences between Wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your needs.
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