Most traditional BJJ academies tend to focus most of their time on groundwork. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these practices. However, the result is one-dimensional BJJ players with little to no takedown game.
Aware of this flaw, several BJJ practitioners practice another grappling art with a strong takedown focus. The two most popular options, Judo and Wrestling.
Picking Wrestling over Judo for BJJ to improve your takedown game is the better option, but we will point out all the pros and cons of both disciplines to help you decide between Judo or Wrestling for BJJ.
Let’s look at some of their commonalities, differences, and what Judo and Wrestling offer for your Jiu-Jitsu.
Table of Contents
- Why Is Wrestling Good For BJJ?
- Why Is Judo Good For BJJ? – Judo Or Wrestling For BJJ
- The Key Differences Between Choosing Judo Or Wrestling For BJJ
- The Pros And Cons Of Wrestling Takedowns
- The Pros And Cons Of Judo Takedowns
- Judo or Wrestling In No-Gi
- The Risk Of Doing Judo Throws In BJJ
- The Risk Of Doing Wrestling Takedowns In BJJ
- The Better Base For BJJ Takedowns – Judo or Wrestling?
Why Is Wrestling Good For BJJ?
Wrestling in origin could be one of the oldest martial arts, as the roots of modern Wrestling are in Roman Wrestling, which was featured as a sport in the 17th Olympiad back in 704 BC (and possibly earlier).
The modern wrestling variants consist of Greco-Roman and Freestyle Wrestling. Greco-Roman focuses on the upper body takedowns, while Freestyle wrestling allows ankle picks and single-leg takedowns.
The basic principles of techniques in Wrestling are easy to apply, but the ruleset in the sport is also slightly similar to BJJ.
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The pressure-focused style
A high-level wrestler who jumps into BJJ finds success thanks to their pressure-focused style, as they are well-versed in the takedown game and pinning and keeping them on the floor.
Wrestlers do not like having their back on the mat, but they force their opponents into that position.
The options available for takedowns are also diverse, as they attack all limbs to sweep them off their base and use explosive power to make the technique more effective.
Some of the points that make Wrestling well for BJJ are also present in Judo, so let’s jump into our second option to see how it fares.
Why Is Judo Good For BJJ? – Judo Or Wrestling For BJJ
Judo is the martial art form that our beloved Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu derived.
It was created by Jigoro Kano around the last decades of the 19th century and was formally accepted and known under the term “Judo” since the first decades of the 20th century.
The art made use and optimized the throwing techniques of other “Ju-Jutsu” disciplines from the time, along with their chokes and ground control techniques.
Over time, Judo was known for being a systematic approach to breaking an opponent’s posture to toss him and then pin them on the ground, using the most effective method and requiring the least physical strength and energy to perform the move.
Judo became an Olympic sport, and it showcased how the proper use of both technique and explosive power was an effective way to control where the fight took place.
It is worth noticing that the Judo ruleset prohibits the person from grabbing the opponent’s legs to take them down.
With that in mind, let’s focus on what sets these two disciplines apart.
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The Key Differences Between Choosing Judo Or Wrestling For BJJ
A few details differentiate Judo and Wrestling and showcase how they can work strategically.
Using your own strength or the opponents
Judo is a discipline where you break your opponent’s posture to affect his balance or use momentum to throw him.
In Wrestling, you are the one who creates momentum to takedown or throws the opponent with your strength.
Wrestling has an aggressive style in which you not only take down the opponent but focus on controlling the position and pinning him after he hits the ground.
You can also attack all the limbs to get the result you are looking for.
In Judo, you can’t attack the legs with your hands, as it means disqualification, so the focus is placed on using the arms on the upper body and sweeping the legs with your own feet to break the balance.
Judokas also primarily focus on the throw, but a perfectly executed throw finishes a match with no need to follow up to pin or submit.
Judo always uses a Gi for their formal training, and most of the techniques take advantage of that by using the grips to break or control the opponent’s posture and pull them in or away to throw.
It gives a lot of tactical advantage with Gi BJJ, but it takes away something from pure Judokas once they’re in a No-Gi situation.
In Wrestling, there’s no Gi, so its techniques are always available to you for both Gi and No-Gi grappling. The movements can easily be adapted to Gi BJJ, giving it more control points in the form of grips to better perform a throw or takedown.
The Pros And Cons Of Wrestling Takedowns
- Simple basic principles.
- Versatile and easy to transition.
- Attacks all available limbs
- Explosive throws can consume a lot of energy.
- It needs to pressure and create momentum.
- Relies on physical capabilities.
The Pros And Cons Of Judo Takedowns
- The proper technique minimizes strength requirements.
- Great on the Gi and for grip strength development.
- Uses the opponent’s momentum against them.
- Must be adapted to no-gi grappling.
- Does not allow to grab the legs for takedowns.
- Hip toss techniques can be easily neutralized.
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Judo or Wrestling In No-Gi
The choice is somewhat obvious. Based on its ability to be a transferable skill into the BJJ rule set. Wrestling should be your go-to choice to supplement your BJJ No-Gi training.
Now, this doesn’t mean that your Judo would be useless in a submission grappling scenario. However, there’s a learning curve.
Even going from training only Gi BJJ and suddenly adding more No-Gi training can feel weird at first too. Things like a bow and arrow choke or spider guard sweeps are not available to you anymore or not with the same proficiency you have for the Gi.
Therefore, the “easy” choice is Wrestling.
The Risk Of Doing Judo Throws In BJJ
Judo takedowns and throws use the Gi as a primary method to throw someone down.
As it focuses on using their momentum, the tossing strategies are an excellent supplement to any Gi-intended BJJ practitioner, and they will improve their standup game.
It does, however, offer alternative moves for no-gi. Still, it is challenging to adapt those moves, as you can’t hold them as effectively, and without those grips, whoever stops any hip toss, would be more than ready to chase the back of the opponent who attempted the throw.
So, the principal risk of using pure Judo in BJJ is back exposure.
The Risk Of Doing Wrestling Takedowns In BJJ
The critical detail to watch when using wrestling takedowns in BJJ is energy consumption. In Wrestling, you use a lot of explosive power to attack in some techniques.
A competent and experienced opponent will be able to use that momentum against you. If he manages to stop the takedown, you might get tired and stuck in the wrong position.
However, that same flaw could also be a significant strength, as the constant pressure you put on someone when you threaten him with the takedown should be good enough to keep them on their toes.
The Better Base For BJJ Takedowns – Judo or Wrestling?
Both disciplines have their strengths and weaknesses, but there is one thing that we can’t deny.
Judo may have been a root for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but in modern times, the wrestling-based grapplers that have transferred their skill set to Jiu-Jitsu have continued to take over the spotlight in competition.
A strong wrestling game is proving itself as a great supplement to your BJJ game, so if you had to choose between Judo and Wrestling, we would encourage you to take on the Wrestler side thanks to its practicality.
However, the best recommendation for you is to try both things and use the strengths from each one in your BJJ if you can fit it all into your schedule.
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Train hard and smart, and keep yourself healthy as we hope to see you on the mats!