Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are two of the most popular styles of grappling across the world.
Wrestling focuses on takedowns and throws while Jiu-Jitsu grapplers focus on finishing the fight on the ground.
Both Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling are part of grappling but still differ from each other.
If you want to know if Jiu-Jitsu is good for wrestling or if wrestling is suitable for Jiu-Jitsu, you have to know the differences and similarities between these sports.
Congratulations, you are in the perfect place.
In this MMAWhisperer deep-dive, we look at the following areas of how Jiu-Jitsu can help or hurt your wrestling:
- Implications of the scoring systems in wrestling and BJJ
- Techniques from Jiu-Jitsu that can be applied to wrestling
- Tactics from Jiu-Jitsu that are not good for wrestling
- The role of BJJ and wrestling in Mixed Martial Arts fighting
If we want to answer the main question, we need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of BJJ, and how these can benefit or hurt your wrestling.
By the time you finish reading, you will know exactly how Jiu-Jitsu can help your wrestling, and what areas of weakness BJJ has from a wrestling standpoint.
Shake hands, time in, and let’s do this!
Table of Contents
Scoring System In Wrestling
The scoring system in each art is one of the most crucial things we should consider.
A technique that gets a high score in this sport is essential, so they spend lots of time working on it—and knowing the most important techniques and goals of sport helps us understand, which can be helpful for us.
Wrestling scores takedowns and control above all else
In wrestling, two essential things matter: takedowns and control. Both of these are very tough tasks against a skilled opponent, and it’s safe to say that learning takedowns is not a soft martial art, whether you are learning through wrestling or Jiu-Jitsu.
Takedowns are one of the biggest weapons of wrestlers against any other sport because they spend most of their training doing different takedowns.
This is also why many wrestlers have cauliflower ears, while Jiu-Jitsu artists have an easier time avoiding cauliflower ear in BJJ.
For example, there are 3 very major takedowns in wrestling, single-leg, double leg, and body luck. In terms of takedowns, Jiu-Jitsu will not be beneficial for wrestlers.
However, when it comes to tips and tricks for Jiu-Jitsu, learning takedowns is an often neglected way to increase your toughness, since wrestlers are among the toughest athletes on the planet.
While Jiu-Jitsu is safe overall, training takedowns are one of the main ways you might get brain damage in Jiu-Jitsu, as takedowns can involve hard slams.
Moreover, some Jiu-Jitsu fighters are training in wrestling to improve their takedown defense and abilities, so let’s discuss the second most important scoring technique.
Wrestlers are not going for submissions, they are trying to hold and control rivals, so physical strength is crucial during the competition.
That’s why they spend half of the training doing physical exercise.
However, physical strength is not enough for good control. In Jiu-Jitsu, fighters are used to using their technique against the power.
Wrestling requires substantial physical strength to control opponents
Having more knowledge in control will save wrestlers’ stamina during the fight, and having 2-3 seconds better stamina than your rival means double chances of winning the fight. So, yes, Jiu-Jitsu’s control skills can be beneficial for wrestling control.
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Scoring System In Jiu-Jitsu
Unlike wrestling, more scoring things matter in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments. So, what else can be beneficial from Jiu-Jitsu for wrestlers?
Of course, takedowns are great, but since Jiu-Jitsu focuses on the ground game, pulling guard is as profitable as going for a takedown. Most Jitsu fighters feel comfortable on their back because there are more great submissions from that position.
Also, going for a takedown is risky because, while attacking legs, a good Jiu-Jitsu fighter always finds a way to take a guillotine and finish the fight.
So, since pulling guard is another safer option for Jiu-Jitsu fighters, they do not use takedowns, and their takedowns are not good enough as it was before. This is another explanation why Jiu-Jitsu takedowns will not benefit wrestlers.
Unlike wrestling, that is another significant factor in Jiu-Jitsu—finishing the fight earlier.
Jiu-Jitsu fighters are not only focusing on controlling rivals on the ground but also finishing them with submissions, which can be choke or lock. So this aspect is not necessary for wrestlers until they enter MMA.
One benefit of submissions is also dealing with bullies, and Jiu-Jitsu helps with bullying in part through the effectiveness of submissions.
Sweeps / Passing Position
Jiu-Jitsu also concentrates on sweeps.
Pulling guard allows fighters to attack them with different techniques, sweep them while attacking, and earn additional points. Also, escaping and improving any position is awarded a point in Jiu-Jitsu.
Pulling guard is not a viable strategy in wrestling
This requires a great understanding of human body balance and flexibility.
With this knowledge and more flexibility, wrestlers will be hard to control on the ground, and I believe it is harder to take down such a flexible fighter, too.
So, from my point of view, working on sweeps in Jiu-Jitsu can be useful for wrestlers in an indirect way.
Which One Is Better For MMA Wrestling Or Jiu-Jitsu?
Between a Burger or Pizza, which one is better?
It depends. Some people prefer wrestling, and some people like Jiu-Jitsu.
Some wrestlers can defeat Jiu-Jitsu fighters, while other Jiu-Jitsu fighters are defeating wrestlers.
But, unlike Burger and Pizza, Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling can be great complimentary sports for MMA.
Many wrestlers perform very well in MMA, hence the prevalence of weird ears on most UFC fighters.
If you are a great wrestler, you can earn takedowns in MMA, but only holding and controlling them sometimes is not enough to win the fight.
Moreover, if you will just keep the opponent and do not serve any damage, the referee will force you to get up, and you have to do it again and again.
Neck Exposure is a risk
Moreover, good wrestlers are always leaving their neck for a guillotine choke. Knowing at least the fundamentals of Jiu-Jitsu is important for wrestlers in MMA.
So, having Jiu-Jitsu skills on the ground is very important to be confident on the ground, where you are in top or back position.
If you have a solid ground game, you need to know takedowns.
However, it is a well-known fact that Jiu-Jitsu fighters do not have good takedowns, so having wrestling skills is essential; otherwise, ground skills will make no sense in standing.
Why Does BJJ Not Teach As Many Takedowns As Wrestling Or Judo?
In the beginning, when BJJ was newly separated from Judo, BJJ instructors taught lots of throws and takedowns.
This culture changed over time, and they spent all the time and energy improving the ground game.
There could be different reasons for that. One of the reasons is that with BJJ skills, fighters were supposed to finish bigger and stronger guys. These stronger guys were Judo fighters by that time.
BJJ fighters were not thinking about taking the fight on the ground because Judo fighters were doing that, and all BJJ fighters were thinking about finishing the fight on the ground because it is tough to finish the fight standing, with chokes and locks.
Another reason is a lack of knowledge.
Firstly, BJJ instructors were also Judo black belts. The next generation was representing only BJJ and not Judo anymore.
Still, after several generations, BJJ only concentrated on submissions on the ground for several reasons mentioned above. And today, many BJJ instructors are not even spending any time on takedowns.
However, this narrative should change again.
MMA has developed a lot, and BJJ fighters started participating in MMA competitions.
You cannot do well in MMA without solid wrestling
They understand their weaknesses and start training in wrestling so that this knowledge will be passed on to the next generations.
And Again, How Much Can Jiu-Jitsu Help My Wrestling?
Wrestling is more about physical strength, while Jiu-Jitsu spends lots of time on strategies and counter-attacks.
Of course, there are various takedowns, and it is tricky, too, but Jiu-Jitsu’s mind games are on another level.
There are plenty of traps in Jiu-Jitsu while playing on the ground, so they use more brains than other muscles. Knowing Jiu-Jitsu can benefit wrestlers while trying to control rivals on the ground.
Using lots of energy and squeezing while grabbing the opponent on the ground can be exhausting, and the wrestler might lose a fight because of tiredness.
However, using more techniques requiring less energy can be very beneficial because Jiu-Jitsu has good control of the ground game. As mentioned, having 2-3 seconds of better cardio can double your chances against anyone.
Is Wrestling Beneficial For Jiu-Jitsu?
Will wrestling help Jiu-Jitsu fighters? Of course. Your brain is the most powerful weapon in your arsenal, but physical strength also means a lot.
Training in wrestling will increase physical strength, improve cardio, and gives excellent takedown skills, which means better takedown defense, too.
However, to earn something, you have to sacrifice something, too.
Getting more muscular means getting less flexible. In Jiu-Jitsu, flexibility is one of the most important things, so always try to find the golden mean between physical strength and flexibility because both aspects make lots of sense during the fight.