September 5, 2022

Wrestling vs Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ): Which One’s Better?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling share a profound bond where both the approaches layout grappling and positional dominance for the ultimate win. 

Wrestling possesses significantly distinctive principles that aim for fierce and agile strikes over BJJ’s dominating grapples. While BJJ can neutralize size-differences through choke-holds and immobilization, wrestling invests its movements in pure, unadulterated strength, vigor, and might. 

Both combat systems have inherited a rich culture, dating to century-old traditional brawling that created history and has continued to benefit practitioners of today.

The Roots of Combative Art

The art of wrestling goes back 15,000 years into the cave-wall depictions in France. Wrestling shared a prominent place among other sports in the Greek Olympic, after its popularity as a hand-to-hand combat tactic for soldiers on the battlefield. 

The Roman empire, after defeating the Greeks, stole away the essence of wrestling, polishing away the brutality. Fearing to lose their historical battle-form, the Greeks proceeded to work on Greco-Roman Wrestling. 

Two men wrestling

The essence of wrestling took flight, popularizing its stature as a sport in royal-houses throughout France, England, and Japan. In recent times, wrestling has become a household favorite contact sport, pushing the physical limit of trainers to take up the grueling combat to the stage. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, on the other hand, possessed similar aggressiveness and brutality as that of wrestling. With its powerful predecessors such as Judo and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, BJJ manifested into overwhelming defensive combat. 

As the brainchild of Jigaro Kano, BJJ hailed as the revised gentle art, allowing trainers of all shapes and sizes to try their hands-on experience on a safe, yet frightening martial art. 

The birth of BJJ came into presence through Kano’s disciple, Mitsuyo Maeda who initiated his global journey to spread the word of the “gentle art”. Therefore, both wrestling and BJJ are the inspiration for their traditional combat art forms, with refined approaches. 

Techniques & Training (Differences)

Wrestling and BJJ training can result in peak performance through rigorous practice and prolonged regimes. The similar degrees of coaching on the disciplines can formulate a variation in techniques and basic training. 

The aim of the wrestler targets at taking an opponent to the ground and pinning them off mobility. Here, agility and poise can quickly resolve a fight through grapples and joint-locks. A BJJ fighter, however, possesses 0-technical offensive move-sets but strategize grapples for effective take-downs. 

Hence, the techniques vary in terms of coaching and can be properly grasped through combat rules:


A wrestler initiates their brawl with the objective of a complete aggressive takedown. There are two variations of wrestling, the Freestyle, and Greco-Roman wrestling. In the Greco-Roman wrestling discipline, a fighter can execute their techniques above the belt. However, Freestyle wrestling encourages a myriad of offensive moves, both above and below the belt. 

For a BJJ fighter, the objective is to perform with complete endurance. The art is about patience and observation. When the opponent reaches closer to a grapple, a fighter can ground the enemy, rendering them compliant till defeat. 

Here, gaining an advantage over an enemy proves fruitful, as dis-balancing them through their weak points can earn points during the competition. 

Brazilain Jiu JItsu BJJ Fighters in training

Utilizing Strength

Strength is the focal point of wrestling. A fighter can hurl a flurry of strikes. The rules here are set but independent of morality. A wrestler has complete freedom to control an enemy with forceful grapples, with the ultimate aim to submit the enemy through strangulation or joint locks. Here, a wrestler’s leverage, balance, and angular strikes prove worthy of the win. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu disregards throws and takedowns as of lesser importance. Here, the use of strength should be of the opponent’s, to their disadvantage. BJJ does not limit the leverage to being on top but has diverse sequential movements that can help them lock enemies to submission even while being pinned. 

Which is More Effective?

When it comes to utilizing pure strength and aggressiveness, wrestling takes center stage. It is vastly effective in throwing off an opponent’s energetic offensive moves through powerful strikes and grapples. 

In terms of athleticism, wrestling fares above Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for quick takedowns, as opposed to the latter’s steady positional takeover. Its core power and confident strikes are indomitable in and outside of the ring. While Jiu-Jitsu can effectively ground one opponent to their defeat, wrestling can perform the same tactics, with more hostility. 

This is understandable through striking differences between the two:

Fitness Benefits

A budding wrestler will require excruciating training sessions to condition the mind and body for menacing moves. Wrestling workouts involve cardio, strength training (weight-workouts), and exclusive dietary changes. Wrestling calls for a demanding physical state for peak performance. Here, energy, vigor, and might manifest into dangerously offensive moves that can make an opponent shudder.

BJJ’s fitness requirements are similar to the rigorous training schemes as wrestling’s, but not as intense as the former. Here, strength is of the essence to maintain the pin or hold on an immobile opponent. 

Here, a BJJ fighter will need to utilize their strength at the right time, preserving it to render the enemy helpless. 


The technical aspect of wrestling strives towards taking an opponent down through unadulterated force. An attacker on top is never a good idea. In the same situation, a BJJ player can potentially take an opponent from the top as well as the bottom. And while there is this dynamic potential present in BJJ, it is never the comfortable choice to be floored, as real-life fights do not reflect ones in the ring. 

Here is where wrestling proves its worth in a street fight due to imbibing its techniques on street brawls. Although BJJ specializes in taking on a burlier opponent, gang fights are not suitable for the approach. 

Which is better for Street Fights?

Street fights are unpredictable. It is a challenge to understand if there is an enemy’s gang waiting around to advance without a sign. Hence wrestling is the perfect form to take up for street brawls. It requires the perfect blend of agility, aggression, power, and might. 

A wrestler should be quick on their feet and strong with their arms. Slamming an enemy to the ground renders them useless for fighting back. 

Real World Vs. Competition

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a competitive sport. With its tradition relying on safe-practice, the essence of real-world aggression is lost. Moreover, BJJ can subdue one enemy, but not multiple. 

Wrestling, on the other hand, manifests its power through fear. A wrestler’s body will be physically menacing due to muscle mass and unrelenting training. And adding brute force to the equation can intimidate an enemy before the fight even begins. 

BJJ’s approach is competition friendly, within the rings. And there is no doubt that a BJJ fighter can tap-out an opponent with the right mounts and grapples, proving to be as dangerous as any other martial art combat. 

Wrestling, on the other hand, is a brawling system built on battleground tactics where there are no duels, but only raw and aggressive takedowns. 

Three young guys in a fight

Training Grounds

A wrestler’s training is pure and does not involve other fighting styles making changes. For example, a wrestler will not use a purely Muay Thai technique as it is not a part of the approach. However, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu forms a part of several MMA fighting tactics. A school willing to train on BJJ might borrow brawling essences of Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and more, creating a blend exclusive to that trainer. 

While cross-training is always an encouraging option, BJJ is not a good option against a gang of enemies. Here, a seasoned wrestler can take out two opponents and have 2 others flee the scene, scaring their consequences. 

Which one is better for Self-defense?

While fighting off an opponent, the main goal is to defend themself. But the next moment should include fleeing the spot or moving away from the possible threat. 

Keeping the situation based on purely hand-to-hand combat, wrestling can be more useful for self-defense over the traditionally defensive BJJ. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu manifests into a dangerous game of grapple during a match, but might not prove fruitful in real-life combats. 

Here, wrestling’s tactful takedowns can finish off a brawl within a few minutes. If the enemy injures themselves on impact, there is a lesser chance of them attacking within the next minute, giving the fighter enough time to distance themselves for safety. 

Takedowns Vs. Grounding

While grounding in the BJJ approach involves both tactics, it can lead to prolonged physical contact. BJJ requires years to practice all sequential takedown art styles. However, wrestling believes in throwdowns, allowing the ground to impactfully hurt the enemy into submission. The aspect of the close-range provides lesser risks to tackle given the brawling time. 

A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu trainer might need to hold an enemy in place, keeping themselves prone to 3rd party attacks during the joint-lock and pinning phase. Therefore, throwing an enemy away from proximity helps to defend a fighter more than keeping in constant touch with the opponent.  

self defense knife attack disarming

Foul Points and Banned Moves

The concept of banned moves can limit martial art’s potential to be deadly in the real-world. Wrestling is a system, allowing lethal blows both above and below the belt. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, on the other hand, comes with an array of restricted moves leaning on the offensive tactics. 

Striking, kicks, and leg zones are off-limits and can accumulate foul points during the competition. While a fighter can break the rules during a street fight, there is a lack of experience when it comes to executing the perfect strikes to stun an opponent. 

Hence, banning martial art or combat system approaches is ironic for a discipline that caters to self-defense. 

Cost Comparison

Mastering wrestling requires approximately 10 years of complete training. It is a responsibility that an enthusiast must invest their time, mind, and body in, to receive fruitful results. If a fighter shows interest in wrestling at a young age of 10, they will learn and train in every move-set possible by the time they are 20-22. 

hand holding money

There are, of course, various institutions that can provide effective courses for those keenly interested in the combat system. The Copper certification requires 4 hours to complete powerful training. Each class costs around $40, coming to $160. This certification is for children of 12 years of age. 

Similarly, the Bronze certification is for 13 and above children. There is an accumulated 6 hours of training to complete the course. The fees for each day of training comes to $80. A BJJ practitioner takes 4-5 years to master the discipline before utilizing it in real life. It is advisable to train 3 times a week for the best results. 

The fees for each month comes to $170, calculating to $10.2k for a complete all-round dojo training and mastery. A trainer must also reserve for protective gear and uniforms, important during competitive matches or play-fights. 

Which One Should I Learn?

Jiu-Jitsu is a compact martial art, exclusive for those wishing to learn more on self-defense. However, wrestling forms a menacing presence in the real-life combat scenes due to its aggressive, brutal, and harmful strikes and throwdowns that can even crack a few bones. 

If you want to defend yourself by grounding an enemy with sheer force instead of prolonged physical contact, wrestling is the most suitable option there is available for training. Both being the modern-times battle-field hand-to-hand combat styles, can contribute to fortifying the trainer into a well-built fighter of the future. 

More Comparisons

Eugene Hardy

Eugene is a professional Muay Thai fighter, with several years of experience. Also, a black belt holder. He actively participates in tournaments and provides training to his students. Eugene started this blog to share his experiences with Martial Arts.

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