Differences Between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & Wrestling


Both Brazilian jiu jitsu and wrestling are grappling combat arts. This means that there are no punches, kicks or other strikes – fighters compete using locks, holds, throws and submission techniques. Despite these similarities, however, there are some significant differences between the two arts, specifically in style, strategy and competition.


  • Brazilian jiu jitsu fights tend to be slower and more measured than wrestling bouts. In wrestling, bouts are shorter and more aggressive, and strength is more of a factor in determining the winner. In Brazilian jiu jitsu, it's not unusual to see two fighters on the ground in seemingly very relaxed positions, waiting or goading the opponent into a mistake that they can leverage to achieve a more advantageous position.

Winning Moves

  • In Brazilian jiu jitsu, fighters aim to apply a submission hold on their opponents, such as an arm bar or a choke. Properly applied, the pain or risk of injury should cause the opponent to “tap out,” or submit. Wrestling employs fewer such holds, in fact many of them are actually illegal. Instead, the goal of a wrestling match is to pin the opponents on their backs for a three-count.


  • If neither player applies a pin or submission, points decide the winner. In wrestling, take-downs earn a player two points, as does reversing a disadvantageous position. If a wrestler almost pins his opponent, he can get two or three points, and if he escapes a hold, he'll earn one point. In Brazilian jiu jitsu, a take-down is worth one point, as are sweeps and placing a knee on a downed opponent. Escaping the “guard” -- where the opponent has locked his legs around the player -- earns three points while mounting an opponent earns four points.


  • Wrestlers wear a “singlet," which is a one-piece, skin-tight uniform which usually covers the upper thigh and parts of the torso. Brazilian jiu jitsu fighters wear a “gi,” the same style suit worn in judo and karate, complete with a colored belt signifying the ability of the player. Unlike wrestlers, Brazilian jiu jitsu fighters can grab their opponent's gi or belt and use it in holds and chokes.

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