Jiu-Jitsu vs. Wrestling: What are The Major Differences?

Both BJJ and wrestling are widespread combat sports that heavily involve grappling.

However, the two differ in a number of ways; they’ve different rules and end goals. Knowing these differences can help you make a better decision on which art to train in.

In this post, we’ll discuss the MAJOR differences between the two sports.


Wrestlers usually wear a singlet (stretch garment) that partially covers their legs and torso. They also don a headgear to help protect their ears and head from potential injuries during a match.

BJJ artists, on the other hand, wear a gi when fighting. This is important as it helps them cushion a submission. They can also grab the opponent’s gi during a match.

However, some BJJ organization has no-gi matches, where the participants do not wear a gi. Instead, they can fight shirtless or in fitted pants and shirts (rash guard).

Fighting Style

When fighting on the mat, the wrestler will try to avoid fighting while on their back at all costs. This is because they can easily lose a match when in that position.

BJJ practitioners will have numerous opportunities to win while in the same position. For instance, they can employ the triangular choke, a popular submission tactic that involves chocking the opponent using your legs.

It’s also worth noting that wrestling have pretty shorter rounds, which means faster-paced match. However, Jiu-Jitsu moves slowly as they fighters have to wait for an opportunity to successfully submit their opponents.

Submission Grappling

Being a submission based sport, BJJ involves the artists inducing their opponents to ‘tap’ when in pain—indicating the end of the match. You can also win a BJJ match if you choke your opponent unconscious or if a referee intervenes and stops the game.

There are NO submissions in wrestling. Most of the BJJ moves are illegal here, and you’re supposed to hold your opponent on his/her back for up to 3 seconds.

Check out our article about grappling dummy.


Wrestling is regarded as Olympics sport, where the wrestlers normally participate in the combat sport through high school or college organizations. Both youths and adults participate in the sport

A Jiu-Jitsu practitioner would normally join a private gym for training. Because it’s an older sport compared to wrestling, most of the participants in this sport are adults in their 30 and 40s.

However, more and more kids are showing interest in this art, so we might start witnessing youth BJJ matches in near future.

Weight Classes

To keep the matches fair and minimize chances of injury, both sports divide the competition into different weight classes.

The wrestling classes follow the guidelines set by NFSHC (National Federation of State High School Associations) or NCAA and are named for maximum weight of a given class.

As for the BJJ weight classes, they conform to the boxing weight class guidelines and even follow the same naming conventions.

Final Word

Right from the type of uniform to fighting style, moves, competitions, and weight classes, the differences between the two sports are crystal-clear.

Hopefully, this info will help you in choosing on whether to go with wrestling or BJJ sport.

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