If you’ve ever wondered who would win between a person trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) or a trained wrestler, the answer really depends on the particular set of rules. Brazilian jiu-jitsu students would probably have their hands full going up against an experienced wrestler, even if the wrestler has little or no BJJ knowledge. Even wrestlers who have never taken a Brazilian jiu jitsu class can press BJJ veterans to their limits. There are several ways in which Brazilian jiu-jitsu students can defeat wrestlers. You’re probably not going to win every match. However, You can learn how to properly approach them to make the contest a pure Brazilian jiu-jitsu contest. 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Wrestling

There comes a point when you’ve been training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, after you’ve endured all of the tough stuff, that you start to appreciate how much fun it can really be. The more you train, the more enjoyment you receive. That is, until a wrestler enters your gym and instantly reminds you of your first few months of BJJ training. You face the wrestler, only to find that none of your techniques work against them. You’re tired. You start to feel stressed, and start thinking that there’s no way that you can defeat your opponent. You don’t even know who your opponent is. It could be Russian mixed martial artist Khabib Nurmaghomedov, of all people. Going up against a wrestler on the mat can really make people analyze what they’ve learned during their training. It raises the question “who would win, a wrestler or a Brazilian jiu-jitsu martial artist?” It may also make you consider the alternatives that you’d have in such a competition. 

The Gi is the first thing that should encourage you. Newer fighters often receive their Gi after several successful sessions. Now the odds are a bit more in your favor. You can control what your opponent does, even if your moves don’t have much of an impact on the outcome. There are still some tactics that you can use to resolve the Brazilian jiu jitsu vs. wrestling debate. We’ll discuss later on this article how to counter opponents with a wrestling background from just about any position. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu versus Wrestling: How to Know What Wrestlers Expect

One of the most important steps to success is knowing what your wrestling opponent plans to do. They can be very up front, according to the type of match. Before you begin, take a few moments to study their grip fighting and stance. Wrestlers typically stand much lower than judo or Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters. One pose in particular is a sure sign of a wrestler. You can also tell if you’re facing a wrestler if your opponent is measuring distance, staying away from gripping and Gi grips or touches your head as they circle around. They are getting ready to move, so you’ll need to react fast!

Wrestlers want to keep a good distance as long as possible. The only difference is when they are preparing their takedown move. Then, they’ll be coming right for you! They’ll move very quickly once they see their opening. Wrestlers are known for their hard work and bursts of explosiveness. They will hang on tight once they’ve gotten a hold of you. If this happens, you can probably expect to be on the ground for the majority of the match. 

Pressure is one thing that you can count on in this scenario. Wrestlers don’t like fighting from the bottom position. Most of them know that being on their backs usually ends up in a loss. Another factor to take into consideration is the wrestler’s base. Some wrestlers’ bases can be just as difficult as their takedown tactics to overcome. How can you triumph over a wrestler with an incredibly tough base?

On Your Feet!

One tactic to quickly learn and master is the spraw. It can really come in handy in these situations! It’s not so much Brazilian jiu jitsu versus wrestling as it is one wrestler against another wrestler. It’s a simple but effective tactic that can keep you in the match. It won’t defend you from wrestlers, because you’ll still be susceptible to Russian tie trips, headlocks and other similar moves. However, it can help you fend off wrestlers’ attempts to grab your legs in an effort to knock you down. 

You should pull guard if you’re competing against a wrestler and have already negated their takedown attempts. I’ts a safe position even if you don’t have any wrestling experience. It won’t put you in a perfect position, because a perfect position when facing a wrestler probably doesn’t exist in most cases. Pulling guard gets you to the ground when you decide to do so. The other option is being taken down. This will give you some side control, but it’s obviously not your preferred placement. That’s why it’s essential to identify stance and fighting grips so that you can pull guard immediately. 

Controlling the Bottom Game

If you’ve found yourself on the bottom, the first thing that you should do is ward off any direct pressure from your opponent. Any stylish or popular open guards won’t help you here. Most wrestlers will break through them with ease. After pulling guard, you should stay in closed guard. This stance allows you to use your hips to manage pressure. You may even be able to surprise your attacker with a few nifty submission moves. 

One thing to keep in mind is the fact that sweeps are rarely achieved from the closed guard position. Submissions can also be a bit more difficult if you’re going up against a veteran wrestler. A rear naked choke or a leg lock are your best options for finishing moves against a wrestler. Personally, I’d opt for the rear naked choke, because most wrestlers can endure the pain that a joint lock can cause. You’ll need to get underneath the wrestler’s base to perform the rear naked choke. The optimal guard positions are the deep half guard, X and single leg X guards. The 50/50 position could work, but should only be used if you’re planning on finishing your opponent with a leg lock. 

You can control a wrestler’s base when you’re underneath them without having to worry about their pressure. Just be aware that the wrestler may try to disengage from you or get to a better position once they know what you’re doing. The best position in this scenario is a deep half guard. It’s a position that allows for the least amount of movement from your opponent. You can also use it to wind up in a sweeping position that provides more favorable top control. 

Tips for Staying on Top

To defeat a wrestler, you have to think like a wrestler. Use their own skills against them. Don’t plan on using pressure on them. as they’ll be used to it and should have no problems escaping from it. You’re better off using the long-standing wrestling principle of staying loose to your advantage. Stay active and flexible, but don’t go limp. You can use the wrestler’s aggressive attempts to escape to either look for the back or explode with your own attack. You can easily alternate between mount back to side control whenever you want. Holding mounts are a losing game. If you want to keep control and position over a wrestler, just keep floating around them during the match. 

Don’t forget to attack as you transition between positions. Staying in a set position for too long gives the wrestler more opportunities to escape your grasp. As you’re transitioning, look for an effective submission. For instance, if your opponent attempts to turn from the mount in any direction, take their back and apply a slap on a choke. 

You should only be using high percentage submissions. Leg locks, chokes and heel hooks are excellent choices. Estima locks and toe holds can also lead to impressive victories. Chokes are most effective when attacking from your opponent’s back. Use the Gi to your advantage if you have it. The bow and arrow is a good finishing move because it’s more difficult to defend and has a much tighter grip than the rear naked choke. If you want to tap out a wrestler, opt for a guillotine over loop chokes. 

Another good idea is to learn how to become a better wrestler. Hudson Taylor’s DVD “Wrestling for BJJ” is your best bet other than going to a wrestling gym or taking wrestling classes. This educational video can help enhance your wrestling skills in a manner that is specifically geared toward Brazilian jiu-jitsu.