By: Patrick Cox, IBJJF World Masters Silver Medalist, 2021

Wrestling (freestyle, Greco Roman, and American school Folkstyle) are having an impact on technique in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The two forms of grappling are distantly related. Wrestling focuses on the shoulder pin while BJJ is positional points and submissions.

Many of the major national and international level BJJ competitors have begun to pursue wrestling for its take down skills enhancement that BJJ has left behind in its divergence from its judo roots. Wrestling take downs and control techniques are delivering excellent take down development for throwing the opponent, leg takedowns such as single leg and double leg, and attacking turtle guard.

Many of the wrestling throws, for example, are particularly careful not to expose the wrestlers back. In BJJ, one of the worst positions to give up is back exposure through back mount. Being mounted on the back with chest to the mat is uniformly considered the worst position to be in for BJJ. In this position, you have very few, if any defenses while simultaneously giving up exposure to multiple attacks. Wrestling throws can provide better control versus some judo throws. Renowned coach and teacher of BJJ, John Danaher, has a video discussing this very topic from the judo perspective.

Many of the freestyle and Greco style wrestling throws are not legal for BJJ just as they are not for folk style wrestling. However, many of the folk style wrestling throws are legal for BJJ competition and can provide a strong take down that does not unduly expose the back. Our wrestling coach and BJJ programs at United Martial Arts Katy integrate these techniques where they are a good fit. A properly execute pinch throw, head and arm throw, or fireman’s carry can provide excellent control and BJJ position. At the same time, poorly executed techniques can result in a bad position for wrestling or BJJ.

Leg take downs in BJJ are taught poorly at best in most BJJ schools. This is primarily because a leg take down done properly requires extensive development time. BJJ’s focus is the ground submission whereas wrestling has no such focus. The take down is a major aspect of the wrestling match and leg take downs are a significant part of this. This means that for more time in the wrestling training is allocated to developing that leg take down skill sets. This is true whether looking at the world class level of competition such as the Olympic or World Championship level or the Division One level of collegiate wrestling in the USA or the club level competitor. Judo long ago abandoned leg take downs and very little is taught of it in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu resulting in very low levels of competency in leg take downs for most BJJ practitioners. A poorly executed and therefor easily defended leg take down is worse than no attempt. In BJJ, you don’t receive points for successfully defending a take down in IBJJF competitions whereas, in wrestling, the take down victor receives the points regardless of who initiated the take down. It is common to hear a student to be advised to try some wrestling training when asked about improving this particular skill. This is, in part, because an effective leg take down can take many hours of training in order to achieve a high level of skill and reduce the chances of a successful counter by your opponent. While a leg take down is a major element of wrestling, it is rarely seen in BJJ.

Some practitioners of BJJ who started in wrestling have modified some BJJ positions for greater control based on their wrestling background. Side control which is a major BJJ position of control can be modified to make guard recovery exceedingly difficult and unlikely by using wrestling techniques modified for BJJ.

Attacking turtle guard using some wrestling techniques modified for BJJ use can deliver great results. Examples include using cross faces and ankle lifts to attack turtle instead of the traditional BJJ approach of lifting and putting in leg hooks in an effort to turn the opponent and take their back.

We will likely continue to see wrestling deliver more technical input for BJJ as the sport of BJJ continues to grow in the USA and more wrestlers begin to train in BJJ. In the early days of BJJ coming to the USA, few practitioners had a wrestling background. Some of the early wrestlers who began to move into BJJ such Eddie Bravo have had a major impact on BJJ.

Recently, the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) became a program sponsor for the University of Iowa Hawkeye Wrestling Program. Many UFC stars started with wrestling before moving to the UFC and BJJ. These include Daniel Cormier, Jon Jones, Kumaru Usman, and Henry Cejduo. If Dana White and the UFC see value here based on their fighters, eventually the BJJ world will adopt and adapt more techniques with its brother sport of wrestling. 

Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.