Two prominent grappling martial arts, wrestling and BJJ, have huge followings of practitioners, many of whom look to improve their ground game by cross-training. The popularity and accessibility of jiu-jitsu in recent years have allowed many wrestlers to try their hands at it, but does BJJ help wrestling?
While the goals and strategies in BJJ are different from those in wrestling, many crossover benefits translate both ways. BJJ can be a valuable tool for wrestlers to improve their ground offense and defense, understand additional grappling positions, and become more well-rounded grapplers.
The benefits of cross-training in multiple grappling forms, particularly BJJ and wrestling, are certainly worth investigating, so read on to find out what gains you might expect if you do it.
The main goals of BJJ and wrestling differ significantly. Still, many aspects of BJJ also translate well onto the wrestling mat because general grappling positions and body mechanics are universal.
BJJ emphasizes submissions, and standing up has little value. At the same time, wrestling is all about takedowns and controlling positions. By training BJJ, you won’t get any better at takedowns, but control and positions on the floor are where you will see great improvements.
A BJJ match begins once you are on the floor, and you are either advancing or defending positions the whole time. This type of work, while not dissimilar to wrestling, is different and provides a new perspective and awareness.
Additionally, people who practice one martial art get used to the specific patterns everyone uses, and cross-training in BJJ or other styles will teach you new tricks that most wrestlers will be unfamiliar with.
Being on the bottom in wrestling is terrible, far from the same situation in BJJ. Working from the bottom in jiu-jitsu is a crucial element of the game. It can turn a wrestler into a slick escape artist. Scrambles from BJJ also translate very well.
Of course, many things done in BJJ cannot be used in wrestling. Everything learned must be adapted to the rules and tactics used on the mats. Other skills like working from the back should be forgotten as this means an automatic loss in wrestling.
Benefits of BJJ in Wrestling
Better Ground Game
BJJ is played entirely on the ground, and you will learn many new positions, improving your overall body awareness on the ground. Escaping from undesirable positions, especially on the bottom, and being proficient at scrambles become much easier when cross-training in BJJ.
BJJ requires much more flexibility, which is improved by grappling drills and rolling but also by dedicated flexibility training and stretching often done in BJJ classes. This newly developed flexibility helps in wrestling and overall fitness and longevity in the gym. A supple body is much less likely to be injured.
Exposure To New Techniques
Learning completely different techniques and using new tactics and strategies not found in wrestling broadens the overall understanding of grappling and body mechanics. Leverage lies at the foundation of proper jiu-jitsu, and learning to use it in new ways will make you more versatile in every area.
Better Submission Defense
Having a good submission defense against many joint locks and chokes is not directly transferable to wrestling. Still, it is a very useful skill in every other combat area. Knowing how to apply and defend painful techniques is the specialty of BJJ, and it’s an invaluable skill for self-defense, street fighting, or MMA.
Benefits of Wrestling in BJJ
We’ve talked quite a bit about how BJJ helps with wrestling, but the opposite is every bit as valid.
Takedowns score low in BJJ, but deciding when the fight goes to the ground is always valuable. No other style has better takedowns than wrestling. Takedowns are more important in no-gi BJJ and submission grappling, so the crossover benefits are greater for those styles of jiu-jitsu.
Better Top Position
All your top positions will become immensely better by training in wrestling. Not only that, but your ability to use all your weight effectively and be heavy on top of the opponent makes it that much harder for them to sweep or escape.
Strength and Endurance
Few combat sports, if any, are as grueling and physically challenging as wrestling. Even if you never compete, the demands of training and the added physical training will allow you to push yourself at a pace you’d never imagined possible. The athleticism of wrestlers is unrivaled in combat sports, and even a portion of that will help your BJJ greatly.
Can You Use Jiu-Jitsu In High School Wrestling?
Certain moves and techniques from BJJ can be applied in high-school wrestling, but this must always be done with a clear understanding of the rules and objectives of the sport.
Strictly speaking, chokes and submissions are not allowed in wrestling. Still, some BJJ techniques can be adapted to work in a wrestling ruleset and lead to a pin or a favorable position.
Headlocks are common in wrestling and can be turned into chokes like the anaconda, which abides by wrestling rules to have a head and an arm in.
But aside from specific techniques, the positioning, knowledge of leverage, and familiarity with many positions from BJJ will bring you much more success in high school wrestling than modified chokes and joint locks.
Yes, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can help wrestlers because it provides techniques and training methods to complement and enhance their skill set. BJJ emphasizes ground fighting, submissions, and control positions, which can be useful in wrestling matches if appropriately adapted.
Furthermore, BJJ training can help wrestlers improve their wrestling techniques, such as takedowns, throws, and pinning combinations, by better understanding body mechanics, leverage, and weight distribution.
If you have spare time and a suitable wrestling class is available, you should cross-train in wrestling to enhance your BJJ game. The different focus on techniques and training methods will make you a more well-rounded grappler.
It will certainly improve your strength and conditioning. More tools will likely give you a competitive edge over grapplers who are only familiar with BJJ.
The universality of body mechanics and grappling positions make cross-training in different styles a good idea. Learning new skills and experimenting with various training methods and concepts in BJJ will always benefit wrestling. Switching between styles may require a mental shift, but once you learn to adapt your knowledge and skills from one to the other, the cross-training benefits are immense.