grappling vs wrestling

Grappling vs. Wrestling: Understanding the Differences and Similarities


When it comes to combat sports, grappling and wrestling are two popular disciplines that often get confused with each other. While they share similarities in terms of technique and physicality, there are distinct differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the contrasting characteristics of grappling and wrestling, their origins, techniques, and the goals they aim to achieve.

Techniques and Rules

Grappling Techniques

Grappling focuses on controlling an opponent through holds, locks, and submissions. It encompasses various techniques such as joint locks, chokes, takedowns, and ground fighting. Practitioners aim to immobilize or force their opponent into submission by using leverage and technique rather than relying solely on strikes.

Wrestling Techniques

Wrestling, on the other hand, places emphasis on takedowns, throws, and pinning an opponent’s shoulders to the mat. It involves techniques like double-leg takedowns, single-leg takedowns, suplexes, and various throws. Unlike grappling, strikes are not allowed in wrestling, and the primary objective is to gain control and dominance over the opponent.

Rules and Scoring

Both grappling and wrestling have specific rules and scoring systems. Grappling competitions often award points for achieving dominant positions, securing submissions, or successfully defending against an opponent’s attacks. In wrestling, points are awarded for takedowns, reversals, and pinning an opponent. The rules may vary depending on the specific grappling or wrestling style or organization.

Training and Conditioning

Grappling and wrestling require rigorous training and conditioning to develop the necessary skills, strength, and endurance. Training sessions typically involve practicing techniques, drilling movements, sparring, and strength training exercises. Stamina, flexibility, and agility play crucial roles in both disciplines, as athletes need to maintain control and perform explosive movements throughout a match.

Competitions and Styles

Grappling Competitions and Styles

Grappling competitions can take various forms, including submission-only tournaments, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) tournaments, and mixed martial arts (MMA) fights. Popular grappling styles include Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Sambo, and Catch Wrestling. Each style has its unique rules, techniques, and emphasis.

Wrestling Competitions and Styles

Wrestling is widely practiced and recognized as an Olympic sport. Freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling are the two primary styles seen in international competitions. Freestyle wrestling allows for both upper and lower body attacks, while Greco-Roman wrestling restricts holds below the waist. Folkstyle wrestling, commonly practiced in the United States, has its own set of rules and variations.

Benefits of Grappling and Wrestling

Engaging in grappling or wrestling provides numerous physical and mental benefits. These combat sports promote overall fitness, strength, and coordination. They improve cardiovascular health, endurance, and body awareness. Moreover, grappling and wrestling foster discipline, self-confidence, and mental resilience through the challenges faced during training and competitions.

The Role of Grappling and Wrestling in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

Grappling and wrestling form a fundamental aspect of mixed martial arts (MMA). Many successful MMA fighters have backgrounds in either grappling or wrestling. The ability to control an opponent on the ground, execute takedowns, and apply submissions or ground-and-pound strikes are crucial skills in MMA. Understanding both disciplines allows fighters to adapt to different situations and exploit their opponent’s weaknesses.

Choosing Between Grappling and Wrestling

When deciding between grappling and wrestling, it is essential to consider personal preferences, goals, and available training opportunities. Grappling may appeal to those interested in submissions, ground fighting, and a wider range of techniques. Wrestling, with its emphasis on takedowns and dominance, may be preferred by individuals looking for a physically demanding sport focused on control and pinning.

Safety and Injury Considerations

While grappling and wrestling are generally safe sports when practiced under proper supervision and adherence to rules, injuries can occur. It is crucial to train with qualified instructors, use appropriate protective gear, and follow proper techniques to minimize the risk of injury. Conditioning exercises, warm-ups, and stretching are also vital to prepare the body and reduce the chances of strain or sprains.


Grappling and wrestling, though similar in some aspects, are distinct combat sports with their techniques, goals, and origins. Grappling focuses on control, submissions, and ground fighting, while wrestling emphasizes takedowns and pinning an opponent. Both disciplines offer unique physical and mental benefits, and they play significant roles in combat sports such as MMA. Whether you choose grappling or wrestling, these sports provide an exciting journey of skill development and personal growth.

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