Wrestling is one of the oldest forms of grappling, there are techniques in wrestling that have been around for hundreds and thousands of years. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a relatively new martial art when compared. The essence and core of BJJ has been around for hundreds of years, but what we see today in competitions- such as the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation and the ADCC- is a relatively new form of martial art and sport.
Today, we have an extremely active competition circuit for primarily Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitors; for instance, the IBJJF holds many of what people consider the biggest tournaments for BJJ practitioners. No wrestler, judo player, or other grappler can waltz into a black belt level IBJJF competition and perform very well with the black belts.
Jiu Jitsu has segregated itself from other forms of grappling and developed a strict rule set and style that creates a sport environment. We have so many different rules in BJJ, and positions that you would not see in other martial arts, especially when talking about a gi competition. This has led to a rapid decrease in the incorporation of cross training other grappling arts. For example, years ago, many people would put emphasis on learning and cross training things like Judo, Wrestling, catch wrestling, and other forms of grappling. Today, we see people who primarily just train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
The problem we have created is that many people lack a well-rounded game and don’t have the intricacies necessary to preform takedowns. Although Jiu Jitsu has developed its own competitions and rulesets, wrestling can still be a great tool to help you develop your Jiu Jitsu.
Wrestling is one of, if not, the best grappling art that you can cross train with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for several reasons. Wrestling can help you develop your BJJ game and takedowns, it can help you develop your base and tenacity, it can increase your awareness and cardio, and overall it will make you better as a martial artist.
How Wrestling Can Help Your BJJ Technique
Wrestling can help you develop your BJJ technique in so many different ways. There are so many similarities between wrestling and BJJ that it is almost insane. So many positions and guards in BJJ end up in a position that is more than likely utilized in wrestling as well.
Wrestling could be the factor that differentiates you from your opponent and allows you to ultimately get a sweep- and therefore a victory. There are many other places that you would use wrestling in your Jiu Jitsu. A big difference is grips. Grips play a big role in BJJ and while the gi is not used in wrestling, the fundamental principles of finishing takedowns, and being able to connect your takedowns from one to another is there.
You can use wrestling in butterfly guard, Reverse De La Riva Guard, and many other guards to help you develop your sweeps. If you use high level BJJ black belt competition as an example, you will notice that many BJJ black belt world champions actually win matches with wrestling.
You also use wrestling in stand up matches. This is obvious, but the deciding factor in a tied match can be the takedowns. This happens so often and it is wise to be able to have an arsenal of takedowns so that you don’t just rely on your guard or passing to win a match.
Wrestling for Base, Cardio, and Tenacity
Wrestling will not just give you a technical advantage when it comes to your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There are many other physical and mental advantages to incorporating wrestling into your BJJ game.
Wrestling can help improve your cardio by leaps and bounds. At the vast majority of BJJ academies, we see people start their rolls from the knees. Many times it is so more people will fit on the mat because when people start standing it can escalate quickly and requires more room. The most tiring part of BJJ is when you are trying to shoot for takedowns and have to continually stand back up. For this reason, if you start standing more often and just work your wrestling you’ll see how much better your cardio will be.
Wrestling will also improve your tenacity. Being determined and tenacious can be an excellent factor for someone who wants to compete. This mental characteristic can segregate you from your competition. So many of the best BJJ competitors have these characteristics. When they are trying to do a move, they do it with the intent of finishing and have so much determination.
Wrestling can help you develop these characteristics. Why? Wrestling is grueling and can be very difficult. When you are inches from a double leg or ankle pick, you have to keep driving and keep going; your sense of determination will often help you finish a shot. This is one of the key components of being a wrestler. We all know those guys with no BJJ experience that wrestled in high school. They have an enormous will to win and will not stop, they are very tenacious.
Last but not least, wrestling will help you improve your base. If you train one 5 minute round of just takedowns every time that you train BJJ, your base will get so much better. Wrestling will help you identify the inches necessary to have a good strong base.
You can then implement this into your BJJ, and you will become much harder to sweep and takedown. Many wrestlers are infamous for being next to impossible to sweep. They have an extraordinary sense of awareness and balance from years of wrestling. You too can attain these attributes if you just train wrestling.