Judo vs. Wrestling for Self-Defense: Which Is Better?


Judo is an offshoot of Jiu-Jitsu, and of course, Jiu-Jitsu uses a lot of movements that are rooted in wrestling. But that leaves me wondering about the differences between Judo vs. wrestling for self-defense.

Here’s what I discovered in looking into it:

Judo is better than wrestling for self-defense because it’s about leverage, and using minimal effort to obtain maximum results, even against a larger opponent. So, it’s more technique-driven rather than simply requiring greater strength and weight. Judo also employs finishing techniques to immobilize an opponent.

But both Judo and wrestling are similar and effective combat sports.

Wrestling, on the other hand, is more explosive. The wrestler relies more on brute force to win. In contrast, Judo equips you with skills that enable you to use some simple (not necessarily easy) moves to throw, takedown, and submit your opponent.

But let’s be honest, while all forms of wrestling require skill and training, many forms of wrestling are designed just as much for entertainment as they are pure competition. By comparison, Judo is an Olympic sport!

Let the fun begin…

Can Judo be used for self-defense?

Judo works extremely well for self-defense. One of the reasons it’s so powerful is that most opponents or attackers have never been trained in breaking a fall or fighting well on the ground. Judokas are highly skilled in knowing how to grip and throw almost anybody to the ground.

Judo practitioners know how to easily unbalance a person, making it easy to throw and take down the attacker. Just a simple foot sweep or trip, hoisting the attacker on their hip, and behold, the attacker is dashed to the ground!

The throws are executed so swiftly that the attacker is likely to be on the ground and in great pain before they understand what’s happened. So, the surprise element is one of the edges a Judoka would have. Head injuries and broken collarbones are the likely results of being thrown.

After being thrown by an expert Judoka, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to get up for a while and attack again.

Most street fights are likely to occur on concrete. Being thrown on concrete is not something anyone can easily recover from. The Judoka can flee at this point. Orpin down the attacker and pound them repeatedly.

Of course, I am assuming that there’s only a single attacker. It’ll be extremely difficult for a Judoka, no matter how highly skilled to fight and subdue many people at a time.

Can Judo beat wrestling?

A skilled Judo practitioner would typically beat someone simply trained in wrestling. While both are trained in the art of grappling and throwing the opponent down, the wrestler relies more on aggression or brute force while the Judoka is more technique-oriented.

The wrestler’s stance is also slightly bent, which one could argue makes for balance.

As I explained above, Judokas are experts at unbalancing people. The wrestler wants to take down the other as quickly as possible. The Judoka has a few powerful submission holds they could add to the takedowns that make them more lethal.

Chokes and arm locks to the shoulder and elbow joints are examples, while submissions are not really allowed in wrestling. In short, Judo allows for better “finishing.”

In a lot of street fights, for example, the fighters are clothed.

That also gives a Judoka an edge because they can grip the other’s clothes or belt and throw them down swiftly and smoothly, while the wrestler is trying to use brute force to take the other down.

A contest between a Judoka and a BJJ fighter, who’s likely to win?

I explored that in a recent article of mine. One of the points I stressed is that Judo is a sport, while BJJ is largely about leverage. It’s how a smaller dude can use some techniques to quickly make a bigger and more powerful opponent submit.

BJJ also teaches you to fight from almost any position, even when you’re on the ground or your back. In fact, most BJJ dudes take the fight to the ground as soon as they have an opportunity.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Judo vs. wrestling – which has better takedowns?

Judo has a much better and wider variety of takedowns, including several highly effective throws. Most takedowns in wrestling focus on the lower body (ankle picks, single and double legs), which may be harder to execute if you’re fighting a skilled fighter.

Lower body takedowns can be countered by keeping one’s distance and by being good at sprawling. But any time you attack the lower body, you are vulnerable to knees to the face or head kicks.

However, the takedowns in Judo are often throws and can be executed as soon as the Judoka can grip their opponent or trip them. The takedowns in Judo are also better because they’re usually executed swiftly and smoothly.

Of course, none is easy. It’s harder to execute takedowns in wrestling because both parties are often exerting immense force. In comparison, Judo is usually a question of the right position, unbalancing, and technique.

Judo takedowns are often high-altitude throws, and this makes them lethal. The higher the person is thrown, the more devastating the impact when they hit the ground. Wrestling’s takedowns are usually low-altitude.

The takedowns in Judo are deadlier, too. So, they’re better. Because of the speed at which they’re executed, it’s a lot easier to destabilize the opponent.

You’ve probably heard that Aikido is also about leverage. 

So, how does it compare with Judo? Which one is better? Check out a recent article where I explained why Judo is the way to go if you have to choose.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is Judo harder to learn than wrestling?

Judo is harder to learn than wrestling. It has more techniques and requires awareness, speed, and patience more than strength. Wrestling’s techniques are more straightforward and can be learned at a much faster rate.

The Judo techniques I mentioned in previous sections are super effective, but they take time to master. After all, wrestling is a universal combat sport and is just more straightforward.

It’s almost as if most men have an innate ability to wrestle even when we haven’t been taught explicitly. Of course, trained wrestlers are deadly (not suggesting that you should contend with them if you’re not trained). A devoted student would most probably grasp wrestling faster.

Most wrestlers are strong.

They go through a lot of drills to maintain their bodies. Judo is not so much about how strong or fit you are. It’s about having practiced the techniques so many times that you don’t have to think.

You’ll need more time to master Judo compared to wrestling. Judo’s techniques won’t work if you haven’t mastered them, but if you’re strong and determined, brute force and intuition can carry you very far in wrestling.

So, can you teach yourself Judo, or is it too complicated?

In a recent article of mine, one of the points I made is that you can teach yourself if you’re determined and use the right resources. I suggested you should focus on structured online courses.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is Judo used more than wrestling in MMA?

Wrestling is used more than Judo in MMA fights. MMA fighters don’t use Gis. Wrestlers are used to fighting with no Gi and without a Gi, many Judo moves can be harder to execute.

However, most MMA fighters have a BJJ background combined with some striking martial art, such as Muay Thai. So really, pure wrestling or Judo both take a back seat.

And, MMA is bloody. As it is often fought, Judo is more like a friendly sport, while MMAs are so deadly that fighters lose consciousness at times!

But having said all that, Ronda Rousey, who is fantastic, is a Bronze Olympic gold medalist in Judo and only had two losses in her fighting career.

Wrestling also has better footwork.

Wrestlers’ stance is more balanced and grounded for the kind of fights that goes on under MMA. A Judoka’s stance is usually upright and often not as stable. They usually grapple from a standing position, while wrestlers distribute their weights more evenly, so it’s a lot more difficult to take them down.

MMA, as the name implies, is a combo.

You see an exquisite blend of technique and raw power. So, wrestling’s focus on raw power is more useful in MMA, where one can use one’s whole body to take the other down.

And, both arm and leg-based takedowns are legal in wrestling. Judo, on the other hand, does not allow leg-based takedowns.

Another reason is that there’s a larger pool of folks who’ve been trained in wrestling since they were boys. They’ll naturally gravitate toward their strengths.

Conclusion

In the preceding paragraphs, we compared Judo to Wrestling.

In most situations, Judo is a better choice. Even in a street fight. It’s about leverage and can give you an edge. Most men know a bit about wrestling, but you’ll catch them off-guard if you unleash some Judo moves. In fact, seeing that you’re a trained Judoka may dampen their enthusiasm for a fight.

We looked at which one is harder to learn, which one is better, whether Judo can be used for self-defense, and which one is used more in MMA and why.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell was Academy Director for a large martial arts school for over 7 years, and has trained extensively in a variety of martial arts including Brazilian Jiujitsu, different styles of Karate, the Russian Martial Art of Systema, Aikido, and much more.

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