What is the Best Martial Art for Wrestlers?

Wrestling is a grappling sport featuring some takedowns and a lot of groundwork. So those skills naturally translate better to some martial arts than others. So what is the best martial art for wrestlers?

The best martial art for wrestlers is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as wrestlers can easily take advantage of the BJJ rule set to win countless matches. Wrestlers will naturally be very skilled at takedowns and pins, which are the foundations of BJJ.

Then they’ll just have to learn many of the submissions they may not be used to.

Most BJJ practitioners won’t be able to contend with the takedown and pinning skills of an experienced wrestler. However, there are other martial arts that wrestlers can excel in using their current skill set.

Ready? Let’s explore them all.

Is Wrestling a martial art?

Wrestling is not a martial art, as the focus of Wrestling is sport and competition. A martial art is a sport that is practiced for self-defense, fitness, personal enrichment, and learning. But martial arts often have a spiritual component lacking in pure sports.

Wrestling can be used for some of the same things as martial arts, but the focus is almost exclusively on sport, so it is not a martial art.

Wrestlers are always referred to as “athletes”, not “martial artists”. I’m not saying that Wrestling is bad or useless because it is not – we see wrestlers excel in MMA and in their fitness levels. Wrestlers are some of the most well-conditioned athletes in the world.

Let’s have a look at what makes something a martial art.

Martial arts are about training the mind as much as the body – In Wrestling, most of your time is spent learning techniques, doing strength conditioning, and sparring. There is not really much focus on mindfulness, self-control, integrity, and honor.

Secondly, martial arts are primarily about self-defense.

The word “martial” refers to war and fighting, and many martial arts originated for these reasons. Krav Maga was invented by the Israeli military for war. Judo was invented to be used by the samurai in war, so they could fight in their thick armor.

BJJ was invented so that small people could defend themselves against big people using technique and leverage. Wrestling, on the other hand, originated in the Olympics – as a sport.

The objective of Wrestling is to score points, not defend yourself. Therefore it cannot be classed as a martial art.

What martial art is used in WWE?

Some of the martial arts used in WWE include BJJ, Judo, Karate, and Boxing. WWE is not focused on any particular martial art. Rather the most dynamic techniques are picked from certain martial arts to make matches entertaining.

Let’s have a look at what martial arts are used in WWE and by who.

BJJ – Daniel Bryan is a BJJ practitioner. BJJ is a grappling martial art, and many of the moves in the martial art are used in WWE, including the single leg, double leg, armbar, triangle, and some pins.

Complex BJJ techniques like the worm guard and berimbolos are not used in WWE, as they are not entertaining.

Wrestling – Shoot Wrestling is used by the legendary Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle. These guys use their Wrestling skills to get takedowns and pins and throw people all over the place!

Kickboxing, Muay Thai, and Karate are used in WWE when wrestlers punch, kick, knee, clinch, trip, and sweep each other.

If you are someone that has wrestled in high school, college, or elsewhere, I don’t recommend you do WWE/Professional Wrestling. That’s because it is not a martial art where you will actually put your fighting skills to use.

You will just use your strength and athleticism, and you won’t develop much as a fighter.

What fighting style do wrestlers use?

Wrestlers use a lot of fighting styles, primarily BJJ, Judo, Sambo, and tripping and sweeping concepts from Muay Thai. Not all moves from these martial arts can be applied successfully in Wrestling, as Wrestling has a unique ruleset.

BJJ is used in Wrestling to escape pins and reverse positions.

Sacrifice throws are used sometimes in Wrestling to reverse a bad position as you are falling to the mat. This can stop you from landing on your back and losing via pin.

BJJ also teaches some concepts such as the cross-face and leg lace that can be used by wrestlers to make their pins more high-percentage and effective. If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of BJJ, check out this recent article on my site.

Judo is used by wrestlers too, as sometimes you will be shorter than your opponent, making it hard for you to shoot for takedowns. People with long legs can sprawl very quickly and get far away from you. The solution to this is to use Judo hip throws to bring your opponent to the mat.

If you are short, you have a lower center of mass, and Judo is used by short wrestlers all the time.

Sambo is a martial art from Russia, and there are many trips, throws, takedowns, and sweeps used in Wrestling that are used in sambo too.

There are two main types of Wrestling:

  • Freestyle Wrestling – this is the Wrestling you see in the Olympics, and you are allowed to take your opponent down using any part of their body in this. Freestyle Wrestling gets most of its techniques from BJJ and sambo.
  • Greco-Roman Wrestling – in this, you are only allowed to take your opponent down and control them using their upper body. For this reason, most techniques used in Greco-Roman Wrestling come from Judo, as you are only allowed to control people with their upper body in Judo too.

As for the martial arts used in professional Wrestling like WWE matches, BJJ, Judo, Karate, and Kickboxing are used the most.

However, it is important to note most of the moves in WWE are scripted and choreographed, so you don’t actually have to be good at fighting and using your martial arts skills on a resisting opponent.

Is Wrestling more like BJJ or Judo?

Wresting is more like BJJ than Judo. This is because, in Judo, you are not allowed to shoot for the legs and grab them to take someone down. Leg grab takedowns like the single leg, double leg, and ankle pick are the backbone of Wrestling and BJJ.

Also, in BJJ, you are allowed to use your opponent’s legs to control them on the ground. Therefore, this carries over nicely to Freestyle Wrestling.

In Judo, you are not allowed to grab the legs, or control someone with their legs on the ground, making it more similar to Greco-Roman Wrestling.

Also, even though the techniques used in Wrestling are more like BJJ than Judo, the objective of Wrestling is more similar to Judo than BJJ.

In Judo, you are trying to take someone down and then pin them. That’s it. In BJJ, you are trying to take someone down, pin them, score some points, and then get them in a submission (joint lock or choke).

If you are a wrestler, you will find the ruleset of Judo more like Wrestling, but you will be more successful in BJJ than Judo simply because you will dominate your competition in terms of takedowns and pins.

You will also learn lots of submissions like the armbar, triangle choke, and leg locks. When you couple knowledge of submissions with your current takedown skills, you will be a formidable grappler.

What is the most effective grappling martial art?

Overall, the most effective grappling martial art is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This is because, in BJJ, you are allowed techniques from all grappling martial arts. You learn the takedowns and slams of Wrestling, the throws of Judo, and the trips and sweeps of Sambo.

BJJ is kind of like the MMA of grappling.

Asking what the best grappling martial art is is kind of like asking “what’s the best tool for the job”. It depends on what job you are doing.

If you want to be really good at taking people down, you should do Wrestling. If you want to be able to break every bone in someone’s body and choke people out, then do BJJ. If you want to be able to slam someone so hard that they get knocked out, then learn Judo.

I have been practicing martial arts for most of my life, and I think Judo has the potential to be the most effective and devastating martial art. When you throw someone, you are basically hitting them with the earth!

If you want to learn more about Judo and the pros and cons of this fantastic martial art, check out this recent article on my site.

The BEST Modern Styles to Combine with Traditional Martial Arts W/ Ramsey Dewey


To sum up, Wrestling is not a martial art as the focus of Wrestling is sport, not self-defense, personal enrichment, and learning.

In WWE, BJJ, Karate, Judo, and Wrestling are used. Only the most exciting techniques are used in these martial arts to make matches more entertaining.

In the sport of Wrestling, Freestyle Wrestlers use techniques from BJJ, Sambo, and Judo. Greco-Roman wrestlers mainly use techniques from Judo, as they are not allowed to control or take down their opponent using their lower body.

The techniques used in Wrestling are similar to those used in BJJ, however, the objective of a Wrestling match is more in line with the objectives of a Judo match.

Overall, the most effective grappling martial art is BJJ, as it incorporates techniques from all grappling martial arts. However, if you want to be able to slam someone and end a fight in a matter of seconds, then Judo throws are the way to go.

Image by Herbert Aust from Pixabay

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