Can you use judo in wrestling? [Explained]

Every wrestler strives to improve his or her fighting game. The same with any other martial artist. One of the ways is to expand combat knowledge by learning more fighting disciplines. Let’s talk today about the difference between wrestling and judo. For instance, can you use judo in wrestling? Does judo help wrestling and vice versa?

This question is quite relevant for discussion because both sports have certain relationships.

However, these are two different combat disciplines with their own rules and techniques. Therefore, reasonable questions arise regarding utilizing judo techniques in wrestling.

Can you use judo in wrestling?

The short answer is, yes, you can use judo in wrestling as long as you are able to utilize the judo techniques in a wrestling match. Judo skills may help you to gain a competitive advantage in certain situations, like the well-trained footsweeps in judo. Wrestling and judo complement each other. But often it may be hard for you to integrate the judo moves as it is into a wrestling match.

As this explanation doesn’t explain much, here are some additional points to stress out.

Judo and wrestling are two different combat sports in terms of rules and techniques. Nevertheless, it is allowed to apply judo throws or other techniques in wrestling.


Judo techniques focus heavily on gi grips, throws, and fighting in stance, which is incompatible in its pure form with wrestling. Because wrestling doesn’t have a gi uniform, but a singlet instead, and is utilized mostly on the ground.

Is judo good for wrestlers?

Anyway, judo can be very effective in a wrestling match as it expands the range of wrestlers’ techniques. Judo is a powerful complement to wrestling and can be a great way for wrestlers to gain an edge in competition.

Is wrestling better than judo?

Is judo better than wrestling? In fact, this question is just another variant of the previous one.

But if you are seeing another context in this specific question, then a good start to get the answer is to put a clarifying question:

Wrestling or judo is better relative to what?

If you are about to find out what is the best martial art for a street fight, so we recommend reading this article here.

In the final results, no matter what the context of the question is, it will bring you to one and the same summary. And namely, judo and wrestling are just two different combat sports with their pros and cons for every situation.

Which is better for MMA – judo or wrestling?

It’s a very strict question for a pro MMA fighter who doesn’t have the possibility, let’s just say as it is, to waste time for training that doesn’t bring new skills to the fight game plan.

Wrestling has more functional baggage of knowledge to apply in MMA than judo. It’s just the result of calculating all the advantages and disadvantages together from the practical point of view.

Judo athletes, wrestlers, and MMA fighters concentrate their attention mainly on different things. Judoka on throws and gi grips, wrestlers and MMA fighters on passing legs, and the last one also a lot on striking. There is no striking in judo and the fight in MMA doesn’t end with a good Ippon. Instead, falling on the ground means usually the beginning of a ground-and-pound striking queue.

Also, the ground game is needed to have success in MMA which wrestling has more than judo.

And one more totally different thing is the fighting uniform – the gi in judo and mostly topless no gi in MMA and wrestling – that is a significant game changer in the fight.

Is wrestling or judo better for MMA?

And the longer version of the answer applies some clarification.

Nevertheless, there is no need to encounter judo vs wrestling in terms to gain advantages for MMA fighting results. It is way better to blend both combat styles and to take from them the most and best.

After all, both – wrestling and judo – are carrying traditions of teaching, history, and experience for decades already compared to MMA. This is one of the obvious facts why for an MMA athlete it is worth paying attention to both – judo and wrestling.

Judo vs Wrestling for MMA

Another fact is that judo, wrestling, and MMA are linked together in one way or another – through techniques, origin, or mixing of fighters and community.

The fact that there are many good and professional MMA fighters with judo and wrestling backgrounds together is already a piece of evidence to talk about the advantages of both for MMA.

Cross-training for MMA is one of the key points for a successful game plan.

Here are some names.

Remember, it doesn’t mean that judoka can’t be an MMA fighter. Ronda Rousey is a great example.

Ronda Rousey’s MMA workout before the UFC 170 fight in 2014

Also to mention is the professional wrestler and American Bellator MMA pro fighter Josh Barnett. His fighting style is primarily catch wrestling. But he also trained judo at dojo of Jim Harrison, the former AAU Judo champion.

Josh Barnett on what is catch wrestling on Lex Fridman’s podcast

“Think of collegiate wrestling with submissions. That is essentially what catch is”, explains Barnett.

Dean Lister vs Josh Barnett at Metamoris 4 in 2014

Dean Lister is a catch wrestler, BJJ black belt, and MMA fighter.

Judo vs catch wrestling

Let’s make one more small historical reference here.

What is the catch wrestling vs judo difference?

First, let’s answer shortly what is catch wrestling.

Catch wrestling is a grappling combat sport that originated in Britain in the 19th century and is the parent of modern grappling styles such as folkstyle wrestling, Luta Livre, MMA, and shoot wrestling. Catch wrestling was included in the Olympics in 1904 and is presented there now by freestyle wrestling.

Catch wrestling

Catch wrestling
Google Image caption

Judo in the early years

judo origin

Both, judo and wrestling have their own and unique process of formation over all the decades.

There were already enough explanations of what is the difference between judo and wrestling. Last thing that is worth mentioning here as a conclusion is the modern phenomenon of synthesis of martial arts. In simple words, we all may train and belong to specific martial arts styles, but striving for progress we easily integrate experiences from other fighting styles.

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