Wrestling vs Grappling: What’s the Difference


Aspects of grappling are featured in many forms of martial arts, but grappling has always been its own discipline. Since many grappling aspects are carried over to wrestling, many wonder if there’s a difference between the two sports.

Difference Between Wrestling and Grappling?

The difference between wrestling and grappling is seen in their fight techniques and finishes. With grappling, a fighter relies heavily on their opponent’s submissions in order to win. Plus, grappling doesn’t allow grapplers to punch or kick an opponent, unlike wrestling and some other martial arts.

In this article, we’ll look at what grappling is and dig a little deeper into those differences.

What Is Grappling?

Grappling is a combat-fighting sport based on body strength and submission. This martial art is all about grabbing an opponent to get the upper hand. In order to win a match, the grappler must outscore their opponent or submit them.

Grappling is a much different discipline than other martial arts because it relies solely on submissions to win a fight. Most of a grappling match is spent contacting your opponent, attempting to get the upper hand. 

Much time in grappling is spent trying to gain the advantage or escape when your opponent gets the upper hand. Because of this, grappling may look a little dull compared to the flashy quickness of wrestling, but there’s a constant physical and mental battle between the fighters. 

In grappling, there’s usually no time to regain your composure. So, unlike other combat sports, grapplers need to exert a lot of their physical energy constantly. Any time energy is attempting to be conserved, a time that your opponent can take advantage. 

Submissions are a very important part of grappling, and because of this, many dangerous submissions are allowed and often encouraged. Forcing a fighter to tap out isn’t easy, but it’s the way to win. The key to submissions is to inflict so much inescapable pain that your opponent has no other choice or to make your opponent fear that you will injure them severely.

What Are the Different Forms of Grappling?

The different forms of grappling include takedowns, submissions, throws, escapes, reversals, and clinching. Grappling is also used all over the world as part of other combat sports. 

Takedowns are most commonly found in wrestling and mixed martial arts. Though they aren’t allowed in every discipline, they’re very useful in getting your opponent on the mat. Many fighters use takedowns to get the upper hand or pin their opponent. 

Submissions are common throughout combat sports, but they’re not usually the way to win. Often, submissions are used to weaken and physically exhaust your opponent. So, even in disciplines that don’t include tapping out, submissions can be useful. 

Throws are a huge part of grappling and many other martial arts disciplines. They’re a great way to exhaust your opponent and get the upper advantage to set up other moves. Whether it’s wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, or Judo, you can see throws used very often in disciplines. 

One of the most useful forms of grappling is learning escapes and reversals. Escaping helps in many different combat sports that involve submissions, holds, or takedowns. It’s also helpful in basic self-defense to learn different types of reversals. If you’re ever in a situation where someone has the upper hand, learning escapes and reversals can help you get out of a dangerous situation. 

Clinching is sometimes one of the first things to happen in a combat sport like MMA or wrestling. This is where you and your opponent hold on to each other, trying to get the upper hand. This often leads to takedowns or submissions once a fighter can gain the upper hand. 

Is Grappling Considered Fighting?

Grappling is considered fighting. According to Merriam-Webster, fighting means “to contend in battle or physical combat.” This is what grappling is all about. Plus, grappling is a form of hand-to-hand combat that aims to pin an opponent or make them submit.

Grappling is hand-to-hand combat that requires you to get the upper hand against your opponent and make them submit. 

Some may question whether grappling is fighting because there are no kicks and punches allowed, but there’s much more to fighting than that. Physical combat can be interpreted in many different ways, whether it is punches, kicks, takedowns, or holds. 

By definition, grappling is a method of fighting, and there are many different methods and variations of fighting. Fighting is so diverse because the definition is left to interpretation. So, fighting can mean many different disciplines and combat sports. Because grappling is a hand-to-hand combat sport, it falls under the umbrella of fighting. 

How Is Grappling Different From Wrestling?

Grappling is different from wrestling in terms of its fight techniques and finishes. Grappling ends when one of the competitors taps out, and it doesn’t encourage punching or kicking your opponent like other martial arts disciplines. 

A fighting style with no kicks or punches sounds a little out there, but grappling focuses more on the takedown and submission aspects of fighting. The main goal in grappling is to make your opponent submit by putting them in a hold that causes them pain. 

Intense submissions are highly recommended in grappling, and fighters sometimes tap out for fear of a broken bone or torn ligament. That’s often highly encouraged in grappling. 

While both disciplines are built on controlling your opponent’s body, grappling is really built on it. Rather than trying to utilize other moves like wrestling, grappling is all about strength and using your body to get the upper hand on your opponent. 

Most wrestling doesn’t include submissions, whereas grappling relies heavily on them. While there are certain aspects of grappling in wrestling, the differences are glaring. 

Even though there are aspects of grappling in wrestling, there are plenty of differences between them. Grappling encourages painful submissions while wrestling avoids them, but there are other minor differences among the rules as well that set them apart.

Parts of grappling are found in many different combat sports, and they’ll remain a vital part of fighting for a long time.

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