How Is Judo Different From Wrestling?

You may have seen Judo or wrestling on TV and have a general idea of how the sports work. They both include two people trying to tackle each other to the ground but what makes Judo different from wrestling? We will go over all the key differences between Judo and wrestling.

How is Judo different from wrestling? Judo has some key differences from wrestling. In Judo you wear a Gi (Kimono), in wrestling you wear a singlet. In Judo you can submit your opponent with chokes and joint locks, in wrestling all submissions are illegal. In Judo you can win by throwing your opponent on their back, in wrestling you only be awarded points for this move.

Judo Vs Wrestling Uniform

The different uniform is a key difference between Judo and wrestling. Judokas wear a Gi which is based on traditional Japanese clothing from the 1800s. It is made out of firm material and has large lapels. This makes it very easy to grab and grip the Gi. This allows Judokas to use the Gi to control and throw their opponents. In wrestling athletes wear a singlet and are prohibited from grabbing each others clothing. Many techniques in Judo can not be performed in wrestling because they rely on grabbing the Gi.

Can You Do Submissions In Judo?

Can you do submissions in Judo? Yes, in Judo you can do submissions. In Judo chokes and joint locks are legal and result in instant victory. The most common submissions in Judo are the armbar and the bow and arrow choke. In Judo submission techniques are known as Kateme Waza.

Even though Judo primarily focuses on takedowns and stand up grappling, submissions are still a major aspect of the sport. Judo athletes spend about 20-30% of their training focusing on ground grappling and submissions. In competition Judokas are able to use submissions to win matches but they have to act quickly as if they aren’t able to threaten with a submission quickly the referee will pause the action and request both athletes stand up. After both athletes stand up the match will continue in the standing position.

The inclusion of submissions in Judo is a major difference between wrestling and Judo. In wrestling all submission holds including chokes and joint locks are explicitly banned. The use of submission holds in wrestling will result in an athlete being immediately disqualified. Interestingly, freestyle wrestling is derived from a wrestling style known as Catch As Catch Can wrestling which allowed athletes to use submission holds. However these submission holds were removed to create freestyle wrestling. The creators of freestyle thought that submission holds were too dangerous and resulting in boring matches.

Length Of Match

How long is a Judo match? A Judo match between adults lasts for 1 period of 5 minutes. A children’s Judo match lasts for 1 period of 3 minutes and a master’s (0ver the age of 30) match lasts for 1 period of 3 minutes.

How long is a wrestling match? A freestyle or Greco-Roman wrestling match lasts for a total of 6 minutes, made up of two 3 minute periods with a 30 second rest between them. A folkstyle wrestling match lasts for a total of 7 minutes, made up of one 3 minute period and two 2 minute periods.

A wrestling match is slightly longer than a Judo match. A Judo match is only made up of one period which means Judo athletes need to pace themselves more than wrestlers due to them not getting a rest between periods.

Different Techniques

Judo is primarily a throwing sport. The most common techniques in Judo are hip and leg throws. In Judo you are not allowed to grab the legs, therefore all attacks are upper body based. Even though all the techniques that exist in Judo can be performed in wrestling such as hip throws and trips these techniques are not as common as leg attacks. In wrestling the most popular takedowns are double and single legs. Throws are much less common. This is because without clothing to grip it becomes hard to execute throws. Also wrestlers stand in a bent over stance which makes it difficult to perform throws. Judokas are forced to stand upright which makes them more susceptible to being thrown.

Different Scoring

In Judo an athlete can win a match instantly by throwing their opponent on their back with sufficient force. In wrestling this same move would only result in points being awarded. Due to this Judokas are much more risk averse than wrestlers because they know at any point in time a single attack from their opponent could result in them losing the match.

In Judo to win a match via pin you have to hold down your opponent for 20 seconds. However in wrestling to win a match via pin you only have to hold your opponent down for 3 seconds.

Is Judo Similar To Wrestling?

Is Judo similar to wrestling? Yes, Judo is similar to wrestling. Both Judo and wrestling are grappling combat sports where the goal is to control your opponent through takedowns, throws and pins. In both wrestling and Judo the points are awarded for takedowns and an athlete can instantly win the match by pinning their opponent.

Is Judo Good For Wrestling?

Is Judo good for wrestling? Judo is good for wrestling as all the techniques in Judo can be effectively used in wrestling with slight modification. Judo can teach wrestlers how to unbalance their opponents (Kazushi) which is very important in wrestling. Judo can help wrestlers improve their grip strength through practicing grabbing the Judogi.

Popular Judo techniques such as Uchi Mata, O Goshi and Ippon Seoi Nage are all used extensively in wrestling. Judokas are experts in these techniques. By training Judo wrestlers can improve their ability to perform these throws and when they face wrestlers in competition they will have a greater chance of using them successfully.

To perform wrestling takedowns effectively you need to get your opponent off balance. This concept is taught effectively in wrestling. Most wrestling coaches will demonstrate how to perform a technique but they won’t emphasis how to off balance your opponent. Many wrestling coaches’ response if a technique isn’t working is just to do it harder and faster. In contrast in Judo a large portion of training is spent just on learning how to off balance your opponent. This concept is known as Kazushi and is deeply intertwined into the sport of Judo. By learning Judo wrestlers can improve their off balancing techniques and will have much easier time successfully completing their wrestling takedowns.

Is Judo Harder Than Wrestling?

Is Judo harder than wrestling? Judo is harder to learn than wrestling as throws are more complex than double and single leg takedowns. Judo also has more techniques to learn than wrestling. It is harder to break Judo grips than wrestling grips It is harder to off balance your opponent in Judo than wrestling. 

Is Judo Or Wrestling Better For MMA?

Is Judo or wrestling better for MMA? Wrestling is better for MMA as double legs are the most successful takedown in MMA (accounting for 37.4% of all takedowns) and wrestlers are experts at double legs. Just like in MMA, in wrestling you are not allowed to grab clothing which makes wrestlers better suited to executing takesdowns in MMA.

In Judo double legs are banned. Judokas are not proficient in double leg takedowns. On the other hand double leg takedowns are the most popular technique in wrestling. Judokas are heavily reliant on the Gi to complete their takedowns. In MMA there is no Gi and you can not grab the shorts. In wrestling there is also no Gi and you can not grab the singlet. This is why wrestlers have a much easier time taking down their opponents in MMA than Judo athletes.

Judo does have some advantages over wrestling for MMA. Judokas are well versed in submissions. A world class Judo athlete would be expected to be at least at a purple belt level of BJJ with many top Judokas having BJJ black belt level skills. Travis Stevens (Olympic Judo silver medalist, 2016) famously received a black belt from John Danaher after training BJJ for just 1 year. As submissions are a major part of MMA with 18% of UFC fights ending via submission the high level knowledge Judokas have of ground fighting gives them an advantage over wrestlers who have no knowledge of submissions.

The number of UFC champions who were former wrestlers is 28. Not a single former Judoka has become UFC champion. However in defense of Judo arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time Fedor was a world class Judoka. Also Khabib has had extensive training in Judo and holds a black belt in the sport.


Judo and wrestling are both forms of grappling. The goal of the sports are the same with an emphasis on taking down and pinning your opponent. Many of the same techniques are used in both wrestling and Judo. However the key differences between Judo and wrestling include, different uniform (Gi Vs singlet), submissions are allowed in Judo, wrestling matches are slightly longer and Judo emphasizes throws which are based on Gi grips while wrestling emphasizes double and single legs which do not rely on gripping clothing.

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