Which Grappling Style is Better For Self Defense?

Judo and wrestling are both grappling arts, but they focus on different aspects of grappling. Judo emphasizes throws, submissions and pins while wrestling places more emphasis on takedowns and pins.

Judo is one of the most widely practiced martial arts in the world with over 200 member countries in its International Judo Federation (IJF). There are a number of national organizations that oversee judo at the national level such as USA Judo or United States Judo Federation (USJF). The sport has its origins in Japan where it was developed by Jigoro Kano who modified traditional jujitsu techniques to create his own style known as Kodokan judo.

Wrestling is an Olympic sport that's been recorded as a physical activity since as far back as 7000 BC. Both wrestling and judo are used by professional and amateur MMA fighters to win fights today.

History aside, which style is better for self defense? Keep reading to see our take on the debate!

Grappling Facts

No matter which style of grappling you prefer, it's a great form of self defense. The ability to control and physically maneuver an attacker, or out-of-control drunk uncle at a family gathering for long enough to get them to calm down can be invaluable.

While both grappling arts (judo and wrestling) have similarities, each style takes a slightly different approach in its philosophy and application.

Gi vs No-Gi Grappling

Both Judo and wrestling are great martial arts for self defense. However, some argue that if you want to be efficient and effective in a fight, you should consider learning no-gi grappling.

Gi grappling is more popular than no-gi grappling is because it has been around longer and has a larger following of fans. In judo, you wear a gi. In wrestling, you do not. No-gi grappling may be more practical and efficient when it comes to self defense situations, depending on the season.

If it's cold outside, it's more likely that an attacker will be wearing a coat, jacket, or hooded sweatshirt. As the weather starts to warm up, the layers start to come off and there will be less clothing to grab and hold onto.

Technical Skill and Blind Spots

Both of these martial art forms can be used to remove an opponent from their feet, with the end goal being submission or pinning them down. That being said, a self defense situation doesn't always end after you pin or thrown an attacker.

Generally speaking, neither judo nor wrestling teach striking, striking defense, or weapon defense. As effective as grappling techniques are on their own, learning how to defend against punches and weapon attacks is also very useful.

Is Judo Effective In Street Fights?

Judo is a great martial art for self defense and has been used in street fights. As mentioned before, judo focuses on throwing your opponent onto the ground and using grappling techniques to control him/her there.

If you have perfect timing, are facing someone who has no training (and no weapon), or catch them off guard and defend yourself preemptively, judo by itself can be extremely effective. The video below shows an example of how to use judo and blocking technique against a one two punch combination.

With good timing and lots of practice, you can use your knowledge of judo and some pretty basic blocking to defend yourself against punching or kicking attacks by using leverage and throws that cause him/her to lose balance and fall down (which will make it much easier for you to take control).

Is Wrestling Effective In Street Fights?

Wrestlers are, as a rule, very strong. They have to be able to lift and throw their opponents around. This strength is also useful for grappling with multiple attackers—a common situation when you’re being attacked.

In addition to strength, wrestlers learn how to pin their opponent—to keep him or her on the ground by holding their shoulders and hips down with your hands and legs—and how to escape from that pinning position into one where you can get back on top of them again.

Watch the video to see some examples of good wrestling takedowns for self defense.

In some cases, a wrestling pin can be useful. In other cases, staying on the ground (even if you're on top) can be deadly. If you're being attacked by multiple assailants and take one of them down, you're likely to be kicked or punched while you're focused on pinning one of them down.

If you're defending yourself against one attacker and have them pinned down, they might produce a knife or gun. At that point, wrestling by itself might not be enough to save your life.

Which Grappling Art Is Most Effective?

Judo and wrestling have a lot of similarities and many differences. All in all, they both have similar goals. Both teach self defense techniques and neither offers the perfect one-size-fits-all solution to violent encounters. However, they each have their own unique features that make them best suited for different uses.

Taking the time to learn either judo or wrestling will give you a distinct advantage over the average attacker in the street. Chances are, the attacker won't have much training, if any at all. Learning how to use your leverage and body weight to increase your chance of remaining in an advantageous position in a fight of any kind is helpful.