Grappling vs. Wrestling

Wrestler in ring

Grappling is a term used to describe martial arts maneuvers and techniques that involve grabbing an opponent. Therefore, grappling is incorporated into most combat sports and martial arts, like judo, jiujitsu, sambo and wrestling. To grapple means to engage in hand-to-hand combat, which is part of wrestling. However, the term grappling is also commonly used to specifically describe ground fighting, a fighting tactic common in Brazilian jiujitsu. There are differences between grappling, or ground fighting arts like jiujitsu, and the modern sport of freestyle wrestling.

Difference Between Grappling and Wrestling

The two major differences between grappling, when it refers to ground fighting, and freestyle wrestling, is the presence of submissions and the strategy of fighting. There are no submission holds -- like choke holds or arm bars -- allowed in wrestling like there are in grappling. Grappling allows you to put your opponent in a hold that causes extreme pain or a fear of injury and thus forces them to submit out of the match. To win the match in wrestling, you must score more points than your opponent using maneuvers such as takedowns, reversals, escapes, and near-falls, or put your opponent on his back and "pin" him by forcing both shoulder blades to touch the mat.

Grappling techniques differ between the martial arts and freestyle wrestling. In wrestling, the top position is ideal for controlling and eventually pinning an opponent. When a wrestler pins his opponent, the match is immediately over. Wrestlers try to avoid being on their back, as it puts them in a position that makes them susceptible to being pinned. However, in some martial arts, being underneath your opponent and lying on your back can be an advantage. You can hold an opponent with your legs and perform submission holds while not being in a susceptible position yourself. Being on top or on your hands and knees makes you susceptible to a number of submission holds and moves that are not allowed in wrestling.