Judo vs wrestling. What are the differences?

Judo and wrestling are very popular combat sports. These two stand-up grappling martial arts have many similarities and that is why most people confuse between them. However, although these two sports have some similarities, they also have some distinct differences.

For instance, an obvious difference is that wrestling is more explosive because the wrestler mainly relies on brute force to make his opponent submit while in judo, you mainly rely on your skills to make your opponent submit. Although wrestling requires some form of training, many forms of wrestling are purely for entertainment purposes and that is why they involve stiff competition. On the other hand, judo is an Olympic sport and requires great skills.

This is just one of the differences between wrestling and judo. Many other differences and similarities will discuss below in detail. Now without further ado, let’s get into the article.

What is the difference between judo and wrestling?

1. They have different outfits

One of the differences between judo and wrestling is the outfit they use. Judo use gi or Kimono, similar outfits used in karate. However, judo outfits are tighter and smaller. Judokas also train without shoes. On the other hand, wrestlers mostly wear shorts when training. They also train with wrestling shoes.

2. They have different finish move

Another major difference between judo and wrestling is the finishing move. Judo was the first martial art to use submissions. Judo use submission as a way to end matches. When your opponent submits, it means they have accepted defeat.

Judo submission is usually done on the ground. If you submit the opponent on the ground, you are immediately declared the winner. Another way of winning a match in judo is through an ippon. An ippon refers to landing your opponent directly on their back.

You can also win the game by pinning your opponent on the ground for 20 seconds. If the opponent fails to escape within 20 seconds, then you are declared the winner.

On the other hand, wrestling uses submissions too. Submissions in wrestling are done by using one technique that will eventually force the opponent to tap on the floor if he does not resist. Another way to win is to beat your opponent and score the pin to be declared the winner.

Wrestlers have almost 3 seconds to escape a pin. But for entertainment purposes, this time is counted a little higher. A pin constitutes having both shoulders touching the ground simultaneously. If the opponent escapes one shoulder, then that is considered an escape. If neither of the wrestlers scores a pin, the score at the end of a 2-3 minutes period determines the winner. This means that the rule of winning the game differs.

3. The difference in the shape of the mats

Another difference between judo and wrestling lies in the mats used. In judo, the competition usually takes place on a square mat. The competitors are required to stay in the middle of the mat and if they go out of the mat, they will be required to reset. Wrestling on the other hand takes place on a circle-shaped mat. In wrestling, you get to score a point when you get your opponent out of the main circle to the other circle.

4. Difference in culture

Besides the difference in the way the two martial arts are executed, there is also a huge cultural difference between these two martial arts. Generally, judo is inclined to the traditional way of doing things and most of its themes align with the Japanese origin.

Judo involves using Japanese terminologies, emphasizes being humble, and bowling. Judo also has a well-defined hierarchy system which is demonstrated with their belt system (from white to black).

Everything in judo is systematic, meaning that things are done in a structured manner. Things are quite different in wrestling. Just like judo, wrestling requires high discipline. However, wrestling uses English terminologies. Additionally, wrestling does not have a recognized belt system.

5. Judo focuses on skill and precision while wrestling focuses on strength

Judo mainly focuses on equipping the judokas with the skill to unbalance the opponent and make them powerless. In judo, learning the skills and precisions are more important than strength. Having more strength will not give you an added advantage in judo.

The only way to move from one belt to another is by proving that you can perform certain moves with precision. This explains why most people learn judo for self-defense. The skills learned in judo can come in handy when in a situation where you have to defend yourself or your loved ones.

On the other hand, in wrestling, the wrestler’s strength matters a lot and can determine whether you will win the competition or not.

In wrestling, skills are important, especially in protecting the wrestler against injuries. However, in most cases, the strength of the wrestler usually determines who wins the competition.

An overview of the difference between judo and wrestling:



It focuses on takedowns, throws, and groundwork

It focuses on kicking standing up, and striking

It mainly involves a grappling type technique
It involves both grappling and throwing

Shorts or spandexWhite uniform with belt

The objective of judo is to gain and maintain a superior position over the opponentThe objective is to pin or throw the opponent to the ground

Between a judoka and a wrestler, who is likely to win?

A skilled judoka is likely to beat a wrestler. Although both of these two martial arts include throwing and grappling, wrestlers mostly rely on brute force. On the other hand, a judoka relies on his skills and precision.

The wrestler will want to take the judo down as fast as possible while the judo will use his skill to unbalance the wrestler and make it difficult for him to compete. Additionally, judokas have more powerful submissions that make them more dangerous in the competition.

The fact that the judokas have specialized fighting skills and precision makes them more lethal than the wrestler.

In conclusion, from the information given above, it is evident that judo and wrestling have many distinct differences in terms of fighting, dressing, objective, and techniques used.

Both cultures also differ, with judo following ancient Japanese traditions while wrestling following a quite modernized culture.

So, when it comes to choosing between the two, it is up to you to decide on which one suits you.

For instance, if you love the idea of grappling and submissions, then judo is probably a good choice for you. On the other hand, if you prefer ore stripped back, wrestling is a great choice for you.