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Both Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) and wrestling are combat sports fought primarily on the ground. In mixed martial arts, fighters may employ strategies from both styles of grappling. There are, however, significant differences between the sports. While the strength gained from one sport may benefit a competitor in the other, some skills do not translate well between the two sports, and there are significant strategy differences between BJJ and wrestling.
BJJ is a submission-based sport. Athletes aim to induce their opponents to "tap" when they are in pain, indicating the end of the match. Competitors may also win by choking their opponent unconscious or until a referee intervenes to stop the match. Wrestlers do not use submissions, and many BJJ moves are illegal in wrestling. Instead, wrestlers aim to hold their opponents on their backs for three seconds. Both sports use a point system, and participants who are unable to submit or pin their opponents may win based on points.
Because wrestlers can lose a match if they are held on their backs, they avoid fighting in this position. Conversely, BJJ offers competitors many opportunities to win while on their backs. The triangle choke, a common submission that chokes an opponent using the legs, is a popular BJJ move that is done on the back. Wrestling uses shorter rounds than BJJ, resulting in a faster-paced match. BJJ tends to move more slowly as competitors wait for an opportunity to submit their opponents.
Wrestling is an Olympic sport, and wrestlers normally participate in the sport through high school and college organizations. BJJ players typically join private gyms. As BJJ grows more popular in the U.S., more children are becoming involved in the sport. However, it has typically been an older sport than wrestling, and BJJ competitors are often well into their 30s and even 40s.
Wrestlers usually wear singlets, stretchy unitards that partially cover the torso and legs. BJJ participants traditionally wear gis, jacket-like garments made of thick material and tied with a belt. Unlike wrestlers, BJJ participants may use their gis to aid in fighting by, for example, grabbing their opponents' gis or using their own gis to cushion a submission. Some BJJ organizations have no-gi divisions, in which players do not wear gis and may fight shirtless or in a fitted shirt and pants.