Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Difference between Judo and Wrestling

You would probably have noticed that I refer to Wrestling quite often. This is because it is the first sport I took part in. I started when I was 7 years old and my last match was at the age of 17, so I was a wrestler for 10 years. In many ways, there are a lot of similarities, but also many differences. So, with that in mind, I've decided to break down the two disciplines and this is the result:
Judo is a martial art, created by Jigoro Kano in 1882. It is based on the principles of Jujutsu, which was the fighting style of the Samurai. Kano removed the striking and use of weapons for the system originally known as 'Kano Jujutsu'. This was later renamed as Judo (translated to English as 'The gentle way').

The origin of wrestling is a bit trickier to track down, as it is one of the oldest forms of combat. It's origins can be traced back 15,000 years through cave drawings found in France.

The objective of Judo is to throw, hold down or submit (by strangles or arm locks) your opponent. In competition, the main objective is to score an ippon, which ends the fight. An ippon is scored by throwing your opponent on his/her back with sufficient force, holding/pinning your opponent on the ground for 25 seconds or submitting your opponent. There are also 'lesser' points scored for throws that are not executed perfectly or holds that are held for less than the required 25 seconds. If, by the end of the fight, no ippon was scored, the player with the highest value score wins the fight.

The objective of Wrestling is to throw/take down your opponent and pin (known as a Fall) them. In high level Wrestling, like the Olympics and international tournaments, it is very rare to see matches won by pins. For that reason, there is a detailed scoring system. The points you can get for a throw is 3-5, depending on the execution. If you manage to take down your opponent and gain control on the ground, 1 point is awarded. On the ground you can either get a 'turnover', by rolling your opponent on their shoulders, for which 2 points are awarded, or you can try to pin your opponent. A pin (Fall) is awarded when both an opponent's shoulders are held on the mat simultaneously. The pin is awarded as soon as both shoulders touch the mat. A match consists of 3 rounds of 2 minutes each. If, during a round, a 5 point throw is achieved or one wrestler has 6 points more than the other, the round is over. A match is won by the wrestler winning 2 rounds or pinning his/her opponent.

The Judo uniform, known as a Gi, is made up of a heavy weave jacket and trousers, tied with a belt, known as an Obi. The belt colour also represents the grading of the Judoka. In competition, one Judoka would wear a white belt, while the other wears a blue belt. In bigger, high level competitions, one Judoka would wear a white gi, while the other wears a blue gi. Both would wear black belts.

The Wrestling uniform is a one-piece, tight fitting, coloured lycra uniform. The colours of the uniform is either blue or red. In competition, one wrestler would wear a blue uniform, while the other wears red. You also have shoes, which are lightweight and cover the ankles.

All Judo techniques have Japanese names. Judoka have to learn the Japanese words, not only for the techniques, but also the calls/instructions made by the referee in competition.

In Wrestling, the main language is English.

There are many techniques that are used in both Judo and Wrestling, especially throws. For instance, ippon seoi nage (one arm shoulder throw) is known in Wrestling as a Flying Mare, O Goshi (major hip throw) is known in Wrestling as, you guessed it, a Hip Throw and Koshi Guruma is known in Wrestling as a Head Lock. There are many more, but I won't list them all here!

As a side note, you would probably have noticed that I'm referring to 'fights' in Judo and 'matches' in Wrestling. This is because we were always taught that, in wrestling, you NEVER refer to it as a fight. However, I am not sure if this a general philosophy in Wrestling or just in South Africa (where I grew up).

There is no grading system in wrestling. All competitions are held in weight classes, with no distinction in the experience level of the competitors. In junior categories, there are also age groups in addition to weight classes. Because of this, it is very rare to see novice wrestlers winning matches early on in their careers. Personally, I can't even remember how many matches I took part in before I got my first win!

In Judo, you have an elaborate grading system. The grades are split between Kyu and Dan grades. It is the goal of every Judoka to achieve a Dan grade. The Kyu grade represent how much you have learnt so far. There are 6 Kyu grades and you achieve these grades in descending order. Each Kyu grade is represented by a coloured belt. 6th (red), 5th (yellow), 4th (orange), 3rd (green), 2nd (blue) and 1st (brown). The coloured belt system, however, was actually started in Europe.

The Dan grade shows that you have attained a level of competency. Dan grades are all represented by a black belt and are achieved in ascending order, ie 1st - 5th Dan. 6th-8th Dan is represented by red and white panelled belt and 9th-10th Dan by a red belt. However, in competition, a black belt is used for all Dan levels.
In competition, categories are separated by weight and also by grade (this only applies to Kyu graded Judoka). The categories, in general, are novice - 3rd Kyu and 2nd - 1st Kyu.

Use in Mixed Martial Arts:
MMA fighters with a wrestling base tend to be very successful. They are well balanced, with a strong base and good control on the ground. The only MMA organisation I follow is the UFC, and most of the UFC champions have all been wrestlers before they started competing in MMA.
There have also been a few people with a Judo background who have been successful. Karo Parisyan,  his cousin, Manny Gamburian, Hector Lombard and also Ronda Rousey, an Olympic bronze medallist. In my opinion, the main reason why wrestlers are more successful in MMA than judoka is the fact that, in Judo, most techniques, especially throws, require a grip on the opponent's gi. However, in MMA, there is no gi, so you have to adjust most of your techniques, whereas, for the wrestler, there is no difference.

Well, there you have it! Obviously I know more about Wrestling than Judo, as I've only been doing Judo for 7 months, but these, to my knowledge, are the main differences between Judo and Wrestling.
In my opinion, both are excellent sports, especially for kids and you can do both for serious competition or just as a way to keep fit and healthy.