“Submission Wrestling” and “submission grappling” are alternative names for no gi BJJ.  Submission wrestling tends to include techniques from other grappling arts such as sambo and catch wrestling. The first, and most prestigious, submission wrestling championship in the world is the ADCC. The ADCC was created to provide a competition venue for practitioners from different grappling arts. While BJJ players have dominated, there are notable examples of non-BJJ practitioners being very successful in the tournament. These include athletes like Mark Kerr the ‘Smashing Machine’, and the Russian wrestler Rustam Chsiev.

It can be said that no gi BJJ is a subset of submission wrestling. Many people use the term interchangeably. Despite this, BJJ is traditionally practiced in the gi. In today’s article, we will look at the main differences between BJJ and submission grappling. We will break these differences down using two categories: techniques and rulesets.

BJJ & Submission Wrestling – The Differences


There are more Leg Locks

In submission grappling the heel hook reigns supreme. Since this is totally banned in most gi tournaments (with the exception of Gracie Worlds), many gi-only practitioners do not have the knowledge required to apply, and defend against, this devastating move. Likewise, as reaping is banned in most gi tournaments, many practitioners lack the requisite knowledge of the entries and control positions associated with leg locks.

Leg lock No Gi

There are more Front Chokes
While the gi lapel accommodates some really cool and effective chokes, it also hinders others; namely the guillotine and its variations. There is a reason that most fights in the gi are finished with gi chokes.

Submission Wrestling Front Choke

There is more Scrambling and Easier Escapes

Maintaining dominant positions against a sweaty opponent in no-gi (especially if they have opted to go shirtless) is many times more difficult than in the gi. Not only does the gi create the friction necessary for greater control; the gi itself can be utilized in all sorts of creative ways to increase control. A common example is wrapping your opponent’s lapel underneath their far shoulder and feeding it to your cross face hand.

The rule sets

bjj and submission wrestling
Reaping is allowed

A major criticism of IBJJF tournaments and gi tournaments are the rules forbidding reaping. Despite the fact that most people (at least online) favor permitting reaping at higher levels, the practice only exists in no gi tournaments

A wider variety of submissions

The allowance of the knee reap creates opportunities for a wider variety of submissions; namely heel hooks and hip locks. Likewise, Eddie Bravo’s famous submission hold; the Twister, a spinal crank, is banned in all gi tournaments and is allowed only in submission wrestling. Despite the IBJJF allowing a larger variety of submissions in its no-gi tournaments, there are no specific rulesets for submission grappling.

The are usually no Advantages

Another prominent criticism of gi tournaments is the use of advantages. Because of this many smaller tournaments, which otherwise follow IBJJF rulesets in the gi divisions, do away with advantages in the no gi divisions.