Black Belt vs Freestyle Wrestler Highlights Best & Worst Of Both Styles

What happens when a jiu-jitsu black belt and an international freestyle wrestler face off? It's one of those questions that comes up every so often, a fantasy scenario that usually only plays out in heated conversations between friends after training is done. 

There are so many styles and sub-styles in submission grappling that jiu-jitsu competitors are used to taking on different kinds of opponents from no-gi specialists to judo practitioners, and catch wrestlers to sambo stylists. 

Freestyle wrestlers rarely step out of their area of speciality and are highly focused on their chosen sports. Top grapplers from the world of jiu-jitsu often flip-flop between gi and no-gi competition, but wrestlers will usually favor one style– they won't switch between freestyle and greco, for example. 

The rules matter too– success will depend on how a match can be won. If takedowns and pins score, a wrestler will beat a jiu-jitsu practitioner nine times out of 10. That number gets thrown out of the window when submissions are allowed as it becomes fair more weighted in favor of the submission grappler. 

A special rules match in Korea between Byungmin Gong, a member of the national wrestling team, and jiu-jitsu black belt Inseong Jang gave us the perfect look at how this plays out. 

Held at the recent Spyder Wrestling Open Championship, the match consisted of two back-to-back rounds with a short break. The first round was international freestyle rules, the second utilized the Grappling ruleset as devised by United World Wrestling, which looks very much any standard points-based no-gi jiu-jitsu format. 

WATCH: Byungmin Gong (Korean National Wrestler) vs Inseong Jang (Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt) Spyder Wrestling Open Championship Special Match


The results were as you'd expect. Gong took down Jang at will and won via tech fall in 2:30 during the wrestling round. When it switched to submission grappling Jang tapped Gong with a leg lock with only 17 seconds left in the round. 

The importance of wrestling in any kind of grappling match is universally understood: the ability to dictate where the match takes place and the positional control are strong weapons in any grappler's arsenal. 

John Danaher recently discussed wrestling in the context of ADCC, telling us: 

"The wrestling you see in ADCC is significantly different from say freestyle or college styles of wrestling. It has to be because there's submission holds involved, and the the rules for the take down are massively different. And so you'll see techniques drawn from wrestling, but the actual wrestling itself in ADCC, as I said, is significantly different from just pure freestyle or collegiate. And so the athletes who manage that distinction best are going to do very, very well in ADCC."

Not all wrestlers transition well to grappling competitions– some, such as the surging Nick Rodriguez, found his dynamic style of grappling allowed him to quickly integrate submissions and he earned his ticket to ADCC after less than a year of submission grappling experience. A perfect example of Danaher's adaptive athlete. 

Gong's attributes as a wrestler showed that he could manhandle Jang in most positions during both the grappling and wrestling rounds. But his lack of submission awareness in the lower body exposed a gaping hole to be exploited. Without knowledge of submissions, even the most capable wrestlers are vulnerable to basic jiu-jitsu attacks. 

Watch the 2019 ADCC World Championships– Sept 28-29, 2017. 

Latest ADCC Updates: Romulo Out At -99kg; Replacement Announced

Today marks yet another shakeup to the divisions at the 2019 ADCC Worlds as Romulo Barral pulls out of the -99kg division and to be replaced with 2015 ADCC Absolute Champion Claudio Calasans.

Big Names & Up-And-Comers: Who To Watch On The KASAI Undercard

KASAI Elite Grappling Championships will be hosting KASAI Pro 6 on August 17 in Atlantic City, NJ. The event contains the stacked eight-man 135lb tournament, plus superfights Kaynan Duarte vs Patrick Gaudio, and Josh Hinger vs Matheus Diniz. 

How Will Lapela's Crafty Half Guard Deal With Tanquinho's Heavy Pressure?

Fight 2 Win features a 170lb no-gi main event between Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes (Soul Fighters) and Marcelo Mafra (Checkmat). 

Every Name Invited/Qualified For ADCC 2019 World Championship (Updated)

[Updated August 15, 2019] Here is a list of every person who qualified for or has been invited to the ADCC World Championships, to be held in Los Angeles in September 2019. 

The Veteran Black Belt Stars Ready To Shine At Master Worlds

We have already discussed some of the names at master one here, but this is an idea of who to watch at Master 2 (35 years of age) and up in the male black belt divisions.

The KASAI 135lb Tournament Groups Are Out And They're FIRE

The stacked KASAI 135lb tournament goes down on August 17 and we finally know how the 4-man round-robin groups will look! 

KASAI Superfight Gets A New Look: Gaudio Steps In To Face Kaynan

GF Team standout Patrick Gaudio will look to settle a score with Kaynan Duarte in the main event of KASAI Pro 6 on August 17. 

A Look Back at Beatriz Mesquita's 100% Submission Rate ADCC Conquest

Beatriz Mesquita is the GOAT of women’s jiu-jitsu. No, seriously– we crunched the numbers, and it's indisputable. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

History Made As Statue of Jiu-Jitsu Pioneer Carlson Gracie Unveiled In Rio

On Monday, August 12th, a statue was unveiled in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil of grandmaster Carlson Gracie. The statue is an homage to his contributions to the community in the Copacabana neighborhood where Carlson’s legendary academy was located.

8 Under-35s To Watch at 2019 IBJJF Master Worlds

On August 21st-24th the World Master IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship will go down in the Las Vegas Convention center. This will be the eighth edition of Master Worlds and all the age groups are loaded with star talent. Here are a few names to watch in Master 1.